Terry Francona not ready to rejoin Indians after medical procedure

Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
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CLEVELAND — Indians manager Terry Francona underwent a scheduled medical procedure for a gastrointestinal ailment on Friday and will likely miss the team’s three-game series against the Detroit Tigers.

At this point, it’s now known when Francona, a two-time World Series winner, will return.

President of baseball operations Chris Antonetti provided an update on the 61-year-old Francona, who has already missed 14 games this season with health issues. Francona recently revealed he’s had numerous surgeries in the past year for the condition.

Antonetti said Francona was still feeling “really uncomfortable” leading up to the procedure, which was performed at the Cleveland Clinic. The hope is the latest one will help him feel well enough to continue managing in 2020.

Antonetti was asked about the likelihood of Francona making it through the season.

“Tito said it the other day: He wants to do his best to try to manage as much as possible,” Antonetti said. “We don’t know exactly how likely that is. We continue to encourage him and try to remind him every step of the way that the most important thing is his health and well-being.

“We will continue to prioritize those and if that means there will have to be days away from the ballpark, then that’s what we’ll need to do and we’ll continue to do what we always do, which is come together and figure out how to work through things when he’s not here.”

Francona did not travel with the team on its recent trip to Detroit and Pittsburgh so he could rest and have the procedure. The Indians had hoped Francona would return to the dugout when they got back to Progressive Field, but he’s not ready.

Antonetti has been in contact with Francona during games, either watching virtually or texting.

“His spirits are great,” Antonetti said. “He’s still locked in on the team. … He’s just looking forward to feeling better.”

First-base coach Sandy Alomar Jr. will continue to manage the team while Francona is sidelined. The Indians have won six straight overall and 20 consecutive games over Detroit. They are 11-3 in the games Francona has missed.

Alomar said the coaching staff has done a nice job collaborating to make decisions that would normally be up to Francona.

Asked what he missed most about Francona, Alomar said “his voice.”

“This is his team,” the six-time All-Star catcher said. “I don’t know how players see us right now. They know that we are not the manager. They know that I’m one of the coaches and they respect me a lot, but his voice. I can’t wait for him to come back myself. I know as a group we’ve done a good job, but at the end of day, this is Terry Francona’s team.”

Francona is in his eighth season with Cleveland. He’s had other medical issues in recent years, including a hip replacement and heart surgery in 2017.

Last year, the Indians extended Francona’s contract through the 2022 season. He won World Series titles with Boston in 2004 and 2007 and was the AL’s manager of the year in 2013 and 2016 with Cleveland.