CLEVELAND - You'll have to forgive Terry Francona if he didn't jump for joy on Tuesday at being named the American League's Manager of the Year for the second time in the last four years.
The Tribe skipper recently underwent hip replacement surgery. "It feels like someone put his hands inside of my hip," Francona joked with the media during conference call following the award announcement. "I've had both knees done (replaced) and now my right hip. If I get my left hip I'll be fully bionic."
But in typical Tito fashion, he wanted to deflect the attention from him to the rest of the Indians organization when asked for his reaction to winning Manager of the Year.
"This gives me the opportunity to brag. Brag about our players, our coaches, and the entire organization. My reward is that I get to watch these guys play every day. I want THEM to win the awards."
Francona may have turned in his finest managerial performance in a career that's covered stops in Philadelphia, Boston, and Cleveland. It's a career that seems destined to send Tito to Cooperstown when all is said and done.
The Indians dealt with adversity seemingly all season. Whether it was injuries to top players like Michael Brantley, Danny Salazar, and Carlos Carrasco, to drug suspensions for Marlon Byrd and Abraham Almonte.
But Francona never wavered in his belief that the 2016 Indians had what it took to be special.
He pushed the right buttons to put his players in the best position to succeed. And he never allowed them to get caught up in what he refers to as "outside noise." Scrutiny, criticism, disbelief, and the perils of social media stayed outside of the laser focus of Francona and his team.
Think about where the Indians were before the fall of 2012 when Francona was lured back into managing by Mark Shapiro (then team President) and Chris Antonetti.
The Tribe had just wrapped up its fourth straight losing season. Fan apathy was at an all-time high.
Enter Tito. Four straight winning seasons, two trips to the postseason, two American League Manager of the Year awards, and an oh-so-close loss to the Cubs in the World Series.
Francona reflected on his decision to join the Indians during the call. "I just wanted to be in a place that was a healthy landing spot for me. I count my blessings that I came to Cleveland every day."