BOSTON (AP) – Red Sox manager Terry Francona said Friday that he has accepted an offer to manage a team of major leaguers scheduled for an exhibition tour of Japan in November.

Ken Macha had been scheduled to manage the team but the former Oakland skipper was fired two days after the AL West champions were swept out of the playoffs by Detroit.

“Unfortunately, Ken Macha was not able to represent a major league team,” Francona said.

Francona said he spoke to Macha, a good friend of his, before deciding to take the post.

There are no Red Sox players on the team. Carlos Beltran of the New York Mets and Jermaine Dye of the Chicago White Sox are among the players scheduled to join the tour.

Beltran’s Mets teammates, David Wright and Jose Reyes, and Phillies slugger Ryan Howard also are on the squad, which will play five games in Japan from Nov. 3-8 against players from Japanese baseball.

The Japanese team is led by Seibu Lions pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka, the MVP of the World Baseball Classic. Several other players from WBC champion Japan are also on the squad.

Francona managed the Red Sox to the World Series title in 2004.

AP-ES-10-20-06 1724EDT


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