KANSAS CITY, Mo.: When manager Terry Francona and General Manager Chris Antonetti went about the task of finding a pitching coach last fall, they interviewed internal and external candidates.
Mickey Callaway, who was the Indians’ minor-league pitching coordinator, won the job after an extensive interview process.
“Mickey and [Kirk] Champion really separated themselves,” Francona said. “I give Chris a lot of credit for allowing the process to move on. He never forced me to hire anyone.”
Champion is the minor league field director for the White Sox, whom Francona said was eminently qualified to be his pitching coach. But the more the manager got to know Callaway, the surer he was that Callaway was the right man for the job.
One emphasis of the interviews was how Callaway would go about fixing Ubaldo Jimenez, with whom he has become a big influence.
“It’s nice to promote from within,” Francona said, “but it better work.”
LIVIN’ THE DREAM — Francona was asked if he ever reflects on his final year as manager of the Red Sox, which ended with the club blowing a chance at the playoffs and Francona without a job.
“It got pretty raw for awhile,” he said. “It’s a little easier now to look back. At every opportunity, Francona has talked about how happy he is in his current assignment.
“When you’re a manager, you have to be able to deliver bad news sometimes,” he said. “But to have these few headaches — I really enjoy seeing how good we can be, and I still don’t know. It’s fun to come to the park every day and get nervous.”
MAKING STRIDES — Lonnie Chisenhall has become a platoon player against right-handed pitchers. But better to be an effective platoon player than a non-producing everyday guy.
“He’s taking better swings at fastballs,” Francona said. “He’s done damage with some of those pitches.”
In September, Chisenhall is batting .348 (8-for-23) with two home runs and two doubles.
SHOULDERING RESPONSIBILITY — Nick Swisher was in right field for the Tribe for the second time in three days Monday night.
Is that a signal that the shoulder injury that nagged at him earlier in the season has subsided?
“He’s done a really good job with it, working with the trainers and the strength and conditioning staff,” Francona said. “Playing right field was not an option earlier in the year.”
PITCHING CHANGE — The Royals have scratched tonight’s starter Danny Duffy because of a strained flexor muscle. In his place, Yordano Ventura, a top prospect, will make his major-league debut.
— Sheldon Ocker