Terry Francona 'excited' to join the Indians


Terry Francona 'excited' to join the Indians

From Comcast SportsNetCLEVELAND (AP) -- Terry Francona is getting back with one of his baseball families.Francona, who guided the Boston Red Sox to two World Series titles, has been hired as manager of the Cleveland Indians, a team that collapsed in the second half this season after a promising first four months. The sides continued working Saturday night on the length of Francona's contract.The 53-year-old will be formally introduced as Cleveland's 42nd manager during a Monday news conference at Progressive Field."I'm really excited," Francona said on the air as an ESPN analyst, his job for the past season. "People who don't know me may have thought I was looking for something different."The Indians chose Francona over Sandy Alomar Jr., who served as the club's interim manager for the final six games after Manny Acta was fired on Sept. 27. Francona and Alomar, who spent the past three seasons as a coach in Cleveland, were the only candidates to interview for the Indians' opening.Alomar has been offered a spot on Francona's staff, most likely as bench coach.The Indians have always held a special place for Francona. After he was fired as Philadelphia's manager, he worked in Cleveland's front office as an adviser in 2001. He also spent a portion of the 1988 season on Cleveland's major league roster and his father, Tito, played with the Indians from 1959-64.Francona has stayed close with Indians president Mark Shapiro and general manager Chris Antonetti over the past decade. He said the chance to work with them again is what intrigued him most about the Cleveland job, which will have its challenges because of a much smaller payroll than he enjoyed in Boston."It's a good story, almost a family feeling," Francona said after his interview on Friday. "I don't think you can take a job because of that, but it still means a lot to me. Because of Chris and Mark and my relationship, I am excited to try to tackle, or attempt to tackle, every challenge that comes our way and do it together."There are some major challenges in Cleveland, where fans have been waiting for a World Series winner since 1948.The Indians were a major disappointment this season, going 68-94. They were within 3 1-2 games of first place on July 27, but went 5-24 in August -- the worst month in the franchise's 112-year history -- and finished 20 games out in the AL Central. Acta didn't get to finish his third season with the club."We have better talent than our record shows," Antonetti said earlier this week.With shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, second baseman Jason Kipnis, center fielder Michael Brantley and catcher Carlos Santana, the Indians have a solid core of young position players to build around. Cleveland's bullpen was the strength of the team this season, but All-Star closer Chris Perez caused distractions with his comments and actions.The Indians lacked a proven power hitter -- DH Travis Hafner was injured much of the season -- and it remains to be seen if Cleveland owner Paul Dolan will spend in free agency to add talent.Francona interviewed with the Indians one day after Alomar, a six-time All-Star catcher for Cleveland and fan favorite. Alomar managed the Indians to a 3-3 record after Acta was dismissed. Alomar will likely be courted by other teams seeking a manager. He interviewed with Boston last year before the Red Sox hired Bobby Valentine.Francona spent eight seasons with the Red Sox but was not brought back after the club fell apart down the stretch in 2011. This season, Francona worked as a TV broadcaster and said it was while preparing for telecasts that he realized how much he missed managing and being around players."We appreciate Terry's great contributions to our baseball coverage and we wish him the best,"? ESPN said in a statement, adding Francona will appear as a guest analyst during the network's World Series coverage.Francona has managed for 12 seasons in the majors, compiling a 1,029-915 record."I played for Tito (Francona) and everybody knows his track record is a good one," said Indians pitcher Justin Masterson, who was with Francona in Boston for 2008-9.Antonetti said part of Francona's appeal was how he developed young players like Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester as they came up through Boston's system."In addition to that, he's a great communicator and an accomplished leader," Antonetti said.

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John Wall reacts to narrowly missing cut for NBA All-Defensive Teams

John Wall reacts to narrowly missing cut for NBA All-Defensive Teams

John Wall narrowly missed out on being named to the NBA All-Defensive Teams, according to the lists released today. He previously made the All-Defensive Second Team in 2015.

This year Wall received 38 votes, including 14 first-team votes, which was the third-highest vote total of the players left off. Only Boston's Avery Bradley and Golden State's Klay Thompson were closer to making one of the teams. 

Reading the list of players who made the cut, it's hard to say which guy you'd leave off. But it's worth noting only one player from the Eastern Conference – Giannis Antetokounmpo – was named to the lists. That's pretty odd, right?

Wall, whose third team All-NBA selection was the first of his career, shared a bemused reaction on Twitter. 

In the Wizards star's defense, he did lead the NBA with 157 steals this season. He also finished with 49 blocks, fourth most among all guards. 

MORE WIZARDS: How will Wizards' trade for Frazier affect Satoransky?

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How Wizards handle next offseason steps will shape course of 2017-18 season

How Wizards handle next offseason steps will shape course of 2017-18 season

Established players such as John Wall, Bradley Beal and Markieff Morris have already been in and out of Verizon Center to work out with Sheldon Mac, Daniel Ochefu and Chris McCullough, all of whom will head up the summer league roster in Las Vegas.

Free agency opens July 1 and while that goes on coach Scott Brooks and his staff will focus on mini-camp to prepare for the summer event.

Except this year instead of holding it at Verizon Center they’ll hold mini-camp at Las Vegas before playing their first game July 8 vs. the Memphis Grizzlies.

President Ernie Grunfeld took the first step to reshaping the roster with acquiring Tim Frazier for the No. 52 pick in last week's draft to address the backup point guard need behind Wall.

Here's what needs to be addressed:

--Qualifying offers. They’ll need to extend them to keep Otto Porter and Bojan Bogdanovic restricted free agents. Grunfeld will qualify both which basically gives the Wizards the first right of refusal in the market. But will he re-sign them immediately to take them off or allow them to bring back an offer sheet that he’ll have 48 hours to match? It’ll likely be the latter because the Wizards can exceed the cap to retain their own players exercising their Bird Rights.

[RELATED: Top 20 players set to be available in 2017 NBA free agency]

--Minicamp. Before summer league begins, there usually are a few players who won't make the final roster. Some are cut for performance, others leave because they're not receiving guaranteed money and found another option and are given release. It'll change a little.

--A shooter. There needs to be a reliable one behind Beal – a much better option than Marcus Thornton a year ago – but this player has to be acquired, it appears, in free agency. The trick is the Wizards don’t have a lot of cap room, especially after it is projected to lower from $102 million to $99 million.

--Contract options. The Wizards have to decide by October if they’ll pick up 2018-19 on McCullough and Kelly Oubre.

--Men in the middle. Marcin Gortat made his feelings known about his role in the offense and pondered out loud if he should/would play elsewhere. Grunfeld made it clear that he expects Gortat to remain. But the Wizards still have to figure out how to have him co-exist with Ian Mahinmi or is it redundancy? Neither is comfortable being out on an island constantly defending stretch bigs on switches.

--The schedule. The league will release it for all 30 teams in the first or second week of August. Training camp begins the following month. The Wizards likely will be in Richmond again on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University.

[RELATED: Wizards Tipoff podcast: NBA Draft breakdown with Kurt Helin]