BOSTON - Julio Lugo has one of Manny Ramirez's baseball cards hanging by his locker, only there's something out of place: The slugger is wearing a Cleveland Indians uniform.
It's Ramirez, all right, the same guy now batting cleanup for Boston. He played his first 6 1/2 years for the Indians before signing with the Red Sox in 2000.
He's not the only one who wore a Cleveland uniform before putting on a hat with the traditional B. Fact is, there's a lot of crossover going into their AL championship series matchup starting Friday night at Fenway Park.
Boston center fielder Coco Crisp made his major league debut for the Indians and played his first 2 1/2 seasons with them. Julian Tavarez spent parts of four seasons in Cleveland. Alex Cora spent half a season there.
Red Sox manager Terry Francona and pitching coach John Farrell were teammates on the Indians in 1988 and went on to work in the front office.
"Believe me when I say this: I don't want them to beat us. I think that's stating the obvious," Francona said. "But there are some people over there that I am really close to.
"There's nothing wrong with going up against people that you really have a lot of respect for. Sometimes it makes you want to win more."
Even though the two teams don't have the long-seething rivalry of the Red Sox and Yankees, they are plenty familiar with each other.
Trot Nixon played his entire career in the Red Sox organization before signing with Cleveland last offseason.
"This is where he started his career. He made his career in Boston," Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis said before yet another off-day workout yesterday. "Now he's in another place. I'd bet in his mind, it's pretty cool: A year removed, and he gets to come back to Fenway and play the Red Sox."
Nixon, who batted .357 in the 2004 World Series when Boston ended its 86-year title drought, received a big ovation when he returned to Fenway with the Indians. His wife, Kathryn, received an award from the Jimmy Fund for the couple's charitable work and threw out the first pitch.
Francona wouldn't mind if Nixon gets another big hand - before his at-bat, not after it.
"If he's taking too many more, it means he's on base way too much," the Red Sox manager said.
Crisp made his major league debut with Cleveland, and played his first 2 1/2 seasons there. He came to the Red Sox in 2006 after they let Johnny Damon leave for free agency, but his first season in Boston was slowed by a broken finger that kept him from putting everything together.
"We really never got to see what we're seeing this year," Francona said.
This season, Crisp batted .268 with a career-high 28 stolen bases while getting to more balls per game than any other outfielder in the majors.
"It's kind of surprising when he doesn't get to something," Francona said. "That's probably not fair, but he looks like he's going to catch everything."
Francona spent some time in Cleveland himself.
After getting fired from his four-year stint as Philadelphia Phillies manager, Francona got a job in 2001 as special assistant to Indians general manager John Hart. There, Francona worked closely with assistant GM Mark Shapiro, who took over the top job when Hart left.
When the Indians eliminated the Yankees in the first round of the playoffs, Francona sent off a text message. Shapiro wrote back about five minutes later.
"I only had a one-year window to look at it, but there are some pretty awesome people over there," Francona said. "I don't think it's a fluke they've gotten where they are."
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