“I don’t want to be a rental manager,” Francona said Monday as he was introduced as the club’s 42nd manager. “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.”
Francona, who led the Boston Red Sox to two World Series titles, was hired over the weekend by the Indians. He was chosen over Sandy Alomar Jr., who managed the club’s final six games after Manny Acta was fired. Francona takes over an Indians team that collapsed from contention by going 5-24 in August and finishing 68-94, the third time in the past four seasons they have lost at least 90 games.
Francona and Alomar were the only candidates to interview for the job. Financial terms of Francona’s deal were not immediately known.
Francona spent the past year as a TV analyst, stepping away from the game after the Red Sox following the team’s historic September collapse in 2011.
The 53-year-old previously worked in Cleveland’s front office, and Francona said the chance to work again with Indians general manager Chris Antonetti and team president Mark Shapiro was the most intriguing aspect of taking the job.
The Indians have always held a special place for Francona. His 78-year-old father, Tito, played in Cleveland from 1959-64, and Francona said he cried when he told his father he had accepted the Indians’ job.
Tito Francona attended his son’s news conference.
Francona said he has not yet hired any coaches for his staff. Alomar could return as Cleveland’s bench coach, but the 46-year-old, who served as the club’s interim manager for the final six games, could be a candidate for other managerial openings.
Since agreeing to join the Indians, Francona said he has reached out to several players and is eager to begin getting the team headed in the right direction.
“This is a clean slate for everybody,” said Francona, who said he is excited about Cleveland’s core of young players. “Dealing with players is fun. Dealing with young players is really fun.”
Francona said the year working as a broadcaster has re-energized him. He said he missed being around players and felt uncomfortable when he returned to the clubhouse. He also learned from the mistakes he made in his final season with the Red Sox.
“We didn’t handle frustration very well and we paid the price,” he said.
Francona won’t have the same massive payroll he enjoyed in Boston, but Francona said he’s never worried about a player’s salary.
“I don’t care what players are making,” he said. “I want them to play the game right.”
Francona will attend the team’s organizational meetings this week in Goodyear, Ariz.
“I will do a lot of listening,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of learning to do.”