LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) – Boston manager Terry Francona walked into the hotel lobby looking healthy and ready for a jam-packed week at the baseball winter meetings.

He will be busy as the Red Sox try to trade left fielder Manny Ramirez, find someone to replace the slugger and upgrade their bullpen during the meetings, which began Monday in suburban Orlando.

One day after a doctor’s visit, Francona said he is feeling good again and certainly looked fit. In late October, the 47-year-old Francona withdrew his name to manage in an All-Star tour of Japan because of an infection in his foot that landed him in the hospital. Francona is no longer taking the blood thinners he needed for several years after a series of health scares – and he has quit chewing tobacco. He even had all of his cans of chew hauled out of his office this winter.

“I haven’t chewed since the ninth inning of the last game,” said Francona, who led the Red Sox to their first World Series title since 1918 during his first season as skipper in 2004. “Now I’ve got to keep it going into the season. I quit chewing every year and when the season starts I start again. It’s a horrible habit. If our guys throw strikes, I’ll quit. If they don’t throw strikes … it’s up to them.”

Boston finished 86-76 in 2006 and in third place in the AL East, 11 games behind the rival New York Yankees and a game back of the Toronto Blue Jays. A 9-21 August did in the Red Sox, who dealt with numerous injuries down the stretch.

Then after the season, Francona was hospitalized because of an infection in one of his left toes during a family trip in California.

Francona had his right knee replaced late last year – the 10th operation on that knee and 19th on both knees combined. He developed life-threatening complications after knee surgery in November 2002, including a blood clot in his lungs and staph infections in both knees that required several follow-up operations.

He was hospitalized for tests in April 2005 after chest pains that doctors said were probably caused by a virus.

He played 10 years in the major leagues as a first baseman and outfielder, and had already had 11 knee operations when he went in for the arthroscopic knee surgery in 2002.

AP-ES-12-04-06 1255EST

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.