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Terry Francona has high praise for Mets manager Mickey Callaway

Indians manager Terry Francona talks about the 2018

Indians manager Terry Francona talks about the 2018 season during a news conference on Oct. 10 in Cleveland. Credit: AP/Tony Dejak

When the Mets hired Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway to be their manager, his former boss, Terry Francona, said Callaway was a “star” in the making.

Although Callaway’s team went 77-85 and finished fourth in the NL East in his rookie season, his star hasn’t dimmed a bit, at least in Francona’s eyes.

“Mickey’s incredibly talented in what he’s doing,” Francona said on Thursday. “And sometimes in baseball, the won-loss record doesn’t quite match maybe the job a guy did behind the scenes.

There’s so much disparity in baseball, I think sometimes you’ve got to give a guy a little more time, let him settle into who he is and what he wants to do, and then you’ll find out how good they are.”

Francona knows of what he speaks. He went 67-94 with the Phillies as a rookie manager in 1997 before going on to become a two-time World Series champion with the Red Sox.

“I think I was a little bit naive coming in to Philadelphia, and then after the first year, I knew what to expect,” Francona said. “Anybody who loses [94] games in Philadelphia will tell you it’s not a whole lot of fun.”

Losing 85 is not that much fun in New York, either. Callaway got to keep his job, though, even after the Mets hired a new, aggressive general manager in Brodie Van Wagenen. That might not last if the Mets stumble out of the gate in 2019, but Francona said he isn’t worried about Callaway’s future.

“He’s going to be a star whether it’s a pitching coach, manager, running the minor leagues,” Francona said. “He’s going to be a star at whatever he sets out to do.”

Francona, who said he kept in touch with Callaway during the 2018 season, didn’t offer an opinion on the day-to-day workings of Callaway’s first year as a manager.

“During the year, we get so consumed with what we’re doing with our own teams,” Francona said. “I mean, it’s hard enough to manage your own team, let alone try to manage somebody else’s. Because he’s a real good friend of mine, we certainly keep in touch. But he doesn’t need me to manage his team. He knows what he’s doing. That’s why he got the job.”

Francona was speaking on a conference call for the LPGA season-opening Diamond Resorts Tournament of Champions, which will take place Jan. 17-20 in Orlando, Florida, and will feature LPGA champions from the past two seasons plus 45 celebrities such as Francona and baseball Hall of Famer John Smoltz.

Mets sign two. The Mets announced the signings of righthanded reliever Arquimedes Caminero and outfielder Rymer Liriano to minor-league contracts. Both will be invited to spring training.

Caminero, 31, has gone 7-5 with a 3.83 ERA in 149 games with Pittsburgh, Miami and Seattle. He spent the past two seasons in Japan with the Yomiuri Giants and had 40 saves. His 2018 season ended after right elbow surgery.

Liriano, 27, has appeared in 59 games with the Padres and White Sox. The righthanded hitter has a .220 career average with two home runs and 12 RBIs.

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