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Indians interview Sandy Alomar Jr. to be manager

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Indians interview Sandy Alomar Jr. to be manager

CLEVELAND (AP) Over more than two decades, Sandy Alomar Jr. has been an All-Star player, coach and interim manager for the Cleveland Indians.

On Thursday, he was something new: an applicant.

Alomar, who guided Cleveland in its final six games after Manny Acta was fired last week, interviewed to become the Indians' next full-time manager. Alomar spent most of the day in meetings with owner Paul Dolan, general manager Chris Antonetti and other front office members at Progressive Field, a place he knows well after playing 11 seasons with Cleveland.

Alomar and former Phillies and Red Sox manager Terry Francona, who will interview with the club on Friday, head the list of possible replacements for Acta.

Antonetti was impressed with the job Alomar did in his short stint replacing Acta, who was dismissed after Cleveland collapsed in the second half of the season.

``As expected, Sandy did a great job,'' Antonetti said. ``There was a lot to work through especially for someone who does not have that extensive managing experience so he was doing a lot of things for the first time. But he did an exceptional job in how he went about preparing for it, reaching out to coaches, how he communicated with players and putting himself and the team in a position to succeed.

``In a short time he did a good job.''

The Indians went 3-3 under Alomar, a six-time All-Star catcher with Cleveland who served as Acta's bench coach this season. Alomar has not managed at any level but previously interviewed with the Chicago Cubs, Boston and Toronto. Antonetti feels the 46-year-old Alomar has paid his dues and is prepared to lead a major league club.

``I fully expect that he's ready to do the job and be successful at it,'' Antonetti said.

Antonetti did not put a timeline on naming a new manager, and said the team would not rush into an important decision following a disappointing season which ended with a 68-94 record and fourth-place finish.

Antonetti said during the interview with Alomar there were discussions on his vision for the ballclub, ability to lead, communication skills and relationships on the club.

``What we are looking for is someone to lead this group of 25 guys,'' Antonetti said. ``We're looking for someone who has the ability to motivate a group of guys to achieve and perform at their best. A lot goes into that, a winning environment, a winning culture as well as helping players develop and reach their potential.''

Alomar would seem to be an ideal fit. He knows Cleveland's roster already and enjoyed a good rapport with many of the Indians' players. Antonetti said several players made it clear during their exit interviews that they would be happy to play for Alomar.

``I can tell you that Sandy is held in very high regard among our players,'' he said.

Before the season finale, pitcher Justin Masterson said Alomar would be a great choice to take over the Indians, who were within 3 1-2 games of first place on July 27 before losing 11 straight games and fading from contention.

``I like Sandy a lot,'' Masterson said. ``Everybody in this clubhouse respects him.''

Alomar also has the support of Cleveland fans, some of whom chanted ``San-dy, San-dy'' after he came out of the dugout to argue a call earlier this week.

Although Alomar would appear to be the frontrunner because of his close ties to the team, Antonetti said there isn't a favorite.

``I wouldn't give anyone a leg up in the process,'' he said. ``We feel good about the two initial candidates that we have identified.''

Not long after Acta was fired, Antonetti called Francona, who has spent the past year working as a TV analyst. Francona, who previously worked as an adviser in Cleveland's front office and has remained close with Antonetti and team president Mark Shapiro, told the Indians he was ``excited to get back on the field.''

Francona led Boston to World Series titles in 2004 and 2007. He was fired after the 2011 season, when the Red Sox fell apart down the stretch.

Last week, Francona told the AP he would welcome the chance to work again with Antonetti and Shapiro.

``It's great to hear,'' Antonetti said. ``We have always had a great deal of respect for Terry. We had an opportunity to work together for a little over a year and stayed in close touch with him throughout the last decade. It was great to hear that he was interested, and I'm very confident with he and Sandy leading and starting this process that we will emerge from it with a great leader.''

Francona reportedly makes $1.7 million in his job with ESPN. Antonetti said economics would not impact any decision on hiring a new manager.

``We will go with the best person that we think fits best for the job,'' he said.

Antonetti touched upon a wide-range of topics during an informal one-hour meeting with reporters. Among the top items were:

- The Indians' August meltdown. Antonetti said the team is still trying to determine what went wrong during a 5-24 month, the worst in franchise history.

``I don't think there's any one sole reason,'' he said. ``We've asked a lot of people that question trying to get a lot of different feedback and a number of different perspectives on it. The one thing we all feel is that we have better talent than our record shows.''

- Antonetti met for more than an hour with outspoken closer Chris Perez, whose comments throughout the season angered opponents, fans and some of his teammates.

