New Indians manager Francona ready for new challenges
Cleveland, OH, United States (4E Sports) – Introduced as the 42nd manager of the Cleveland Indians Monday, Terry Francona said he’s ready for the tough challenge of bringing the ballclub back to its winning ways.
Francona, who signed a four-year deal, said he took the job due to the team’s close ties with his family and his long-standing relationship with both president Mark Shapiro and general manager Chris Antonetti.
He worked for the Cleveland front office when Shapiro was the general manager in 2001 where he also developed a close friendship with Antonetti, who contacted Francona after the Indians fired manager Manny Acta on Sept. 27.
With their help, Francona is confident he can take the challenges that will come his way as he starts his first managerial job after a seven-year stint at the helm of the Boston Red Sox.
“We’ve kept in touch for the last 12 years,” said Francona, who played for the Indians in 1988 while his father, Tito, suited up for Cleveland from 1959-64 and was an All-Star in 1961.
“I value not only their friendship but their guidance and their leadership. I know we have challenges ahead of us but I look forward to us tackling these challenges as a unit, as a ‘we.’ I’m genuinely excited to do that,” he added.
One of the challenges Francona will face is the Indians’ lack of financial capabilities to sign top-caliber players.
“I didn’t ask for that,” he said. “That wasn’t one of the questions. We’re going to work together and figure out how to tackle challenges. I don’t need to be the general manager or the owner. I’m perfectly content to be the manager.”
Francona will take over a team that has lost 94 games last season, including a Major League-worst 18-45 record from July 27 through the end of the campaign. Before the slump, the Indians were 3 1/2 games out of first place in the American League Central.
The Indians have not been to the postseason since 2007 when they were beaten by then-Francona’s Red Sox in the AL Championship Series.
“We’re going to compete,” he said “We’re always going to compete. We may not win every game, but we won’t back down from anyone.”
The 53-year-old Francona has compiled a 1,029-915 record between stints with the Philadelphia Phillies (1997-2000) and Red Sox (2004-11). His 744 victories with the Red Sox are the second-most by a manager in the club’s long history.
Francona was fired in 2011 after Boston went 7-20 in September, dropping from first place in the AL East to losing the Wild Card berth on the final day of the regular season. He then worked as baseball analyst for ESPN.