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Notes: Francona meets with Watson

Notes: Francona meets with Watson

PHILADELPHIA -- The Red Sox received a visit from the law Saturday, prior to their exhibition game against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Bob Watson, vice president of on-field operations for Major League Baseball, had a closed-door meeting with Boston manager Terry Francona to re-emphasize a few things as the regular season approaches.

The Red Sox were involved in two incidents on consecutive days this spring, one on Sunday against the Phillies and another on Monday against the Devil Rays. Watson wanted Francona to make sure there would be no more problems. The most recent fracas resulted in the 10-day suspension of Red Sox reliever Julian Tavarez, who hit Devil Rays outfielder Joey Gathright twice in the head on Monday. Tavarez received his punishment from Major League Baseball on Thursday and has opted not to appeal it.

"Bob wanted to make sure that what happened with us against Tampa Bay and Philadelphia didn't happen again," Francona said. "There have been some things that have happened in the last five or six months, and we seemed to be involved right with it. [Major League Baseball's] objective is to keep people on the field. I don't think there's a witch hunt involved here."

Watson reiterated what Francona had stated. Watson wanted to communicate that there are alternative ways to handle tense situations on the field other than the way the Red Sox have settled them recently.

"I just wanted to have a conversation with Terry, and for Terry to talk to his club about it," Watson said. "Our focus is for the teams and players to stay on the field and play ball. Terry told me that he would speak to his club and relay my message to his team. I'm satisfied with that. We want to let the other stuff that goes on be taken care of upstairs."

The message may have worked.

In the top of the second inning of Saturday's game, third baseman Mike Lowell crushed a 2-1 pitch for a solo home run to left field against Phils starter Gavin Floyd. Floyd went right at the following hitter, Kevin Youkilis, brushing him back with the next pitch. Youkilis responded two pitches later with a homer to left field.

Tavarez update: Tavarez is scheduled to begin his suspension on April 3, when the Red Sox open their season on the road against the Rangers.

Tavarez also was fined an undisclosed amount. According to the release issued by Major League Baseball, Tavarez received the discipline for "violent and unsportsmanlike actions." Because the Red Sox have two off-days in the first week of the season, Tavarez will miss eight games, with series involving Texas, Baltimore and Toronto.

"Julian is going to take [the suspension]," Francona said. "It's 10 days, and we have a couple of days off during that span, so I think we should be OK."

Francona plans on using Tavarez on Sunday in the second exhibition in Philadelphia, then sending him to Florida to get some work before he returns from the suspension on April 12, when the Red Sox host the Blue Jays.

Ortiz contract: ESPN Deportes reported Friday that the club and slugger David Ortiz were close to agreeing on a four-year, $50 million contract extension, but there was no update on any progress on Saturday.

"I don't know yet," said Ortiz.

The 30-year-old Ortiz had stated in January that he'd love to sign a new deal that would keep him in Boston. The left-handed designated hitter has a club option for 2007, capping an extension he signed in May 2004.

Philly roots: Francona's first Major League managing job came with the Phillies, as he led the team from 1997-2000. The Sox skipper still has a number of fans in the Philadelphia region, from local beat writers who made their way over to the visitors' dugout during batting practice to shake Francona's hand and say hello, to Phillies chairman Bill Giles.

Francona received a call from Giles on Saturday morning to arrange for dinner with Francona and his son, Nick, who attends the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

"What a guy," Francona said about Giles. "Bill is like everyone's grandfather. He's probably the nicest man you'll ever meet. And talk about people who just love the game -- Bill's awesome. People should be proud of the Phillies for having such a guy like that in their organization."

Coming up: The Red Sox will play the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on Sunday at 12:35 p.m. ET in their final tuneup for the regular season. Right-hander Matt Clement will start against Philadelphia's Ryan Madson.

Joseph Santoliquito is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"content":["spring_training" ] }
{"content":["spring_training" ] }