CLEVELAND -- From their second straight American League Central Division Championship and subsequent trip to the postseason to the AL-record 22-game winning streak and a franchise-best 14 straight road victories, the Cleveland Indians had plenty of reasons to celebrate during the 2017 season.
But through all of the successes, there were plenty of struggles, especially for manager Terry Francona, who underwent a cardiac ablation midway through the season after making multiple in-game trips to the hospital for failing health.
With the season over after Wednesday’s 5-2 loss to the New York Yankees in Game 5 of the AL Division Series, Francona is going to take time to focus on his health before gearing up for 2018.
“This was probably the hardest year physically that I’ve ever had,” Francona said at the Indians’ end-of-season press conference at Progressive Field Friday. “I don’t remember ever feeling this wiped out at the end of a year. I need to go back home at some point, regroup and work toward next year because I felt like at times this year, I think I made it harder on people, guys like Millsey (Bench Coach Brad Mills).
“Millsey picked up so much of the slack for me sometimes, Mickey (Callaway) and the coaches, and I don’t want to do that, so I’ll get home and really recharge because I feel like if you don’t, you could let some people down and I don’t want to do that. I couldn’t help what happened with the heart, but I don’t like the feeling of leaning on people so much. They’re supposed to lean on me a little bit more.”
Francona underwent the cardiac ablation to correct an arrhythmia.
Prior to the procedure, Francona missed five games over a three-week stretch because of medical issues.
During a June 13 game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Progressive Field, Francona had a bout of dizziness, and then, on June 26, he again experienced a dizzy spell and left a game against the Texas Rangers early to receive medical attention.
Francona was allowed to return to his post as manager, but did so with a monitor that had a button in which he pushed when having a bout of lightheadedness so that doctors could find out the source of the issues that forced him out of the June 26 game.
Following the Indians’ return from a road trip in Detroit, Francona returned to the hospital because of health issues, and he missed the entire three-game series with the San Diego Padres at Progressive Field, as well as the 2017 MLB All-Star Game in Miami.
“I just mean you get home and I can swim and I can get stronger, just things like that without the game hanging over your head that night and you’re able to get away,” Francona said. “I don’t want to completely get away. I like to stay involved in what we’re doing, but I just need to recharge. This one was harder for me physically than it’s ever been.”
In addition to the physical rest, Francona needs time to recharge mentally after the long season.
“I know it’s hard for people to understand, the season doesn’t wind down,” Francona said. “It just comes to a crashing halt.
“You come into your office one day and you’re going 100 miles an hour. The next day, you come in and it’s hard to accept that, especially when you don’t want it to be over. You want it to be over on your terms, and it didn’t happen that way this year. It’s difficult. Now, we’re not the only team that has to deal with that, but it’s hard.”
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