“I knew it was right for me,” Terry Francona said after he signed a four-year contract with the Cleveland Indians. After leading the Boston Red Sox to two World Series titles, he was introduced Monday as the 42nd manager of the Indians.
Francona spent the past year as a TV analyst, leaving the game after the Red Sox’s collapse in September 2011. He has previously worked in Cleveland’s front office and he says that the most intriguing aspect of taking the job was getting the chance to work again with general manager Chris Antoneti and president Mark Shapiro. “We’ve kept in touch for the last 12 years. I value not only their friendship but their guidance and 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.”
Francona claims that his year off as a broadcaster has re-energized him. He says he acknowledges the mistakes he made with the Red Sox and has had the time to reflect on “what mattered” to him. “To do this job and do it correctly, you’ve got to be in all the time,” Francona said. “I was showing some signs of wear and tear. But I wouldn’t have interviewed here if I didn’t think it was the right thing to do.”
His goal for the Indians in the upcoming season is simple. “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… My job is to get the players that we have to play the utmost of their ability, and then even beyond that to care about each other on the field fiercely and start building loyalty.”
Francona is excited about Cleveland’s core of young players. “This is a clean slate for everybody. Dealing with players is fun. Dealing with young players is really fun… I’m looking forward to this challenge. I can’t guarantee we’re going to win. Nobody can, but I’m excited about the change to go about this and make this better.”