"I missed these guys, man," Francona said. "I was so happy to be back."
As is standard spring protocol, Francona gathered the entire team prior to the workout and gave his first speech of the season in the clubhouse. Even following a 92-win, Wild Card-clinching campaign, Francona said the message was nearly the same as it is every year.
Simply put, Francona stresses the importance of focusing on the task at hand each day and having high expectations no matter the circumstances.
"The way we feel about the game never changes," Francona said. "But I feel it's important, especially for new guys, to hear it and make sure everybody is on the same page and the players alll know what we expect. We start to form those bonds and the chemistry and the personality of the team. We start today."
One item that Francona said he mentioned both in individual meetings and the team meeting is a statistic that stems from last spring. The manager noted that 49 of the players he had a meeting with during Spring Training a year ago reached the Major Leagues at some point last season, either with the Indians or with another team.
The point of bringing up that number to players is to show that there is more to a 162-game season than making the Opening Day roster.
"I think it's a very important statistic," Francona said. "It shows those guys in that room that we're not just talking, that that is going to happen. It has happened and it could happen again."
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.