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Francona's managing huge reason Indians nearing World Series

Francona's managing huge reason Indians nearing World Series

Terry Francona’s uncanny managing in this postseason has put the Cleveland Indians within one game of the World Series. It’s also gotten some to look at his place in baseball history. 

Had I voted for Manager of the Year this season, Francona would have been my choice. It would have been a close one because I thought Buck Showalter did arguably his best job as Orioles manager this season. 

Before fans start screaming about the wild-card game, votes must be cast before postseason play begins. 

There were other notable jobs. Boston’s John Farrell and Jeff Banister, last year’s winner with Texas, are likely to get some support. 

So are Detroit’s Brad Ausmus and New York’s Joe Girardi. Ausmus’ Tigers’ recovered nicely from a rocky start and the Yankees played surprisingly crisp ball after remaking their roster after the trading deadline. 

A personal favorite of mine was the job done by Seattle’s Scott Servais. In his first year as a manager on any level, Servais kept the Mariners in the wild-card hunt until the final few days. 

It’s hard to say if this was Francona’s best season though he’s been masterful handling his bullpen—especially on Monday night—this postseason. 

If Francona adds a third World Series title to the two he won in Boston, he’d be in rarefied air.  

Francona already managed a team, the 2004 Red Sox that won for the first time in many years, and now he can do the same with the Indians. He also won with the 2007 Red Sox, and both series were four-game sweeps. 

His 34-18 postseason record with Boston and Cleveland is outstanding, and overall he’s in 30th place among managers with 1,381 wins. (Showalter is 25th with 1,429.) 
Francona lasted eight seasons with the Red Sox in a notoriously difficult place for managers. Only Hall of Famer Joe Cronin, who managed 13 seasons lasted longer. 

In six of his eight seasons with the Red Sox, Francona won at least 90 games and never fewer than 86. 

He was fired after the 2011 season, and his final game came in Baltimore when Robert Andino drove in the winning run to knock Boston out of the postseason.

Showalter has many times generously said that without the expanded September rosters, the Red Sox make the playoffs and Francona keeps his job. 

Interestingly, Francona had a chance to be the Orioles manager. Just before he was hired by Boston, he was one of eight candidates who came for interviews after the 2003 season.

He met with the press as part of the interview process and discussed his four-year stint with the Phillies that ended with the 2000 season. 

After three years, Francona felt ready for another shot, and shortly afterward, the Orioles hired Lee Mazzilli. Francona replaced Grady Little in Boston, who was the eighth and final candidate at the insistence of Orioles managing partner Peter Angelos. 

Francona has said that he and the Orioles weren’t the right fit, but it’s worked out well for him. His father, Tito a fine player in the 1950s and 1960s, made his major league debut with the Orioles in 1956. 

The Indians have a chance to sweep Toronto on Tuesday and go to the World Series for the first time since 1997. Francona’s managing is a huge reason why. 
 

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Orioles agree to one-year deal with pitcher Chris Tillman, according to reports

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USA Today Sports

Orioles agree to one-year deal with pitcher Chris Tillman, according to reports

SARASOTA, Fla. -- A person familiar with the negotiations says pitcher Chris Tillman and the Baltimore Orioles have agreed to a $3 million, one-year contract.

The deal includes performance bonuses, the person told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Monday because the deal had not yet been announced.

Tillman was 1-7 with a 7.84 ERA in 19 starts and five relief appearances last year. He would be the second starter added by the Orioles in the past week after right-hander Andrew Cashner.

Tillman likely would join right-handers Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman and Cashner in the rotation.

The 29-year-old right-hander lives in Sarasota and had been working out at the Orioles' facility before spring training. Manager Buck Showalter watched Tillman throw and was impressed.

Tillman began last season on the disabled list with right shoulder stiffness.

"Better than he did last year at this time. I think he's got the chance to pitch well for somebody this year," Showalter said. "A lot of the challenges he had last year -- this time last year -- aren't there. Somebody's going to reap the benefits."

Tillman's is 73-55 with a 4.43 ERA in nine major league seasons, all with the Orioles. He won 16 games in both 2013 and 2016.

