CLEVELAND -- Every year, Indians manager Terry Francona talks to his team about handling adversity. Last season, the team had more of those conversations than normal, especially when Carlos Carrasco learned that he was diagnosed with leukemia at the beginning of July. But what that all proved to the Tribe’s skipper is that his club can overcome nearly anything, including whatever is in store for 2020.
“Like always, the teams that handle adversity usually put themselves in a better chance to win than the other teams,” Francona said. “That’s part of why I like our guys so much, because I think they’re willing to handle adversity. This would just be another area of that.”
Much of the adversity teams are dealing with is the unknown. As Major League Baseball continues to try to determine when conditions could be safe to play again and what the season would entail, Francona is preparing his team to be ready for anything -- just like they’ve always tried to do.
“Whether we play one game or 100, our mentality is we always want to win,” Francona said. “That’s the way we’re wired. So regardless of what we do, you want to win.”
But the upcoming adversity is looking much different for the Tribe than what it did just a month ago. In the final weeks of Spring Training, the team was trying to figure out if Carrasco (right elbow inflammation), Mike Clevinger (partial meniscus tear in left knee) and Oscar Mercado (left wrist sprain) would be ready for Opening Day. Now with some extra time off, Francona said that those who were dealing with injuries, including Tyler Naquin (surgery to repair right ACL) and Emmanuel Clase (upper back strain), are all progressing well.
“We have Zoom calls, organizationally, just about every day in some capacity. The medical people give us an update about once a week,“ Francona said. “Carrasco’s been throwing bullpens and he always sends us video right after. … He’s been doing fine. Clev’s doing great. Naquin’s doing great. And Mercado, he’s fine. There are a lot of teams that were in similar situations to us, where if the season started on time, they wouldn’t have guys. But now, whenever it starts, you’ll have your guys back.”
The only challenge has been keeping in contact with Clase, who went back home to the Dominican Republic to be with his family during this temporary suspension of play.
“Clase has been the [hardest] for our guys to keep track of, just because of where he lives in the Dominican, his cell service is so poor,” Francona said. “But he is throwing, and by all accounts, he feels great, which is good news.
“We’re actually trying to figure out how we can get somebody, maybe from our academy or somebody down there, to get their eyes on him, just to make sure everything’s going OK. Whatever amount of time we’re out, we don’t want to let guys slip through the cracks, so we’ll try to get somebody at some point to make a visit and see how he’s doing.”
While Clase seems to be the only remaining question mark for the Indians in terms of health, the rest of the injured players are expected to have the green light whenever Spring Training activities begin ramping back up. In the meantime, Francona is refusing to get into hypothetical situations about the season and is just looking forward to the day he can get back into the season in a safe and healthy environment.
“I’ve watched every Netflix program there is,” Francona said. “I’m out of Netflix. I admit, I miss baseball. The reality of what we’re going through will stand you up. You turn on the television and listen to what people are saying and what people are going through, so we need to make sure we keep our priorities in line.”