Francona’s world turns easier in Cleveland

CLEVELAND — Terry Francona has learned quickly that he’s not in Boston anymore.
Managing in Cleveland is a different ballgame.
“It’s more baseball and less soap opera … however you want to say it,” Francona said Friday before the Indians rain-delayed game against Tampa.
Francona’s statement was in response to a question about events he described in his book, “Francona: The Red Sox Years.” In the book, Francona detailed how he grew weary of constantly having to put out fires in Boston that had nothing to do with baseball — ranging from rescheduling games at inopportune times to dealing with quirky requests from ownership.
“It got to a point I think in Boston where there were so many things on the periphery,” he said.
Add on some of the “personalities” the Red Sox had — Manny Ramirez, Josh Beckett — and it became quite a mix.
“That was part of the job description,” Francona said.
Life is different with the Indians.
“I think I remember in the first press conference (in Cleveland) saying I could be more of a coach again. That’s what I’ve found to be true,” he said. “To have that also, you have to have the coaching staff that allows me to do that. And we do here. As we lost coaches in Boston, some of my responsibilities changed also.”
He referred to his Boston bench coach and good friend Brad Mills being hired in Houston as manager. Mills has re-joined Francona’s staff as the Indians third-base coach. The emphasis seems more proper.
“You’re always churning during the game and that’s OK; I actually love it,” Francona said. “But we spend more time on baseball, and I appreciate that.”
He said managing issues off the field was simply part of the job in Boston, just like it is in a place like New York.
“It’s part of the responsibility and part of why I respected Joe Torre so much for all those years,” Francona said. “He allowed those guys to play. They had good teams, but he had a knack for allowing his team to (play). He would, I don’t want to say take the bullets, but he shielded them from a lot of stuff. Whether it was coming from ownership back in the days of George Steinbrenner, the media, he let good players play. and it reflected on the field.”
The media demands in Boston were also a lot more intense and constant, Francona said.
Though he smiled when it was mentioned to him that the media he deals with in Cleveland is high quality.
“Obviously,” he deadpanned.