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"Now we can let the baseball operations guys go about their winter, because they've spent a lot of time really organizing these interviews and helping out with the interviews, which I really appreciate," Francona said. "I was starting to feel guilty. This was taking a lot of time. But it made the process go a lot more disciplined because of how they handle it. We got to our guy, but we got to it in a good way.
Like Willis, Rodriguez comes to the Tribe from the Red Sox. The 56-year-old Rodriguez spent the past 23 seasons as a player and coach in Boston's system, including the past five seasons as assistant hitting coach with the big league club. Before that, Rodriguez was the Red Sox's Minor League hitting coordinator for six seasons, Latin field coordinator for 10 years and a hitting coach at various Minor League levels.
A veteran of 19 professional seasons and 17 Major League games with the 1984 Orioles and '89 Twins, Rodriguez was named "Man of the Year" by the BoSox Club in 2014 for his contributions on the field and cooperation and efforts in community endeavors off it.
Francona said he didn't work with Rodriguez, who is bilingual, extensively when the two were with the Red Sox, but he learned a lot about him through the interview process.
"The way he is able to develop relationships, it just came across so glaringly, how much he cares about the players," Francona said. "Anytime you have an ability to speak a second language, it's a bonus. I don't think it's a reason to hire somebody. But that was also attractive."/p>
Rodriguez will work alongside Ty Van Burkleo, who has been the Indians' primary hitting coach since Francona became the Indians' skipper before the 2013 season.
The Indians had anticipated some poaching from their coaching staff in the wake of consecutive division titles, and Francona tried to accentuate the positives about the inevitable changes.
"Sometimes a little bit of change can be good," he said. "A little infusion of different personalities and enthusiasm can be a good thing."
Columbus contract extended
Connected by 140 miles of highway and nine seasons of player development, the Indians and Triple-A Columbus Clippers are extending their partnership through 2020. On Wednesday, the two clubs jointly announced a two-year extension of their player development contract.
The extension comes in advance of the 10th season of both Huntington Park, the Clippers' downtown Columbus home, and the marriage between the Indians and Clippers.
"We are so very proud of all we have accomplished together, so very proud that 19 of the 25 Indians on this year's playoff roster came through Columbus," Ken Schnacke, the Clippers' president and GM, said in a release. "We look forward to many more season of helping to develop the Cleveland Indians to the future."
Added Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti: "The Clippers organization has created a first-class, Major League environment for our players and staff. That, coupled with a state-of-the-art facility in Huntington Park and passionate fan base, make this a unique and lasting relationship. We look forward to the continued success of our partnership."
In nine seasons, the Clippers have sent 133 players to Cleveland while winning three Governors' Cups and two Triple-A National Championships.