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Tito holds team meeting to address 'pen mishap

Manager: 'I'm confident it won't happen again, but I don't take it lightly'
MLB.com @MLBastian

CLEVELAND -- Indians manager Terry Francona did not get much sleep after the chain of events that led to a gut punch of a loss to the Reds on Tuesday night at Progressive Field. The skipper tossed and turned, going over the missed communication that directly contributed to Cleveland's ninth-inning collapse.

It was an embarrassing blunder on the part of Francona and pitching coach Carl Willis, and their mixed signals put Dan Otero in a difficult position both during and after Tuesday's 7-4 defeat. Prior to Wednesday's game against Cincinnati, Francona held a team meeting to apologize for what took place and to assume full responsibility for the mishap.

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CLEVELAND -- Indians manager Terry Francona did not get much sleep after the chain of events that led to a gut punch of a loss to the Reds on Tuesday night at Progressive Field. The skipper tossed and turned, going over the missed communication that directly contributed to Cleveland's ninth-inning collapse.

It was an embarrassing blunder on the part of Francona and pitching coach Carl Willis, and their mixed signals put Dan Otero in a difficult position both during and after Tuesday's 7-4 defeat. Prior to Wednesday's game against Cincinnati, Francona held a team meeting to apologize for what took place and to assume full responsibility for the mishap.

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"I actually talked to the team," Francona said. "I messed up and I apologized, because I don't like messing up. And, inadvertently, I came in last night and I thought took responsibility, but I also put O.T. in a tough spot. And I didn't want to do that. So, I told the guys, I said, 'Hey man, that was not my intention.'

"So, I thought that was the best way for me to move on. It was a tough one. It was a tough night. I didn't sleep very good."

Otero is "O.T." and that nickname -- one that has only existed for the reliever during his years with Francona in Cleveland -- played a role in Tuesday's debacle. In the ninth inning, while closer Cody Allen struggled to contain the Reds' lineup, Francona turned to Willis in the dugout and instructed the pitching coach to call the bullpen to have "O.P." (lefty Oliver Perez) warm up in case Joey Votto came up.

Tweet from @MLBastian: Terry Francona had trouble sleeping last night and he met with his players this afternoon to apologize for Tuesday's bullpen blunder. On that and more in Tito's pregame minutiae: https://t.co/GLo9OO3VvE

Willis did not question the decision (Otero is a ground-ball specialist who had some success in the past vs. Votto) and neither did bullpen coach Scott Atchison upon receiving the call from the dugout. When Allen loaded the bases with a two-out walk to Dilson Herrera, Francona left the dugout, motioned with his left hand for Perez and then looked stunned when Otero emerged from the bullpen and jogged to the mound.

Votto then delivered a go-ahead, three-run double on a full-count pitch from Otero, helping send the Indians to the loss column. Cincinnati scored all seven of its runs in the ninth inning.

Asked what could have been done differently, Francona replied: "Speak more clearly."

Reds manager Jim Riggleman said Wednesday that every manager probably has a story about a miscommunication mistake.

"Anybody who's managed any length of time, something similar has happened," Riggleman said. "Whether it's a lineup error or whether it's a miscommunication in the dugout, a miscommunication on the phone to the bullpen, miscommunication on a double switch. ... I would almost have to call somebody and question somebody who's been in the game for a long time if [they say] it hasn't happened at some time to them."

Francona was asked if, given the benefit of hindsight, he is surprised that neither Willis nor Atchison questioned the decision to have Otero enter to face Votto, even when considering the fact that the right-hander has allowed a .362 average (1.154 OPS) against lefties this year. Votto, meanwhile, is batting .329 (.954 OPS) off righties.

"We actually even talked about that," Francona said. "I told Atch, because Atch was killing himself, I said, 'Put yourself [in my position in that situation]. Let's look back at it.' You can't pick up the phone and go, 'Are you sure?' I mean, I'm probably going to [get extremely angry]. You know, everybody is just so conscientious that it was just, it was a mistake.

"And I'm confident it won't happen again. But, I don't take it lightly, either."

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.

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