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Francona excited about chance to manage Indians

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Francona excited about chance to manage Indians

CLEVELAND (AP) A year away from managing has been enough for Terry Francona, who craves a chance to get back on the field and back inside a major league clubhouse.

The Cleveland Indians just might put him there.

The former Phillies and Red Sox manager, who has spent the past season working as a TV broadcaster, interviewed Friday to be the Indians' next manager. Francona spent most of the day in meetings with Indians owner Paul Dolan, general manager Chris Antonetti and other members of Cleveland's front office.

It was a homecoming of sorts for Francona, who worked as an adviser for the Indians in 2001 and has remained close to Antonetti and team president Mark Shapiro. Francona's father, Tito, played six seasons for the Indians from 1959-64.

``The fact that my dad played here - it's a good story,'' Francona said. ``It's almost a family feeling. I don't think you can take a job because of that but it still means a lot to me. But because of Chris and Mark and my relationship, I am excited to tackle or attempt to tackle every challenge that comes our way and do it together.''

Francona's interview came one day after the Indians met with Sandy Alomar Jr. about their managerial opening. Alomar began the season as the club's bench coach but served as interim manager after Manny Acta was fired with six games left in a disappointing season.

Alomar and Francona are the only candidates expected to meet with the Indians, who will likely make their choice over the weekend and could make an announcement as early as Monday.

Antonetti said he would like his new manager to participate in organizational meetings next week in Goodyear, Ariz.

``If the timing works out where he can participate in some of those great,'' he said. ``But we're not going to artificially rush it.''

Francona, who managed Boston to World Series titles in 2004 and 2007, arrived at Progressive Field at 8:15 a.m. to begin the daylong interview process. Francona spent time in the Indians' dugout watching team employees play in a softball tournament before heading upstairs for the first of several meetings.

The 53-year-old Francona has spent this season working for ESPN, the first time in nine years that he wasn't leading a major league ballclub. Francona was not brought back by the Red Sox last season following an historic September collapse during which he admitted losing control of his clubhouse.

Francona said getting away from the game has been therapeutic.

``To be perfectly honest, and it's not easy to say, I probably needed to take a step back for a while,'' he said. ``I think I had lost a little bit of perspective. I wanted to get back to the things that were important to me.''

But as this season has worn on, Francona has felt a longing to manage again.

``I think getting off the field for a year was really good,'' he said. ``I got to stay in the game and I got to view it from something that was completely different than I had before. I got to watch all the teams instead of just the team we were playing next. It's a wonderful experience, but I did miss being on the field.''

Francona said it was while preparing for TV broadcasts when he felt the game's pull most.

``We would go in on Saturdays and we would go down the clubhouse and see the players and that's when it would hit me,'' he said. "Every Saturday.''

Francona spent four seasons in Philadelphia before he was fired after the 2000 season. That's when he was hired by Shapiro and Francona spent the next year seeing baseball in a different light.

``I came here and I was trying to find my way back,'' he said. ``That was a good year for me. It allowed me to watch the interaction between management and field people without having the emotion of a game hanging over your head. It was a good learning year for me.''

Francona's record in 12 seasons as a manager is 1,029-915. But beyond any winning percentage, Antonetti is looking for someone to mold young players, and pointed to Francona's track record of developing minor league talent into major league stars.

``If you look at some of the young players that emerged from the Boston minor league system and became stars or were very good players - Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, Clay Bucholz, Jon Lester, there are a number of guys when he was the manager there he helped transition to the major league level. In addition to that, he's a great communicator and an accomplished leader.''

If Francona is hired, it's possible Alomar could stay on as one of his coaches. But Alomar could also be a candidate for Boston's opening. He previously interviewed with the Red Sox, who fired Bobby Valentine on Thursday.

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Stroman pitches 7 sharp innings as Blue Jays beat Orioles 4-1

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USA Today Sports

Stroman pitches 7 sharp innings as Blue Jays beat Orioles 4-1

TORONTO (AP) -- Blue Jays right-hander Marcus Stroman gave up hits to the first three Baltimore batters Saturday.

The Orioles got just two more hits the rest of the afternoon.

Stroman pitched seven sharp innings for his second win in three starts and Toronto beat Baltimore 4-1 for its sixth straight victory over the struggling Orioles.

"He started working both sides of the plate with his sinker and I think that threw them off a little bit, especially late in counts," Blue Jays catcher Luke Maile said. "Overall it was just kind of vintage Stroman."

Baltimore right-hander Alex Cobb picked up his major league-worst 13th loss. The Orioles dropped to 1-8 against Toronto this season.

"I absolutely hate seeing that win-loss in parentheses next to my name," Cobb said. "It's sickening."

Stroman (3-7) allowed one run and five hits. He threw a season-high 107 pitches, the first time this season he has topped 100.

Stroman is 3-2 with a 3.03 ERA in five starts since returning from a shoulder injury that caused him to miss more than a month. He went 0-5 in seven starts before the injury.

"Since he's come back from the DL he's been really good," manager John Gibbons said. "I just think he's pitching like he's always pitched."

Stroman said he's focused on forgetting his early season struggles.

