When you have the kind of offseason the Cleveland Indians had, it’s only natural that outside expectations are going to rise. Such is the case for first-year manager Terry Francona, who says it’s now up to the guys wearing the Indians uniform to show why those expectations are so high.
Terry Francona joined WKNR in Cleveland with Rizz and Hammer to discuss his first spring training with the Cleveland Indians, the roster moves that were made after he took the job, outside expectations of this team, all the new faces meshing well together, starting pitcher Justin Masterson and having Jason Giambi in the clubhouse.
What’s this camp been like for you so far, coming back as a manager?:
“Well, there’s about three things that come into play. One, I probably needed to step back and take some time off. That’s a hard thing to tell yourself. … Two is where I came to, which is Cleveland. That was pretty awesome. … Then, you come into camp and you see the team we put together and … my feelings and enthusiasm for this team is really high. This is a fun group to work with here.”
On taking the job and not knowing that the Indians were going to go out and make all of these lineup upgrades that eventually happened:
“I never asked. I told Chris in our process, in fact, he went out of his way to explain to me some of the challenges that might be presented. … Things just kind of snowballed this winter. Once one thing happened, something else happened, and it ended up being a great winter for us. Again, there’s no guarantees where we’re going to finish. We don’t know. But I think if you look at our roster from Oct. 1 to now, it’s vastly improved.”
How are you guys approaching the fact that people are putting high expectations on the team?:
“I think what that means is our front offices and ownership had a good winter, which is great. … If there are expectations from outside the clubhouse, that means we had a good winter. It means nothing going forward when we get on the field. Now it’s time for people in uniform to get going. … Regardless of what the expectations will be on the outside, ours are always going to be that we show up and win the day we play.”
A lot of new faces in the clubhouse. How is everyone coming together?:
“Very well. That’s one of the things we tried to do this winter is try to build relationships, so when we got here it didn’t take three or four weeks for everyone to kind of tiptoe around. We wanted everybody to be comfortable and things like that, because it’s important.”
What does Justin Masterson need to do to become an ace?:
“That’s a hard word. In my opinion, there’s very few aces in the league. There’s a lot of No. 1′s — every team has to have one. But if he battles the zone, stays down, elevates when he wants … I think time and experience with players. As long as they stay healthy, the learning curve goes up, they understand themselves, and I think he’s ready to be a leader.”
On what Jason Giambi means to the team:
“We have some decisions to make. It’s not only if Giambi can help us, because we think he can, but how he fits with the rest of our roster. … But I’d be lying if I said he’s not special. … I’ve already gone to him two or three times with questions about things. It’s just the way he is. He’s a manager-in-waiting. I guess we hope that it just doesn’t start too soon and we have him for the year.”