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Francona: Indians front office 'clutched up' in trade

By JOE NOGA • Jul 21, 2018 at 9:31 PM

ARLINGTON, Texas — Manager Terry Francona says Thursday's trade that sent relievers Brad Hand and Adam Cimber from San Diego to Cleveland also sent a message to Indians players and fans.

In two of the last three seasons, when the Tribe's front office had to fill a need, they not only got a guy, they got "the guy."

"You think we're the only team that thought Brad Hand and [Adam] Cimber are good?" Francona quipped. "There's a lot of teams with a lot of money that think they're pretty good and we went out and got them. So, I think Cherney [GM Mike Chernoff] and Chris [Antonetti], if you like the Indians, you better go give them a pat on the back, because they clutched up."

Hand brings 24 saves and a 3.05 ERA along with 65 strikeouts from the basement-dwelling Padres. Cimber's .482 OPS against right-handed hitters is stellar.

In one move, the Indians turned their perceived biggest weakness into a potential strength. Francona said he can't wait to get started integrating his newest bullpen pieces.

"They won't feel new for very long," Francona said. "We'll get them in there and get them going."

Francona said his biggest priority in adding Hand and Cimber to the bullpen is to keep their workloads even, along with Cody Allen.

"If that means flip-flopping sometimes, we can," Francona said. "Like, if there's three lefties coming up potentially in the ninth, it seems a little silly to pitch backwards."

Francona would still like Allen, for the most part, to close games and to use Hand and Cimber in more of a "fireman-type" role, because he sees them being effective in high-leverage situations.

With Oliver Perez also available as a match-up lefty, perhaps where before Francona was apprehensive to pull a starter early, he might be more willing to go out and get him five or six pitches sooner because there is somebody reliable in the bullpen to start the next frame.

"I was hesitant before, because then, OK, you've got to come back around in the eighth," he said. "Well, now we have another option."

Hand says he is comfortable pitching in any situation, whether it's the seventh inning, eighth or closing in the ninth.

"Whenever [Francona] decides to put me in the game, I'm comfortable with it," Hand said. "I'm not going to come in here and try to do something different. Just going to keep doing what I've been doing, and whatever I can do to help out down there, that's what I'm going to do."

Hand had just 29 save opportunities with San Diego, the third-fewest chances in the National League. The 28-year-old lefty said he was a little surprised when he got the call during breakfast that he had been traded.

"Last year my name was talked about a lot in trades and it never ended up happening, so going into this year, I didn't really think it was going to happen," Hand said. "I guess they got a deal that was worth taking."

Cimber, who's had the chance to watch Hand up close since the start of the season, can't say enough about the veteran's poise and control.

"We always called him unflappable," Cimber said. "Good or bad, he's not going to show a lot of emotion. He's ready whenever the phone rings, and he's nasty.

Hand said Cimber, meanwhile, throws a completely different look at hitters with his sidearm delivery. "He came out of nowhere," Hand said. "He really wasn't expected to make the [Padres] out of spring training but pitched himself on to the team."

Cimber was the first player in American League history to wear No. 90 when he entered Friday's game, the number he was issued in spring training that reminds him to work every day like a "minor-league grinder."

Francona told Cimber he sees him facing mostly right-handed hitters, but trusts that he can get lefties out, too.

"And I believe that," Cimber said. "I'm just going to take the ball whenever they tell me to, and try to get guys out."

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