Francona reflects on tagging along with dad
Manager has fond memories of clubhouse days with his father, Tito
BOSTON -- Indians manager Terry Francona enjoys letting his players bring their kids into the clubhouse. This season, Francona even approved allowing any daughters of his players to be in the locker room after Sunday games in Cleveland.
Francona cherishes his own memories of being behind the scenes when his dad, Tito, was playing in the big leagues.
"I was able to start going to the ballpark with my dad when I was probably eight," Francona said earlier this Father's Day weekend. "Back then it was different. You had to look out for yourself. So, I'd go with my dad. ... You couldn't hang out in the clubhouse then. I'd find a bat boy or some pitcher who wanted to play catch with an eight-year-old. When batting practice started, I'd go out and shag [fly balls].
"When the other team would hit, I would go up in the stands with the other kids and try to catch home runs. Before the game, I would run down real quick, go to the door and my dad would give me a dollar. A Chick-Fil-A sandwich was 75 cents. I had to make a decision. I'd either get a Chick-Fil-A sandwich and nothing else, or I could maybe get peanuts and a Coke. It taught me some responsibility."
In August of Tito Francona's final season in 1970, when he was playing with the Brewers, Terry was given permission to tag along with the team on a nine-game trip through Minnesota, Kansas City and Chicago. More than four decades later, Terry Francona still smiles at the fact that Al Downing let him sit next to him on the team plane.
"Al Downing is one of my all-time favorite players of all-time," Francona said. "When I see Al now, we laugh like [heck]. He's letting me sit next to him on the plane. Do you know what that meant to a 10-year-old?"
During that road trip with his dad, Francona remembers the moment Tito knew his son might have a future in baseball.
"There were all these rules -- no kids on the field," Francona said. "They'd dress me up in BP in the smallest guy's uni and tape it around me and I'd go out on the field. Then, I'd go up in the stands and watch the game. We're in Minnesota and Bert Blyleven was pitching.
"After the game on the bus on the way home my dad was like, 'What did you think?' I said, 'Dad, he's got the best curveball I've ever seen.' To this day, he remembers that. He said, 'From that day on, I knew you were watching.'"
Tribe to decide next step for McAllister
BOSTON -- Members of the Indians coaching staff plan on poring over the video of Zach McAllister's latest rehab outing Sunday night. Come Monday, manager Terry Francona and pitching coach Mickey Callaway will meet with McAllister to hammer out the next step in the pitcher's return.
Right now, Cleveland is weighing multiple things in determining the right direction. The Indians have been impressed with left-hander T.J. House, the team has a pair of off-day's within a four-day span next week and McAllister appeared to make strides in his start for Triple-A Columbus on Saturday.
"I dont know," Callaway said of Cleveland's plan. "T.J.'s throwing the ball well. That's a tough call. A lot of factors will go into that."
McAllister -- on the 15-day disabled list due to a lower-back strain -- logged 64 pitches in four innings on short rest Saturday. The big right-hander allowed no runs on five hits, escaping one bases-loaded jam unscathed and ending with two strikeouts and one walk.
"He had good fastball command from the reports I got," Callaway said. "It sounds like he's in a pretty decent spot."
On the season, McAllister has gone 3-4 with a 5.89 ERA through 10 starts for the Indians. After opening this season 3-0 with a 2.28 ERA through four starts, during which he held opponents to a .655 OPS in 23 2/3 innings, McAllister went 0-4 with a 9.51 ERA in the six starts (.919 opponents' OPS in 23 2/3 innings) leading up to the DL stint.
House, who has filled in admirably for McAllister, turned in 5 1/3 innings in a no-decision against the Red Sox during Saturday's 3-2 win for the Tribe. The lefty struck out three, walks one and now has posted a 4.88 ERA in 27 2/3 innings in six appearances for Cleveland this season.
Both Francona and Callaway have pointed to the pair of off-days (June 23 and 26) that are on either side of a two-game road series against the D-backs. The Indians want to make sure other members of the rotation do not receive too many days off between starts due to that unusual schedule.
"Regardless of where T.J. is," Francona said, "it's nice to know that he's in the organization and that, if you start him, you feel like you can win. That's very heartening. Pitching is hard to find and T.J.'s come a long way."
Since return, Santana swinging hot bat
BOSTON -- Indians hitting coach Ty Van Burkleo believes the time away from the field did Carlos Santana some good. While no one wants to see a player suffer a concussion, Santana's brief stay on the shelf earlier this month gave him a chance to reset his season.
So far, Santana has looked like different player at the plate.
"I think probably the off time took a little pressure off him," Van Burkleo said Sunday. "He was able to kind of relax and work on his swing. His work has been great. He's basically been trying to be a little quieter [with his swing] all year. It's just a matter of taking it from the cage to the game. He's getting closer."
Entering Sunday's game against the Red Sox, the switch-hitting Santana had posted a .300 average with two home runs, six walks and eight RBIs in the nine games since he was activated from Major League Baseball's concussion list. Across his past 13 games, Santana had posted a .310/.482/.595 slash line with three homers, three doubles, 12 walks and 12 RBIs, entering Sunday.
Santana headed into Sunday's action with a .180 average on the season, but Van Burkleo has tried to help the corner infielder focus on the recent success.
"All year I've been reminding him of that. Today starts today," Van Burkelo said. "It's important to stay in the present. That can be a hard thing when you're struggling and your numbers aren't where you feel they should be. You start trying to get five hits in one at-bat.
"I think he's gone through that and I think it reaches a point where you just say, 'Uncle,' and just play. It's nice to see him get some hits and get his confidence going. I think that's a big thing. Once you get a little confidence going, you're able to relax."
Quote to note
"It was awesome. I was having so much fun out there, soaking it up. I stood out there for a second and kind of looked around. I was like, 'Man, this is great. A 102-year-old ballpark and I get to have my first one here.' It was fun."
-- Indians rookie lefty T.J. House, on pitching in Fenway Park
• Francona has used first baseman Nick Swisher as a designated hitter for his first three games back in the lineup for Cleveland. Francona feels it is the right approach for now, considering Swisher was recently shelved with a left knee injury.
"We'll definitely get him back into playing some first," Francona said. "He's been taking ground balls every day. I think it'll allow him to not just come back and get beat down. We want to keep him all year and let him be healthy. I think this is a good way to do it."
• Indians starter Justin Masterson, who lasted just two innings and 59 pitches in a loss Friday, threw off the mound in a bullpen session Sunday. Pitching coach Mickey Callaway said Masterson displayed a more aggressive approach in the workout and the pitcher will look to carry that over into his next outing.
• Right-hander Danny Salazar, who was placed on the Minor League disabled list June 4 due to a right triceps injury, has been activated by Triple-A Columbus. Salazar went 0-3 with a 7.11 ERA in 12 2/3 innings at Triple-A before landing on the DL.
• Outfield prospect Tyler Naquin (selected by the Tribe in the first round of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft) extended his hitting streak with Double-A Akron to 16 games Saturday. Naquin has hit safely in 24 of his past 25 games and has hit .441 (30-for-68) during the 16-game streak.