Rosenthal: Terry Francona thinking about his future — ‘Physically, it’s getting more durable’

For the primary time, Terry Francona is speaking about a end line.

While Francona, 63, is predicted to return as Guardians supervisor subsequent season, he mentioned Friday he doesn’t plan to stay within the job indefinitely.

“No. It’s getting more durable,” Francona mentioned. “Physically, it’s getting more durable.”

Francona mentioned he has been discussing his future with president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti and normal supervisor Mike Chernoff, and plans to achieve some sort of decision quickly.

“Everybody asks you about legacy. I do not give as— about that,” mentioned Francona, who led Cleveland to the American League title in 2016, gained two World Series in eight seasons with the Red Sox and in addition managed the Phillies for 4 years.

“I wish to get pleasure from what I’m doing. It’s getting more durable to try this, simply because bodily it’s more durable. I simply wish to watch out. And on the identical time, I wish to be truthful to the staff.”

Antonetti mentioned the Guardians need Francona to stay supervisor so long as he’s bodily succesful. Francona, who stepped away throughout each the 2020 and 2021 seasons for well being causes, estimates he has had 45 surgical procedures, and would require one other one after the season to take away drains in his again.

“He’s been via rather a lot over the past three years,” Antonetti mentioned. “(But) at this level, he’s as energized as he is ever been, excited about what’s in entrance of him. If issues proceed on the trail we’re on, he actually desires to be again subsequent yr, and that is our expectation.”

The Guardians, in Francona’s tenth season, entered Saturday main the AL Central by 1 1/2 video games regardless of fielding a bottom-five payroll and the youngest roster within the majors. Their farm system is the third finest within the recreation in accordance with Baseball America. The staff will even enter the offseason with solely $19.3 million in assured commitments for 2023, guaranteeing a measure of payroll flexibility.

Francona, whose contract expires on the finish of the season, maintains an unusually shut relationship with the Guardians’ entrance workplace. He mentioned he doesn’t wish to “mess up” Antonetti and Chernoff or “maintain them over a barrel,” seemingly referring to the staff’s future plans. Antonetti mentioned the query shouldn’t be one in every of understanding a contract.

“It’s extra about how Tito is doing. Where is he in his life? What does he need subsequent? At what level for him will it’s the best time to step away?” Antonetti mentioned. “I do not know what the reply to that’s. But I even have by no means wished to stress him.

“I care so deeply about him, I would like him to have the life he desires to have with his kids and grandchildren. I wish to make certain he by no means feels he has this obligation to maintain doing the job as a result of he owes us something. I would like him to do what’s finest for him.”


Terry Francona walks to the mound throughout a pitching change in 2021. (David Richard / USA Today Sports)

Francona managed solely 14 of 60 regular-season video games within the pandemic-shortened 2020 season and missed the staff’s wild-card collection in opposition to the Yankees due to gastrointestinal and blood-clotting points that led to a keep of a number of days within the ICU.

That winter, he developed gout, then a staph an infection in his left large toe, spending 10 days within the hospital and utilizing crutches or a boot for months. After opening the 2021 season as supervisor, he stepped away once more on July 29, 2021, for a hip alternative after which, a number of weeks later, toe surgical procedure. He nonetheless wears a metal plate in his shoe to guard his toe.

When Guardians proprietor Paul Dolan’s spouse, Karen, underwent a process earlier this yr, docs joked she was within the “Tito suite.” Francona, too, sometimes makes mild of his illnesses. Asked how he at present is feeling, he mentioned, “I received two footwear on, in order that’s progress.”

“I’ve informed him so many occasions, I don’t know how you have continued to go on,” Antonetti mentioned. “I couldn’t take care of the issues he offers with and proceed to do my job in a productive approach. To see his energy, it’s a testomony to how a lot he cares, how a lot he loves what he is doing. The overwhelming majority of individuals wouldn’t proceed to persevere via what he has been via, and continues to be going via.”

Antonetti has spoken typically of how Francona and his teaching workers create a singular tradition, enabling younger gamers to develop whereas additionally educating them methods to win. The Guardians, Antonetti mentioned, view Francona as “among the many finest within the enterprise if not one of the best within the enterprise at what he does.” Francona, in flip, mentioned he may need retired by now if he was with one other membership.

“I informed Chris and ‘Cherny’, if there is a date the place you assume I’m not doing it to your (satisfaction), I’m going to stroll away and be comfortable as hell,” Francona mentioned. “I really like these guys. I’ll by no means say a phrase like (I did when) it resulted in Boston. I really like our proprietor. I really like Chris and ‘Cherny.’ At some level, it ends. I wish to be truthful to them, as a result of they’re truthful to me. That’s form of how I really feel.”

Francona mentioned he want to stay within the recreation when he’s now not managing, however he doesn’t know in what capability. Accustomed to being ready of authority, he mentioned, “I do not understand how I’d don’t being in cost if I see one thing I did not like.”

“That’s what I’m unsure of. That’s the place I wish to be just a little cautious,” Francona mentioned. “I do not know that I’m on the level the place I’d be fulfilled not doing one thing. But I do know I feel about it much more than I used to. I’m getting there.”

The Athletic‘s Zack Meisel contributed to this story

(Photo: Denny Medley / USA Today Sports)

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