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Francona reflects on All-Star managing experiences

Francona reflects on All-Star managing experiences

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Francona reflects on All-Star managing experiences

CLEVELAND -- As somebody who has managed in the All-Star Game on two occasions, Terry Francona knows a little bit about the various intricacies of the job.

In 2005 and '08, Francona and Tribe third-base coach Brad Mills kept lists of the players they thought were most deserving of All-Star Game invitations, even though the manager rarely gets to make selections. Francona said Tigers skipper Jim Leyland, who is managing the American League team in the 2013 All-Star Game, has done something similar this season.

"We were real organized, just like I know Jim is, because I've talked to him about it," Francona said. "And you're ready, if need be.

"If anybody's known Jim Leyland for 30 seconds, then you know he's going to spend, he's going to treat it with so much integrity ... it'll be handled with integrity and a lot of passion. He'll do it right."

Between fan voting, player voting and any other method by which All-Stars are determined, Francona said managers don't often get to choose which players will appear on their rosters. Francona and Mills still kept their lists, though, and they even reached out to players who deserved to make the game but had little chance of doing so.

Whether Leyland's list contains the names of Jason Kipnis, Justin Masterson or Carlos Santana is unclear. But Masterson came into his Friday start with 10 wins, tied for sixth-most in baseball. Kipnis was recently named the AL Player of the Month after batting .419 in June. And Santana's play has put him among the top vote-getters for AL catchers since the balloting began.

"The All-Star process itself is not fair," Francona said, "and I'm not saying that [in a] bad [way]. I understand it. I was fortunate enough to go through it a couple times. But, there's always going to be some players left off that are deserving, and we all know that."

Francona was far from comfortable in the late innings of the 2008 All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium. As the tie game kept seeing extra inning after extra inning, he became increasingly worried about what roster decisions to make.

"I was very lucky," said Francona, who had to balance the pursuit of winning with the desire to play everybody. "That game in New York, we were in about the 14th inning. I remember staring at the lineup card and Leyland was next to me. He said, 'Big boy, you can look at that lineup card all you want -- you're not going to find another pitcher.'"

Fortunately for Francona and the rest of the AL squad, Michael Young brought home Justin Morneau with a sacrifice fly in the 15th inning, sending the AL to a 4-3 win and ending the longest All-Star Game in baseball history.

"I was praying and saying that I would give up tobacco," Francona said. "There was like three things that I was going to give up, and then we scored and I was like, 'Nah, I didn't mean it.'"

Mark Emery is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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