"He's a guy when he's healthy you can bank on him giving you 200 innings and keeping his ERA between a 3 and a 4," Gausman said. "That in the AL East is always going to be very valuable."

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Orioles Spring Training Schedule 2018

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USA Today Sports Images

Orioles Spring Training Schedule 2018

Live baseball is close to gracing our television screens again. The Orioles haven't had the most active offseason, to put it mildly. Fans are still wondering who will make up more than half the spots in this year's rotation, and Manny Machado's upcoming free agency is looming over every decision the organization makes.

Still, it's exciting to be able to follow the team again. Not every game is televised, so get ready to constantly refresh your favorite beat writer's Twitter account for all your updates.

Even without getting to watch the games, it'll be comforting to once again check box scores in the morning to see if Jonathan Schoop is building on his breakout season, or if top-prospect Austin Hays is all he's cracked up to be (spoiler: he is).

This year's spring training will be especially interesting, considering how many big-name players will be signing in the next few weeks. The O's haven't yet made a big splash this offseason, but with the sheer volume of capable players still on the market, you have to wonder if they'll try to sign some impact players at bargain values.

Typically, the excitement of adding a new piece to the lineup or rotation has to be reignited after a long winter off, but this season, those additions will be taking place while camp is already underway.

It's going to be a hectic few weeks as teams prepare for thier seasons, so bookmark this page to check on on the Orioles spring training schedule over the next few weeks as the team finally takes the field in 2018.

Orioles 2018 Spring Training Schedule

Friday, Feb. 23 (SS) - Rays at Orioles, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Saturday, Feb. 24 (SS) - Orioles at Phillies, 1:05 pm
Saturday, Feb. 24 (SS) - Twins at Orioles, 6:05 pm
Sunday, Feb. 25 - Orioles at Red Sox, 1:05 pm 
Monday, Feb. 26 - Tigers at Orioles, 1:05 pm
Tuesday, Feb. 27 - Orioles at Rays, 1:05 pm
Wednesday, Feb. 28 - Cardinals at Orioles, 1:05 pm (MLBN) (MASN)
Thursday, Mar. 1 - Orioles at Rays, 1:05 pm
Friday, Mar. 2 - Pirates at Orioles, 1:05 pm
Saturday, Mar. 3 (SS) - Orioles at Phillies, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 4 - Red Sox at Orioles, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Tuesday, Mar. 6 - Orioles at Twins, 1:05 pm 
Wednesday, Mar. 7 - Orioles at Rays, 1:05 pm
Thursday, Mar. 8 - Blue Jays at Orioles, 1:05 pm
Friday, Mar. 9 - Orioles at Blue Jays, 1:07 pm
Saturday, Mar. 10 (SS) - Pirates at Orioles, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 11 (SS) - Orioles at Red Sox, 1:05 pm 
Sunday, Mar. 11 (SS) - Phillies at Orioles, 6:05 pm (MASN)
Monday, Mar. 12 - Orioles at Pirates, 1:05 pm 
Tuesday, Mar. 13 - Orioles at Twins, 1:05 pm 
Wednesday, Mar. 14 - Yankees at Orioles, 1:05 pm (MLBN) (MASN)
Thursday, Mar. 15 - Orioles at Cardinals, 1:05 pm
Friday, Mar. 16 - Orioles at Mets, 1:10 pm 
Saturday, Mar. 17 (SS) - Blue Jays at Orioles, 1:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 18 - Mets at Orioles, 1:05 pm
Monday, Mar. 19 - Orioles at Tigers, 1:05 pm
Tuesday, Mar. 20 - Rays at Orioles, 6:05 pm (MASN)
Wednesday, Mar. 21 - Orioles at Yankees, 6:35 pm 
Thursday, Mar. 22 - Red Sox at Orioles, 1:05 pm (MASN)
Friday, Mar. 23 (SS) - Rays at Orioles, 1:05 pm
Saturday, Mar. 24 - Twins at Orioles, 6:05 pm
Sunday, Mar. 25 - Orioles at Phillies, 1:05 pm 
Monday, Mar. 27 (in Norfolk, VA) - Orioles at Tides (AAA), 3:05 pm