Hale gives Cleveland ‘message from Tito’ 

CHICAGO — Indians manager Terry Francona’s decision to step away from the game for the remainder of the season was a last-minute call on Thursday’s off-day. The skipper didn’t even have a chance to inform his players in person because he needed to get to the hospital on Friday.

That left his replacement, bench coach DeMarlo Hale, with a speech to give before the series opener against the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field.

“Touched on some things and reminded them really the message that Tito has always preached about knowing who we are and what we expect,” Hale said. “It was really direct to the point and there was a message that was sent across, and also a message from Tito as well.”

The team boarded its flight to Chicago on Thursday without Francona. At that time, the players started to hear whispers that he wouldn’t be returning.

“Well, I mean it was kind of a quiet flight,” Hale said. “Some guys started to get wind of it, so I kind of let it sink in because even the coaching staff, as we were sitting there having general conversation, we started thinking about some of the adjustments that we might make.”

Cleveland has been through this process before. Francona was only able to manage a handful of games in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season due to severe health issues that resulted in an ICU stint at the Cleveland Clinic. Because…

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