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. 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.”
Baltimore Orioles CEO John Angelos is hoping to complete a new lease for Camden Yards with Maryland Gov. Wes Moore at some point this summer.
The current lease for the ballpark expires at the end of this year. The Orioles and Moore released a statement on Feb. 1 that touted a “multi-decade, public-private partnership” to revitalize the Camden Yards sports complex.
Speaking on Sunday at Baltimore's spring training complex in Florida, Angelos said he thinks the new lease will be finished in the next six months.
“I mean, I’d love to have that as an All-Star break gift for everybody, really, in the community," Angelos said. "There’s just no there there other than we’re going to get that done. And that’s always been one of the things I committed to. I have no intention of not seeing that happen, and I know the governor and his folks are just as keen on it as we are.”
Angelos declined to discuss the length of general manager Mike Elias' contract, but he praised the work of both Elias and manager Brandon Hyde.
"I’m here for the long haul. Mike is here for the long haul. Brandon's here for the long haul,” Angelos said. “We are all fully vested. We’re not going anywhere. And nobody is a short-timer. Nobody is expiring in a year or two years or anything like that.”
New York Yankees first baseman Anthony Rizzo spent the offseason getting his troublesome back ready for the new season.
Although he is feeling great, the slugger knows it’s a problem that could return.
“It’s just something that you have to manage,” Rizzo said in Florida. “I think anyone who’s had back pain, it kind of comes out of nowhere. I think I’d be crazy to sit here and say I won’t have any back issues this year because every year it seems like a little something pops up. I definitely feel confident with the daily preparation and routine.”
Rizzo hit just .224 in 130 games last year, which was 41 points under his career average.
New York manager Aaron Boone thinks the back issues and the now-restricted defensive shifts impacted Rizzo’s batting average.
“There were certainly moments in the season, or little weeks here, where he was kind of grinding through it, battling it and it probably did have an impact on him” Boone said. “I think he’s one of those guys that will significantly benefit from the shift rules. He was shifted on as much as a lot of people. He faced a lot of four-man outfields with the shift, so those things kind of hurt him a little.”
Major League Baseball announced that San Diego Padres pitcher Nick Martinez will replace Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw on the 30-man roster for the United States for the World Baseball Classic.
Martinez went 4-4 with a 3.47 ERA in 47 games for San Diego last season, making 10 starts and collecting eight saves. He finalized a $26 million, three-year contract with the Padres in November.
Kershaw announced Friday that he wouldn't be able to participate in the WBC. The three-time Cy Young Award winner didn’t specify the reasons that would prevent him from participating.
Anderson Comas, a minor leaguer in the Chicago White Sox organization, says he is gay.
The 23-year-old Comas made the announcement in an Instagram post.
“Being a professional baseball player is the best thing that happened to me,” Comas wrote, “so I just wanna say something to those people that says that gay people can not be someone in this life, well look at me I’m Gay and I’m a professional athlete so that didn’t stopped me to make my dreams come true.”
Comas signed with Chicago as a free agent in July 2016. He started off as an outfielder, but he was converted to a pitcher before last season. He went 1-0 with a 6.35 ERA in 11 appearances last year for the organization's rookie-level team in the Arizona Complex League.
Chris Getz, an assistant general manager for the White Sox in charge of player development, said Comas told the organization last year.
“With his social media post today, we are all so proud of Anderson and that he is comfortable sharing such an important personal part of his life so openly,” Getz said in a statement.
AP freelance writer Mark Didtler in Tampa, Florida, contributed to this report.
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