Terry Francona: 'Nobody's Ever Deliberately Covered Up' for Mickey Callaway

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistMarch 2, 2021

FILE - In this Feb. 23, 2020, file photo, Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona watches during the fourth inning of a spring training baseball game against the Kansas City Royals in Surprise, Ariz. Francona continues to undergo medical tests for a gastrointestinal issue, and there remains no clear timetable for when he'll return to the team.  (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel, File)
Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

Cleveland manager Terry Francona has addressed a new report that the team was aware of complaints about Mickey Callaway's alleged behavior during his time with the organization.

"Right now is just not the right time to respond to some of the questions I'm sure you have," Francona told reporters on Tuesday. "I do hope at some point, we are able to, because I think we need to. Just know that we take this very, very seriously. I apologize, but that's where it is today. Nobody's ever deliberately covered up for anybody, I can tell you that."

Per Brittany Ghiroli and Katie Strang of The Athletic, several key members of Cleveland's front office and coaching staff, including Francona, team president Chris Antonetti and general manager Mike Chernoff, were aware of allegations of harassment against Callaway in 2017:

"Since the publication of The Athletic's first article, more women have come forward to say that Callaway made them uncomfortable by sending them inappropriate messages and/or photos, making unwanted advances and more while they worked for the Indians. Additionally, in 2017, an angry husband repeatedly called the team's fan services department to complain that Callaway had sent 'pornographic material' to his wife. Those calls were brought to the attention of Antonetti, manager Terry Francona and general manager Mike Chernoff; the Indians spoke with Callaway about the matter. A Cleveland attorney spoke with the wife and said – in a phone call that was recorded – that Callaway had expressed remorse to him."

Ghiroli and Strang previously reported on Feb. 1 that five different women who work in sports media accused Callaway of lewd behavior, including "sending three of them inappropriate photographs and asking one of them to send nude photos in return."

Cleveland issued a statement included in the Feb. 1 report: 

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"We were made aware for the first time tonight of the allegations in The Athletic regarding Mickey Callaway's behavior towards women. We are currently reviewing the matter internally and in consultation with Major League Baseball to determine appropriate next steps. Our organization unequivocally does not condone this type of behavior. We seek to create an inclusive work environment where everyone, regardless of gender, can feel safe and comfortable to do their jobs."

The women in that report noted that Callaway's alleged actions "spanned at least five years, multiple cities and three teams."

"It was the worst-kept secret in sports," one of the women told Ghiroli and Strang in the latest report.

Following the release of the Feb. 1 report, Callaway was suspended by the Los Angeles Angels and MLB opened an investigation into the accusations against him. He was hired to become the Angels pitching coach in October 2019 after being fired as manager of the New York Mets. 

Tuesday's report noted that one former pitcher who worked with Callaway said his "conduct was widely known as early as 2010" when he was in his first season as pitching coach for Cleveland's Low-A affiliate. 

Callaway eventually worked his way up to become Cleveland's pitching coach in 2013 when Francona was hired as manager. The 45-year-old spent five seasons in that role before being named Mets manager in October 2017.