Indians sign Acta as manager
CLEVELAND -- Manny Acta's record didn't overwhelm the Cleveland Indians. They looked much deeper than at his wins and losses -- lots of losses.
Acta, fired as the Washington Nationals manager in July after 2½ seasons, was hired on Sunday by the Indians, who gave him a three-year contract with a club option for 2013. Additional terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The club will introduce the 40-year-old Acta -- the Indians' 40th manager -- at a news conference on Monday. He's the first Cleveland manager hired from outside the organization since John McNamara in 1990.
The Indians chose Acta over two other known finalists: Triple-A manager Torey Lovullo and former New York Mets manager and current ESPN analyst Bobby Valentine, who may have eliminated himself from consideration when he arrived at his second interview earlier this week and admitted that he not done his homework on Cleveland or the American League and wasn't sure he wanted the job.
Air of Insuperiority
If the Indians are looking for progress, their new managerial hire, Manny Acta, will have only one way to go -- up. Acta owns one of the worst records from the past 50 years among managers with at least two years of experience:
Acta, on the other hand, wanted it badly.
After he was let go by the Nationals, Acta spent countless hours watching the Indians on TV. He studied their lineup, their strengths and weaknesses. He has worked with young players before, and now he'll get a chance to turn a new group into winners.
"I am very excited to become part of the Cleveland Indians family," Acta said in a statement. "I look forward to working with this talented group of young men who seem to possess a lot of energy and passion for their work. I believe we will grow together as a team, with the ultimate goal of bringing a championship to Cleveland and its fans."
Acta also interviewed for Houston's opening and Astros general manager Ed Wade told television station KRIV and the team's Web site that they offered him the job Saturday. Acta was drafted by the Astros and spent 16 years in their organization as a player and coach, but decided to accept Cleveland's offer.
"We are very excited to have Manny Acta on board as our major league manager," Indians general manager Mark Shapiro said in a statement. "After speaking with an impressive array of candidates, we feel that Manny is a very strong and experienced leader who possesses great energy and enthusiasm along with tremendous communication skills and a positive mindset that will command a presence in the dugout, clubhouse and with our fans."
Acta, Lovullo and Valentine were the only candidates to have a second interview with the Indians, who did their initial interviews by phone. The club had planned to interview Los Angeles Dodgers hitting coach Don Mattingly and Los Angeles Angels bench coach Ron Roenicke this week.
From the outset of the club's search, Shapiro said he would take as long as he needed to find the right manager. He canvassed baseball people for possible candidates, whittled a list of more than 30 potential managers down to around 10 and began making calls.
Acta was near the top of his list.
Cleveland fell under high expectations last season, losing 97 games and finishing tied for last place in the AL Central. The club fired manager Eric Wedge in the final days of the Indians' worst season since 1991.
Acta's communication skills impressed the Indians, who see the Dominican Republic native's ability to communicate with the team's Latino players as a positive.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press
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