When the Guardians play a makeup game on Thursday afternoon against the visiting Cincinnati Reds after the teams were rained out on Wednesday, Cleveland will have a key figure back on the bench.

Guardians manager Terry Francona is set to return after missing four games following a positive test for COVID-19.

He was asked if he enjoyed his “vacation.”

“That word would not be the way I would describe it,” Francona said before the rainout. “My kind of vacation is sitting in Hawaii. This was forced retirement. It wasn’t very fun.”

Pitching coach Carl Willis stepped in for Francona and compiled a 1-3 mark.

As many as six Cleveland coaches, plus Francona, have been on the COVID list. More important, red-hot first baseman Josh Naylor has also been sidelined for the past four games. He hasn’t played since May 10 in Chicago.

In his past three games, Naylor went 6-for-12 with three home runs and nine RBIs.

Francona said Naylor could return to the lineup on Friday when the Guardians open a home series against the Detroit Tigers.

“(COVID) was starting to work its way through the clubhouse,” the manager said. “Everyone is breathing on each other. We live with each other.

“It’s not like it’s over and you can let your guard down. Once it happens, it’s almost too late.”

Reds right-hander Tyler Mahle (2-4, 5.89 ERA) will oppose Cleveland right-hander Cal Quantrill (1-2, 3.93) in Thursday’s series finale.

Mahle is 0-2 with a 6.61 ERA in four career starts against the Guardians and 0-1 with a 19.29 ERA in one start at Cleveland.

Quantrill is 0-1 with a 5.00 ERA three career appearances (one start) against the Reds.

Cincinnati manager David Bell will have to adjust his current four-man rotation next week. He moved Vladimir Gutierrez to the bullpen, and Mike Minor should soon return from the injured list to grab a starting role. Nick Lodolo is sidelined due to a right lower back ailment.

Minor, out with a sore shoulder, has recorded two solid starts in Triple A on a rehab assignment. He is scheduled to make another rehab appearance for Louisville on Friday.

“If all goes well there, I think there will be a conversation of getting him back into the rotation after that,” Bell said.

Lodolo, however, isn’t close to rejoining the Reds after a recent setback prompted the team to have him back off for another week.

Reds second baseman Jonathan India, sidelined since April 30 because of a hamstring injury, is not yet set for a rehab assignment.

Cincinnati outfielder Tyler Naquin, meanwhile, has been feasting on Guardians pitching. He went 2-for-4 on Tuesday with a home run.

Naquin, who spent five years in Cleveland, has homered in four of seven games against the Guardians since leaving the team. In those contests, he went 11-for-27 (.407) with two doubles and five RBIs.

Reds shortstop Kyle Farmer snapped a 3-for-46 (.065) skid with a 3-for-3 performance in the first game of the series. He was also hit by a pitch. It marked the second time in his career he reached base four times in a game. The other time occurred against the San Diego Padres last month.

–Field Level Media