Terry Francona rooting for Dustin Pedroia ‘probably more than anyone else'

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You can take Terry Francona out of Boston, but you can't take Boston out of Terry Francona.

The ex-Red Sox manager still has a special connection with his former players. Francona spoke Wednesday at the Winter Meetings about how proud he was to see both Dave Roberts and Alex Cora in the World Series.

"Yeah, that was cool," Francona said. "That was cool. And to see how Alex has handled himself with so much humility and grace, and not surprising, but it's kind of fun to watch."

Another one of Francona's ex-players, Dustin Pedroia, missed all but three games during the 2018 season with a knee injury. As Pedroia continues his rehab after undergoing surgery in July, Francona was asked how hard he's rooting for the 2008 American League MVP to make a comeback.

"Probably more than anybody else," he said. "I've been pretty vocal about how special he is. If anybody can do something, it's him and if he can't, it will be because of the way he played for so long that it just beat the crap out of him. But, no, I'll be pulling for him like crazy."

The Sox second baseman has been limited to weight lifting and rehab this offseason and is scheduled to begin running in January.

Francona also talked about the challenges the 2019 Red Sox will face as they attempt to repeat as World Series champions

"Well, the first thing is the challenges are -- first of all, there's the same ones you always have, that it's really hard to win," Francona said. "And then on top of that, you have, if you have to fight the human nature of guys wanting to relive, it's human nature. Is that helping you get better? Probably not. But it's human nature. So getting them to be as hungry as they were the year before, that can be a challenge.

"Some teams maybe it isn't. But maybe some teams it is."

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