Francona content to assist AL All-Star team

Francona content to assist AL All-Star team

CLEVELAND -- Terry Francona naturally hoped he would be choosing the American League's coaching staff for the All-Star Game, considering the honor goes to the skipper who won last year's AL pennant. In a way, though, Cleveland's manager is also fine simply getting a chance to fully appreciate the atmosphere at Target Field in Minnesota.

"I'm actually looking forward to going and not being the manager," Francona said. "To be able to go and enjoy the game ... because you really don't have that chance [as the manager]. There's so many things going on and you're trying to appease everybody. Now that the game counts, it makes it that much harder, because you still feel an obligation to play as many guys as you can. It puts an added pressure on the manager."

Francona is no stranger to the process, having led the AL squad in 2005 and '08 during his Boston days, so he'll have an opportunity to let current Red Sox manager John Farrell know what to expect ahead of time. The inside scoop: there's less of the manager's influence on the final roster than some think.

"Really, it's the league and the manager announces it," Francona said. "Farrell not surprisingly has reached out to me."

For the Tribe, the most likely candidates to earn an All-Star selection are outfielder Michael Brantley, corner infielder Lonnie Chisenhall, catcher Yan Gomes and right-hander Corey Kluber. With managers and players allowed a say in which pitchers make the roster, Francona was naturally asked about what chance Kluber (7-6, 2.99 ERA) has to make the Midsummer Classic.

Francona was reluctant to single out his man in that regard, but he didn't hold back the praise on Kluber's 2014 campaign -- arguably the 28-year-old's best one to date.

"I think last year, he was starting to get on that roll," Francona said. "This year, he's taken it to another level -- being very consistent."

Alec Shirkey is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.