Francona's ties to Cleveland go beyond the front office, though. The manager is also looking forward to once again working with pitcher Justin Masterson.
"He's such a special kid," Francona said. "To be reunited with him is really, really cool."
Francona was manager of the Red Sox in 2009, when the Indians swung the blockbuster trade that sent Victor Martinez to Boston and brought Masterson, Nick Hagadone and Bryan Price to Cleveland. Francona will never forget when he had to break the news to Masterson that he was being dealt to the Tribe.
"The day that we traded Masty was a bittersweet day," Francona sad. "We got Victor Martinez, but that was a hard conversation to have with Justin."
With the Red Sox -- partly due to the construction of the roster -- Masterson was used as a reliever. Despite a rocky showing this past season, Masterson has developed into one of Cleveand's top starters over the past two years. Francona said he plans on keeping the sinkerballer in the rotation for 2013, too.
Masterson, who has gone 23-25 with a 4.05 ERA with 422 1/3 innings logged over the past two seasons, would have been thrilled to have either Sandy Alomar Jr. or Francona as Cleveland's manager, but the pitcher was excited about working for his old skipper again.
"Our choice for manager this year was between two excellent candidates," Masterson wrote in an e-mail. "I am excited to have Tito at the helm. He does a great job of communicating to his players and is very passionate about the game and about seeing all of his players have success.
"I've always had a great relationship with Tito and he showed me great respect and courage in my rookie year  to give me an opportunity and keep throwing me out in the mix."