CLEVELAND – Indians manager Terry Francona is intrigued by some of the options being thrown by Major League Baseball to start the season at some point.
He's also accepting it won't look like anything anyone has seen.
Speaking from his home in Arizona on Thursday, Francona said he's confident any decision made by MLB will be guided by safety precautions and that health and wellness — for players and fans — will be the top priority.
“If you see baseball at some point, that means that our country is coming back to a sense of normalcy, which is great,” said Francona, now in his seventh season in Cleveland after eight in Boston. “And then for us to have a season, we’re all going to have to be willing to be flexible, because it’s just not going to happen like — you’re not going to have a normal baseball season. It’s just not possible.”
Earlier this week, Commissioner Rob Manfred said MLB will “turn over every stone” while exploring the possibilities of having a 2020 season. One of the plans being discussed is basing all 30 teams in the Phoenix area and using spring training ballparks as well as Chase Field (home of the Diamondbacks) as well as college facilities for games.
The concept would mean games in empty stadiums, something Francona couldn't have imagined but now understands could be necessary.
“MLB has done a really good job of explaining, ‘Hey, if and when we play, it’ll be appropriate to play. We’re not going to take away from other people, and certainly the safety of our players and their families comes into play,'" Francona said. “We’re going to have to be willing to make some — whether concessions or be flexible — because it’s just not realistic that we’re going to start playing in Cleveland right away. It’s just not going to happen.”
Another of the scenarios being floated is that the season could start late, which would mean the World Series would possibly be pushed back until the late fall or early winter and played in a neutral site.
That wouldn't bother Francona at all.
“If we were playing a World Series, I would go anywhere,” he said. “If somebody would tell me now, ‘Hey, you’re gonna play in the World Series,' I’ll go anywhere.”
For now, he's stuck at home. The 60-year-old, who is normally used to walking only from the dugout to the mound to change pitchers, has increased his travel distance.
“A couple of my golf buddies, we get up in the morning and walk every morning, which I’ve never done in my life,” said Francona, who returned home from Cleveland about 10 days ago. "I do that. I try to swim a little bit. I’ve watched every Netflix program there is. I’m out of Netflix.
“I admit, I miss baseball.”
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