Terry Francona is ready for baseball, but player safety is first on his mind

Cleveland starts spring training on July 3 at Progressive Field

Tim Grattan
June 29, 2020 - 5:45 pm
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (92.3 The Fan) – Player safety is on the mind for Indians manager Terry Francona.

The two-time Manager of the Year is excited to get with his players for the restart of the 2020 season and spring training on July 3.

“We’re trying to be respectful to the situation because if we’re not respectful, we’re going to lose,” Francona said. “I have my mask, and if I go out into the hallway, I put it on … I want to do the right thing.

“Everybody has been good about that; our guys have been good about not complaining about that stuff. I try to explain to the trainers to be patient with us – we want to do the right thing. We care about baseball, and we want to do the right thing.”

Francona is ready for the new challenge this season will bring to the Indians and be ready to adapt to any situation.

“There are a few ways you can look at this,” Francona said. “We can either look at this coming into August say we’re tied for first place in August with four other teams, or you can shrug your shoulders and roll your eyes and be like there’s nobody in the stands and whatever.

“I can’t imagine our guys acting like the second. … We’re going to have to come up with our enthusiasm and fall back on the things we believe as a team – more now than ever.”

With the new spring training beginning July 3 at Progressive Field, Francona stated that things will not be run like tradition spring training in Arizona. Cleveland will have three weeks to prepare for the season, which starts on either July 23 or 24 and will play three scrimmages towards the end of spring training.

“We don’t want to give ten at-bats on the first day because we’re trying to play catch up,” he said. “We’ll take the first 3 to 4 days to see how they look, how their legs look because we don’t want to hurt anyone either.

“I never been a big fan of inter-squad games, but we’re going to have to become fans of inter-squad games because we’re going to have to play.”

Francona mentioned the first week will be more simulated games, and then go into inter-squad games. He wants to try and get his team as ready the best way the team can do, including making adjustments during the three weeks of spring training.

Patience is going to be a key Cleveland during its spring training. With a short amount of time to get ready for the season, Francona will be patient to make-discusses for his club.

“I think you’ll have patience when it gives you the most good,” he said. “Sometimes, if it feels like you need to make a move, you do. Baseball is still baseball, and I’ve been in positions where we’ve tied going into August, and it’s a lot of fun. There’s still sometimes you think I need to be patient because if I am patient, the payoff is going to be rewarding.

“Are we perfect in our decision-making? No, and I haven’t been perfect in decision-making.”

Francona is a fan of new rules for the 2020 season. He likes the idea of the universal DH in both the American and National League and is lukewarm on the runner starting on second base in extra innings.

“I like the idea of the universal DH because we’re in the National League so much,” he said. “I’m okay with the runner on second to start the 10th (inning). I haven’t given it a ton of thought, but I think it will be exciting. I have no issue with changing the rules to make this thing work this year.”

  The Indians are getting creative to form a bond with teammates. With social distancing rules being placed in the clubhouse, Francona is trying to put teammates who are friends in groups during the spring training as players will be split up into groups and train at different times.

Francona also thinks teams who will handle the challenges will be built better for the season.

“Whoever can adjust to the challenges will have the best chance of succeeding,” he said. “If you give yourself a chance to roll with the punches, you got a chance to be fun.”