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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Yankees’ special advisor and former outfielder Hideki Matsui expects to help the club “convince or recruit” Japanese two-way star Shohei Otani, according to a report from MLB.com’s Deesha Thosar. The Yankees are currently viewed as the favorites to sign Otani, though there still figures to be plenty of competition for his services when he finally becomes eligible to enter Major League Baseball.
Matsui also told Thosar that while he hasn’t seen a player find success as a hybrid pitcher/slugger in the majors, he’s taken notice of Otani’s success in both areas. “He’s done well in Japan, so as a baseball fan I’m looking forward to how he’s going to do here in the Majors and in the U.S.,” Matsui said, later adding, “If [pitching and hitting is] something he wants to do, and the team wants it, then why not?”
Neither the Yankees nor any other suitor should be too concerned with Otani’s ability to translate his .332 batting average and 3.20 ERA to MLB — at least, not just yet. There are still a few roadblocks in his path to the major leagues, most notably the lack of approval from the Players Association. Per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, the union doesn’t want to sign off on an agreement that would give the Nippon Ham Fighters a $20 million posting fee in exchange for Otani’s services. According to the posting system rules, Otani himself would be eligible to receive no more than a $4 million signing bonus.
The good news in all of this? The union agreed to reach a final decision by Monday, November 21, so there’s still a chance Major League Baseball will see the talented two-way player bring his unique skillset to the field in 2018.