CLEVELAND (AP) — Indians manager Terry Francona is stepping down for the remainder of this season to address some lingering health issues.
The 62-year-old Francona has been wearing a boot on his right foot all season after undergoing toe surgery for a staph infection in February. The toe issue has exasperated hip problem, which will require surgery.READ MORE: Mass. Extends School Mask Mandate To November 1; Middle And High Schools That Are 80-Percent Vaccinated Can Opt Out In October
Francona will have his left hip replaced Monday at the Cleveland Clinic, and once he recovers from that procedure, he’ll have a rod inserted into his foot.
He’s agonized for weeks over his inability to manage the way he wants, and Francona said the decision to step down was difficult.
“I didn’t feel like I was doing my job appropriately,” Francona said Thursday on a Zoom call. “I wanted to manage this year and I got as far as I could. “I gave it my best shot.”
Francona said he can’t think about whether he’ll be back managing the Indians next season.
“I’ve got a long road ahead of me. I know that,” he said. “Today wasn’t the greatest day, but I’ve taken a big step toward getting healthy. I’ve got to get healthy.”
Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti said he marveled at Francona’s determination to push through the pain this season. Francona said everything has been difficult, and his days have been limited to going to the ballpark and then home afterward to get off his feet.
“I’m in awe of Tito’s toughness and perseverance,” Antonetti said referring to Francona by his nickname.
This is the second year in a row Francona, a two-time World Series champion manager with the Boston Red Sox, has been sidelined due to his health. He managed just 14 games in 2020 due to a serious gastrointestinal issue that landed him in the hospital for weeks.READ MORE: Bob Dylan Coming To Boston For One Show In November
While hospitalized, Francona had blood clotting issues and he was placed in intensive care.
Bench coach DeMarlo Hale will take over on an interim basis for the rest of this season while Francona focuses on his health. Third base coach Mike Sarbaugh will take Hale’s spot and assistant coach Kyle Hudson will move to third.
First base coach and former Indians All-Star catcher Sandy Alomar filled in for Francona a year ago.
One of baseball’s best and most popular managers, Francona is in his ninth season with Cleveland. He’s had a winning record each year and he’s just five wins from tying Hall of Famer Lou Boudreau (728) for the most wins in team history.
Francona led the Indians to the World Series in 2016, when the club lost in seven games to the Chicago Cubs. Cleveland hasn’t won the title since 1948 — baseball’s current longest drought.
The news on Francona continues a bumpy past week for the Indians, who have been overrun by injuries that have damaged their playoff hopes. Cleveland is 8 1/2 games behind the Chicago White Sox in the AL Central.
On Thursday, the Indians traded second baseman Cesar Hernandez to the White Sox, a signal that they’ve turned their focus toward improving their roster for the future.
Earlier this week, Francona missed two games with a nasty head cold he picked up on a recent road trip. Also, the Indians recently announced they’re changing their name to Guardians in 2022, a decision that has angered many of their fans.
Following the announcement, Francona spoke passionately about his love for the organization. His father, Tito, played for the Indians from 1959-64.MORE NEWS: Dozens Of Massachusetts State Police Troopers Resigning Over COVID Vaccine Mandate, Union Says
(© Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)