- Associated Press - Friday, September 30, 2011

BOSTON (AP) - Terry Francona met with Boston Red Sox management on Friday to discuss his future as manager. Shortly after the meeting, Francona, owner John Henry, and chairman Tom Werner left in separate cars. Francona left first, at 11:55 a.m. No announcement was made.

At 1:25 p.m., general manager Theo Epstein released a statement.

“John Henry, Tom Werner, Larry Lucchino, Ben Cherington and I met with Terry Francona this morning at Fenway Park to exchange thoughts and information on the 2011 season and discuss areas for improvement going forward,” he said. “We all plan on taking some time to process the thoughts expressed in the meeting. There are no immediate plans for an announcement.”

At 1:29 p.m., surprisingly, Francona pulled back into Fenway in his Cadillac Escalade, before departing again at 2:09 p.m.

As he drove away, a fan on the street clapped and then gave him the thumbs-up sign.

Several media reports Friday said Francona would not return for a ninth season. He led the Red Sox to World Series titles in 2004, their first since 1918, and 2007.

The team has 10 days from the end of its season to decide whether to retain the manager, whose contract has two option years at the club’s discretion. Boston missed the playoffs despite leading the AL wild-card race by nine games on Sept. 4. It went 6-18 after that, ending with a 4-3 loss Wednesday night to the Baltimore Orioles.

At a news conference Thursday, Francona said he and general manager Theo Epstein had approached the topic of the option, but declined to comment on his future.

“It’s still pretty fresh,” Francona said, “and pretty raw.”