New logos have been added to the caps and the name on Cleveland’s jerseys has been changed. This young team is opening spring training with a refreshing new look.
Terry Francona, manager, is back.
Francona, 62, was sidelined for the past two seasons due to serious medical issues. He feels rejuvenated and ready to start his 10th season as manager of Cleveland’s Guardians.
Francona laughed that his 2022 season was already a step up from last July’s hobbling in a protective boot.
Francona, a member of the team’s training group in Goodyear, Arizona on Monday, said, “I got two boots, so I’m right off the bat. I’m better than last year.”
Francona was a Boston World Series champion and one of the most beloved managers in baseball. The last two seasons have been difficult for him. Francona struggled to complete simple tasks and his inability to function made him impatient.
He said, “It’s been hard two years, there’s no going around it.” “:I don’t want my actions to make me look like a baby, because I know that there are people who have had worse bouts than mine. It’s been hard.
Francona suffered from gastrointestinal issues during the 2020 pandemic, which saw the season end early. He also had to spend time in intensive care after developing blood-clotting problems. Francona managed just 60 games until Sandy Alomar Jr. became first base coach.
Francona had hip and toe surgeries in the offseason. Francona continued to push himself in 2021, before he retired in July and turned the team over to DeMarlo Hale, the bench coach.
Francona briefly considered retiring, but he decided to return this season and said that he feels more like himself.
He said, “This toe thing wasn’t as easy as I thought.” It was the most difficult surgery I have ever had, and I am a great authority on surgeries. But I’m moving, and it seems to be getting better. It has been difficult so far but I am able to tolerate it and I know it will improve.”
Francona, a charming man of the people, was further hindered by Major League Baseball’s lockout. He was prohibited from having contact with any players. Francona was frustrated that he could not check in on his male teammates during winter.
Francona is now feeling whole and has been able to welcome players arriving at camp.
He said, “We couldn’t talk to them, and now all of the sudden they walk into our building, it’s really cool,” “And then, you start to see a lot more young children and listen. It was a great couple of days.
As with most people, Guardians president Chris Antonetti couldn’t be happier to have Francona fully healthy.
Antonetti stated, “It makes such an impact.” Antonetti said, “He is such an integral part and fabric of who we are. He helps everyone be better. We are thrilled that he is feeling energetic and well-rested for the season.
“So, now we have to ensure he stays there and keeps on the same path he is on.
Francona feels blessed and says that the past two years have not changed his appreciation of what he does.
He said, “I knew.” He said, “I knew.” I didn’t want to be more intelligent or smarter but I felt pretty lucky to have been born. This will be my 10th anniversary here. It’s something I have repeated many times, because it is what I really mean.
“I love coming here. I love the people with whom I work. I am grateful for the people I work with. Together, we face challenges. We all face challenges. We try to solve them together. “I’ve always felt fortunate and that’s something I have known for a while.”
Notes: Luke Maile, a free agent catcher signed by the Indians to a contract for 2022. Austin Hedges will likely be supported by the 31-year old, who was last season with Milwaukee’s team. Antonetti stated that the club will be looking to increase bullpen help and offense over the coming weeks.