BOSTON (AP) - Sitting at the visiting manager's desk Sunday morning, Cleveland's Terry Francona didn't hide how much he enjoyed his days with the Red Sox.
The 53-year old Francona managed eight years in Boston, including World Series titles in 2004 and '07, but his best memory from his first trip back as an opponent may be a couple of nice ovations he received after making pitching changes.
Francona is just glad he's in a position where he can look back on his days in Boston fondly.
"This is a very special place and I mean that in a complementary way" he said. "Baseball is so important to people here."
Francona came into the weekend unsure how he'd feel about his return, trying to stay out of the spotlight. But during a couple of pitching changes in Saturday's 7-4 loss, he received a nice hand as he walked back to the third-base dugout.
"That's a weird one. When the game starts, it's amazing what you don't notice," he said of the reaction. "When you're walking to the mound, I'm thinking about things you want to tell guys. When you're coming back, it's like, you're losing and it's almost like sort of embarrassing."
Boston won the first two games of the three-game series.
Often during his days with the Red Sox, Francona would joke about keeping the window of his vehicle up when he came to a stop light after a tough loss.
Now, he's glad he can he appreciate how things turned out.
"When you're the manager here, it creates a headache sometimes," he said. "You can't have that passion and interest without having a couple of headaches. But it doesn't mean it's not a heck of a place.
"I caught probably more than my fair share of flack because you're the manager," he said. "But it's also - you see how they reacted now- once you're one of them, I think you're always one of them. I think they realize, I caught a break."
He certainly didn't want to take credit for the success he enjoyed with the Red Sox.
"I'm just a normal guy that liked baseball - loved baseball - and got a good team," he said of the run in Boston. "I tried not to screw it up. I was really lucky. I caught a big break. I worked hard, but I caught a big break. I came to a team that was ready to win and we did."
He's certainly happy his initial return to Fenway Park as a manager came with the Indians off to a good start, entering Sunday's game against Boston a half game behind first-place Detroit in the AL Central.
"We did a lot of good things and then it's time to move on, and then I caught another break," he said. "I love being (with Cleveland). It's helped me look back on Boston maybe a little fonder now that I'm here. I'm glad."