"I know I didn't have the first half I wanted but I've always been someone who prides myself on the second half and finishing strong," Stroman said. "That's something I'll look to continue to do this year."

Friend and teammate Devon Travis likes what he's seen from Stroman since the right-hander returned from injury.

"He's got that fire back," Travis said. "He's really under control. I think he's locking in on every single pitch."

Seunghwan Oh worked the eighth and Ryan Tepera finished for his seventh save in 12 opportunities.

Baltimore scored one run or fewer for the 27th time, the most in the majors.

The first three Orioles batters all singled, although Jonathan Schoop was thrown out trying to stretch his hit into a double. After Adam Jones gave Baltimore a 1-0 lead with an RBI hit to right, Mark Trumbo grounded into an inning-ending double play.

The Blue Jays answered with a three-run fourth against Cobb, taking advantage of a key Orioles error.

Justin Smoak opened the inning with a walk and, following a video review, was ruled safe at second after Cobb's high throw pulled shortstop Tim Beckham off the base on at attempted force play.

"That's not it in a nutshell but I can understand why that's the focus, a play we haven't been making," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said.

Randal Grichuk followed with an RBI double, a second run scored on Diaz's double play grounder, and Maile capped the rally with an RBI single.

Diaz had four hits Friday, including the game-winning single in the 10th. He went 2 for 3 Saturday with a pair of singles.

The Blue Jays made it 4-1 in the fifth when Teoscar Hernandez doubled, advanced on a fly ball and scored on Cobb's balk.

Cobb (2-13) lost his sixth straight decision, allowing four runs, one earned, and four hits in five innings. Showalter said Cobb was removed to avoid worsening a blister on his pitching hand.

"I was only going to have a few more pitches going into the sixth so he felt like the risk-reward was not really worth it," Cobb said.

Grichuk made the defensive play of the game, a running catch on the warning track in left center to retire Trumbo for the first out of the ninth.

GOING DOWN?

Jones and Chris Davis got stuck in an elevator at the team's downtown hotel following Friday night's defeat. Jones documented much of the saga on Instagram. The players and fellow passengers were eventually rescued by Toronto Fire Services staff. The sound system at Rogers Centre played a few bars of Aerosmith's `Love in an Elevator' before Jones batted in the fourth inning Saturday.

NO HOMERS

Toronto won without hitting a home run for just the third time in 26 games this season.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Orioles: Baltimore is expected to demote a reliever when RHP Andrew Cashner (neck) is activated off the 10-day disabled list Sunday.

UP NEXT

Cashner (2-9, 4.56) last pitched July 10, when he allowed five runs and five hits in 6 1-3 innings against the Yankees. Blue Jays LHP J.A. Happ (10-6, 4.29) is 0-3 with a 9.75 ERA in three July starts.

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What to make of the Strasburg-Scherzer shouting match in the Nationals' dugout

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USA Today Sports

What to make of the Strasburg-Scherzer shouting match in the Nationals' dugout

Stephen Strasburg and Max Scherzer had a heated exchange in the Nationals dugout Friday night.

It was another not-so-great moment in an otherwise unspectacular season for the Nats so far.

Things like this often appear worse than they are based on what we can see, not hear, on television. In any case, it has fans and pundits talking about a perceived off-the-field issue instead of the actual game. There's nothing "good" about this, but there are important factors that are "bad" and ones that are "not bad."

Davey Martinez, Strasburg and Scherzer already said this has been settled and wasn't a big deal in the first place, but for a manager who's already faced some scrutiny this year for how he manages his pitchers, having two of them go at it in the dugout isn't ideal.

It also doesn't present the best optics for a team that came out of the All-Star Break 5.5 games back of the division-leading Philadelphia Phillies. The Nationals need to build some momentum heading into the dog days of summer, and after a lackluster first half, this isn't how anybody would want to start the second half.

This was also Strasburg's first start back from a month-long stint on the disabled list. Ryan Zimmerman just rejoined the club as well. Things are shaping up to make for a solid second-half run, but all this does is detract from that.

The Nationals also just hosted the first All-Star Game in Washington since 1969. Having something like this happen in the dugout where everybody can see it takes away from some of that good publicity.

But there are also positives, or at least non-negatives, to take from this. Scherzer has always been ultracompetitive, and as the best pitcher on the staff, he needs to harness that into leadership. With Strasburg coming off a rough inning, Scherzer may have thought he needed a little tough love from a veteran. There's nothing wrong with that. Strasburg, to his credit, has never been one to focus too much on himself, so if there's anyone who can take something like this constructively, it'd be him.

This isn't Jonathan Paplebon fighting Bryce Harper for not running out a pop fly the day after the Nats were eliminated from playoff contention. These are two veteran guys who play the same position who are both competitive and want to win. It's akin to an older brother pushing his younger brother to do better. Strasburg even hinted at the family aspect after the game.

In the end, there's really nothing to see here. Frustration is part of the game. Talking it out is a part of remedying the frustration.

What really matters is tracking down the Braves and the Phillies. The Nationals can get started on that Sunday in the second game of a rain-shortened two-game series against the Braves.

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