A 'homecoming' thrills Francona

Francona
Francona
Posted: October 09, 2012

TERRY FRANCONA could have waited to manage somewhere else. At some point, a more talented team in a major market with a massive payroll would make him an offer.

But if he was going back, there was only one team for him.

And when the Cleveland Indians called, Francona was on his way.

"I knew it was right for me," he said.

Francona, who led the Boston Red Sox to two World Series titles, was introduced Monday as the new manager of the Indians, who crashed in the second half this season after contending for 4 months. It's a family reunion of sorts for Francona, who has ties with the Indians stretching back more than 50 years.

His father, Tito, played six seasons in Cleveland and Francona spent a year working as an assistant in the Indians' front office after he was fired by the Phillies in 2000.

Francona signed a 4-year contract. He hopes to stay even longer.

"I don't want to be a rental manager," he said. "I didn't want to come in worried. I want to be part of the solution. I want to stick around. I didn't come here to go to pasture."

With an impressive resume that includes ending Boston's 86-year drought between world championships, Francona was picked by the Indians over Sandy Alomar Jr., who served as the club's bench coach before taking over as interim manager for the final six games after Manny Acta was fired on Sept. 27.

Francona is inheriting an Indians team that finished 68-94 and 20 games out of first place in the AL Central. Cleveland went 18-45 after July 27, an inexplicable collapse that cost Acta his job and sent Indians general manager Chris Antonetti and president Mark Shapiro searching for a strong leader to take over a club with young talent and potential.

They didn't have to look far. The night Acta was dismissed, Antonetti called Francona, who spent the past year working as an analyst for ESPN. Before long, the two friends were hammering out contract terms.

After being introduced by Antonetti, Francona looked toward the back of the room, where his 78-year-old father sat proudly.

"In 1959, a guy hit .363 and that was the year I was born," Francona said, "and it just so happens to be the same guy that is the best father a son could ever ask for."

Noteworthy * 

On the 56th anniversary of Don Larsen's perfect game for the Yankees against the Brooklyn Dodgers in the World Series, Steiner Sports Memorabilia announced it will auction off the uniform that Larsen wore.

Larsen, 82, figured it was time to part with the jersey that he kept for several years in a closet in Idaho.

"I've been thinking about it for a bit," Larsen said. "I'm not getting any younger and I don't know how much longer I'll be around. I have two grandchildren, one in college and the other is a freshman in high school. I want to be able to take care of them and make sure they can both go to college, which isn't cheap these days. So I figured it was the right time."

* Los Angeles Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis had arthroscopic left knee surgery and should be ready at the start of spring training in February. Ellis finished his first full season in the majors with a .270 average, 13 homers and 52 RBI.

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