Notes: Matchup not the same for Torre

Notes: Matchup not the same for Torre

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Sitting in the visitors' dugout before Thursday's game at City of Palms Park, and for the first time wearing Dodger blue instead of Yankees pinstripes, Joe Torre said he was not sure what kind of response he would receive from the crowd when his name was announced.

He did not have to wait that long. At 12:49 p.m. ET, about 15 minutes before the start of the game, Torre, the first-year Dodgers manager greeted Red Sox manager Terry Francona behind home plate. When the old friends exchanged a hug, a cheer went up from the crowd.

When Torre's name was announced with the starting lineups a few minutes later, another louder cheer went up.

"[Sox fans] were always very kind to me," Torre said. "I'll never forget in '99 when I came back from my cancer surgery and decided I felt well enough to get back into it, I went up to Boston. And it was funny, I said to [then Yankees bench coach Don Zimmer], 'Why don't you take out the lineup card?' Zim said, 'No, you do it.' I went out there with the lineup card, people gave me a standing ovation like I've never forgotten."

Torre said his encounters with Sox fans were only stressful at Fenway Park -- but usually memorable.

"The one that's my favorite is -- I think we were playing a Sunday night game -- coming down in the [hotel] elevator, this man and his wife get on," Torre said. "He said, 'We're going to beat you tonight.' I said, 'I hope not, but if that's what happens, that's what happens.' I know something's coming next, and he says, 'You know, if I had a choice of capturing Saddam Hussein or beating the Yankees, I would pick beating the Yankees.' And with that, the elevator door opened and he walked out and I just stood there [thinking], 'OK, we know where we are.'"

Torre said this spring has felt different, starting with a new team in a new league, in likely his last Spring Training in Florida, as the Dodgers move to Arizona next year.

"It feels different because of the uniform I'm wearing, not because of the uniform [the Sox are] wearing, obviously," he said. "You're supposed to be mad if you're wearing a Yankees uniform. You're supposed to be mad about playing. Terry and I always used to converse afterwards. Either he would call me or I would call him, telling each other how happy we were this stuff was over with for another six weeks.

"But it's something, when we got on the bus today, it wasn't the same thought process coming over here. I mean, you still want to win a ballgame, but in Spring Training, you're more interested in finding out about your team. So you're allowed to pay attention to business."

Down time: Center fielder Coco Crisp and shortstop Julio Lugo were not available for Thursday's game against the Dodgers. Lugo, out with tightness in his back, is expected to play Friday. Crisp missed two games with a sore groin and was having a root canal Thursday.

"On one side of it, maybe it's a blessing, because it gives him another day," Francona said. "But at the same, going through that root canal [myself], I can't imagine him being ready to go out [Friday] and play nine innings. He's lost about a week, which gets frustrating."

Francona does not expect Crisp's absence from the lineup to affect the competition with Jacoby Ellsbury for the center-field job.

"We're trying to make decisions, and good decisions, and [be] fair to everybody," Francona said. "It is hard. A guy is in the dentist chair. It doesn't make it easier, that's for sure. At the same time, we do know what Coco can do. We think we do. We just want to see him out there and be healthy and feel good about himself. When Coco's out there running around, feeling good, he's a good player, and I think he feels the same way. It happens to somebody every spring. Somebody does something and you kind of have to nurse him along."

The kids are all right: Young players such as Dustin Pedroia, Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz and Jacoby Ellsbury have become a regular -- and accepted -- part of the mostly veteran team over the past season, providing benefits to both the veterans and the youngsters.

"I think it invigorates, is a good word," Francona said. "I think last year, when we got a little younger -- like with Ellsbury and Petey -- our guys played with a little more youthful enthusiasm, like a reminder, which I don't think was bad.

"You go from team to team, because I've been with so many different teams, you see so many different, like, rituals. I remember some teams, you're a young kid, man, you're kind of ostracized. And I never understood that. These guys are on our team. Making maybe one of the young guys carry the beer on the team bus, something like that, I think can be in fun, but when you're in the clubhouse, you're in the field, they're our guys."

Colon on Sunday: Bartolo Colon is expected to throw a side session Friday and batting practice Sunday morning at City of Palms Park, not Monday as originally reported.

Up next: The Red Sox have split-squad games Friday. Julian Tavarez will start in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., against the Orioles, and will be followed to the mound by Kyle Snyder and Dan Kolb. Clay Buchholz will start against the Twins at City of Palms, and is scheduled to be followed by Jonathan Papelbon and Hideki Okajima. Both games will start at 1:05 p.m. ET.

Maureen Mullen is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.