``It comes from a good place with Chris,'' Antonetti said. ``He's an extremely competitive guy that badly wants to be a contributor to a winning team. That's where it's coming from. I wish he would communicate his words differently and how he communicates those messages, but the root from where he's coming from is a deep-seated belief that he wants to be a part of a winning team.''

- Antonetti said it's possible outfielder Grady Sizemore and designated hitter Travis Hafner could return to the club ``but the level of investment would be very different than it was in the past.'' Sizemore missed all season with injuries and Hafner was limited to 66 games.

- No decisions have been made on club options for pitchers Ubaldo Jimenez or Roberto Hernandez.

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Trotz's future in Washington remains unsettled on eve Stanley Cup Final

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USA TODAY Sports

Trotz's future in Washington remains unsettled on eve Stanley Cup Final

Caps Coach Barry Trotz doesn’t have a contract beyond the Stanley Cup Final, and any potential talks about an extension will wait until the trophy is awarded, GM Brian MacLellan said Friday.

“No,” MacLellan said, asked if a decision on Trotz’s future had been made. “We’re going to address everything after the playoffs are over.”

Trotz’s four-year contract expires at season’s end.

It’s rare for a head coach to enter a season while in the final year of his deal. But that’s how the Caps decided to handle Trotz’s situation last offseason after another strong regular season performance ended with yet another second round playoff exit at the hands of the Penguins.

It was a suboptimal situation for Trotz, a 55-year-old who ranks fifth all-time in regular season victories but, until this year, had never led any team beyond the conference semifinals.

Despite his lame duck status, all Trotz did was produce his best coaching performance to date. 

Consider:

  • While visiting his son in Russia last summer, Trotz visited Alex Ovechkin in Moscow to discuss the changes he’d like to see the Caps’ captain make to his training and his game.
  • When the Caps reconvened for training camp in September, it was clear there were still some hurt feelings in the locker room. So Trotz and his assistants backed off, allowing some necessary healing to occur.
  • When the team suffered back-to-back blowout losses in Nashville and Colorado back in November, Trotz initiated a tell-it-like-it-is team meeting that many players have pointed to as the turning point of the regular season, which ended with the team’s third straight Metropolitan title.
  • Trotz also got his highly-skilled lineup to buy into a more structured, detailed style of play late in the campaign, a transformation that prompted MacLellan to call this playoff run the most defensively responsible of Trotz’s tenure.
  • In each of the two previous conference semifinals, Washington was defeated by Pittsburgh and, as a result, the Penguins had become a physical and a mental hurdle for the Caps. Earlier this month, Trotz helped direct Ovechkin and Co. past the two-time Cup champions.

Although MacLellan wouldn’t say much about Trotz’s contract, he did say that he’s noticed a big change in Trotz’s day-to-day approach to his job, a change possibly prompted by the coach’s free agent status.

“I think his demeanor has changed a little bit,” MacLellan said. “He seems a little lighter, a little looser, a little less pressure. Maybe a little more freedom about how he goes about things. He’s more relaxed, I guess would be the way to describe him.”

MacLellan also acknowledged the job Trotz’s has done this season, beginning with his delicate handling of the dressing room to start the year.

“I think he’s done a good job managing it,” MacLellan said. “To come in this year with so many questions—from my point of view, the lineup questions weren’t that big of a deal—but just the emotional state of our coming into to start the year [and] how to handle that. I think he’s done an outstanding job.”

Indeed, Trotz’s situation remains unclear on the eve of the Final. But we do know this much: He’s having one of the best contract years in NHL coaching history.

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Small Virginia town changes name to Capitalsville ahead of Stanley Cup Final

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FB/The Town of Lovettsville

Small Virginia town changes name to Capitalsville ahead of Stanley Cup Final

Welcome to Capitalsville, Va., population: #ALLCAPS

Hoping to become the Washington Capitals' Stanley Cup headquarters, the small Northern Virginia town of Lovettsville has renamed itself to Capitalsville, Va.

Caps superfan and Mayor of Lovettsville, Bob Zoldos, had a lightbulb moment while watching Game 7 in a local bar and restaurant, Velocity Wings. Overcome with emotion from the win, he decided to take his idea to the town council meeting Thursday and Capitalsville was born after a unanimous vote to "unleash the fury."

This is not the first time name changes have occurred ahead of a big game. Ahead of the Caps' first-round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Blue Jacket Brewery located in downtown D.C. changed its Twitter handle to "Grujacket Brewery" in support of goaltender Philipp Grubauer.

The name change from Lovettsville to Capitalsville is temporary, with the plan to keep the new name through the end of the Stanley Cup Final. However, Zoldos hopes the sign brings in other Caps superfans from across the DMV to take in a piece of history 20 years in the making. 

Here's to hoping Capitalsville brings the city some luck heading into Game 1 on Memorial Day.

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