CLEVELAND -- Indians manager Terry Francona will now miss at least 17 games of the 2020 season.
The Tribe announced Monday afternoon that Francona will not return during the three-game series against the Twins this week. Whether he will be able to rejoin the club for its six-game road trip that begins on Friday in St. Louis has yet to be determined. Sandy Alomar Jr. will continue managing against Minnesota.
Francona underwent a procedure last Friday at the Cleveland Clinic and has been at home recovering, which forced him to miss this past weekend's series against the Tigers at Progressive Field.
"I texted him [on Saturday] and told him I was thinking about him and that type of thing and to stay safe and all those things,” Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire said on Sunday. “And he said, 'Boy, it's been tough, a tough road.' Hopefully he'll get through this thing. It's been tough for everybody and especially tough for him. He's had some health issues, I guess the stomach part and all that stuff."
Francona was out from Aug. 2-9 with a minor gastrointestinal issue and briefly returned to the team from Aug. 11-16. But when he wasn’t feeling much better during that stretch, he returned to the Clinic last week to have another procedure scheduled.
DeShields available off the bench
Delino DeShields was pulled from Saturday night’s game with left hip tightness and was still experiencing the discomfort on Sunday afternoon when he arrived at the ballpark. The Tribe waited to see how he felt on Monday before making any decisions and the outfielder showed much improvement, so he is available off the bench for the series opener against the Twins.
“He feels much better,” Alomar said. “He ran the bases. He did some work in the outfield and said he’s feeling much better. … [Tuesday], we’ll see if he’s starting or if we’ll give him an extra day, and he’ll be ready to go.”
Alomar said the Indians will make their final decision on Tuesday for who will take the mound in the series finale against the Twins. The club currently has Adam Plutko slotted in to make Wednesday’s start, but Tribe president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti said that Plutko wasn’t official. Both Mike Clevinger and Zach Plesac are available to be recalled from Lake County and will certainly be in the running to get the ball.
Indians ready for big series
The Tribe is no stranger to this situation. Last year around this time, the Indians erased an 11 1/2-game deficit to the Twins in the middle of August and were vocal about their excitement to face Minnesota down the stretch. Though the season is only four weeks old, Cleveland enters the three-game set 1 1/2 games behind the Twins with just over one month of the regular season remaining.
“Every series in a pandemic is big,” Alomar said. “The last series we played was big, the one before that was big. This is even bigger, because it’s the same division also. They’re a good team. The players, they don’t need an indication of that because they already know. It’s been a battle against Minnesota the last three years. They’re ready for it.”