Manager Terry Francona did not travel with the Indians for their weekend series in Chicago and, according to a team press release, plans to miss the remainder of 2021. The 62-year-old is taking a sabbatical in order to address a number of lingering health issues. Per beat reporter Mandy Bell of MLB.com, Francona will require surgery on both his hip and toe.
Francona, who is five wins shy of tying Lou Boudreau’s club record for victories, spent nearly two weeks in a Cleveland hospital earlier this year, receiving treatment for a staph infection in his toe. As a result, Francona continues to wear a walking boot on his left foot.
A two-time World Series champion with the Red Sox, the veteran skipper also missed much of last season, fighting gastrointestinal issues and a blood clot that landed him in intensive care, at one point undergoing three surgeries in a span of four days. Francona, who ranks third among active managers in career victories (only Tony La Russa of the White Sox and Houston’s Dusty Baker are ahead of him), will hand the clipboard to DeMarlo Hale with third base coach Mike Sarbaugh assuming Hale’s old role as bench coach. The Indians are also promoting assistant Kyle Hudson to third base coach.
It’s been a down year for the Indians, who have struggled of late, losing seven of 12 since the All-Star break while falling well behind the division-leading White Sox (eight games back). Despite their recent swoon, the Indians—who will be rebranded as the Cleveland Guardians in 2022—are still in the playoff hunt, trailing Oakland by five games for the AL’s second Wild Card berth.
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