One doctor’s appointment for Terry Francona will set expectations for 2022.
The Indians will go into 2022 with a new name, but the team is hoping there won’t be too much change for the season. Terry Francona has made progress with his return to the dugout after missing most of 2021 due to hip and foot injuries that limited his mobility and resulted in surgeries. In his own words to ESPN the injuries “wore him down”. A single doctor’s appointment will apparently determine if Francona will be able to return to the diamond without any assistance and manage the way he wants.
The lack of mobility and the pain from the injuries was what sidelined him basically, forcing him to use a scooter to get around the clubhouse and endure extreme pain by just walking out to take out a pitcher. Due to the surgeries, he had to get, bench coach DeMarlo Hale filled in for the remainder of the season
Most of the coaching staff is expected back but one name won’t be, their hitting coach Ty Van Burkleo. This isn’t surprising as the Indians suffered the indignity of being no-hit by an opposing pitcher three different times.
Terry Francona has to nail the new hitting coach
The Indians have a good team, they really do. The problem is that most of the talent is either overproducing or underproducing at the plate. Usually the latter. We know from the historical significance that a good hitting coach can change everything with a struggling squad. Paul Hoynes of Cleveland.com pointed out as much, citing the improvement Jim Thome had after Charlie Manuel came on board the team in 1994. He also pointed out how Gio Urshela has benefited from Yankees Triple-A hitting coach Phil Plantier.
The Indians are in desperate need of a good hitting coach because a few players are in dire need of a good hitting coach. We saw Owen Miller improve in the last six weeks of the season, hitting around .250 over that stretch but a better hitting coach may have had him hitting closer to his stats in Triple-A before he was called up.
The 2022 squad should be a team ready to make noise assuming everyone is healthy and if they can get a hitting coach that connects with the squad enough to improve those struggling, then this team could rocket back into contention very fast.