Francona comfortable yet anxious after first full-squad workout
GOODYEAR, Ariz. — Terry Francona’s message to his team on the first day of spring training doesn’t change much, but as he addressed the Indians on Tuesday before the first full-squad workout, he admitted to being a tad anxious.
That might be a little surprising considering Francona is going into his 15th season as a major-league manager. However in an offseason where Francona has often discussed how comfortable he is being in Cleveland, it does make some sense.
"I catch myself caring about this group so much that you want to say the right thing," Francona said. "In the long run it doesn’t matter (what I said) but I wanted to make sure I wanted to say how I felt. That’s not the easiest thing sometimes and you get only one chance. I know how I feel and I wanted to do a good job."
The only other time Francona acknowledged being this nervous was his first year in Boston in 2004, but that was mostly because he was worried that Manny Ramirez wouldn’t show up for the first day after being embroiled in a dispute with management.
In his third year with the Indians, Francona is in tune with everyone on his roster. Also, let’s face it, his first two years here his teams overachieved. The 2013 squad wasn’t expected to do much and posted a 24-win improvement en route to reaching the AL Wild Card game. For that, he won the AL Manager of the Year.
Last season’s team won 85 games but many, including me, would say that Francona did a better job managing he did in 2013. With the injuries and key players having sub-par seasons, it was a team that with another manager might have won just 70-75 games.
Coming into this upcoming season, everyone realizes that if things fall right, it could be a big year. On Monday, Francona talked about how the younger players understand that more is expected.
It’s also a spring training where not a lot of drama is expected. Determining the fifth starter and the last couple spots in the bullpen are not sexy storylines. For those wondering if Corey Kluber will get a new contract, check back in late March.
While the enhancements at Progressive Field are expected to be a major sales pitch for the season, maybe the best thing the Indians could do is use a part of Francona’s comments from Tuesday on why he is so upbeat. In a winter that has been consumed about textgate, logo enhancements and some players in town not feeling the Love, Francona had one of the more genuine soundbites.
"There’s no reason to hide how I feel about these guys or the organization. Does that ensure we are going to win 100 games? No. But it’s a nice way to come to work and because our work is so much more than work. It is our passion. I like the feeling."