ARLINGTON -- If time travel was possible and DeMarlo Hale could go back to the conversations he was having with Indians manager Terry Francona last winter just after he was hired to be the bench coach, he doesn’t think he would’ve envisioned serving as the team’s acting manager for more than two months of the season.
“My mind coming into Spring Training was more about what I’ve heard, what I need to see and understand and put myself in a position to help this organization and players,” Hale said. “It turned after the All-Star break.”
At the end of July, Francona announced he’d be stepping away for the remainder of the season to undergo two procedures -- one on his hip and one on his foot -- to improve his waning quality of life. That left the team in Hale’s hands -- something he wasn’t expecting, but a transition he said he was prepared for.
“I adjusted pretty well once I jumped in,” the 60-year-old said. “I had a great conversation with Tito prior to him stepping away for the medical issues. We touched on some important things. I won’t share that, but it was very refreshing and hearing from him but also understanding what his situation was, and I jumped in with both feet.”
Since then, Hale has gone 30-33 as acting manager, with just one game remaining on Sunday afternoon in Texas. Although the expectation is that Francona will return in 2022, causing Hale to then move back to his role as bench coach, Hale still has plenty of takeaways from his time as the club’s skipper, including learning that it wasn’t that dramatic of a transition.
“There’s been some challenges,” Hale said. “I mean, yes, it’s been a good experience, but also it’s not one that was overwhelming for me, let me say that. I don’t know if that’s being old and wise or young and naïve, you put that spin on it.”
So what does this experience mean for Hale’s future? The Indians have the offseason to work through their staffing plans, especially with Francona’s health situation. However, it’s likely that Hale will move back to his job as bench coach if no other offers presented themselves. But did his time as the acting manager reinforce the idea that he’d eventually want to become a manager?
“I don’t think so,” Hale said. “And I say that out of respect that organizations, they’re gonna dig in to who they feel is right to run an organization. There have been a number of times I’ve interviewed for positions, so I mean I think the industries know that here’s a name out there that we’re interested in hearing his thoughts in the interviewing process.
“So I kind of look at it like that in terms of you can’t send your résumé to organizations to apply for a job ... They kind of call you. So with that, I’ve done this. There ain’t a lot of years left either. You’re at this age where you’re not young, so that’s for someone else to decide.”