CLEVELAND — While some members of the Guardians limped into the All-Star break — first baseman Josh Naylor literally — manager Terry Francona also fits that description.
But for those worried that health issues will force Francona into retirement, that’s not on the immediate horizon.
When asked ahead of Friday’s game against the Detroit Tigers at Progressive Field if he still wants to be here, Francona replied, “Right now? Yeah. Oh yeah.”
Francona, 63, estimated he had at least 45 procedures at the Cleveland clinic, and it was recalled when owner Paul Dolan’s wife, Karen, recently underwent knee surgery.
“They told her they put her in the Tito suite,” Francona said. “Paul sent me a picture. I don’t think that’s a good thing.
Able to joke about two years of serious health crises, Francona said that when the team’s longtime travel director Mike Seghi underwent surgery a month ago, he told Seghi to tell staff from the operating room that he had said hello.
“I said, ‘Tell them I’ll be back, I don’t know when, but I’ll see them again,'” Francona said. “Last time I walked in, they took you out on the stretcher, and there were like five people, like, ‘Hey.’ You don’t feel well, they have a hair net on you; I still don’t know why I need a hair net. I don’t have glasses, so I can’t see anyone.
Even under these circumstances, Francona recognized the “Tito Suite”.
“Oh, yeah,” he said.
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Leading a team whose average age has at times been younger this season than the average triple-A roster, Francona relishes the personal conversations when rookies are called up. He relishes the jolly post-game victory celebrations, though he needs a batting helmet if Naylor provides the fireworks.
But Francona conceded he had to be careful.
“That toe was harder than I ever imagined,” he said. “I have this steel plate on the toe of my shoe so it doesn’t bend. When the day is over and I come home at night, when I get up and go to the bathroom for the fourth times, I have to be careful. But it’s getting better.
“Then I have these drains… I can’t tell you how good I feel there. These are going to stay until the end of the year and then they’re going to do another procedure surgery to try to get that out. I’m fine, though.
In 2021, Francona underwent surgery for a painful toe problem which also involved a staph infection and later required hip replacement surgery. Francona has missed the last 63 games as bench coach DeMarlo Hale has taken over.
In 2020, Francona only managed 14 games as he faced multiple health issues including a blood clotting issue and a gastrointestinal issue which returned in 2021. First base coach Sandy Alomar replaced him.
Francona admitted he was more concerned with taking care of his toe.
“I have two of the insoles. I actually ordered four more, they help me so much,” he said. “It’s like sometimes we’re on the road and the game was over and I was going to put on a pair of shoes that didn’t have any and I had to be a little careful there. But if I get enough of these insoles, I can pretty much do whatever I want.
Marla Ridenour can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/MRidenourABJ.