Guardians manager Terry Francona hints that this could be his final season

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Cleveland Guardians manager Terry Francona, right, greets Kole Calhoun (56), who returns to the dugout after scoring against the Detroit Tigers during the eighth inning in the second baseball game of a doubleheader Friday, Aug. 18, 2023, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

CLEVELAND – Cleveland Guardians manager Terry Francona has had serious talks with the organization about his future, hinting that this could be his final season.

The winningest manager in club history, the 64-year-old Francona, who has dealt with major health issues in recent years, did not announce his retirement Tuesday. He said any of those decisions will be addressed later.

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“I think there’s a time and there will be a time to answer any question there might be about what I’m going to do — or not do,” he said. "I don’t think that’s now, I don’t ever want this to be on me and I just can’t let it.

“The other part is I don’t want to lie or I don’t want to fib.”

Francona is in his 11th season with Cleveland. He led the Boston Red Sox to two World Series titles before joining the Guardians in 2013.

One of baseball’s most popular figures, Francona is known by Tito, his father’s name, to almost everyone in the game. He's endeared himself to most Cleveland fans with his personable style and because his team's win.

Francona has guided the Guardians to six playoff appearances, including the World Series in 2016.

This has been an especially challenging season for Francona and the defending AL Central champions because of injuries. Cleveland's starting rotation has been ravaged from the start, putting added pressure on some rookie pitchers.

After running through a list of injury updates, Francona, who had to step down during the 2020 and 2021 seasons due to his health, was asked how he was feeling.

“Old,” he said. “Old and kind of beat up.”

Francona acknowledged that it's been difficult to asses his own situation and future while trying to keep his young team in playoff contention, but said he's been giving the next phase of his life much more serious thought lately.

“I’ve tried to do that probably the last couple months a lot,” he said. “And I’m not always pleased with the answer I’m getting.”

Francona said he has spoken at length to team president Chris Antonetti and general manager Mike Chernoff. The team has kept his contract open-ended, essentially allowing him to manage for as long as he wants.

“I’ve talked about a fairness to the organization, a fairness to the players and then some of it to me,” he said. "This job is really hard. Not that it’s a bad job, it’s a great job, but it’s hard and the older you get or the more beat up you get and sometimes it’s both.

“It just kind of beats on you, kind of wears on you. And I think so much of this organization, I don’t ever, ever want to do this for the wrong reasons.”

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