His first home games as Cleveland’s manager were against the New York Yankees, Boston’s arch enemies. Those surely dredged up recollections about classic games and past Octobers, but the visit by the Red Sox will make other emotions surface for Francona, who won 744 games in Boston and never fewer than 86 in any season.
“He’s a huge piece of that winning puzzle over there when they won two world championships,” said Indians DH Jason Giambi, who battled Francona’s team for years while with the Yankees. “Of course, there’s going to be a lot of hoopla. He’s the guy that got them over the hump.”
Aviles was with Boston in 2011, which ended with the club’s stunning collapse. As far as Aviles is concerned, any blame for the breakdown should be with the players.
“It was an unfortunate situation at the end,” Aviles said. “We didn’t get to the playoffs and it ended in a bad situation. I was there. We just didn’t play well as a team in that last month. It had nothing to do with Tito. He did everything that he did the whole year.
“Sometimes the manager takes the hit.”
Red Sox manager John Farrell had already received a text message from Francona before the team left Boston yesterday. Farrell credits Francona’s natural ability to connect with those around him as one of the reasons the club had so much success.
Francona united the Red Sox.
“He had such a knack to be able to communicate with the players that were here,” he said. “He had such a way of communicating with everyone that was here. He treated us great (coaches). We wanted to make sure we did as good a job as possible. He’s just got such a way with people.”