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Tribe exercise option on Jimenez; decline Hafner, Hernandez

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Associated Press
10/31/2012 1:09:10 PM
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CLEVELAND -- Sandy Alomar Jr. will become a major league manager someday. For now, he is staying with the Cleveland Indians.

Alomar, the bench coach who served as the club's interim manager for six games after Manny Acta was fired in September, will return next season as new manager Terry Francona's bench coach.

Toronto, Colorado and Miami all have managerial vacancies but Alomar isn't publicly campaigning for any of them or counting on an interview.

"I don't sit at the phone waiting for calls," Alomar said. "If they want to interview me, they know where I am at. Right now, I am the bench coach with Terry Francona and the Cleveland Indians."

There is a chance Alomar could still leave, but Francona hopes that isn't the case.

"Selfishly," Francona said. "I hope he stays here."

Francona's coaching staff, a blend of experience and familiarity, was revealed Wednesday by the Indians, who also announced they exercised their option on pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez's $5.75 million contract for next season. Also, the team declined its $13 million option for designated hitter Travis Hafner and a $6 million option for starter Roberto Hernandez.

General manager Chris Antonetti indicated it was unlikely the club would re-sign Hafner, a power hitter who has been slowed by injuries for several seasons. However, the Indians might pursue Hernandez, whose 2012 season was tangled in a legal mess in the Dominican Republic, where he was charged with false identity.

"We would have interest in bringing him back if he had interest in signing here," Antonetti said.

Hernandez, previously known as Fausto Carmona, made just three starts in August before his season was ended by an injured right ankle.

In addition to Alomar, Francona named former Houston manager Brad Mills as his third-base coach and dipped into the Indians' minor-league system to make Mike Sarbaugh the first-base coach, and Mickey Callaway pitching coach. Sarbaugh managed Cleveland's Triple-A affiliate in Columbus the past three seasons, and Callaway served as minor league pitching co-ordinator in 2012, his third season in the organization.

"I think he's going to be a star," Francona said of the 37-year-old Callaway.

In addition, Ty Van Burkleo was named hitting coach, and Kevin Cash bullpen coach. Van Burkleo served as Houston's hitting coach for the final seven weeks last season and has previously worked in Oakland and Seattle. Cash played for Francona in Boston from 2007-08 and under Mills in Houston in 2010.

Francona believes he has a "well-rounded staff."

"I like our mix," he said. "We took our time trying to find the right staff, and I'm proud of it."

Although Alomar finished as a runner-up to Francona in the Indians' limited managerial search, he said the chance to remain with a team he played for and coaches was important.

"It means a lot to me and is a great honour to be on Terry's staff," he said. "I played winter ball with Terry, I know him, and coming back to Cleveland is great for me. I am looking forward to learning from him. Terry is one of the best managers in the last 10 years. This is an opportunity for me to learn different things from different managers."

Alomar has previously interviewed for manager jobs in Boston and Toronto.

If Alomar takes a job elsewhere, Mills would seem to be a natural to take over as Francona's bench coach. The 55-year-old Mills was on Francona's coaching staffs in Philadelphia (1997-2000) and Boston (2004-09). Mills and Francona were also teammates with Montreal.

One of Callaway's first projects will be Jimenez, who has been a major disappointment since coming over in a trade from Colorado in 2011. The right-hander went 9-17 with a 5.40 ERA last season. He led the AL in losses, wild pitches and stolen bases allowed and was the first pitcher to have at least 17 losses with a 5.40 ERA or higher since 2007.

The Indians had expected much more from the 28-year-old Jimenez, acquired at the trade deadline for top pitching prospects Drew Pomeranz and Alex White.

Antonetti said Callaway will spend time working with Jimenez in the Dominican Republic this winter.

"The thing we're looking for with Ubaldo is a little more consistency," Antonetti said.

That's what the Indians needed but rarely got from Hafner, whose career has been sidetracked by injuries in recent years. Because of knee and back problems, Hafner played in only 66 games last season, batting .228 with 12 home runs and 34 RBIs. The Indians are paying a $2.75 million buyout to cut ties with Hafner, who spent 10 years with the club.

Hafner put up MVP-caliber statistics for four straight seasons, topping out with 42 homers and 117 RBIs in 2006. The Indians rewarded him with a four-year, $57 million contract, but injuries prevented him from living up to the deal.

"For a while he was as feared as one of the best hitters in the American League," Antonetti said.

Hafner finished with 200 homers, the most by a DH in Cleveland history.

Ubaldo Jimenez (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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