Terry Francona’s health and a lack of honesty from two Cleveland Indians pitchers – Terry Pluto – cleveland.com
CLEVELAND, Ohio – “I’m not a picture of health.”
That’s what Terry Francona said he learned from the doctors at Cleveland Clinic.
The Tribe manager missed last week’s games to undergo tests for what was originally called a gastrointestinal problem.
At his Zoom press conference, Francona said he’s also had problems with his hip and back. He explained the hip is “bone-on-bone.” He said he’s had “five or six procedures” at Cleveland Clinic over the last several months.
He also explained: “The muscle that helps you go to the bathroom has been in spasms. It’s been that way for probably the last 11 months.”
The 61-year-old Francona said he’s not having any heart issues, but it’s obvious he’s been dealing with a lot of pain.
Francona’s health was a concern when the Indians hired him in 2013. He’s had a couple of trips to the hospital over the years, including a cardiac ablation surgery during the 2017 season to correct an irregular heart beat.
He’s been through a lot. My sense is there is no guarantee he’ll finish the season.
But Francona isn’t just a baseball lifer. Baseball is his oxygen. Being around the players fuels his blood stream. The winning, losing and in-game decisions power his heart beat.
That’s how he’s wired.
You can say he should quit now. But Francona won’t until he’s sure there is no other choice.
THIS ONE HURT
That’s why the Indians were quietly outraged by the action of pitchers Zach Plesac and Mike Clevinger, who broke team rules and went out with friends in Chicago.
Both pitchers have been placed on the “restricted list.” They will be undergoing tests the next few days to see if they contracted COVID-19.
The Indians refused to say if the pitchers have been fined, but that’s a good guess.
Team president Chris Antonetti said as far as the Indians know, the two pitchers were not in contact with anyone who is COVID-19-positive. He said league rules didn’t force them to put the pitchers on the restricted list and keep them away from the team.
The Indians did it on their own. They did it to send a strong message about team unity and accountability.
Francona is not the only high-risk person with the team. Tribe pitcher Carlos Carrasco had leukemia last season. He is healthy now.
But either man could be vulnerable to a serious reaction from COVID-19.
Furthermore, Tribe players put together a code of conduct before the season to deal with the virus. They have done a good policing themselves, at least until the weekend in Chicago.
No doubt, many players feel angry and let down by Plesac and Clevinger. So do other members of the organization.
NOT BEING TRUTHFUL
Plesac was caught when he returned to the team hotel Saturday night. The Indians immediately kept him away from the team, and he drove home from Chicago.
That was bad.
Making it worse is Clevinger was with him. Apparently, Plesac didn’t tell the Indians about Clevinger being with him. The team assumed Plesac was the only player who broke the rules Saturday night in Chicago.
The Tribe didn’t find out until Monday morning that Clevinger also was there. Meanwhile, Clevinger was around the team Sunday and flew home on the team flight home Sunday night.
Both pitchers should be ashamed of themselves for their lack of accountability by refusing to explain what actually happened Saturday.
There was a report by the MLB Network’s Jon Heyman that Clevinger defended Plesac’s actions at a team meeting. This was before the Indians knew Clevinger was with Plesac.
That’s just sad.
Furthermore, Francona was a bit cryptic when he said the two pitchers were “probably at different stages of understanding.”
He wouldn’t elaborate. But if they were sincerely remorseful, you’d expect Francona to say so.
Clevinger released an apology statement Tuesday night and seemed to sense he blew it. The Indians had a team meeting led by Francona, then another with players only.
They don’t want this to destroy the season.
Led by Antonetti, the Indians have done an excellent job of staying virus-free and disciplined.
It’s not been easy, but they have been faithful. That’s why it does upset the organization and players when two guys mess up and don’t fess up afterwards.
“God said love your neighbor as much as you love yourself,” said shortstop Francisco Lindor. “People need to be accountable. (If they) don’t care about neighbors and people we love. What are we doing?”
It’s a good question, one Plesac and Clevinger will have to face once they return to the team.
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