Francona improving, to miss 'few more days'

August 5th, 2020

“Welcome to 2020: Every day is different. That’s one thing we’ve become good at is being adaptable.”

Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti ended his pregame Zoom call with media on Monday by soaking in all the unique circumstances each team has had to take on this year. And with manager Terry Francona now expected to miss more games, the team will only have to continue to be even more adaptable.

Francona was evaluated at the Cleveland Clinic on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and out of respect for the skipper, Antonetti did not release any details other than the team will be without Francona for a few more days.

“Tito is in the process of feeling better,” Antonetti said before Wednesday's game against the Reds. “He won’t be here tonight. It’s going to be a few more days until he’s ready to rejoin the team, but we remain hopeful that’ll happen in the not-too-distant future. Beyond that, I’m not gonna go into a lot of detail out of respect to Tito’s privacy, given that it’s a medical condition.”

Francona reported to Target Field on Sunday morning, but he had to return to the team hotel about an hour before first pitch with a minor gastrointestinal condition. He flew back to Cleveland that night to be home for his appointments on Monday. First-base coach Sandy Alomar Jr. has stepped up in Francona’s place, leaving Kyle Hudson to coach first base.

Because Francona will miss a couple more games, the team decided to move Mike Sarbaugh off third base and bring him in as a bench coach to give Alomar Jr. some more help in handling game decisions.

“The thing is, I have many responsibilities with controlling the running game,” Alomar Jr. said. “There are times when I’m controlling the running game or still coaching, I tend to forget I’m the acting manager. To ease the situation with all the stuff I have to control, [Sarbaugh] can help a lot. He has a lot of insight on everything. It will be a great help to have him on the bench.”

Tony Mansolino, Cleveland's infield coordinator, has been called over from the alternate training site in Lake County, Ohio, to join the Major League staff to coach third base in the meantime.

Injury updates
Outfielder Delino DeShields may be nearing the end of his ramp-up period after his battle with COVID-19. He was forced to miss the first 10 days of Summer Camp as he waited to receive multiple negative coronavirus tests and has since been easing his way back into baseball activities.

With DeShields having played a handful of simulated games in Lake County, Antonetti believes the outfielder could be joining the Tribe in the next few days.

“He had a good day yesterday,” Antonetti said. “He had a few hits, a homer and a walk in a simulated game. He feels like he’s ready to be active, so hopefully at some point in the next day or two, you could see him join the team here.”

Catcher Roberto Pérez (right shoulder strain) was expected to take part in some light throwing and hitting activities on Wednesday, while outfielder Tyler Naquin (toe fracture on his right foot) will participate in a simulated game in Lake County.

MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 prospects
MLB Pipeline released its updated Top 100 prospect rankings on Tuesday, which included one player from the Indians’ organization. The club’s top prospect, Nolan Jones, came in at No. 47 overall after having been ranked No. 42 overall at the beginning of the year.

The third baseman is part of the Tribe’s 60-man player pool in Lake County. In 2019, he hit .272 with 22 doubles, three triples, 15 homers, 63 RBIs and 148 strikeouts in 126 games between Class A Lynchburg and Double-A Akron.

Shortstop Tyler Freeman was ranked No. 96 on the Top 100 in January, but did not make the most recent list.