Terry Francona press conference: Wednesday, Jan. 22


Tribe manager Terry Francona is in Cleveland this week for pre-Spring Training meetings, Tribe Fest and various other activities in the community.

He met with local reporters on Wednesday to discuss some Tribe-related topics. Here’s a sample of that chat:

Question: Did you ride the scooter today?

Terry Francona: Yesterday. (GM) Chris (Antonetti) picked me up today. I almost froze my (butt) off yesterday. My eyes almost froze shut.

Question: When do you get that itch to get back?

TF: Usually after Christmas. Things wind down for the holidays and at the start of January, you get that internal clock, it starts kicking in. You start talking to coaches, what drills you’ll run in Spring Training, etc.

Question: How do you organize players in Spring Training?

TF: I didn’t know what to expect last year, I don’t think anyone did. My expectations were never going to change, regardless of who was playing what position. We were just trying to win that day. There’s a process that goes into that; it starts in Spring Training. We’re pretty open and honest in Spring Training, and guys usually fall into three groups:

  • Guys who know they’re going to play and are preparing for a lot of time
  • A group of young kids that is trying to make a good first impression
  • A group trying to make the team.

You try to be respectful of all groups. You form relationships with players, form an identity of the team.

Question: What do you think of the offseason so far?

TF: Getting David Murphy was a really good addition for us. We’re in a unique spot. No one’s sitting here saying we’re the 1927 Yankees, but we have guys in place that we want to pitch and play. We have Yan Gomes in place, we have Carlos Carrasco and Josh Tomlin who we want to see pitch.

So rather than going out and spending money on guys, we want to see our guys. We have Corey Kluber, Zach McAllister and Danny Salazar all for hopefully a full year. Again, we have guys in place. … Now we just have to figure out how well we can play.

Question: How’s Carlos Santana doing at third base?

TF: Carlos offered to go play third base in winter ball, and it sounds like he’s improving. Now, we aren’t going to make any decision today or at the start of Spring Training. If he can handle third, he gives us another option with our middle-of-the-order bats. We will give him a chance to play there in Spring Training.

Question: What’s the state of the roster?

TF: I think we’re pretty settled. Chris is always going to try to make us better, but if we go to Spring training tomorrow, I’m pumped. We’re not the type of team that can just throw the bats and balls out and someone is going to hit a three-run homer. It can happen. But we have to play good baseball to win, and that’s fun. We’ve proven that when we play that way, we can win.

Question: Do you like Santana in the cleanup spot?

TF: I did last year. Early on, we talked so much about his catching duties, I thought it was unfair to hit him cleanup. When he wasn’t catching, he was pretty good in that spot. He hits from both sides, he takes a walk. There’s not a lot not to like.

Question: You had success with Swisher in the No. 2 spot. Do you like that again for 2014?

TF: We wouldn’t make the lineup out yet. The season is so long; those things happen, whether it’s injures or someone is struggling. We’ll see. They have a way of working themselves out. I never make up batting orders in the winter. It’ll write itself out.

Question: Last year you took a chance on Scott Kazmir; this year you’re taking a chance on Shaun Marcum. Are you looking forward to seeing him?

TF: I think he’s a little bit behind where Kaz was last year. But I think it’s a good sign because when he’s healthy he competes his rear end off. He’s done it in the AL east.

Question: Re: the team’s versatility

TF: We want Jason Giambi on our team. We’ve said that until we’re blue in the face. To do that, you have to have the right guys on your team so it works. Having guys that are versatile really helped us last year.

Question: Re: Danny Salazar

TF: The sky is the ceiling for Danny. You don’t want to make too many proclamations on a guy who has had 8 to 10 starts. I can’t wait to see him after 35 starts.

Q: Re: Josh Tomlin

TF: He’s a strike-throwing machine. He’s going to give up the occasional homer because he’s around the plate. We really want to see him pitch. We think he can help us win. When you start thinking about the dollars you can allocate for pitching, I think we’d rather see these guys pitch.

Q: Re: the bullpen

TF: Always the big question: Whether the names are the same or not, you never know. Vinnie (Pestano) struggled last year, and Chris (Perez) had his struggles. Sometimes the names change, sometimes they don’t. Bullpens always make themselves over. You want to have guys in Triple-A because you know you’re going to have to make changes due to struggles or injuries. You have to know you have options.

Q: Re: Trevor Bauer

TF: He’s been very good, and it’s been very encouraging. He’s coming into camp this year closer to the pitcher he wants to be. Last year, it was a lot of experimenting and trying to get comfortable in his delivery. It was tough for him at times. He was very open with us on everything. He’s tried very hard this winter in trying to get comfortable. He’s sent video into (pitching coach) Mickey (Callaway) and the guys in Baseball Ops. Whether he makes the team out of Spring Training or not, we’re really excited about watching him pitch.

Q: Re: bringing Indians prospects to Spring Training (Six non-roster invitations to Spring Training were announced on Wednesday, including Francisco Lindor)

TF: With Francisco Lindor and Tyler Naquin, we’d rather bring those guys to Spring Training rather than older free agents that don’t really have a chance to make the team. It helps us as a staff to get to know these guys and see how we do things.

Q: Re: the starting rotation

TF: We want to see Carrasco pitch, he’s created a little deception with his delivery. But I don’t think we need to anoint our rotation. That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Normally, in Spring Training, someone will get beat up. It happens. Go in prepared and get everyone ready to play.

I’ll take my chances with Danny Salazar, with Corey Kluber for the full year.

Q: Re: instant replay

TF: I’m still learning as we go. It’s going to be new for everyone. You can bet that the day it was announced that the day it was announced that 30 managers were scheming and using it to their advantage. With technology being what it is, I think we’re going in the right direction. Does it go flawless? Probably not. But we’re going in the right direction.

Q: Re: what’s next?

TF: I hope that was the beginning. We need to go get busy, and we have to do it the right way. It’s fun. Our guys go into doing it the right way.

Q: Re: September

TF: I wanted us to get there with a chance. If we could survive some of those road trips, and keep our heads above water, I thought if we had a chance, we could make a run at it. And we did. I didn’t know we’d have to win 10 in a row, but nobody lost. It was fun because we were doing with some guys who hadn’t done it before, some had. That’s what you’re dying for as a manager. You can’t wait to get to the ballpark. You’re tired, and you’re nervous, but it’s a great feeling.

Q: Re: the end of the season

TF: The playoff game stung. I had to talk to the team after the game and it was hard for me to do that. You have to do it so quick. It hurt. Season don’t wind down, they crash to a halt. There’s no better example of that than last year.

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