Around the Nation (Feb. 14): Francona, Indians ready for first workout

Associated Press Published:

Associated Press

BASEBALL

Francona, Indians ready for first workout

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Back in a uniform he wore as a player, Terry Francona will stand before a major league team for the first time since 2011 and deliver a speech he hopes shapes the upcoming season.

He wants the new-look and revitalized Indians ready to roll.

On Friday, Francona, his eight seasons with the Boston Red Sox fading with each passing day, will address Cleveland's players for the first time before sending them onto the field for their first full-squad workout. Francona has had plenty of practice at such gatherings, and he understands this one holds special meaning.

"For me it's the biggest meeting of the year because it sets the tone for how we're going to do things," Francona said Thursday after the Indians went through drills under abundant Arizona sunshine. "It is an important day. I'm not a big meeting person, but tomorrow is an important one."

Twins sign ex-Indian Rafael Perez to minor league deal

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Minnesota Twins have signed left-hander Rafael Perez to a minor league contract with an invite to major league camp.

Perez pitched just 72⁄3 innings out of the bullpen for the Cleveland Indians last season because of shoulder problems. He had surgery to remove a spur in his shoulder in September and started throwing for scouts earlier this week.

The pitching-starved Twins decided to give the 30-year-old a chance. Perez was a very reliable reliever for the Indians in the previous five seasons.

GOLF

Refreshed Kuchar takes lead at Riviera

LOS ANGELES -- Matt Kuchar finished just as strong as he started Thursday and made it look easy in the Northern Trust Open.

Kuchar opened with three straight birdies, all of them putts inside 3 feet, and finished with back-to-back birdies at Riviera for a 7-under 64 that gave him a two-shot lead among the early starters in the Northern Trust Open.

Brandt Jobe, returning from a serious neck injury last year, put his experience to use. Jobe played golf at UCLA and has lost track of the times he has played Riviera. He ran off four straight birdies late in his round before a bogey on the 18th forced him to settle for a 66.

Fred Couples, the 53-year-old who feels rejuvenated on this golf course, had a 68.

Ben Curtis (Kent State) shot a 3-under 68, four strokes off the lead.

Colt Knost (Garrettsville) shot 1-over 72 in the first round.

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