ASG special for Tribe, but Tito missed

ASG special for Tribe, but Tito missed

CLEVELAND -- They lined up on the field at Marlins Park. Nine took a seat on an aluminum bench with eight standing behind them. The photos taken captured what was a special moment for the Indians players and staffers who are representing the organization at the All-Star Game presented by Mastercard.

Even with 17 men in attendance, it was the one who wears No. 17 on his Cleveland jersey that was noticeably missing. The Indians have five players on the American League roster and an entire coaching staff on hand for the Midsummer Classic, but manager Terry Francona remains home, recovering from a heart procedure.

"We miss Tito," Indians reliever Andrew Miller said. "What he would do here would be a blast for myself and for everybody else that's here. For the guys that don't know him, to get to be around him would be a neat experience. So that's unfortunate. He's just about the most generous person I've ever met. He's blown me away with what I've seen him do for other people.

"We miss him, but I'm looking forward to him feeling better. It's got to be tough, but his health is incredibly important."

Francona's absence puts the spotlight firmly on the rest of the team's representatives in Miami.

Interactive All-Star roster

There are, of course, the five All-Stars: Starting third baseman Jose Ramirez, shortstop Francisco Lindor, outfielder Michael Brantley, ace Corey Kluber and Miller. Francona's longtime friend and bench coach, Brad Mills, has assumed the managerial duties for the AL. He will be assisted by Cleveland's usual coaches, along with Rays manager Kevin Cash (a former player and coach under Francona).

"It's very special, very special," Lindor said, "seeing how many Cleveland Indians representatives are here. It's cool. It's different. It's unique. It makes you feel at home."

Coming off a trip to the World Series, the entire Indians group has enjoyed some well-deserved recognition.

"Our guys work so hard during the season," Indians first-base coach Sandy Alomar Jr. said. "That's something people don't see. One of the reasons the team made it to the World Series was there was a lot of hard work from the coaching staff. I'm not saying just me, but in general. Every organization that makes it to the World Series, there's something behind that group that drives them."

The five All-Stars also put the work of the Indians' front office on display.

Ramirez was signed as an unheralded international free agent in 2009. Lindor was a first-round pick in the 2011 MLB Draft. Brantley and Kluber were acquired via trade as Minor Leaguers before being developed and broken in as big leaguers with the Tribe. Miller was an established relief ace when Cleveland traded for him last summer, but it took an impressive four-prospect package to complete that deal.

"For us to be the championship-caliber organization that we aspire to be," said Chris Antonetti, the Indians president of baseball operations, "we have to get contributions from every aspect of our operation. And they have to work together for us to achieve those results. There's not one element of our organization that has not impacted our success."

Cleveland Indians representatives for the All-Star Game presented by Mastercard pose for a photo in Miami.Jordan Bastian/

As the photo taken at Marlins Park shows, this year's All-Star Game feels like an organizational moment and not just an individual achievement.

"It's cool to get to share it with that many people," Kluber said.

Brantley echoed that sentiment.

"It's very special," he said. "I think that's probably one of the most special things about this moment. It's not just that I've got a group of players that are coming with me, but management and a coaching staff that's well-deserved to be here."

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.