The Indians have found their man.
Sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com that Terry Francona will manage the Indians. The club is expected to make an official announcement Monday.
Francona just came in for an interview with the Indians yesterday, but he has been considered the favorite over the past week or two. According to Nick Camino of WTAM 1100 in Cleveland, the former Red Sox skipper said on ESPN’s Baseball Tonight last night that he was only considering whether to manage the Indians next season or return to his broadcasting job at ESPN. Sandy Alomar, Jr., who finished the season as the interim manager after Manny Acta was fired, was the only other known candidate for the permanent job.
Some may call the Indians an odd destination for Francona on the surface, as they don’t have the talent or the payroll that he was blessed with in Boston, but maybe we shouldn’t be so surprised. Francona worked as an advisor with the Indians in 2001 and has maintained a relationship with general manager Chris Antonetti and team president Mark Shapiro. Of course, Francona’s father, Tito Francona, played six seasons for the Indians from 1959-64.
Francona owns a 1,029-915 record over 12 seasons as manager with the Phillies and Red Sox. He led Boston to World Series titles in 2004 and 2007. The Indians admittedly aren’t close to the World Series after finishing this season at 68-94, but Francona’s hiring at least provides some reason for hope in the near future.
UPDATE, 18:23 PM: The Indians have confirmed the news through their Twitter feed.
On Monday, Major League Baseball announced some changes aimed at improving the game’s pace of play, something that has been a pet cause for commissioner Rob Manfred. Among the changes was a limit on mound visits whether from managers and coaches, the catcher, or other defenders. Each team will have six non-pitching change mound visits per game and one additional visit each inning in extra innings. Craig wrote more in depth on the changes here if you happened to miss it.
Angels catcher Martin Maldonado says he is going to do what’s necessary to stay on the same page with his pitchers. Via Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register, Maldonado said, “If the game is on the line, I’m going to go out there. If we’re at six [visits], and it’s going to be the seventh, I’m going to go out there, even if I have to pay a fine. I’m there for the pitchers.”
Cubs catcher Willson Contreras said as much on Tuesday. Per Josh Frydman of WGN News, Contreras said, “What about if you have a tight game and you have to go out there? They can’t say anything about that, that’s my team and we just care about wins. If they’re going to fine me about number seven mound visit, I’ll pay the price.”
Exhibition games haven’t even started yet, but two notable backstops — the lesser-known Maldonado won a Gold Glove last year — are clearly not happy with the rule change. As Craig alluded to in his article yesterday, arguments between catchers and umpires (and, subsequently, managers and umpires) are probably going to become more frequent, which would likely end up nullifying any pace of play improvements.