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Francona looks to restore winning culture to Cleveland

Cleveland Indians general manager Chris Antonetti (R) and Terry Francona (L) hold up a Francona jersey as the latter is introduced as the ne
Cleveland Indians general manager Chris Antonetti (R) and Terry Francona (L) hold up a Francona jersey as the latter is introduced as the ne

(Reuters) - Terry Francona, who helped the Boston Red Sox to end a decades-long championship drought, is looking forward to the challenge of turning around a Cleveland Indians team that has not won a World Series in 64 years.

Francona, who led the Red Sox to the World Series title in 2004 - ending a championship drought dating back to 1918 - and again in 2007, will focus on trying to help an Indians team that has endured four consecutive losing seasons and missed the postseason in each of the last five campaigns.

"I know we have challenges ahead of us but I look forward to us tackling these challenges as a unit, as a 'we'. I'm genuinely excited to do that," Francona said in a news conference at the team's ballpark on Monday after being introduced as the 42nd manager in Indians history.

Francona, 53, who was named Indians manager last Saturday after working as a television analyst for the past year, takes over from Sandy Alomar Jr., who was named interim manager after Manny Acta was fired last month.

Francona left Boston following the 2011 season after his team, which began the season as favorites to win the World Series, suffered one of the greatest late-season collapses in Major League Baseball (MLB) history and missed the playoffs.

A former MLB player from 1981-1990, Francona has compiled a 1,029-915 managerial record in stints with the Philadelphia Phillies (1997-2000) and Red Sox (2004-11).

He takes over an Indians team that finished the 2012 MLB season with a 68-94 record, 20 games behind the American League Central division champion Detroit Tigers.

"We're going to compete," said Francona, who signed a four-year deal with Cleveland. "We're always going to compete. We may not win every game, but we won't back down from anyone."

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Clare Fallon)

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