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Clint Hurdle, Terry Francona take Manager of Year honors for big turnarounds
NEW YORK — Two championships and eight successful seasons in Boston brought Terry Francona exactly zero first-place votes in Manager of the Year balloting.
It took him one year with the surprising Cleveland Indians to bag the prize.
“I have a feeling he wouldn’t trade what they did for this any day of the week,” Francona said on a conference call from Tucson, Ariz.
“It is so rewarding for me to see what’s happened, the synergy in the city,” Hurdle said in Pittsburgh. “To be a small part of a group that’s able to bring joy at so many different levels — that’s what’s rewarding to me in life.”
It was the first Manager of the Year honor for Francona, even though — in an interesting twist — he steered the Red Sox to World Series titles in 2004 and 2007. During his initial season with the Indians, he directed them to a 24-win improvement and their first playoff berth in six years.
They lost the AL wild-card game to Tampa Bay, but voting is conducted before the postseason.
Francona said he called Farrell, a longtime colleague and once his pitching coach in Boston, on Tuesday morning because he thought it was funny they were up against each other as finalists for the award.
If they heard such news years ago, Francona said, “both of us would have laughed each other out of the room.”
Hurdle also was quick with a self-deprecating joke after he won.
“There’s guys laughing all over the place,” he said in an interview on MLB Network. “The players know so many times this season we’d have a big series, getting together just trying to break the ice I’d tell them, ‘Hey, look guys, you’ve got to step it up, play big this week because I’m going to get outmanaged. I can tell you one thing that’s going to happen: I’ll get outmanaged. So really step it up.’ And they did. They believed me every series.”
Don Mattingly of the NL West champion Los Angeles Dodgers came in second and Fredi Gonzalez of the NL East champion Atlanta Braves was third.
By Tammy Bruce
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