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Indians notebook: Players try to keep even keel during playoff race

CLEVELAND: Terry Francona was asked how his players were adjusting to being in the postseason race in September, which is not the norm for many of them.

He said they are fully aware of the situation but remain on an even keel.

“When the lights get bright, sometimes the best thing to do is throw a change-up,” Francona said. “This is not the kind of thing where you want to run through the line and knock somebody over. The biggest thing we need to do is pay attention to detail.”

OH, THAT CHICKEN — When his players paraded a chicken onto the field during batting practice Wednesday, it did not remind Francona of his other connection to chickens.

That happened in 2011, when the Boston Red Sox collapsed in September to fall out of the playoffs. Francona became the scapegoat because some players were spending games in the clubhouse eating fried chicken and drinking beer.

“I hadn’t thought about that,” Francona said. “It [chicken] wasn’t discussed in the clubhouse back then, only after I was unceremoniously [dumped].”

Of the Tribe’s current association with a chicken, Francona said, “As long as the chicken isn’t drinking beer, we’re good to go.”

Presumably, the chicken has been returned to its home.

FAMILY NOTE — Michael Brantley left the team before Friday night’s game to be with his wife, Melissa, who was about to give birth to the couple’s first child in West Palm Beach, Fla.

“Michael is so conscientious,” Francona said. “He had so much anxiety about leaving. I would love to have him hitting fifth tonight, but if he missed the birth of his child — I missed the birth of one of mine and it’s not good.

“I would hate to be responsible for someone doing that, so he’s on his way.”

Brantley was still in the clubhouse at 4 p.m.

“I think he was struggling whether to go or not,” Francona said. “Once I got wind of it, there was no decision.”

LINEUP CHANGE — Because of the absence of Brantley, Jason Kubel played left and Drew Stubbs took over in right for Kubel.

Brantley’s fifth spot in the order also went to Kubel.

— Sheldon Ocker


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