By C. Trent Rosecrans
After nearly a full day of speculation, the Red Sox have made it official -- Terry Francona is out as the team's manager.
Reports started trickling out late Thursday night that the Red Sox would not pick up Francona's options for 2012 and 2013. He met with general manager Theo Epstein, team president Larry Lucchino and owners John Henry, Tom Werner and Ben Cherington on Friday morning. The group left Fenway Park without comment.
However, hours after releasing a statement that there were "no immediate plans for an announcement," the team made it official just after the team that took the wild card from Boston, the Tampa Bay Rays, started Game 1 of the ALDS in Texas.
The team had options for hte net two years on Francona's contract, worth $4.25 million each.
The Chicago Sun-Times reported Francona asked the team not to exercise his options.
"He has had his fill of the whole thing," a source told the Sun-Times.
Francona would be an attractive candidate for the White Sox or the Cubs. Francona started his coaching and managing career in the White Sox system, even serving as the manager of Double-A Birmingham when Michael Jordan played for the White Sox farm team. He has also worked with Chicago pitching coach Don Cooper, who received a four-year extension this week.
The 52-year-old Francona managed the Red Sox since 2004 and won two World Series titles during his tenure. He's 744-552 with two pennants and two World Series titles, but his teams have missed the playoffs the last two seasons despite having the second-highest payroll in the game.
This season, the Red Sox lost a nine-game lead in the American League wild-card race, going 7-20 in September.
Earlier on Thursday, Boston general manager Theo Epstein refused to blame Francona and said, "I know we don't believe in scapegoats."For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.