Indians Notes: Terry Francona returns “I felt awful being away”

By 92.3 The Fan
CLEVELAND, Ohio (92.3 The Fan) – Manager Terry Francona returned to the Indians Tuesday after missing eight games to deal with a gastrointestinal issue.

And in typical Francona fashion, he was honest about his absence and poked fun at his ailments that have bothered him for the last year while lamenting they have prevented him from doing what he loves the most.

“I felt awful being away and I really feel like I need to be here to help,” Francona said. “I can’t promise that this is going to go perfect, but I’m certainly going to give it the best shot I can.”

Watching at home on TV was difficult, and different.

“Sometimes I see guys when I’m sitting in the dugout and I’ll be like, ‘How are we going to hit this guy?’ and then you look at it on TV and you’re like, ‘How are we not hitting this guy?’ It looks so easy on TV and then when you get down on ground level, it’s really not,” Francona said.

In addition to the gastrointestinal problem, Francona also revealed he’s been dealing with a hip problem where bone is rubbing on bone and he’s been compensating for the pain, causing back issues.

All three ailments got to him in Minnesota on August 2nd and the pain became too much to bear. He finally listened to Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti and others within the organization to seek additional care.

“It kinda overwhelmed me a little bit,” Francona said. “I wasn’t helping.”

None of the problems Francona is dealing with are heart related, he said Tuesday, referencing the cardiac ablation he underwent in 2017.

Francona, who joked that he’s “not the picture of health,” revealed he’s undergone five or six surgeries since the spring, including last week at the Cleveland Clinic to try to correct the gastrointestinal problem.

“I feel like I know everybody on a first-name basis at the Clinic, and they’ve been incredibly helpful,” Francona said. “They’re scratching their heads a little bit too, but they’re trying. As long as they keep trying, I’ll keep trying. I think it took almost a year to get to this spot, so it’s not going to go away in a week.

“I will admit though, I thought I’d be the last person who would be taken down by having a tight ass. That would not be how I thought I would be described.”

Broken trust – Tuesday night’s starter Adam Plutko didn’t hold back when asked about Mike Clevinger and Zach Plesac landing on the reserve list after violating the team’s code of conduct for the season, and their trust by going out Saturday night in Chicago.

“They hurt us bad. They lied to us,” Plutko said. “They sat here in front of [the media] and publicly said things that they didn’t follow through on. It’s gonna be up to them. It really is.

“The term that I continue to hear, and excuse my language, is ‘grown-ass man.’ So those grown-ass men can sit here and tell you guys what happened and tell you guys what they’re gonna do to fix it. I don’t need to do that for them.”

Plutko started in place of Clevinger and suffered his first loss of the season by allowing one run on four hits with a walk and two strikeouts in four innings.

Shuffle back – With Francona back, Sandy Alomar returned to coach first base and Mike Sarbaugh returned to third base after serving as Alomar’s bench coach.

Francona praised the job Alomar Jr. did in his place.

“I was so proud of those guys,” Francona said. “That’s not an easy thing to do when you’re filling in for somebody. I said, ‘Don’t call me, don’t be asking me, just do it,’ and he did a terrific job. The coaches all pitched in and it’s not surprising, but I was really proud and I thought they really shined.”

Tony Mansolino, who coached at third for Sarbaugh, will return to the alternate training site at Lake County this weekend according to Francona.

Dirtbag love – Prior to the first pitch, the Indians played a video montage tribute for Jason Kipnis, who spent 11 years and played parts of nine seasons with the Indians prior to joining the Cubs.

His 1,050 career games at second base are the third-most in franchise history behind Nap Lajoie (1,358) and Bobby Avila (1,098).

Both teams stood and clapped for Kipnis and his Cubs teammates playfully jeered him. Kipnis raised both arms and turned in a full circle while tipping his cap to the empty ballpark.

Kipnis doubled down the right field line in his first plate appearance in the second inning.

Walk this way – Carlos Santana walked in his first plate appearance giving him 858, the second most all-time in franchise history, passing Tris Speaker.

Santana has drawn a walk in nine straight games and he leads the league with 24 free passes.

Jim Thome holds the franchise record with 1,008 walks in his Indians career.

Streaks snapped – Leadoff hitter Cesar Hernandez went 0-for-4, snapping his on-base streak of 20 games dating back to 2019. It was the fourth-longest active streak in MLB entering Tuesday’s game.

The seven runs allowed were the most this season by the Indians pitching staff, snapping a streak of 17 straight games of allowing four or fewer runs to start the season. It was the second-longest stretch to start a season in MLB history behind the 1981 Oakland Athletics who accomplished the feat in 21 games to start the season according to Elias.