After missing most of last season for health reasons, Francona recently underwent surgery to remove a staph infection on his left big toe – the latest medical setback for the two-time World Series winner.
Francona, 61, spent 10 days in the hospital after doctors removed the infection. Francona, who played just 14 games with Cleveland last season, will be on antibiotics for several more weeks and will spend training camp on crutches.
I’m wearing one shoe. I wasn’t that mobile to begin with, so it doesn’t have to destroy my mobility, Francona joked on the Zoom call from Goodyear, Arizona. He’s a bit of a pain in the ass.
Francona was feeling better and training after a personally difficult 2020 year in which he contracted gout in December. He trained regularly and played golf until the pain in his leg became too much.
He returned to Ohio and went to the Cleveland Clinic, where he had treated patients for gastrointestinal problems and blood clotting several times in the past year. The doctors have detected a staph infection, which can be very serious.
I have one more toe, said Francona, who is entering her ninth season with the Indians. They went in, removed some of the infected bone and replaced it with cement. The cement is probably oozing out like antibiotics, and I’m also getting intravenous antibiotics.
Three weeks from now, on the 7th, I think. In March I’ll be done with the antibiotics, I can get off the crutches a bit, and then they’ll see how I’m doing, if the staph is completely gone, and then they’ll look at it again.
Francona receives intravenous antibiotics in her right arm. He joked that coach Carl Willis will have to do all the games on Mounds soon at the spring games.
I’m fine, he says. I can’t move very well, but we’ll manage.
Francona said last season was terrible for him personally.
He had been struggling with stomach problems for several months, but when they worsened in August, he was forced to resign. First base coach Sandy Alomar Jr. took over for Francona, who had undergone multiple surgeries and was in intensive care because of clotting problems.
Francona, who won titles with the Boston Red Sox in 2004 and 2007, had planned to retire but decided to return in 2021.
He said his medical problems from last year were very good.
Thursday, Chris Antonetti, president of Indian baseball operations, said he didn’t think Francona might not return this season.
What will always be most important to me is Tito’s overall health and well-being, both physically and mentally, Antonetti said. And as long as he’s doing his job, he’ll guarantee a conversation. But I think we tried to work with Tito to understand where he is physically and how we can help him do what he loves and what motivates this baseball team.
And I know he’s not very excited to continue this season. He’s in a good mood.
Francona is looking forward to this season as the Indians, who won 35-25 last season and reached the Wild Card round under Alomar, try to stay competitive after trading their spot on the All-Star team for that of Francisco Lindor.
Even though Francona is not in the shape he would like, she is grateful to be able to do what she loves most.
He still has that spark, even if it sometimes takes him a little longer to find it.
There were nights when I would lie down and kick my ass, he said. I have people who are close to me, even a couple of baseball players who do really serious things. He’s a bit of a pain in the ass. I have to realize that.
That’s what I mean. In the morning, in the shower, it’s hard. I have a big bag to hang on my leg. I need to cover that hand. It’s annoying, but that’s all that’s annoying. I think I need to remember that sometimes.