Francona’s Thoughts: June 23 vs. Twins

On Jose Ramirez getting the day off:

A: “You could tell he was dragging. Kid has been on the bases all – you know. The last couple days, I think he knew he probably needed one, but he was swinging the bat so well, I just thought with the late arrival, they have a lefty going, we can play Erik (Gonzalez), he’s sitting over here on the bench to make at least Minnesota think about a pitching change. I think it’s a good day to do it for him. Let him kind of get his legs back under him.”

On benching a player when he is hot at the plate:

A: “We check with guys. After a game, I know I’ve gone through this, Millsy and I will go through potentially what we want to do. I’ll say ‘go check with so-and-so, Kipnis.’ If he needs the day, because then that could make a difference on the next guy, so he goes kind of in an order, and we do it every night. So we’ve checked with him the last three or four nights. Then dependent on something, sometimes we do something different somewhere else.”

On Ramirez potentially making the All-Star Game:

A: “Oh my goodness, it’s an easy one. I mean, there’s a lot of good players out there. He’s, in my opinion, he’s an all-star, and if he’s not, I’m not sure who is. He’s backing up last year with another, you know. I know he’s been hot, but he’s a good hitter anyway. He’s a good hitter that’s hot right now. Even when he’s not this scalding hot, he’s still a good hitter. He’s a .300 major league hitter.”

On Michael Brantley (right ankle sprain):

A: “He was going to go run out, but it’s wet. He’s going to go run on the treadmill. He thinks he’s feeling pretty good, but that will be his first kind of getting aggressive on the running. Then dependent on how he feels, hopefully we’ll do more tomorrow.”

On Cody Allen returning from the paternity list:

A: “He was texting me yesterday, and kind of running me through it, because they get three days, and kind of saying, ‘Hey, I think I can be back tomorrow.’ But, with having a baby and everything, I said, ‘You take care of what you’ve got to take care of.’ I said, ‘If you can come back, we’re thrilled, but you take care of what you’ve got to take care of.’ So, he texted me this morning and said, ‘I’m good to go.’ So, we talked to Plutko and he’s going back to Triple-A. He was going to throw a side with Mickey today and then they’ll get him back in the rotation in Triple-A.”

On rotating between Allen and Andrew Miller in the late innings:

A: “I think dependent on usage. I just think that week had gotten a little bit too much with Andrew and, because of Cody’s willingness, it made it a lot easier for me to do that. I think when it makes sense, we’ll do it. It’s nice to know that both guys are kind of willing to do whatever it takes to win, so we’ll just use good judgement, and I’ll talk to those guys, so they always have an idea what’s going on.”

On Danny Salazar (right shoulder soreness):

A: “He’s going to throw a sim game Monday in Akron. About two innings. We’ll see how that goes, and then the next step, whether it’s another sim game or in an actual Minor League game, is kind of dependent on how he feels and what the trainers and everybody thinks.”

On Trevor Bauer taking it to the next level:

A: “I think everybody can always do that in one way or another, whether it’s physical or mental or learning about the league. Trevor’s last game, other than the last couple hitters, man, I’m not sure how much better you can pitch. Velocity. Command of all his pitches. He’s held his stuff, in my opinion, probably better than he ever has and it’s even getting stronger. But I think, when he’s not working behind in the count and things like that, you’re going to see him get deeper and you’re going to see him take the sting out of guys’ bats, because he’s not pitching from behind.”

On Bauer simplifying things on the mound:

A: “I don’t know that he would say that. I think, in my opinion, at times he does. But, I think he’s following Roberto more. Not shaking off quite as much, which I think is good.”

On Edwin Encarnacion finding his stroke:

A: “Well, I mean, he’s done that his whole career. He’s a dangerous hitter and he’s hot. You don’t do that all the time, but you go through periods. Sometimes, you can tell he feels. Like right in the middle of this, he walked four times in Minnesota. He didn’t go out of the zone. But then, when he got pitches to hit, he whacked them. Sometimes, you go through periods where you get one pitch and you foul it, and they make pitches and you don’t get hits. That’s why like slumps or hot, it’s always a little bit in the middle, because it takes more than just feeling good to get hot. I mean, you’ve got to get pitches to hit. Sometimes, you’ve got to earn them. That’s why it’s never just cut and dry when a guy’s hot or cold.”

“That’s cause he hits them far. I told you guys that it would happen. His track record is too good. And for whatever reason, guys get just as hot as they get cold. Other than that, I don’t know how to explain it. The good ones get to their level. When they’re as hot as he is, it’s fun to watch. You start winning some games that maybe you wouldn’t normally win, just because of one guy.”

On Encarnacion getting more comfortable:

A: “I haven’t seen him not be comfortable. He’s quiet, but when you talk to him, he’s about as engaging as there is. Polite. I’m sure he feels better about himself. I would. But he’s always been fine. I think he’s actually handled some of that early frustration really well.”

On valuing each game:

A: “I agree with that. That’s why we met. You’re gonna get hot with the bats. Those things change as the season goes. We know that. But our approach to the game has to be consistent. I think we all feel a lot better about that. For whatever reason, we needed to make some adjustments, but we’ve been really pleased at the way guys are keeping their energy, keeping their concentration. That’s easy to go when you get tired and I don’t think it’s bad to admit that you’re a little bit tired. We’ve played a lot of baseball. I don’t think that means you’re going to lose. We might scale back on batting practice a little bit, things like that, because they’re getting so much repetition now. So when the game comes, they don’t feel like they already spent their energy.”

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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