CLEVELAND (AP) — Terry Francona’s touch was almost magical this season, keeping the Cleveland Indians winning despite adversity.
Two days after they lost in the World Series, the Indians locked up Francona for two more seasons by picking up two future club options on their manager, who will be under contract with Cleveland through 2020.
Francona, 57, steered the Indians around numerous obstacles, getting them to the Series for the first time since 1997 despite key injuries, suspensions and questions about their legitimacy as title contenders.
He signed a two-year contract extension in 2014 that included the club options for 2019 and 2020.
As expected, the Indians also exercised their $12 million option on slugger Carlos Santana for next season. He hit a career-high 34 homers this season while splitting time at first base and designated hitter. The switch-hitter also batted leadoff when he wasn’t in the middle of Francona’s lineup.
During the World Series, Santana volunteered to play left at Wrigley Field when Francona had to piece together a lineup for three games under National League rules.
In their fourth year under Francona, the Indians won their first AL Central title since 2007 and beat favored Boston and Toronto in the playoffs before they pushed the Chicago Cubs to seven games in the Series before losing.
He was forced to juggle his lineup most of the season because of injuries and had to get creative with his starting rotation over the regular season’s final month and in October after starters Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar got hurt.
Francona, who won two World Series titles with the Red Sox before he was fired after the 2011 season, connected with Cleveland’s players. They appreciate his candor and played hard for him, which was never more evident when they rallied against the heavily favored Cubs in Game 7 before losing 8-7 in 10 innings in one of baseball’s most exciting games in years.
Francona is set to undergo hip replacement surgery in the near future.
With a self-deprecating sense of humor, Francona was wildly entertaining during the Series, where he shared several amusing stories about handling stress during the postseason. Unable to sleep, he ordered $44 worth of ice cream from hotel room service in Chicago, and later said he had a nightmare that he broke his ribs the night before Game 7 in Cleveland, only to realize he had fallen asleep while lying on the TV remote control.
Francona is 352-294 with the Indians, who made the AL wild-card in his first season.