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 Tim Lincecum isn’t ready to hang up his cleats just yet. At least, that’s the word from Lincecum’s agent, Rick Thurman, who says the 32-year-old is still “throwing and getting ready for the season” (via Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News).
Lincecum may not be ready to enter retirement, but another quote from Thurman suggests that he’ll be picky about where he pitches next. He doesn’t appear open to pitching overseas, and despite not having a contract for 2017 (or even any serious suitors), the right-hander is set on pitching in the big leagues this year. Whether or not he’s willing to take a bullpen role to do so remains to be seen.
While Baggarly predicts some interest in the veteran righty, there’s not much in Lincecum’s recent history to inspire faith in him as a starter, or even a reliever. He picked up a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Angels following his hip surgery in 2015, and went 2-6 in 2016 with a 9.16 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings. At this point, a minor league contract seems like the surest path back to major league success, though he’s unlikely to find an open spot on the Giants’ or Angels’ rosters anytime soon.
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.