Cleveland manager Terry Francona said no one in the organization “covered up” for former pitching coach Mickey Callaway, who is under investigation by Major League Baseball following allegations of sexual harassment.
In a story Tuesday, The Athletic reported 12 current and former team employees have come forward in the last month to say Cleveland was aware of Callaway’s inappropriate behaviour while he was pitching coach from 2013-17.
“Nobody’s ever deliberately covered up for anybody, I can tell you that,” Francona said on a Zoom call from the team’s spring training complex in Goodyear, Ariz.
Francona was asked if he was troubled by the report.
“I have never worked in a place where I have more respect for people than here,” said the two-time World Series winner, starting his ninth season with Cleveland. “And I’ve been very fortunate to work for some wonderful people. I believe that in my heart.
“I don’t think today is the day to go into details, things like that. I do hope there is a day, because I think it would be good, and I think it’s necessary,” he said.
Francona said the club plans to release a statement further addressing the matter.
Shortly before Francona spoke to the media, his son, Nick, posted on Twitter he had read the new story on Callaway and confronted his father. The younger Francona said Cleveland is “clearly in the wrong.”
Son’s comments ‘hurtful’
“Their behaviour is unacceptable, and even worse, it’s hard to have faith in them to improve and learn when they seem more concerned about covering up wrongdoings that addressing them honestly,” Nick Francona wrote.
The 61-year-old Francona, who managed only 14 games last season because of health issues, said his son’s comments were painful.
Last month, Cleveland’s president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti said he wasn’t aware of Callaway’s behaviour until he read about it in a story by The Athletic, which detailed Callaway’s pursuit of women over a five-year period with three teams.
Callaway was Cleveland’s pitching coach from 2013-17 before he was hired to manage the New York Mets. He’s currently suspended as the Los Angeles Angels pitching coach, pending the MLB inquiry.
When he spoke on Feb. 4, Antonetti said he was “distraught” and “disturbed” by the allegations against Callaway. Antonetti expressed regret that none of the accusers felt they could come forward and that the team was committed to making its workplace safe.
Antonetti added he was not aware if the Mets had reached out to the Cleveland organization before they hired Callaway in 2017.
On Monday, Mets president Sandy Alderson acknowledged the team was perhaps short-sighted in its hiring process and probably should have done a better job of vetting Callaway.