Heart procedure sidelines Francona for ASG

Indians bench coach Mills will manage AL team

July 7th, 2017

CLEVELAND -- Indians manager Terry Francona knows that his health and leading his team carries more importance than managing the American League in the All-Star Game. Following a heart procedure on Thursday afternoon, Francona informed Major League Baseball that he is pulling out of Tuesday's Midsummer Classic.
Francona had an irregular heartbeat addressed in a minor operation, and he is planning on rejoining the Indians in Oakland on July 14 for the start of the second half of the season. Currently resting at the Cleveland Clinic, Francona was in contact Friday with both Chris Antonetti, the team's president of baseball operations, and bench coach Brad Mills, who will manage the AL in his stead.
"I visited with Tito this morning, and he's actually feeling really good," Antonetti said. "I think his mind is at ease knowing they were able to perform a successful procedure to get his issue corrected, and now he knows that the path in front of him is just a little rest and recovery and he can get back to doing what he loves."
Francona, 58, underwent a cardiac ablation procedure to correct the cardiac arrhythmia, which was detected by doctors who have been monitoring his heart rhythm for the past few weeks. The procedure was deemed a success, and Francona is expected to make a full recovery and be discharged from the hospital within the next few days.
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Mills, who will continue to serve as the Indians' manager until Francona's return, agreed to step in as the AL manager on Tuesday. Along with five of the team's players, Cleveland's entire coaching staff will make the trip to Miami for the 88th All-Star Game presented by Mastercard. Rays manager Kevin Cash -- Francona's former bullpen coach with the Indians -- will assist Mills and the AL coaching staff.
"We were excited to have T be the manager down there," Mills said. "I think the staff is ready to kind of step up and all share in those duties, and we're all excited about it."

Prior to the procedure, Francona spent two days undergoing a series of tests at the Cleveland Clinic in an effort to identify what had been ailing him over the past several weeks. Bouts of light-headedness and an elevated heart rate led to the manager prematurely departing two games in June. After each episode, on June 13 and June 26, Francona was briefly hospitalized.
Following the second incident, doctors had Francona wear a heart-rate monitor in order to track when and to what extent his condition worsened. On Tuesday, the Indians manager headed to the Clinic again, leaving the managerial duties in the hands of Mills, his longtime friend.
"We need him at the helm here -- there's no doubt about it," Indians pitcher Josh Tomlin said on Thursday. "He's a huge part of our success. He knows the game. He knows the players really well. And his presence alone has that sense of calm in the dugout. We obviously want his health to be fine first before he comes back."

This year's setback is the latest aspect of Francona's turbulent health history.
Shortly after the World Series ended in November, Francona had right hip replacement surgery. On Aug. 9 of last season, the manager experienced chest discomfort during a pregame interview with reporters and then missed that day's game against the Nationals. Mills filled in for Francona for that game, and the manager returned the following day.
Francona experienced a similar issue while managing the Red Sox on April 6, 2005, and was taken to a hospital in New York after what was described as "stiffness" in his chest. Mills, Francona's bench coach in Boston, filled in that time as well.
Francona also dealt with chest pains in the fall of 2002, when he was hospitalized for four days after suffering a pulmonary embolism in each lung. That health incident resulted in permanent damage to Francona's circulation.
"Our hearts are there. We contact him when we can to make sure he's doing OK," Indians outfielder said. "When he gets back, it's going to be a blessing. We know he's going to be back -- it's just a matter of when. We'll be excited to have him back."