"The season is more important, obviously," Francona said. "But we love when guys show up and do great. The impression guys make is important, but how they do in their season certainly is more important. I think it's more the impression, how guys go about their business."
The Indians claimed the 23-year-old McDade off waivers from the Blue Jays on Nov. 30 and will likely send him to Triple-A Columbus to open this season. In the meantime, Cleveland is using the spring slate to get a close look at McDade's potential.
Entering Sunday's game against the Dodgers, the switch-hitting McDade had hit at a .500 (7-for-14) clip with one home run, a pair of doubles and nine RBIs through eight Cactus League games for the Tribe.
Francona said he was not entirely surprised by McDade's prolific start to the spring.
"He had a pretty good year when he went to Triple-A last year," Francona said. "I think that's the idea, that his bat probably needs to carry him. He's not going to be a base stealer. He's probably going to go as far as his bat carries him."
Last season, McDade hit .285 overall with a .360 on-base percentage and a .445 slugging percentage between Double-A and Triple-A in Toronto's farm system. In 118 games, McDade piled up 17 home runs, 19 doubles, 53 runs and 67 RBIs. He hit .338 with a .885 on-base plus slugging percentage in 18 games with Triple-A Las Vegas.
Francona has also been impressed with how the 6-foot-1, 250-pound McDade has handled himself at first base.
"You look at his body, he actually does a pretty good job at first base," Francona said. "He's very big, but he's pretty -- I don't know if nimble is the right word -- but he's going to catch what he gets to and his hands are pretty soft."