After taking over as manager of the Cleveland Indians many have noted Terry Francona is much more relaxed than he was in his eight year run with Boston. Obviously the attention surrounding the team is on a much lesser scale in Cleveland, which may play a role in the reduction of stress, but when it comes to managing he’s still the same guy.
“No, it’s the same guy,” said Indians reliever Rich Hill, a Milton, MA native, who also played two seasons for Francona in Boston. “It’s just creating the same work environment and that’s it. Coming in and knowing what is expected out of you, going out there to perform at the best of your ability and playing with that conviction is all you’re asked to do.”
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The Indians may be the biggest surprise in all of baseball this season as they are off to a 27-20 start and going neck and neck with the Detroit Tigers for the lead in the AL Central. The culture Francona, now 54-years-old, has created since day one has been a major reason for their success.
“I think that is where this good locker room environment comes from, it starts with him in spring training,” Hill said. “It’s carried over into the season and we’ve had a lot of fun.”
Leading up to Francona’s return to Boston he showed some anxiety, self admitted on his part. To show his support for his manager, Indians general manager Chris Antonetti made the trip to Boston for the first two games, which meant a great deal to Francona.
“It meant more than anyone will ever know,” Francona said prior to Saturday’s game. “I know he’s getting ready for the draft and I know he’s busy and I know why he came. That meant a lot to me. I know he came for moral support because he knew I had some anxiety.”
This gesture goes back to Francona being more relaxed this season, possibly not having to deal with any outside factors other than the game on the field that he may have faced in Boston.
“The level of corporation in this organization, I've never seen anything like it,” he added.
Although he may have taken a year off from the game, managing in a different city, and possibly a more relaxed person, Francona is still one of the best managers in the game who knows how to get the most out of his players and most importantly, win games.
Follow Metro Red Sox writer Ryan Hannable on Twitter @Hannable84.