CLEVELAND — Rays manager Kevin Cash was a popular topic of conversation among the Indians throughout their postseason run.
Cash spent 2013-14 on the Indians' staff as the bullpen coach, working closely with several pitchers who were a big part of their success. Cash remains close with pitching coach Mickey Callaway and manager Terry Francona, whom he played for in Boston, texting and teasing them throughout the playoffs.
"Not having him around for (Francona) to pick on, it's been really hard to lighten the mood like we used to," Callaway said. "What a great guy. He obviously had a ton of influence on what we're doing daily here now. So in spirit he's been here. Guys think about him, talk about him all the time. He was a great addition to our staff. We were sad to see him go, but he deserved it and we're happy for him there in Tampa Bay."
Cash said from Tampa that he enjoyed following the World Series. "No doubt I'm excited for the Indians. I have so much respect for them, spending two years with those guys," he said. "But I have a ton of respect for Joe (Maddon, the Cubs' manager, whom he replaced in Tampa Bay), too. He had an uncanny ability to reach out, to text me at times when I needed a pick-me-up."
Z-MAN: Maddon couldn't say enough good things about former Rays and current Cubs star Ben Zobrist.
"He sets examples for everybody's at-bats," Maddon said. "His at-bats are the most pro on a daily basis. He's among that elite group in all of professional baseball that even if he's not getting hits or if he's in a slump, he's still doing something to contribute to the offensive side just based on his at-bats, his willingness to accept walks, his good baserunning ability. All of that stuff … just by watching it helps these other kids.
"And he provides protection. He's provided protection all year. … So you know you're going to get the at-bat. … The other side knows that. And just as he is a versatile utility guy defensively, he's the same way offensively. You could put him 1, 2, 3, 4, you could put him in a lot of different spots and his tools play. … His postseason play has been spectacular."
LINING UP: Francona opted for the more experienced Rajai Davis in centerfield for Game 7 on Wednesday instead of rookie Tyler Naquin, who did not look comfortable Tuesday. "I thought 'Naq' was pressing, which during the regular season is something you can maybe send him back out there and let him play through it. I mean, (Wednesday's) our last game," Francona said. … Maddon stuck with DH Kyle Schwarber in the No. 2 spot, and also for better defense with Jason Heyward in right.
MISCELLANY: This was the 38th best-of-seven Series extended to a seventh game and the third in the past six years. … First-pitch temperature was an unseasonably warm 69 degrees. … Francona and Maddon met twice before in win-or-go-home games, with Maddon's Rays winning Game 7 of the American League Championship Series over the Red Sox and the 2013 wild-card game over the Indians. … This was the 10th Series game played in November.