GOODYEAR, Ariz. — Cleveland Guardians manager Terry Francona is feeling much better these days. He has a rod in his left foot that bothers him when he wears his beloved flip-flops, but that's a breeze compared with what he experienced in the past.
The former big league infielder dealt with gastrointestinal problems and blood-clotting issues in 2020. Following surgeries on his hip and toe, he also had to step away from the team in 2021. But his outlook has stayed the same throughout.
"Everybody says, 'Do you have perspective?'" Francona said Sunday as he continued preparations for his 11th season with Cleveland. "I hate when we lose. I really enjoy when we win. But I love doing what we do, but I always have. I've always enjoyed it.
"If I wasn't in baseball, all I'd be doing was wishing I was in baseball."
Francona, 63, is thankful that he isn't limping as much as before, making it easier for him to do his job. And it doesn't look as if he has lost anything on that front.
The two-time World Series winner with Boston directed a young group of Guardians to the AL Central title in 2022, earning him his third Manager of the Year Award. He has led Cleveland to four division titles, six postseasons and one World Series since 2013.
"We're coming off a year where we kind of maximized our input and our output, and a lot of that has to do with Tito," Guardians ace Shane Bieber said. "To see him smiling and happy and healthy, he was always smiling and happy regardless of what he was going through. So he's a consistent driving factor in here, and his energy's always infectious and contagious."
Outfielder Steven Kwan said Francona is "extremely important" when it comes to the team's success.
"I think just him being in the clubhouse, it breeds confidence, first of all," he said. "I mean you kind of just feel a little easier when he's walking around, you know that the big dog is at the top, at the helm."
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