Francona's Thoughts: April 25 vs. Houston Astros

Manager Terry Francona talked about Jason Kipnis, Michael Brantley, Brandon Guyer, Nick Goody and much more prior to Tuesday's series-opener against the Houston Astros.

On Jason Kipnis' schedule of playing time:

A: "I don’t really know. I don’t think there’s been anything like concrete, kind of like what we did with Brant. I think a lot of is is going to be how he feels. I knew coming in that with—he played two games in spring training and then he played in a handful of games before he came here—I just think it’s more maybe common sense than anything else. He feels really good. The idea is to keep him feeling really good while he builds up his endurance to games and things like that. And then once guys get into that feeling, sometimes you think you’re doing them a favor by giving them a day off and you’re really not. But that’s where the communication comes in and he’s been really good with me and the trainers. We’re not going to rest him unless we think it’s in his best interest because he’s a good player, but we can’t be afraid to do that, either."

On Michael Brantley's early-season success:

A: "Well I don’t think it's the way we’ve done it, I think he’s responding really well because he’s worked hard and he’s in great shape and he’s done a terrific job. I don’t think it’s the way we’ve done it. I think we’ve just tried to use some common sense with him and I think he deserves a ton of credit for putting himself in a position where he can play as much as he is."

On Brantley's swing:

A: "I haven’t thought all along that he wasn’t getting through his swing. Even from the very beginning. Even back in spring training, one of his first games, he hit a line drive, he had a check swing, he had a ball he hit to left field, he had a ball he hit foul down the right-field line. He kind of took all the possible swings you could maybe have. I think he’s looked good from the very beginning."

On Brantley potentially suffering a setback:

A: "Well he went through a lot. I think until a guy comes back, it’s hard to say for sure that he’s going to come back because it had happened before. I think the way I kind of viewed it was if work ethic and being conscientious mattered, he was giving himself every chance possible. I think we feel fortunate that he is back playing like he can play. I don’t know what else he could have done. If it didn’t work, it would have been awful hard to point to something because he had worked so hard at it. He was so diligent in his work."

On Brantley not being an everyday player since 2015:

A: "I know. Sometimes you get a guy back in name but not necessarily what they can do. He really doesn’t look like he’s missed much of a beat at all. I know early on, he was kind of concerned, because he wanted to be able to play enough where he could find his rhythm at the plate. It looks to me like he’s doing that. When they get him out now, it just looks like they’re getting him out. It’s not because of something. He looks to me like he’s really having fun playing. He’s not the loudest guy, but I think when the game is taken away, you realize how much you miss it. I think he’s enjoying playing.”

On the matchup vs. Houston:

A: "They have a lot of challenges, which I think is part of the reason they’re good. They had some down years a while back, they took advantage of it. They drafted really well. Some of these younger kids are not just here, but they’re here and they know they can thrive. And then you sprinkle in two veterans that are really good veterans – McCann and Beltran are two of the best. Their lineup has gotten deeper, they’ve gotten some leadership. I know everybody talked about their pitching and they were trying to go get a starter, but their pitching has been really good. And their bullpen is so deep. The kid, Devenski, not many people talk about him. He is really good. He can go multiple innings. They’ve got a really good team. They’re built for October. They have lofty expectations and they should, because they’re really good.” 

On Dallas Keuchel:

A: “I think he’s done it before, two years ago when he won the Cy Young. It’s not secret what he does. He can throw to the outer-third of the plate against right-handers, and there’s so much movement to it that he gets so many swing and misses or outs out of the strike zone. It’s easier said than done, because there is so much movement to it. And then he can run the ball in on you to keep you honest. If you can lay off that pitch, maybe get some deeper counts or make you get it up, you got a better chance. But it’s really hard because there is so much movement.” 

On relievers who can pitch multiple innings:

A: “You have to have them. I think everybody probably handles their team differently, but when you have a guy that can – shoot, he can turn a lineup over. I know we faced him last year in one game, and he had a longer role in the game and I remember thinking, man this guy is good. I know they talked about starting him. You can see why. He doesn’t have to face one or two hitters. He can keep facing guys and it’s hard to do much damage against him and the league’s numbers are showing that."

On Houston's HR/FB rate and how Josh Tomlin will handle it:

A: "Whew. I wouldn't even begin to know how to answer that. That's an extremely analytical way of looking at it. I guess I would hope that if they hit fly balls, that they don't go out. I don't even know how to... I think sometimes, especially in a small sample size, those numbers can be a little bit skewed. They're facing somebody that has two-seamers down, but then when they make a mistake, you get it up and they hurt you. Everybody's making a big deal about Lindor's launch angle. His swing is the same. He's just now got about 1,000 at-bats under his belt and when they make a mistake, he knows what to do with it."

On Guyer's struggles:

A: "Yeah. We thought when he hit that home run the other day, maybe that would kind of [get him going], because it was a really good swing. He's gotten stuck a little bit on that back side, where even when he's getting in hitter's counts, the fastball's beating him. You saw him the other day in Chicago, I think he had two 3-1 counts and he flew out to right, and he was made, because he knew there's something he should do with it. He'll be fine. That's why we've actually let him face righties a few times, just thinking it would be helpful for him. He'll get there. It's a little bit of a timing thing and he'll figure it out. And, when he does, he'll be every bit as dangerous as he has been. He's healthy and all that. He's just getting stuck on that back side a little bit."

On Guyer's role as a platoon player:

A: "Definitely, because you can take all the BP you want. And Guyer's a good example -- he's a good worker. But, if you work on something and you feel good, and then maybe you get one at-bat or maybe you have to wait three days, and if you don't have immediate results or somebody makes a good pitch, it can be a little harder than when you're playing every day."

On Nick Goody:

A: "I think one of our challenges is, with the seven-man bullpen, we're not going to always be able to line it up like we want to. If we can, there's certain hitters in each lineup that we really think he's a good fit for. Like I said, if we can maneuver it like that, good. If we can't, then... Like I said, we don't have that extra pitcher and I understand why. So, hopefully out starters go far enough where we can really utilize him -- kind of like a Manship."

On Goody's pitches:

A: "Breaking ball. Really good breaking ball. And in the past, he’s gotten hurt by not locating his fastball. Like I said, I think there are certain hitters that he matches up better against because is breaking ball is so good. You can use Manship more than once because he’s got a good breaking ball, and there seems to be some deception in it, too. That can be helpful. Just when you run into those spurts or bad three or four where days where you can’t really line up guys, he might face some guys we’d rather him not."

On the similarities between Francisco Lindor and Carlos Correa:

A: "No. Not really. They’re both really good. One is a switch hitter, one is a big right-handed hitter. I get where you’re going with that, but no, not really. They’re very different. … They’re both short stops. … I’ve never been really worried about the adjectives. We think Frankie is really good. I’m guessing they think Correa is really good because I know from watching him from the other side that he looks really good. He’s young and he seems like a really good kid. I don’t know that you have to put a label on somebody. I don’t know that it’s really necessary."

John Alfes has covered the Indians for IBI since August of 2016. Follow him on Twitter @JohnAlfes for breaking news and in-depth coverage all season long.

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