Francona: “I was out of my element.”
The Dodgers and D-backs will kick off the 2014 regular season next month with a pair of games in Australia. It’s going to be a fatiguing journey for both clubs, but it’s also an important part of Major League Baseball’s efforts to globalize the game.
Indians manager Terry Francona had a similar experience during his days with the Red Sox. After winning the World Series in 2007, Boston opened up the ’08 campaign with games against the A’s in Japan.
First and foremost, Francona understands why MLB had these kind of events.
“I think it’s good for the game,” Francona said. “I’d rather it be another team.”
One thing you need to know about Francona — if you haven’t gathered it already — is that he craves being prepared and being with his team. He’s the first person in the clubhouse on the day of a game and he’s the first person in the dugout before first pitch.
So, when Francona was required to attend a meet-and-greet at the United States Embassy in Japan on what was Opening Day, he was understandably distracted. Bring it up now, six years later, and he still gets annoyed, especially because the trip included stops in Los Angeles, Oakland and Toronto after going to Japan.
“I hated it,” Francona said. “It’s nothing against Japan. The two games we played, the exhibition games, were great. The minute the season counted, I was a wreck. Opening Day, I was at the embassy. That was the last [bleeping] place I wanted to be. I wanted to have a team meeting and I’m over there with a tie on.
“Everybody wanted to kill me. I was out of my element and I didn’t like it. When they were exhibition games, I was OK. But Spring Training was a disaster. Not a disaster, but we were there a week early. You’re planning on guys pitching, not pitching, staying back. I didn’t like it.”
Francona said he kept inching closer to the exit during the stop at the U.S. Embassy.
“I think Larry Lucchino wanted to wring my neck,” Francona said. “I was sitting out there by the door like waiting for permission to go the ballpark.”
Before the trip was made official, the Red Sox called Francona to get his input.
“They called me in the winter and asked me my opinion,” Francona said. “I said, ‘My opinion is it’s not going to help us win.’ I said, ‘I also understands there are reasons why you do these things, but if you’re asking me pure baseball wise, it will not give us an advantage.'”
Francona was then asked to pack a tie.
Photo of the Day
Dr. Curtis Dickman stopped by Tribe camp on Tuesday to discuss the unique spinal cord surgery that first baseman David Cooper underwent. Dickman called it a miracle that Cooper was not only back at 100 percent, but back to playing professional baseball with the Indians. A feature on Cooper and his operation will hit Indians.com on Wednesday.
Catch up on the latest from Cleveland’s camp with these links:
- After weeks of training, Indians eager to start playing spring games
- Francona wants clarity on collision rules before adding drills
- Harang enjoying dynamic of Cleveland’s clubhouse
- Wood is hoping to reward the Indians for the faith they showed
- First lineup, upcoming pitchers and more tidbits are also within those links
Stay tuned for more…