The Cleveland Indians organization had some unfortunate news to announce at the end of July. The news was that manager Terry Francona was stepping away from the team for the remainder of the season to focus on several health issues.
Francona also missed time in 2020, and his future with the team remains in question. But if he wants his job in 2022, it is all his.
We bring up this story now because the skipper was on the verge of history. He is six wins away from becoming the franchise leader in manager wins. That was supposed to happen in the coming weeks, and still can. How is that possible?
Terry Francona can make history from home
So if Francona ends up returning in 2022, he will do so as the franchise leader in wins. If he retires, he will sit in second place. The logic here is that if he does return, acting manager DeMarlo Hale was simply filling in, as opposed to holding the job on his own.
This creates an odd scenario where the team could open 2022, as the Guardians, with Francona returning as the all-time wins leader in franchise history. He may opt to get those wins on his own, but even then it would happen early in April.
The most pressing concern now is Francona’s long-term health. He was not at full strength in 2020 and showed up this year at spring training with multiple issues. Stepping away at this point is a smart move, regardless of if he returns next year or not.
Health is going to be the most pressing issue at hand for Francona next year. He will also need to determine if he wants to return to a team that may be stuck in the middle.