5/31/2014 4:27 P.M. ET
Almost their manager, Giambi on field vs. Rox
By Jordan Bastian and Alec Shirkey / MLB.com
CLEVELAND -- There was a scenario in which this current Interleague series could have had Indians manager Terry Francona squaring off against Rockies manager Jason Giambi. Sliding into the manager's chair in Colorado just was not meant to be for Giambi.
"The universe spoke up and I'm still playing," Giambi said on Saturday.
Prior to last season, the Rockies interviewed Giambi for their managerial opening, but the National League club instead went with Walt Weiss. Still interested in continuing his playing career, Giambi was thrilled when Francona came calling with an opportunity for the aging slugger to provide Cleveland with a part-time designated hitter, pinch-hitter and clubhouse leader.
The 43-year-old Giambi jumped at the chance to not only keep playing, but to learn from Francona's approach to managing. Giambi has played for a distinguished list of managers that includes the likes of Tony La Russa and Joe Torre, among others.
In his two seasons with the Indians, Giambi said he has enjoyed witnessing how Francona bridges the gap between the clubhouse and manager's office.
"I've learned so much from him," said Giambi, who is playing in his 20th Major League season. "I've always had this vision, that I always felt like a manager could be friends with his players. A lot of times you're in that dynamic of, 'I'm the manager and you're the player.' There's usually not that crossover. You're over here and he's over there. Tito's in the middle, but he has good boundaries.
"He's very honest with you and lets you know where you stand, good or bad. By the time you leave a meeting, you end up shaking his hand when he's giving you bad news like, 'Sorry you had to tell me that, Tito.' He's so sincere and so heartfelt when he tells you stuff. He's just honest with you. I've always felt you could be that guy. It was refreshing and reaffirming that I wasn't wrong. I've had a chance to play for a guy who is exactly that."
Francona recalls being taken in Draft
CLEVELAND -- Life came full circle for the Francona family when the hotel phone rang on Draft day more than three decades ago.
Expos general manager John McHale was calling to inform Terry Francona that he had been selected by Montreal in the first round of the 1980 First-Year Player Draft. Terry's father, Tito Francona, could not help but find a bit of humor in the situation.
McHale was the general manager of the Tigers in 1958, when Tito played for Detroit. Prior to Terry's birth on April 22, 1959, Tito asked McHale for a $500 raise to help with the costs of the Francona's growing family.
"John McHale said, 'That's not my problem,'" Indians manager Terry Francona said with a smile on Saturday. "So one of the first things my dad said to him was, 'Do you remember that son that I wanted the $500 for?' [McHale] goes, 'Yeah,' and [my dad] goes 'Well it's going to cost you a lot more now.' They got a laugh out of it."
The Expos signed Terry Francona for $100,000 after using the Draft's 22nd overall selection to take him out of the University of Arizona.
Tito Francona -- traded from Detroit to Cleveland on March 21 in '59 -- and Terry's mom, Roberta, were both with their son in Omaha, Neb., on the day he was drafted by Montreal. Terry Francona then helped Arizona capture the College World Series championship and was named the Most Outstanding Player for the tournament in the process.
"I've heard [my dad] say it," Francona said, "that that was probably the happiest, most fun week of their lives. It was kind of cool to share it with them."
Indians front office finalizing Draft board
CLEVELAND -- With the First-Year Player Draft fast approaching, the Indians front office has begun to finalize its board and make its last set of evaluations on this year's draft class.
The Tribe look to be in good position to capitalize on what the team has called a "deep class," with four picks on the first day of the Draft, including the 21st, 31st and 38th overall selections. But much of this week, says Director of Amateur Scouting Brad Grant, will involve the scouting department organizing its reports on players expected to be around on days two and three.
"We have 800 total players on the board this year, and our area scouts will come in starting on Monday and we'll put the second half of the board together," Grant said. "We spent the majority of the last five days with our cross-checkers in town to go through the top 150 players, really put those guys under the microscope. Our attention will really start to turn to that secondary board starting Monday."
Cross-checkers are the club's personnel responsible for comparing a given player to others in his area or at his position in this year's Draft class.
The Indians have the eighth-highest signing bonus pool in this year's Draft -- Grant estimated the total to be $8 million -- based on its awarded selections, which allows the Indians a bit of freedom with their funds and where they can be allocated.
"You have more money than 22 other clubs," Grant said. "So I have a lot more agent calls this year than I had in the past because we have the flexibility to do a lot of different things."
But while this week at the front office could be hectic as the team makes its last-minute preparations, the day-to-day operation of the Major League club will remain largely unaffected -- though Indians manager Terry Francona said he does plan on staying abreast of how the Draft unfolds.
"There's been a few times I've been at home," Francona said. "There's enough time and enough guys in there where I'll call somebody, and then they start sending out information. We get emails on the guys and information, as much as we want."
The first two rounds of the Draft will take place on Thursday, with rounds three through 10 set for Friday and the remaining 30 rounds scheduled for next Saturday. Two of the Tribe's last three first-round picks have come from the high school level (outfielder Clint Frazier and shortstop Francisco Lindor).
Quote to note
"This is back in 1980, so there's not internet, there's no cell phones. We weren't playing that day, so I was sitting in the hotel room with my mom and dad. They had come to Omaha. The phone wasn't ringing and I didn't exactly know how fast the Draft was going, but you're 21. There's a lot of thoughts like, 'I should've signed out of high school', and all the dumb thoughts. And then the phone rang and it was the Expos."
--Indians manager Terry Francona, on being drafted by Montreal
• Shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera was in a 1-for-24 (.042) slump at the plate prior to his two-run home run in the fifth inning of Cleveland's 5-2 win over Colorado on Friday. Prior to that skid, Cabrera hit at a .407 clip in his previous 54 at-bats. Overall, the shortstop had posted a .311 (23-for-74) average over his past 19 games for the Tribe, entering Saturday.
"I know he's real comfortable hitting in the two-hole," Francona said. "He had that real good week [earlier in May] -- made him feel good about himself. Now he's been battling that [left] knee, but he took a big swing [Friday]."
• Second baseman Jason Kipnis, who returned from the 15-day disabled list on Wednesday after coming back from a right oblique injury, was given a scheduled day off on Saturday against the Rockies. Francona said it is important to ease returning players back into the everyday grind of the season.
"I think you can lose sight of the big picture," Francona said. "Sometimes you can almost get a guy out of rhythm by giving him a day off. But, I think the guys that need the breaks are when they come back, because their body isn't used to what they're doing. You can't simulate playing nine innings [every day]."
• Francona noted that third baseman Carlos Santana (on seven-day concussion list) felt "much improved," but there still is no timetable for his return. First baseman Nick Swisher (15-day DL due to left knee issue) remains limited to pool workouts and is slated to resume "land-based" drills on Monday. Righty Zach McAllister (15-day DL with back strain) will throw a bullpen session on Sunday.
• The Rockies headed into Friday's meeting with the Indians with the fewest strikeouts in the National League. Cleveland's pitching staff proceeded to pile up 15 strikeouts, marking the most by a team against the Rockies this year. Corey Kluber's 12 strikeouts were the most for a starter against Colorado since John Lackey had a dozen against the Rockies on June 26 last year.
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. Alec Shirkey is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.