Francona misses third game with lightheadedness

June 29th, 2023

KANSAS CITY -- As time ticked closer to the 7:10 p.m. CT start at Kauffman Stadium on Tuesday evening, Guardians manager Terry Francona felt lightheaded.

For most, maybe it wouldn’t be too alarming. But for someone with Francona’s medical history, it was something that needed to be checked out. Francona alerted the medical team and worked closely with the Royals’ staff to get some preliminary tests done at the ballpark. When it was determined he’d be heading to the local hospital for further testing, he told bench coach DeMarlo Hale that he’d need to step in as temporary manager.

Francona had tests done all evening and he stayed at the hospital through the night for observation. When everything came back as expected and his results were normal, Francona was cleared to go back to the team hotel. However, he was told it would be best to rest for a day or two, so he was not in the dugout again for the finale in Kansas City on Thursday.

“He went through a lot,” Guardians general manager Mike Chernoff said. “He’s eager to get back. I think he was hoping he would feel better when he woke up today and he just didn’t feel 100%, so we felt like let’s just keep pushing [his return back], day to day.

“Even [Friday] in Chicago, as much as he wants to be out there, I’ve already started to push him a little bit on being thoughtful of the air quality -- it’s going to be hot, potentially rain -- just to be smart with how he’s feeling with his body.”

The last few years have been difficult for Francona. In 2020, he went through countless surgeries for stomach problems that had plagued him during the winter, spring and summer. When he thought he’d be able to come back to the team for the delayed start to the season in July, he ended up having to leave in August to address issues with blood clots that landed him in Cleveland Clinic’s intensive care unit. The next offseason, he learned he had a staph infection in his toe and it caused him to miss the second half of the ‘21 season yet again.

In 2022, he finally had a clean bill of health and was able to enjoy his time back in the dugout for a full season. It wasn’t until Tuesday that he’d mentioned feeling unwell again, but the Guardians are thankful that he’s taking it upon himself to prioritize his health when these scares pop up.

“He was feeling something and knew that something wasn’t right, so he made the decision to talk to the trainers about it and make sure he got tested,” Chernoff said. “We pushed him to do the same thing. All the coaches, who are phenomenal in stepping in like they did, did the same thing. I think we always just have to be super cautious given his history. But we’re thankful everything seems to be OK this time.”