CLEVELAND (WJW) — The Cleveland Guardians season is over. They did not make the playoffs. Making the season’s third-place-in-the-AL-Central finish even more emotional, the 11-season skipper Terry “Tito” Francona decided to step away from the team.
Tuesday, the Guardians held a press conference to discuss the losing season, the future and Francona making his move official. During the meeting, president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti was complimentary of Francona’s guidance over the past decade.
Meanwhile, Francona continued to skirt around the word “retire,” and Antonetti said the team is looking to move him into a new role.
“I know I need to go home and get healthy and see what I miss about our game,” Francona said. “Then maybe after some time, see the best way to quench that appetite, whatever it is. I don’t foresee managing, I don’t have a crystal ball. If I was going to manage, I’d like doing it here, but I also don’t want to turn away from the game … we’ll figure out something later.”
Last week, the team handed out “Thank You Tito” tees to fans and celebrated his career prior to the final home game at Progressive Field and Francona said the moment was overwhelming.
“What happened that last game, it was touching. It was uncomfortable as hell,” Francona confessed during the press conference Tuesday. “I know the bar is low, but I’m a way better person for coming here. I came here for the right reasons and I’m leaving the right reasons.”
The Guardians are currently working to fill the managerial role as soon as possible, Antonetti said.
Spring training starts next February.
Read the Live blog from the press conference below:
- Antonetti spoke first, saying that Tito was absolutely instrumental in getting the team to where they are now. “Obviously, this year did not go the way we wanted … Our opportunity now is to figure about how we build on that.”
- Tito will have a new role with the team, after he gets healthy first, Antonetti said.
- Tito continued to skirt around the word “retire.”
- “I know I need to go home and get healthy and see what I miss about our game, and then maybe after some time, see the best way to quench that appetite, whatever it is. I don’t foresee managing, I don’t have a crystal ball. If I was going to manage I’d like doing it here but I also don’t want to turn away from the game … we’ll figure out something later.”
- “We were clear that we wanted Tito to manage here as long as he wanted,” Antonetti said.
- “I’ve been in this job for 11 years, and I certainly have my way of doing things, for better or worse … it doesn’t need to be my parameters, I don’t think that’s fair to these guys,” Tito said about what the new manager would be like.
- They are considering both external and internal candidates for Tito’s replacement, Antonetti explained.
- “What happened that last game, it was touching. It was uncomfortable as hell … I know the bar is low, but I’m a way better person for coming here. I came here for the right reasons and I’m leaving the right reasons,” Tito said regarding the fans and team honoring him.
- When asked about what this new role may look like, Tito said: “I don’t need to sit on the new manager’s shoulder, that’s not what this is about, but we can get to that.”
- “The older you get the harder it gets to do the job the way you need to do it,” Tito said regarding his health. He said he felt better after speaking to management about stepping down and that’s how he knew it was right.
- Ideally they’d like to have a new manager as soon as possible, Antonetti said, and that the most important thing is to find the correct person for the job. He said he didn’t think they’d have a lack of interest in the job.
- Tito said he wants to have a lot more time to golf and swim … maybe have time to travel because he wants to.