CLEVELAND – Terry Francona has joined Sandy Alomar Jr. as a candidate to become manager of the Cleveland Indians.

Alomar prepared for his first game as interim manager Friday, a day after Manny Acta was fired. General Manager Chris Antonetti said both were candidates and others currently employed by teams could become part of the search.

“I’m excited and I’m honored that they would give me an interview,” Francona told the Associated Press.

“I know Sandy Alomar is also a candidate. He’s a good friend of mine. I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself. I will do my homework over the next week.”

Francona, who managed Boston to World Series titles in 2004 and 2007, was a special assistant in Cleveland’s front office in 2001. He is intrigued by the chance to work again with Indians President Mark Shapiro and Antonetti.

Francona has been an ESPN analyst since leaving the Red Sox after last season. He played briefly in Cleveland in 1988, following father Tito. Terry Francona managed Philadelphia from 1997-00.

PIRATES: Second baseman Neil Walker is going to miss the rest of the season because of lower back soreness.

TWINS: Minnesota released Tsuyoshi Nishioka, ending its experiment with the Japanese middle infielder after two rough years.

The Twins said Friday that the move came at Nishioka’s request.

The Twins said Nishioka decided to relieve the team of its remaining financial commitment on his contract, which included a $3 million salary for the 2013 season and a $250,000 buyout. So they don’t owe him any more money, and Nishioka is now a free agent.

CARDS: Matt Holliday was taken out of Friday’s game after getting hit by a pitch on his left elbow.