Originally posted on Ted's Army  |  Last updated 4/21/12
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Terry Francona’s unceremonious departure from the Red Sox [team stats] after last season couldn’t have been uglier. But the erstwhile manager received a hero’s welcome yesterday upon his return to Fenway Park [map].

Having changed his mind to attend Fenway’s 100th anniversary bash, Francona got a standing ovation, along with a “Tito! Tito!” chant, when he stepped onto the field during the pregame ceremony.

“Well-deserved,” designated hitter David Ortiz [stats] said. “He earned that. Tito was here for, what, eight years? Won two World Series. Got us to the playoffs lots of times. What else can you ask from a manager? Well-deserved.”

“That was great,” third baseman Kevin Youkilis [stats] said. “I know there’s a lot of controversy about him not coming, but it was great to see him out there. I know it meant a lot to him. The fans love him. As players, we love him, too. He did amazing things here.”

Herald - ‘Tito, Tito’ gets his due

Francona's appearance at the 100th anniversary celebration was much larger than any spat between the ownership group and himself.

It was the first chance that Red Sox fans have had to thank him for his amazing eight year run as manager.  You can hear the "Tito!" chant in the embedded video above.  A fantastic moment, albeit a little short.

The other great thing about Tito showing up was that we can all have some closure on his tenure with Boston.  It ended badly.  The aftermath was infinitely worse, and has dragged on for over half a year.  The Red Sox never gave him a proper sendoff and the fans never got to say goodbye.  All that was remedied yesterday with a simple stroll through the Fenway outfield.

Now Francona can focus on his announcing gig and/or finding his next bench job.  We can turn our attention to trying to figure out how the Red Sox are 3.5 games behind Baltimore 13 games into the season.  And Sox brass can focus on trying to find a way to make this team competitive.

On Page 2, old friend Anthony Rizzo is on a tear

No one expected this bunch to contend for a playoff berth in 2012, but a fan can always hope that his or her team won't be intolerably bad. And yet here we are. The Cubs are weapons-grade bad. Almost unwatchable.

As often happens when a team reaches such a low point, calls have begun for minor league reinforcements. First base prospect Anthony Rizzo, 22, is off to another torrid start at Triple-A, hitting .393/.433/.786 with seven homers through 14 games, so his name has become increasingly popular in Chicago. You'll note that Rizzo's current home run total actually exceeds the combined efforts of all Cubs hitters. He hit a pair of bombs on Thursday, his third multi-homer game this season.

Yahoo! - Farm Report: Revisiting Anthony Rizzo

You read that right: Rizzo has more home runs himself than the entire Cubs major league roster, averaging a home run ever 2 games.

If you don't remember, Rizzo was one of the key players the Red Sox flipped to San Diego for Adrian Gonzalez.  When the Padres called him up last year and Rizzo batted .141 over 49 games with a single home run, which is definitely impacting the Cubs decision to leave him in the minors for a while longer despite his hot bat. 

But it'll be fun to see how he produces when the Cubs do finally promote him.

Rest of the links:

Herald - Hub’s endless love for Pedro Martinez | Struggling Sox a real drag on Fenway bash | Going back in time | Double tear-jerker at Fenway Park | Globe - Dice-K to start rehab assignment on Sunday | Vintage moments | Video: The scene at Fenway Park's 100th birthday celebration | CSNNE - McAdam: Salty's roster spot could be in danger | Sox can't shake losing feeling | WEEI - In these tough times, the Red Sox are still looking for their leader | Bobby V: Sox still 'very talented team'

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