Three weeks into the season and Cleveland manager Terry Francona has already called his first team meeting.
With the Indians off to a 7-10 start Francona brought the team together following Saturday’s loss and gave them a pep talk, which he described to Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer:
I care about them a lot and I really like this team a lot. I just felt like maybe half-reassuring and kind of explaining, “Remember who we are and how we go about things. We’re getting tested a little bit and that’s part of it. We’ve been tested before. Just continue to fight through things together.”
And then they went out an won Sunday.
Cleveland is coming off a 92-win season, but 7-10 (and now 8-10) isn’t exactly a disastrous start considering they actually started 7-10 last season and dipped as low as 8-13 before finishing the year on an 84-57 run.
It seems like there’s probably a very thin line between calling the right amount of team meetings to keep a team motivated during a long season and totally losing your audience because you’re constantly calling team meetings. Francona probably knows as well as anyone where that line is, but what happens on the meeting front if the Indians have another rough week or two?
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Free agent right-hander Jeff Manship has reportedly signed with the NC Dinos of the Korea Baseball Organization, according to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The righty was non-tendered by the Indians in December.
Manship, 32, completed his second season with Cleveland in 2016. He delivered a 3.12 ERA, 4.6 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 rate over 43 1/3 innings, a slight decline after posting an 0.92 ERA with the club the year before. During eight years in the major leagues, Manship carries a 4.82 career ERA, 3.6 BB/9 and 6.4 SO/9 in multiple stints with the Twins, Rockies, Phillies and Indians.
The right-hander will be joined by fellow MLB transplants Eric Hacker and Xavier Scruggs, each of whom took one-year deals with the Dinos last month. Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors notes that each KBO team is allowed up to three foreign players, so Manship will round out the trio when he joins the roster. Any salary terms have yet to be disclosed.
With the Braves on the cusp of formalizing their one-year deal with Kurt Suzuki, the market for free agent catcher Matt Wieters is dwindling. ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick references an inside source that lists the Angels, Rockies and Reds as potential suitors for the 30-year-old’s services.
Wieters is coming off of an eight-year career with the Orioles. In 2016, he played through his first full year after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2014 and batted .243/.302/.409 with 17 home runs and a .711 OPS in 464 PA. A return to Baltimore in 2017 isn’t out of the question, Crasnick writes, citing some within the team that would be open to Wieters stepping into a DH role and catching platoon with Wellington Castillo. However, he also points out that the front office appears divided on the veteran catcher, and sees the Orioles as a long shot for the foreseeable future.
The Angels have already been tied to Wieters this offseason, while the Rockies and Reds don’t appear to have made any formal inquiries so far. Both could use a veteran presence behind the dish, as the Rockies are planning to platoon rookie catcher Tom Murphy with 24-year-old Tony Wolters in the spring. The Reds, meanwhile, are banking on a quick recovery for 28-year-old Devin Mesoraco, who missed most of the 2016 season after undergoing shoulder and hip surgery and forced the club to rely almost exclusively on back-up backstop Tucker Barnhart.