Terry Francona is once again managing a franchise with a World Series drought of more than 60 years. He said the Cleveland Indians’ smaller payroll won’t affect his approach that won two championships with the Boston Red Sox.
Francona led the Red Sox to a World Series title in 2004, breaking the team’s 86-year championship drought, and again in 2007. His teams had an average payroll of $137 million during his eight seasons in Boston, according to a USA Today database.
Today he was introduced as manager of a franchise that hasn’t won a World Series title in 64 years, the second-longest spell in Major League Baseball behind the Chicago Cubs’ 104 seasons, and spent $78 million on payroll in 2012. He said the Indians, 24-53 after the All-Star break, are ready to compete now.
“We may not win every game, but we won’t back down from anybody,” Francona, 53, said in a news conference at Progressive Field. “The goal here is for me to spend all my energy trying to ensure that these players play the game correctly and with respect, so when people are in Cleveland they say they’re proud to be a Cleveland Indians fan.”
The Indians announced Francona’s hiring on Sept. 6, two days after his successor in Boston, Bobby Valentine, was fired following the franchise’s worst season in almost half a century.
Cleveland was in first place in the American League Central division through 70 games this year. The team fired Manny Acta six games before the end of the season and finished 68-94, 20 games behind the Detroit Tigers in the division.
The Indians made the playoffs once in the last 11 seasons, and haven’t won the World Series since 1948.
“Terry is an exceptional leader, he has boundless energy, he’s a relentless communicator and he brings a winning attitude,” General Manager Chris Antonetti said.
Francona was fired by the Red Sox last year after the team blew a nine-game playoff lead with less than a month to play, the biggest September collapse in MLB history. He spent this season as a television analyst for ESPN, and said today that he needed the year off before managing again.
“To do this job and to do it correctly, you have to be all in, all the time,” he said. “I was showing some signs of wear and tear.”
The Indians also interviewed former catcher Sandy Alomar Jr., a six-time All-Star who spent 11 years with the team. Alomar was 3-3 as interim manager after Acta’s firing.
Francona worked in the Indians’ front office in 2001, and his father, Tito, played for Cleveland from 1959 to 1964.
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