Francona's Thoughts: June 9 vs. Chicago White Sox

Manager Terry Francona talked about Abraham Almonte, Brandon Guyer, Danny Salazar, the Indians early-season struggles, a weaker AL Central division and more prior to Friday's first pitch between the Indians and White Sox at Progressive Field.

On Abraham Almonte and Brandon Guyer:

A: "He DHed and felt fine. Today he's supposed to throw the bases. We're battling some weather stuff right now. Hopefully, maybe clears out, the White Sox aren't hitting so we can field even late. If he throws and depending how he does, he could play the outfield tomorrow or the next day. We got to get that accomplished first. So far, everything he's done he's felt good. So that's good. Guyer's still doing baseball activities, but not to the point where Abe is yet."

On Danny Salazar:

A: "Danny's here. What happened was, we sent him back with Akron and Tony Arnold. In his throwing session the other day, he complained of shoulder stiffness. So rather than push through that, we brought him back here (and) got him MRIed. MRI came back which we were glad that (there were) so minimal changes in four years. Which I think for a guy that's thrown four years, is miraculous. So that's good. He's got some inflammation there, which we knew. So he'll spend the next couple days with our medical staff figuring out what the next step is. Then we'll get him going. When we do, I'll certainly let you guys know."

On state of the team and its recent struggles:

A: "29 and 28. That's what matters. What ultimately matters is what our record is. I don't like getting too caught up in, we were 1-5 on a road trip, because I think you run the risk of having too many ups and downs emotionally. Hard enough game at times so we don't try to do that. But, always default to what our record is because that's why we play. To this point in the season, we've been extremely inconsistent. I think the last couple days probably had more meetings than I've had in years because we want to get it right. I know that that group in there cares enough to want to get it right. Sometimes, for whatever reason, you go through periods where it's just not real good. (In) dealing with human beings, nobody's perfect, myself included. I told them. The other night, we walked Wolters and the pitcher gets a bases-loaded double. Those things keep me up at night. But also, our priority has to be playing winning baseball. That's why we're here. That group in there has done such a good job of turning this place around where Cleveland's a pretty good place to play baseball. We need to fight to continue that and take it even further. Reminders are okay. I don't ever want to talk to them to the point where they stop listening, because that doesn't help anybody. When you feel strongly enough about something, it needs to be said."

More on the team's tough stretch:

A: "We have not been very good to date. I think that's the understatement of the year. I do feel like that will change. It may not be overnight. I don't think those things do change like that. But I think because of the players we have, it will improve. While it's not, we need to find ways to still beat teams. If you're not doing something at the plate, you better do something in the field or on the bases. There's ways to help. That type of attitude gets you through the frustrating times because this is a frustrating game. We tell our guys all the time, your season is largely defined by how you handle frustration. I think to this point, we haven't done a good enough job. That's on me. That's not pointing fingers at the players. That's myself. I need to do a better job of maybe communicating things to the players."

On Edwin Encarnacion achieving the above goals as a designated hitter:

A: "I think Edwin knows. We would never single guys out like that either because even though maybe some guys are struggling more than others in certain areas, I believe that as a team, a night that the pitchers struggle, (the) hitters need to pick them up. I believe in all that. I think Edwin's a conscientious, smart enough guy. He knows. I see what he does in preparation, things like that. I feel strongly that when the season's over, he will have done a lot of damage. When he does, our team will have a little bit of a different gear. Like I said, you don't push a button and that happens. We need to find ways to still compete better through the frustrations we're having." 

On running the bases in 2016 vs. 2017:

A: "It's so easy I think as a coach or manager, you wait and see the outcome and then it's good or bad. I thought [Lindor on Wednesday] did a great job [being aggressive on the bases]. Like when it was hit, I didn't know if he was going to tag right away. When he got back, it was hard for him to get back, but he got there. I thought his decision making was really good. I want to remind him of that. I think so often, people wait to see the outcome, and that's not fair to the players."

On eliminating mistakes:

A: "It takes some fortitude to keep your concentration when it's hard. That's part of it."

On there being a residual effect from making the World Series, similar to that of the Chicago Cubs:

A: "If there's a residual effect -- I'm not talking physical -- but shame on us. We're better than that. I know that we have guys in there that care. I've seen it. I've lived it with these guys now for five years, most of them. We've had very little turnover, compared to probably most teams. That should be an advantage for us. I think when you find time where you're frustrated, fortunately, I can sit and talk to them. I feel like I can. That's important. I spent yesterday, I came in here and I went back and looked at everything that had been said to the players and why it was said. I never want to tell them something that I don't believe or something you just read on a wall. We have a certain set of principles that we want to live by here. Like I said, sometimes to remind them of that, it's not beating them over the head because that's not how I feel."

More on running the bases:

A: "We talked a lot about it in spring because you know losing Raj, you're losing stolen bases. It's just the reality of it. So, if anything, we've probably had to be a better baserunning team. I don't mean stolen bases, I mean like first to third, things like that. It seems to me like a lot of times this year, it's like in basketball they talk about the 50/50 balls, we've been a half step, like on balls in the dirt, we haven't been quite as crisp or maybe decision making as we need to be. I don't think we're a bad baserunning team, I think we have been better and that's part of what I think maybe separated us last year and it's not right now. I think for us to be a really good team, we can't just throw the balls out there. There are some teams where, and I've had them, where you've been sloppy but somebody gets a three-run homer, then somebody else hits a three-run homer and you win 6-5 and you make three errors."

"There's nothing wrong for working for everything you get. That's okay."

On the weaker AL Central division:

A: "In some ways, we're competing with ourselves right now a little bit, too. Not just the other teams. I do think in our game, normally a team will step up and separate themselves as you go. We need that to be us. On one hand, we're very fortunate that somebody hasn't run away with [the division] yet. I don't think it's real healthy to look up everyday and think well the other teams lost. I'm glad they did, but at some point we need to pick up the pace. I think there's a way to do that. When you get frustrated, rather than stay frustrated, like I feel better today. I feel like we had a productive day."

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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