Posted on July 7, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona will not manage this year’s All-Star Game as scheduled. Francona will miss next week’s festivities in Miami after undergoing a procedure on his heart Thursday. Indians bench coach Brad Mills will take over Francona’s duties as manager of the American League All-Star Team. The Indians remain optimistic that Francona, who has been away from the team since Tuesday, will be able to return to the club following the all-star break.
Francona, 58, required a cardiac ablation procedure to address an arrhythmia in his heart. Doctors have been monitoring Francona’s heart in recent weeks and detected the problem. At times this season, Francona has been briefly hospitalized after experiencing light-headedness and an increased heartbeat. However, doctors have declared the procedure performed Thursday a success. Francona is currently resting at the Cleveland Clinic.
“Terry is expected to make a full recovery and will be discharged within the next day or two,” the Indians said in a statement. “It is expected he will resume managing the team beginning Friday, July 14 and Major League Baseball has been informed he will not manage the All-Star Game in Miami.”
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Francona was admitted to the hospital on Tuesday in a non-emergency situation. After undergoing tests, Francona underwent the ablation procedure on Thursday. Many of the Indians players, of course, have noticed the absence of their skipper.
“We think about him all the time,” said pitcher Josh Tomlin. “I bet he’s not too happy in the hospital on a daily basis. We need him at the helm here. There’s no doubt about it. He’s a big part of our success. He knows the game. He knows the players really well. His presence alone has that sense of calm in the dugout. Obviously, we want his health to be fine first before he comes back, but we’re itching to get him back.”
Francona missed games this week the first-place Indians have played against the San Diego Padres. He will also miss this weekend’s series against the Detroit Tigers. Mills has handled managerial duties in his absence. He will do the same at the All-Star Game with help from Rays manager Kevin Cash, a former Cleveland bullpen coach under Francona.
The good news is that Francona is still engaged with what the Indians are doing. Indians president Chris Antonetti and GM Mike Chernoff were able to visit Francona in the hospital on Wednesday, prior to his heart procedure, and the three were able to talk about baseball matters.
“We talked about a wide variety of issues, from different trade conversations we’re having and things going on with the team, so he’s actively engaged and actively itching to get back,” Antonetti said. “But as I’ve shared with him, the most important thing for all of us is his health, his long-term health, and we want to make sure we get him back healthy and ready to lead us the rest of the way.”
It’s a shame that Francona will have to miss managing this year’s All-Star Game. It’s a privilege he earned after guiding the Indians to the American League pennant last season. However, it’s reassuring that, barring a setback, he’ll be able to rejoin the Indians next week when the second half of the season gets underway. Cleveland is currently in a tight, three-team race atop the AL Central, and the Indians will definitely need their manager back for the second half of the season.