Terry Francona has gone through so many medical issues in the past seven months that if he had chosen to retire from hard baseball, no one would have questioned him.
That’s not how the Indians’ manager rolls.
Francona, 61, doesn’t feel sorry for herself either. He’s in Goodyear, Ariz., For his ninth spring training as an Indian manager, slimmer than when he was last seen in Cleveland, and wearing a hiking boot on his left foot.
With 673 wins in his career, Francona passes Lou Boudreau (728) to become the best Indian manager of all time sometime this summer.
Francona was only 14 of the 60 games the Tribe played in the dugout in 2020. In early August, he underwent surgery for a gastrointestinal disease. That led to blood clots and other problems. He spent four days in Cleveland Clinic intensive care and underwent further surgeries.
Francona returned to his home in Arizona to rest and recuperate once the Indians were eliminated by the Yankees in the playoffs. His medical problems were far from over.
The first question he was asked on February 19 during a Zoom call from Goodyear was about his health. He revealed that he was back in hospital in Cleveland for 10 days in January due to a staph infection.
All the stuff from last year is really good, Francona said. I worked very hard and the doctors took care of everything. So that’s going well.
In mid-November I was treated for gout, which I have never had before. They kept saying, be patient. Take the medicine. In mid-January, I was tired of patience, so I flew back to Cleveland and saw the doctors at Cleveland Clinic. I had a staph infection in my left foot on the big toe. They had to cut out some of the bone and put some cement in it. I have a picc line in my arm for antibiotics three times a day.
Francona stumbles on crutches. He joked that he was previously immobile and now even less mobile. He said pitching coach Carl Willis will walk to the mound to make in-game pitching changes in the near future.
After three weeks, I’m done with the antibiotics, Francona said. I’m starting to get off the stools a bit and then they’ll see if the staph is completely gone.
Francona said he had lost 20 pounds, but then put a few back on because I was just lying around. He said to kick myself in the pants to keep his rehab going and keep that hunger going again.
I always come back, I have a few people who are pretty close to me, even some guys in baseball who go through things that are really serious, Francona said. This is more of a pain in the neck, and I have to realize that. When I shower, I have to put a large bag over my (left) leg. I have to cover this (right) arm. It’s aggravating. That’s all it is. It’s aggravating. I have to remind myself of that sometimes.
Spring training provides Francona with the wonder tonic that doctors don’t have.
Part of the fun of showing up to spring training is that everyone is healthy, Francona said. You don’t know (what’s going to happen). Everyone’s record is 0-0. We are going to work to see how good we can become. That is part of the pleasure of our work. We like that. It will definitely get your juices going.
The Indians made it into the playoffs for five eight years under Franconas’ leadership, including 2020 when Sandy Alomar Jr. most of the season was successful.
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