BOSTON -- Indians manager Terry Francona gathered his players together inside the cramped visitors' clubhouse at Fenway Park on Wednesday afternoon for a brief meeting. The topic at hand was Leonys Martin, whose initials are on his teammates' hats and whose recovery is at the forefront of their minds.The message
BOSTON -- Indians manager Terry Francona gathered his players together inside the cramped visitors' clubhouse at Fenway Park on Wednesday afternoon for a brief meeting. The topic at hand was Leonys Martin, whose initials are on his teammates' hats and whose recovery is at the forefront of their minds.
The message was quick and encouraging: Martin has made great strides in his recovery from a severe bacterial infection that was life-threatening two weeks ago. Even with the progress made behind the scenes, however, the veteran center fielder will not return to the field in 2018, allowing Martin to focus solely on a return to full health.
"The news is really good. I mean, he is doing fantastic," Francona said. "But he's not going to play baseball this year. We just wanted to share it, because the guys ask all the time. We just want to keep them abreast of what's going on. But overall, he's done so well. We're so thrilled that he's OK.
"I think he wanted to play. But I think the doctors just thought that with what happened he needs some time to let his body heal and we fully support that. Even though we miss him a lot, it's the right thing to do."
Martin -- acquired from the Tigers prior to the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline -- became ill overnight Aug. 7 and was taken to the Cleveland Clinic the following day after experiencing nausea and stomach discomfort. That is when it was learned that an undisclosed bacteria entered his bloodstream, producing toxins that began to impact his internal organs. After a few days, Martin was in stable condition, and he transitioned out of the intensive care unit by Aug. 15.
Martin was released from Cleveland Clinic on Sunday, but his path to a full recovery will take more time. Francona noted that Martin will have a series of follow-up consultations over the next week or so, adding that the center fielder can be around the team "as much as he wants" down the stretch.
Martin met with Dr. Dermot Phelan and Dr. Thomas Waters on Wednesday morning, and all testing and imaging showed the outfielder's body continues to heal well. Even so, the doctors indicated to the team that Martin's heart and other organs will likely require an additional month or two to fully recover.
In a statement, the Indians said: "The organization, Leonys and his family remain extremely grateful to the exceptional team of physicians, nurses and caregivers at the Cleveland Clinic that have cared for Leonys and supported his family throughout his illness."
On the Indians' team off-day Thursday last week, Francona and bench coach Brad Mills visited Martin and found a group of teammates already at the hospital. Chris Antonetti, the team's president of baseball operations, said Sunday that his own visits with Martin at Cleveland Clinic were encouraging.
"His spirits were really lifted," Antonetti said. "A bunch of the guys stopped by to visit. Tito and Millsie stopped by. He continues to draw energy from that and I know he's really motivated to get back healthy and begin building up his activity."
Francona said it helped for Cleveland's players to see for themselves that Martin was on the mend.
"We've kept them up to date really well," Francona said. "I think they've known for -- it's been probably 10 days now -- that he's OK. A bunch of them went over to the hospital. ... I think for that first week everybody was kind of on pins and needles, just because we didn't know much. But once they saw him, I think everybody knew he was going to be OK."
With the 30-year-old Martin out of the mix for the rest of the season, Cleveland will continue to lean on rookie Greg Allen, who has starred for the Tribe in recent games. Allen hit a key home run in Monday's 5-4 win over the Red Sox and made two highlight-reel catches in center in Tuesday's 6-3 victory in Boston. In his first dozen games while filling in for Martin, the 25-year-old Allen has hit .375 (15-for-40) with five steals, eight runs and a .907 OPS.
"Oh my goodness. He's stepped in," Francona said. "He's played really good defense. He's stolen some bases. It's been fun to watch him kind of developing right in the middle of a pennant race."
Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook.