DETROIT -- The Tigers-Indians rivalry last year featured two close friends as managers in Jim Leyland and Terry Francona. The Tigers' new skipper also has a history with Francona.
Before Francona got his first Major League managerial opportunity in Philadelphia, he was a coach on Buddy Bell's staff in Detroit. Among his players was a newly acquired young catcher named Brad Ausmus.
"He's definitely a player's manager, and he was a player's coach when I was here," Ausmus said Wednesday. "Tito and I always had a lot of fun, whether it was on the bench or in batting practice. I think he understands that a 162-game baseball season can be a little bit stressful, and he does a good job of taking the stress off the players."
Their friendship continued after Ausmus was traded to Houston and Francona got the Phillies' managerial job.