I’m really excited,” Francona said on the air as an ESPN analyst, his job for the past season. “People who don’t know me may have thought I was looking for something different.”
The Indians chose Francona over Sandy Alomar Jr., who served as the club’s interim manager for the final six games after Manny Acta was fired on Sept. 27. Francona and Alomar, who spent the past three seasons as a coach in Cleveland, were the only candidates to interview for the Indians’ opening.
Alomar has been offered a spot on Francona’s staff, most likely as bench coach.
After he was fired as Philadelphia’s manager, he worked in Cleveland’s front office as an adviser in 2001. He also spent a portion of the 1988 season on Cleveland’s major league roster and his father, Tito, played with the Indians from 1959-64.
Francona has stayed close with Indians president Mark Shapiro and general manager Chris Antonetti over the past decade. He said the chance to work with them again is what intrigued him most about the Cleveland job, which will have its challenges because of a much smaller payroll than he enjoyed in Boston.
“It’s a good story, almost a family feeling,” Francona said after his interview on Friday. “I don’t think you can take a job because of that, but it still means a lot to me. Because of Chris and Mark and my relationship, I am excited to try to tackle, or attempt to tackle, every challenge that comes our way and do it together.”
There are some major challenges in Cleveland, where fans have been waiting for a World Series winner since 1948.
The Indians were a major disappointment this season, going 68-94. They were within 3 1-2 games of first place on July 27, but went 5-24 in August — the worst month in the franchise’s 112-year history — and finished 20 games out in the AL Central. Acta didn’t get to finish his third season with the club.
“We have better talent than our record shows,” Antonetti said earlier this week.