Reporting Matt Loede
CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – The Indians have spent the past week after the hiring of new manager Terry Francona going through meetings as they start to put together the new look of the team for 2013.
The teams front office, along with Francona, have been spending time in Arizona looking at the players on the roster and what to look forward to with a team that sunk in the second half of the season.
Francona spent some time with the “Animal House” on Wednesday, and sounded excited about his new role with the Indians, and said that it started with the relationship with the teams front office bonded back 12 years ago.
“When I got fired by the Phillies in 2000, I came in here and worked as a special assistant, and basically I worked with Mark Shaprio and Chris Antonetti, and that was the appeal for me.”
Many felt that Francona would look at the Indians, and decide that the challenges around the team were too great to succeed. The new manager said he’s excited about the challenges that lie ahead with the Tribe.
“I know there are some challenges here, I think people initially thought that would scare me off,” Francona said. “I don’t think those people know me as well as they thought, I look forward to it.”
Last season Francona spent the year watching all of Major League Baseball while working at ESPN. Coming off an eight-year run as the manager of the Red Sox, Francona said it was a good step back for him.
“A year off was really good for me, managing takes a toll on you,” Francona said. “In 8 years in Boston, I think sometimes those years should be counted as dog years. Got beat up a little bit, took a year, it’s not easy to tell yourself you have to take a step back.
“The year at ESPN was really helpful, I got to watch games without dying with wins and losses, felt like I got a little energy back, got a little perspective back. I found myself missing more and more being around the players, and that was a good feeling, I missed it, but I was glad I did.”
Last season the Indians started the season contending in the AL Central, and by the time July came around the team was in the race.
That’s when the bottom dropped out, and by the time it was over, the club was trying to stay out of the basement of the Central. Francona’s job is to come in and as fast as he can – change those fortunes.
“I’m thrilled to be here, so my energy is going to be how can we be a team that is going to contend, and how we can make Indians fans proud,” Francona said. “You have to earn that back, and I understand that, I hope the fans, I hope we can make them proud and they will want to come out and watch us play, you have to earn that.”
A lot of Indians fans are already feeling it’s going to take quite awhile for the Indians to get back to contention. This past season the Baltimore Orioles along with the Oakland A’s proved that’s not always the case.
The new Tribe manager says that baseball, like other sports, is one where you can turn around fortunes quickly, maybe faster than some think.
“If your an Indians fan, it gives people hope, you don’t need a four, five, six-year plan, you can go win,” Francona said.
Another fear is that the Indians are going to just sit back and not spend this offseason. Francona has already said that’s not his concern, and moving forward that’s the job of fans – to worry about how much a team is going to spend on players in the market.
“That’s being a fan, and that’s the fun part about being a fan,” Francona said. “My job is to whoever we bring in here is to try and get the most out of them, and be the best ball club we can be.
“I don’t view it so much as restrictions, as they are challenges, and one that we look forward to tackling head on.”
Indians fans are anxious about the new look of the team, as well as how Francona is going to shape the roster. If nothing else, the offseason will continue to be very interesting for the Indians.