Just because Francisco Lindor is following all of the guidelines of cleanliness from Major League Baseball doesn’t mean he can’t also have some fun with it at manager Terry Francona’s expense.
On Monday, Lindor and a few other players were hitting on the field at Progressive Field. Players are staying in smaller groups than what they were accustomed to the past. In order to allow hitters to become acclimated to seeing pitches in open air, as opposed to in the cage, only a screen is behind them. That has allowed Francona to sit with them — socially distanced, of course — as they hit.
At one point on Monday, Lindor, holding a bottle of what appeared to be hand sanitizer, made sure to remind Francona to sanitize his hands. Lindor gave Francona some, but as Francona started rubbing his hands, he realized pretty quickly he had been duped.
Lindor had a bottle of Firm Grip, used by the hitters. Francona spent much of the rest of the day trying anything he could to get it all off his hands.
“He started rubbing it and the next thing you know he realized his hands are getting more sticky and sticky,” Lindor said via a Zoom call. “I got him, so we have to get more of the coaching staff. It’s fun.”
Francona joked that the Indians just about had an opening at shortstop.
“We almost wanted to release him,” Francona said via a Zoom call. “I may not be able to get up off this table when I get up. I’ve used rubbing alcohol, I’ve used tape remover. It’s everywhere. It was actually kind of fun. It’s been a little bit of fun to have some fun with the guys.”
Assuming Francona isn’t seriously about the Indians suddenly releasing their star shortstop for a well-executed prank, Lindor’s future with the team will continue to be a top storyline. The trade deadline has been moved to Aug. 31, which will give the Indians just over a month of the regular season to decide if they hold onto Lindor or trade him. He’s under club control through 2021.
Lindor says he isn’t worried about any of that.
“I was just looking forward to the day I came back to Cleveland and be a part of this fine organization that we have and I haven’t really thought about what’s going to happen after this year or the middle of this year or next season to be honest,” Lindor said. “I haven’t thought about that because there’s plenty of other things that I’ve got to think of and one is this pandemic.”
If the 2020 season were to be wiped out, that would represent the Indians’ worst-case scenario regarding Lindor. They’d lose a year of club control, thus affecting his trade value, while also losing a chance to make a run for a World Series with him still on the roster. It’s a lose-lose.
In order to help improve the chances that MLB can get through a season and postseason, teams are trying to adhere to strict health guidelines and protocols. But much of it also relies on personal responsibility away from the park, as well as a decency to respect the people he might be around.
“We don’t have to live in fear. Don’t live in fear. But respect your neighbor.” Lindor said. “Respect your surroundings because you might be one person who is super healthy and nothing will happen to you, but somebody else is not as fortunate, as you are so understanding that taking care of yourself or taking care of someone else’s life is huge. I’ve been thinking more about that and all of the changes we have to make for the team to move forward than whether I’m going to be in Cleveland or not. That’s gotta be way down the list.”