CLEVELAND (AP) — Terry Francona’s heart, of all things, has kept him away from baseball.
Cleveland’s passionate and driven manager underwent a procedure Thursday to correct an irregular heartbeat that sidelined him for a few games and will prevent him from managing in the All-Star Game next week.
The 58-year-old Francona had been experiencing dizziness, fatigue and a rapid heart rate for several weeks. He had a cardiac ablation at the Cleveland Clinic.
The Indians said Friday that Francona is resting comfortably. He is expected to be discharged in a “day or two” and resume managing after the All-Star break. Cleveland begins its unofficial second half of the season July 14 in Oakland to start a six-game trip.
Francona, who twice left in the middle of games last month after falling ill, has been hospitalized and undergoing tests since Tuesday. He was admitted after doctors detected an arrhythmia from a monitor he has been wearing for several weeks.
However, his health will prevent him from managing the American League squad in Miami next week. Indians bench coach Brad Mills, who has been filling in while Francona has been ill, will handle the AL team, which includes five Indians players. Mills will be assisted by Cleveland’s staff and Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash, who previously worked for the Indians.
Francona earned the opportunity to manage the All-Star team after guiding Cleveland to the World Series last season, the team’s first since 1997.
After putting Francona through an array of tests, doctors chose to perform the ablation in which a tube is inserted through the leg and guided to the heart. Damaged tissue is then treated with heat, cold or radio energy to help prompt regular heartbeats.
Francona had been forced to leave two games last month when he became lightheaded. He underwent tests following both episodes and team president Chris Antonetti said earlier this week that doctors had ruled out any major health issues.
Francona also missed a game in Washington last August after he experienced chest pains.
During a series last weekend in Detroit, Francona wasn’t feeling well again and doctors decided to admit him to the Cleveland Clinic on July 4 after seeing an abnormality on his heart readings.
Antonetti had been adamant to Francona about putting his health first. He acknowledged that Francona can be stubborn and perhaps not the ideal patient.
“He keeps everybody entertained,” Antonetti said. “He loves what he does. He’s very passionate about the organization and very passionate about baseball and loves being in the dugout and he’s itching to get back. If it were left to him, he’d be back in the dugout.”
In his fifth season with Cleveland, Francona is hugely popular with his players and fans, who affectionately refer to him as “Tito,” his father’s name.
The team plans to display get-well cards at Progressive Field on Friday for fans to sign and present to Francona, who has led the Indians to a winning record in his previous four seasons.
Francona joined the Indians in 2013 after spending one year as a TV commentator following a messy departure in Boston, where he took the Red Sox to two World Series titles in eight seasons.
His absence has been noticeable in recent days. Players worried about his health and wondered when he would be back.
“We think about him all the time,” pitcher Josh Tomlin said after Thursday night’s win over San Diego. “I bet he’s not too happy in the hospital on a daily basis. We need him at the helm here. There’s no doubt about it. He’s big part of our success. He knows the game. He knows the players really well. His presence alone has that sense of calm in the dugout.
“Obviously, we want his health to be fine first before he comes back but we’re itching to get him back.”