Oct. 5 Terry Francona pregame interview

October 5th, 2017

Q. Terry, what's the biggest difference you've seen in Kluber from your first year here and the elite pitcher he's become since then?

TERRY FRANCONA: You mean, when he was on that Cy Young run or you mean before that?

Q. Well, 2013, he was league average, and then since then he's been elite.

TERRY FRANCONA: I'm trying to think. Our first Spring Training here, he didn't make the team. And I remember when we called him up -- because his stuff in Spring Training just wasn't -- didn't separate himself. Then when we called him up, we were talking about it, and he was like, well, you know, he had had knee surgery, but he didn't say a word, which isn't surprising.

Because I said, Klubes, Why didn't you say something?

He was like, Well, what am I going to say?

I mean that in a complimentary way. And then when he got on his run, he just, everything came together. There's so much power to his pitches.

Now, years later, he brings his breaking ball into a game earlier, and he still maintains his fastball late. You rarely see him tired out there. I mean, he conditions himself so well that sometimes just the score of the game dictates coming out because he never really looks like he's tired.

Q. Terry, is all the way back from what was happening with his knee and how he's dealt with that this year affect how you can use him this postseason compared to last?

TERRY FRANCONA: I think some of how he pitches will dictate. He's in a pretty good place. He's done everything coming back. He's pitched back to back. He's gone multiple innings. Again, I don't know if you'll see a 50-pitch outing, but we plan to use him as a big weapon. But we also have guys in the bullpen, Shaw and Cody and Joe Smith, that we think compliment each other really well.

Q. You guys saw quite a bit of last year in a postseason setting. Do you think that helps you at all going into this series?

TERRY FRANCONA: No. Some guys you see, and you'd rather not. I mean, he throws 103. I think any time a hitter has faced a pitcher, I think it helps the hitter because I always think the pitcher has the advantage when you haven't faced somebody. Saying that, you kind of know what's coming, but you still have to be able to hit it.

Q. Are you surprised 's been able to kind of reinvent himself as he's gotten older?

TERRY FRANCONA: Not at all. He's such a good athlete, and I don't think people give him credit for that. I know his knees hurt at times and they're a little creaky, but, no, he's a really good athlete, and he can manipulate the ball. So it's surprising at all.

Q. You mentioned Corey's conditioning. How much do you think that helped him going into a season like this where it seems like the challenge that goes deep into the postseason sometimes is how pitchers deal with shorter off-seasons and bigger workloads. Do you think the conditioning -

TERRY FRANCONA: I agree. We tried to talk to all our guys about that, but the one thing we also talked about was let's not talk ourselves into not feeling good because they're young and strong. And there was no reason they wouldn't bounce back.

But we tried to shorten up their Spring Training, the workload in the Spring Training, and because of that, we might have got off to a slower start. You know, our pitchers had a hard time kind of finding their footing early on. But once they did, none of our pitchers look like their gas tank is pointing towards empty, and that's, in large part, because of their work ethic, and I mean the entire group.

Q. Tito, do you remember what you thought the first time you saw Bauer do his long toss into the outfield and the fire into the plate and the whatever that armband is?

TERRY FRANCONA: That's a good, whatever that armband is. That's probably what I said. Trying to think.

In Spring Training, one of the first times he was going to pitch in Spring Training but he wasn't starting, and it was over against the Brewers. So about the third inning, I remember looking up, and I saw this ball arching from like field 2 way over there. And I was like, man, what -- kept going back and forth. I said to Mickey, and he goes, That's Trevor. He was long tossing before he game in.

You know, Trev -- we talked about it yesterday. He's come so far. And he may describe things differently maybe than I would, but he's really along the lines of the other pitchers. He's learned to command his fastball. He's got really good feel for a breaking ball, and he's got a nice change-up. Like I said, he may describe it different, but he's really in line with our other guys, and I think some of our other guys have probably taken some of his things like the weighted balls, and he's probably helped some of those guys.

Q. The Cavs are coming supposedly, and I know you're not looking around to see who's here, but do you enjoy the relationship -- I assume you still have a relationship with some of those guys. I was just wondering, do you enjoy that?

TERRY FRANCONA: I think it's pretty cool that they want to show up and support the Indians. Yeah, I think it's neat. It's not going to help us score any runs or get the Yankees out, but still, yeah, it's pretty cool. I think everybody enjoys that.

I know last year when LeBron kind of grabbed the microphone, I think everybody got a kick out of that. So, no, I think it's good.

Q. Just to follow up on that, ten years ago LeBron rooted for the Yankees against the Indians. Have you spoken with him about this?

TERRY FRANCONA: I had not remembered that, but I do now (laughter). I'm hopeful that he won't be. How's that? I don't think I need to be telling LeBron what to do, but I think he'll be rooting for the Indians.