Tito Francona — Terry Francona’s father — dies at age 84

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The Cleveland Indians announced today that John “Tito” Francona, the father of current Indians manager Terry Francona, passed away at the age of 84 at his home last night in New Brighton, PA.

The original Tito Francona was primarily an outfielder, who spent a good amount of time at first base as well. He made his big league debut with the Orioles in 1956, playing for Baltimore for three seasons. After short stints with the White Sox and Tigers in 1958, Francona spent six years with the Indians from 1959-64. In 1959, the year Terry was born, Tito batted .363/.414/.566 with 20 homers and finished 5th in AL MVP voting despite falling just shy of qualifying for the batting title. In 1960 he led the AL in doubles and in 1961 he was an AL All-Star and led the league in singles.

From 1965 through his retirement following the 1970 season, he would bounce from the Cardinals to the Phillies to the Braves to the Athletics, ending his career with the Milwaukee Brewers. For his career he hit .272/.343/.403 (OPS+ 107) He ended his career with Milwaukee in 1970. He was named to the Top 100 Greatest Indians roster in 2001.

The Indians released the following statement:

“Our hearts ache as truly one of the special men in Cleveland Indians history passed away last night. On behalf of the entire Indians organization, our thoughts and prayers are with Terry and the entire Francona family. For a generation of Cleveland fans, Tito was one of the all-time favorites to wear an Indians uniform. It was certainly a joy the past five years watching Tito and Terry be together around the ballpark. He will be missed.”

Colin Poche, Rays go to arbitration just $125,000 apart

Colin Poche torn UCL
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Reliever Colin Poche went to salary arbitration with the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday with the sides just $125,000 apart.

The gap between the $1.3 million the pitcher asked for and the $1,175,000 the team offered was the smallest among the 33 players who exchanged proposed arbitration figures last month. The case was heard by John Woods, Jeanne Vonhof and Walt De Treux, who will hold their decision until later this month.

A 29-year-old left-hander, Poche had Tommy John surgery on July 29, 2020, and returned to the major leagues last April 22 after six appearances at Triple-A Durham. Poche was 4-2 with a 3.99 ERA and seven saves in 65 relief appearances for the Rays. He struck out 64 and walked 22 in 58 2/3 innings.

Poche had a $707,800 salary last year.

Tampa Bay went to arbitration on Monday with reliever Ryan Thompson, whose decision also is being held until later this month. He asked for $1.2 million and the Rays argued for $1 million.

Rays right-hander Jason Adam and outfielder Harold Ramirez remain scheduled for hearings.

Players and teams have split four decisions thus far. All-Star pitcher Max Fried ($13.5 million) lost to Atlanta and reliever Diego Castillo ($2.95 million) was defeated by Seattle, while pitcher Jesus Luzardo ($2.45 million) and AL batting champion Luis Arraez ($6.1 million) both beat the Marlins.

A decision also is pending for Los Angeles Angels outfielder Hunter Renfroe.

Eighteen additional players are eligible for arbitration and hearings are scheduled through Feb. 17. Among the eligible players is Seattle utilityman Dylan Moore, who has a pending three-year contract worth $8,875,000.