CLEVELAND (92.3 the Fan) – A health scare will give anyone perspective, mostly in the form of appreciation.
That was the overriding theme of Terry Francona’s pre-game press conference upon returning from his second trip to the Cleveland Clinic in as many weeks.
The Manager has undergone test after test without any true resolution to the same symptoms, what he described as a drastic drop in blood pressure and subsequent heightened heart rate. Francona was again tipped off by a light-headedness that made it seem as if “the lights were going to go out.”
The 58-year old praised the doctors who worked with him, as well as Team President Chris Antonetti and Bench Coach/Interim Manager Brad Mills.
While in the emergency room on Monday night, his team was completing a run of 13 unanswered runs to overtake the Texas Rangers. As he ran through the gamut of testing, Francona was without a television to watch the comeback, but did get vague updates from those at the Cleveland Clinic.
“We’re in the emergency room and you can hear nurses yelling,” he said. “I had it on my phone and you could hear people I couldn’t see reacting, which I thought was really cool. That gave me a huge lift, just hearing people react to the game of baseball, our baseball, it made me feel good.”
Francona’s perspective had extended to the ability to take a step back and appreciate how what is all in all just a game can have an effect on so many people.
“What we do is so important to us, but it’s not life or death,” he said. “But, it’s so amazing the impact it can have on people for something that isn’t. It’s like when your team is playing good, people seem to walk around with their chest out a little bit more. And you get so immersed in caring about your team — that’s part of what’s so good about it.”
When Francona was eventually released from the hospital on Tuesday, he had to be stopped by Antonetti, who the manager compared to Mother Theresa for his ability to oversee the team and his skipper’s health.
Despite the added stress of any job, especially one with an active role like Francona’s, the manager said he still would have liked to be at the park because of how comfortable he is in the setting.
Removed from his proverbial “happy place,” Francona said he was unable to watch Tuesday’s game on TV.
“It’s way worse,” he said. “Because not that you can do anything in the dugout, but at home, you’re stuck. And you’re watching the guys that you live and die with every day and you’re not there, it’s not a good feeling.”
“I honestly love what I do,” he added. “I’ve never once ever thought, ‘Oh boy, I got to go to the ballpark.’ I feel like I’ve been in much worse places worrying-wise, stuff like that. So the doctors kind of explained to me that’s not just—your body can react differently to things.”
Francona received over 200 “get well soon” text messages, which he joked added to the stress. When he returned to the clubhouse, the manager received the normal ribbing from his work family, which he preferred over sentimentality.
“Yeah, because when people start to be kind, that makes you nervous,” he said. “Like… I’m dying. No, if it was anything else, I would get nervous.
“It’s nice to have your uniform on and be back, because what I love is the day to day stuff. I love it. This is the most comfortable place in my life, where I am. And I miss that when I’m gone.”