Indians’ Francona confident he’ll return as manager in 2022

CLEVELAND (AP) — Indians manager Terry Francona is confident he’ll return next season after missing most of the past two because of serious health issues.

Francona was forced to step away from the club in late July to undergo hip replacement surgery as well as a procedure on a big toe that was partially removed last winter after it became infected.

The 62-year-old remains on crutches and has a medical checkup scheduled for next week.

“That’s a big appointment by the doctor’s own admission,” Francona said Wednesday on a Zoom call. “We get through that day and should be OK. Barring anything unforeseen, I’d really like to come back and be healthy enough to embrace what the job entails.”

Francona said “everything was hard” in 2021 before he stepped away. He was fitted with several walking boots during the season and acknowledged the inability to move around like he needed wore him down physically and emotionally.

A two-time World Series winner with Boston, Francona has spent nine seasons with the Indians. He was sidelined for the majority of the abbreviated 2020 season with a gastrointestinal issue that led to him being hospitalized with blood clotting issues.

Francona has 723 wins with Cleveland. He is five away from tying Lou Boudreau for the club record.

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