Francona’s Thoughts: June 26 vs. Rangers

On Michael Brantley (right ankle sprain), Brandon Guyer (left wrist sprain) and Austin Jackson (left quad tightness):

“I’ll give you guys kind of the rundown of where we’re at. We had a busy day as you can imagine. Guyer is obviously back on and playing. Brant is back on and he’ll be on the bench tonight. The reason behind that is, he still needed to have a pretty impactful day, run the bases and it started at like 3:30. I don’t how fair that is. As much as you’d like to have him the lineup, (you would) hate to have him be down for two weeks, play a night and then tomorrow be sore. We’ll have him available to pinch-hit and then he’ll play tomorrow. So to get there, we optioned (Shawn) Armstrong and (Daniel) Robertson. With Austin, he’s getting a scan, I think probably about now. He doesn’t feel too bad, but we want to see first of all, what’s going on if anything in there. If he needs to be DLed, we would do it tomorrow.”

On piecing together a healthy outfield:

“Things always happen during the year. It’s not just us. They usually continue to happen. You’d like it when it’s a slower pace, but (you) usually get pretty caught up in like in, who’s our guys now and how do we go about it rather than, God, I wish we had this or this because it just doesn’t help. I mean, having Brant back is always good. I think having Guyer — because Guyer wasn’t swinging the bat great before he got hurt — but having his toughness is always welcome. He’s just a tough kid. That characteristic, that trait is always welcome.”

On the Rangers batting Mike Napoli and Joey Gallo at the bottom of their lineup:

“How about that? I’ve never seen eight and nine, that… that’s unbelievable. They got an interesting lineup. They’re really athletic in places and they’re not afraid to run. And then they got two guys sitting down at the bottom that are trying to see how far they can hit it. It’s an interesting dynamic.”

On Napoli arriving in the Indians clubhouse before the game:

“He came over here, he was sitting on my couch for a while and it was funny because the guys would walk by and see him and just the reaction, like couple guys came in and almost tried to tackle him. It was just funny. It was fun to see their reaction to him because he’s so well thought of, myself included. He knows, we don’t want him to beat us. I think he probably would respect that. I respect it in him that you’re competitive, you want to win. But that doesn’t take away any of the fondness or respect or appreciation that we have for him. And that’s all in the present tense, not just past tense because he was here.”

On Napoli receiving his ALCS ring on Monday:

“That’ll be one of the biggest honors I think I’ve ever had. I’m sure our guys will be out there. As they should be. They did a good job with Raj, they were all kind of out there showing their appreciation. I told Nap, it would be one of the funnest honors I’ve ever had.”

On managing the 2017 All-Star Game:

“Well, one, now I have no say so in it. It’s completely up to fans, players, and then the league. You’ve got Joe Torre and those guys. I’m OK with that because that’s a lot on your plate and a lot of responsibility you feel where, calling managers, calling pitching coaches, trying to explain maybe their opinions of guys who should be on, but why certain guys won’t be on. I know from the past, it takes some effort. There’s certainly going to be some calls anyway when we know who the pitchers are because that’s the biggest, I think what you’re referring to. For players, I think the biggest takeaway is, and I think this is what you are referring to, just how tired guys are when they leave there because there is zero downtime. Somebody asked me one year after it was over if I had a suggestion and the one I had was, if you could just give the players the chance to enjoy being with the players, I think they would enjoy it more. When they’re in the clubhouse, the clubhouse is jam-packed. You go out onto the field and the field is jam-packed in foul territory, so it’s not very relaxing and you see guys come back kind of tired. That’s why we have an optional workout on the Thursday night, it will be in Oakland or San Francisco, one of the two, but I always tell the guys who have been a part of the game not to come. Because that’s their day to catch up. You don’t want anybody dragging. With pitchers, we’ll keep an eye on things, and it’s not just our pitchers. We’ll talk to all the other guys, we’ll assess where they are, see who needs to pitch, who doesn’t. Now that the game doesn’t count for home field advantage, you feel a little bit better about that, in trying to get guys into the game. You want to treat the game with the respect that it deserves.”

On preparing for the 2017 All-Star Game:

“Millsy and I, and I say ‘I’, Millsy kept a legal pad, and I think it started around June 1st, maybe a little before that, of every position player, every pitcher in the game that we thought could, and we just updated it every week. I think because Millsy is so conscientious about it, we kind of thought we were really well organized where we could explain to managers or players why things were happening. Even if we didn’t have anything to do with it, we could at least explain to them, ‘Hey, here’s what’s going on.’ And I felt better about that. I just think it’s OK to explain to players who might have thought that they were deserving, or in some cases were seriously deserving, why they weren’t.”

On hitting Jose Ramirez fifth when Brantley returns to the starting lineup:

“I like him in any spot, because he’s a good hitter. I think there’s good reasons to put him there. Earlier, it was because we wanted to get Edwin hot. After Edwin started swinging the bat good, you want to make sure that they either pitch to him or, if they don’t, they have a decent chance of paying for it. It’s kind of like when Miggy [Cabrera] and Victor [Martinez] were kind of…. Miggy’s such a good hitter, but it was really hard to not pitch to him, because Victor was such a good protection for him. A switch hitter. Put the ball in play. Could hit a home run. Ramirez is very similar, just a little shorter.”

John Alfes has covered the Indians for IBI since August of 2016. Follow him on Twitter @JohnAlfes for breaking news and in-depth coverage all season long.

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