Francona and Atchison have known each other since their days with the Red Sox. This past offseason, when the veteran right-hander became a free agent in December, the Indians convinced Atchison to sign with Cleveland on a Minor League contract.
Atchison made the club out of Spring Training and has performed well out of the bullpen in the season's first month.
Atchison's role varies by the game, but his main responsibility to this point has been to keep the score close late in games when Cleveland is losing. Through nine appearances, the right-hander has posted a 2.70 ERA and 0.70 WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched) to go along with eight strikeouts and two walks in 10 innings.
"You don't want to overuse guys like that," Francona said, "because then they get beat up a little bit. In the past, that's what's happened to him. He's been that 12th guy, so he's sucked up innings when he probably shouldn't. Plus, he got hurt [in 2012 and '13]. A couple other times, his ERA went up. But he can pitch.
"He's valuable. He's good. There was a reason when he was available that we were kind of banging on his door. I think going into camp, we were going to be surprised if he didn't have a good showing. You never quite know how the staff is going to set up, but that was not surprising that he came in knowing how to pitch."
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.