SPORTS
09/30/2011 08:21 am ET | Updated Nov 30, 2011

Terry Francona, Red Sox Split: Boston Manager Reportedly Leaving Team After Epic Collapse [UPDATED]

Sometimes change is simply necessary. That might be the approach Terry Francona and the Boston Red Sox take after their epic September collapse was completed on Wednesday night with a loss to the Orioles.

According to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, the Red Sox skipper will meet with team officials Friday morning. Rosenthal expects that Francona will no longer be the team's manager at the conclusion of that session.

UPDATE 1: Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman reported Friday morning that Francona and the Red Sox are "parting ways." The Red Sox decided not to pick up his contract option and Francona is now aware he's out, according to Heyman, who says a formal announcement could take place today.

UPDATE 2: Not so fast! GM Theo Epstein released a statement Friday afternoon, saying that there are no immediate plans for an announcement.

"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. We all plan on taking some time to process the thoughts expressed in the meeting. There are no immediate plans for an announcement."

We're just as confused as you are..

UPDATE 3 Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman tweeted that Francona is believed to have pressed for an answer. Boston will apparently announce Friday night that they WILL part ways with Francona.

EARLIER:
Rosenthal, however, makes clear that Francona will not be fired. Click HERE for more.

On Thursday, Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein told reporters that it would be "totally irresponsible and shortsighted" to blame the team's September struggles on Francona, who helped lead the team to World Series titles in 2004 and 2007.

Entering the final month of the regular season, the Red Sox held a a nine-game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays in the race for the AL Wild Card. But the high-priced assemblage of talent in Boston stumbled to 7-20 record in September. Tied with the Rays at the start of game No. 162, the Sox missed the playoffs entirely after Jonathan Papelbon blew a save in Baltimore just moments before the Rays pulled off a miraculous comeback to snag the AL Wild Card.