Francona said he was thrilled to watch the Pirates advance to play St. Louis in the division series.
"I grew up 30 miles from Three Rivers Stadium, now it's PNC (Park)," Francona said, "and unless we're playing them I'm a big fan of what they're doing because I grew up there and I knew every lineup from Manny Sanguillen to Willie Stargell to Dave Parker. I was thrilled. I thought it was really neat."
Francona's father, Tito, still lives in New Brighton.
FAMILIAR FACES: Atlanta rookie Evan Gattis is expected to bat cleanup for the Braves when they face Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 1 of the NL division series Thursday night.
The two have a history.
Gattis and Kershaw are both natives of Dallas.
"We grew up together a little bit," said the 27-year-old Gattis, who is about 19 months older than Kershaw. "We played against each other and with each other. But I probably won't get any well-wishes from him tomorrow. Maybe in the offseason."
Gattis remembered a young pitcher who was difficult to hit.
Not much has changed.
"He had some giddy-up," Gattis said. "He's always been pretty talented."
DAY IN, DAY OUT: Aside from the fact it was win or go home in the NL wild-card game, Pirates star Andrew McCutchen thinks that now that his team has advanced to the division series against St. Louis, playing Tuesday night was an advantage.
After the Pirates completed a workout early Wednesday evening, McCutchen said he'd rather stick to routine than get a bunch of time off. He played in 157 games this season.
"Towards the end of the season when you have more than one or two days off, your body really starts to shut down," McCutchen said. "So you have to really trick yourself, telling yourself we've still got ball to play.