October 1, 2014

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Indians Notes: Manager Terry Francona hoping for a LeBron James return

Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

CLEVELAND — When LeBron James finally makes his decision, Indians manager Terry Francona is hoping the destination is Cleveland.

“That would be really cool,” Francona said prior to Wednesday night’s game against the Yankees, “just ’cause I am enjoying sort of being entrenched here. I would love it. I don’t know how much I’m supposed to say.

“I know I would plan my trips back to Cleveland a little more frequent if (the Cavaliers) were (playing at) home.”

Francona, a big basketball fan, has seen James play in person as a member of the Heat.

“I was in Miami a couple years ago when things were kind of falling apart in Boston. I just went and hid,” Francona said. “I went and bought a ticket to two games, just so I could watch him play, and it was worth it. It was great.”

Should James decide to return to Cleveland, it figures to substantially raise the profile of a city which landed the 2016 Republican National Convention and whose football team drafted media darling Johnny Manziel.

Francona said he spoke to representatives of the RNC search committee before Cleveland was chosen as the host city.

“I’m not real political, never have been, but I’m thrilled for the city, because I think it would be great,” Francona said.

Call to arms
The Indians announced that right-hander Zach McAllister will be recalled from Triple-A Columbus to replace injured Justin Masterson (right knee inflammation) on Saturday.

It’s been an up-and-down season for McAllister, who began the year in the rotation before landing on the injured list and then getting demoted to the minors.

“I think for the very most part, all positive,” Francona said of the reports on McAllister, who is 5-0 with a 2.23 ERA in six starts for the Clippers. “I don’t think it’s necessarily been the easiest thing for Zach. He wants to be here. But I think he’s done a really good job of not letting it affect his pitching.”

McAllister was in line to make the start Saturday, while right-hander Danny Salazar is the main candidate to make a spot start in one of the games of a doubleheader in Detroit on July 19.

Swish shot
Though he entered Wednesday batting just .198 over 71 games, Nick Swisher said he was feeling better at the plate.

“I really kind of feel like things are turning the corner for me,” Swisher said after hitting his second home run in as many nights Tuesday. “I need to clean up my defensive game for sure, but on the offensive end, things are really kind of turning in the right direction for me.”

Swisher entered Wednesday with seven RBIs in seven July games.

“I think there’s more signs that he’s becoming more dangerous at the plate,” Francona said. “I still think he’s searching a little bit. To his credit, regardless of what at-bat it is or what he’s done up to that point, he can change the game with one swing — and he’s done that quite a few times.”

Slowing down?
Third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall has cooled substantially at the plate, where he entered Wednesday batting just .216 (8-for-37) over his last 11 games. He was still hitting .332 in 74 games through Tuesday.

“Lonnie’s fine. He just may not hit .390,” Francona said.

Minor detail
Columbus infielder Justin Sellers went 2-for-4 with his first homer of the season Tuesday in a 5-3 loss (10 innings) to Pawtucket. Sellers, who has spent time with the Indians this year, entered Wednesday batting .256 with 27 RBIs in 70 games for the Clippers.

Roundin’ third

  • Second baseman Jason Kipnis entered Wednesday on a hot stretch, batting .350 (7-for-20), and .296 (16-for-54) over his last 13 games.
  • The Indians had homered in 10 straight games through Tuesday.

Contact Chris Assenheimer at 329-7136 or cassenheimer@chroniclet.com. Fan him on Facebook and follow him @CAwesomeheimer on Twitter.

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