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Francona off-day quotes
10/14/2004 1:34 PM ET
Q. Joe always says that when we talk about his team that if they need a talk for motivation at this time of the year then he has the wrong team. I would assume you feel the same way about your club, but can you describe the mood in your locker room right now; is it frustration, is it anger, is it filled with resolve?

TERRY FRANCONA: There was salsa music blaring when I left. It's about the same as usual. What's happened is the first two games in New York, we lost games that we wanted to win. The great news is that it's not a best-of-three series. There's a ton of baseball to be played, and you know, what we need to do is go through the off-day today. We'll go out and hit a little bit. I'm sure they will come back in and turn the salsa music back on and give me a headache and then we'll go play tomorrow.

Not much has changed. When you lose a game or two that you want to win, if you bail on how you feel about things or drastically change the direction you've gone the whole year, I think that would be a big mistake.

Q. Pedro said last night that he would be willing to go on short rest if needed. How much chance would you say there is of that happening?

TERRY FRANCONA: You know what, Pedro has actually offered to do that before, or go to the bullpen, things like that, which is really, we appreciate a lot. I don't think that we would want to put that into practice. You know, depending on what happens this weekend with the weather, with the way we play, we'll try to put ourselves in what we deem the best position to win. And we may make some changes along the way because of things like that, but as far as coming back early, I don't think that's going to happen, just because I don't think it puts us in a better position to win.


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Q. How have the Yankees pitched Johnny Damon differently the first two games of this series compared to the regular season?

TERRY FRANCONA: Well, the ball, and especially in Yankee Stadium, he had some success, he hit the three home runs at Yankee Stadium. They have not thrown him those same pitches, that's for sure.

They have really pitched him tough. Mike Mussina had that breaking ball that was disappearing. He ran the fastball, the one that kind of starts in and comes back over the plate. And sometimes, too, you catch a guy for a game or two when they just are not swinging well. So it's probably a combination of all of those above.

Q. From everything that you know of Bronson's personality, his free-spiritness, his mindset, how do you think he will respond tomorrow? It will be obviously a pressurized situation and also a big stage.

TERRY FRANCONA: I think Bronson -- I'm not sure Bronson is probably thinking about that right now. I think he's thinking about pitching the way he's capable of pitching. That's probably why he's been so successful. He's not getting carried away with all of the stuff on the periphery. He's a pitcher and that's what he's going to go do.

So regardless of how he pitches I don't think it will be because of the stage or who we're playing. I think he'll pitch the best he can. He'll be fine.

Q. Because he doesn't get wrapped up in it, will he relish that?

TERRY FRANCONA: Oh, I think he's looking forward to pitching. Are you kidding me? This is what these guys go to work all winter for and spring training, playing games like this, this is special. This is exciting. He'll have a good time. He'll do fine.

Q. Usually in the post-season, pitching dominates, but except for last night and a lot of your games and a lot of the games in the other series, there has been a lot of scoring and a lot of home runs; any thoughts on why?

TERRY FRANCONA: I really wasn't watching the other game real closely. Kind of wrapped up in our game.

I do think sometimes with a series, the way they end, if some teams maybe got a little beat up during the first series; Houston and St. Louis, or Houston, they went to Game 5 and you end up starting the series with not your No. 1, things like that can enter into it.

Some of these lineups are pretty good. I know you look at the St. Louis lineup, that's a pretty good lineup.

Q. As a general rule, do pitchers use different patterns in playoffs than they would in the regular season and is there a strategic value to that when you see the other team as much as you've seen the Yankees?

TERRY FRANCONA: Can you repeat that? I didn't quite catch that.

Q. As a general rule do pitchers use different pitching pattern against hitters in the playoffs than they do during the regular season?

TERRY FRANCONA: No.

Q. You alluded to Damon being pitched differently?

TERRY FRANCONA: No, I said they kept the ball out of the middle of the plate. I didn't say that at all.

I guarantee if you go ask Mike Mussina, he didn't change his pitching style. He just pitched really well. I mean, everybody has scouting reports and we know how we feel about them and they know how they feel about us, we've played them a million times, you just have to execute it so far. Their two starters have executed their plan very, very well.

Q. You obviously have capable hitters up and down your entire lineup. How do you think it's affected your offense that Damon has not been able to get on base, especially the early innings of these games?

TERRY FRANCONA: It's huge. Johnny has been our catalyst all year. When he's on base, regardless of whether he walks, hits a home run, single or an error, pitchers have to pitch out of the stretch. He's capable of stealing a base. They have to be aware of that. Opens a hole for our left-hand hitters. That's why they say offense gets contagious, because it does. When you have runners on base, there's holes to hit balls through, pitchers have to think about guys running. It opens up a lot to your offense. Johnny knows that. That's why we've been so successful this year.

Q. Obviously the numbers at home have been quite different from on the road for you this year. Can you talk a little bit about that and just hoping coming back here is going to boost up the offense a little bit?

TERRY FRANCONA: We've been a much better team at home. I think the last six weeks of the year we got to be good both places, but we've been very good at home.

I think most teams are more comfortable at home, and then when you have a place like Fenway, it makes it even better for us. I mean our left-hand hitters know they can hit that wall. There's a lot of nooks and crannies that we are very comfortable with here. Even defensively we probably play better here. You see Manny play left field, he knows how to play left field here.

But coming home to this atmosphere can only help us.

Q. What were your first impressions of Bronson and why do you think he's been able to make that big leap to put himself in to pitch for Friday's game?

TERRY FRANCONA: Well, all winter, I've seen Bronson as a young pitcher with the Pirates. He had his struggles as a lot of young guys do. All winter people kept telling me if this guy gets a chance, he's going to be a good pitcher. And, he got his chance. Rather than just be content to be a fourth or fifth starter, kind of go through the year and be okay, he got hungrier as he progressed and started having some success. He's learning how to work and he's really a professional pitcher. He's going to get better, too, the more he learns to pitch in with his fastball to right-handers, there's room for improvement still. He's going to grow. He's going to continue to get better. He has such a great feel for his breaking balls and drops down on different angles and he's using his changeup to left-handers. He's going to get better.

Q. This might be a little too similar to the pitching pattern question, but given the way the Yankees pitchers, especially the starters have gone about your team getting ahead in the count quickly, can you see a change of approach by your hitters, and if so, what?

TERRY FRANCONA: Well, you know what? I understand what you're saying. They have attacked the strike zone so well, but our philosophy really isn't to take strike one. I mean our philosophy is to get pitches we can handle and do some damage with that. They are -- I mean we would be 0-2 almost every at-bat. They are taking strikes and throwing out over in the middle of the plate and that's how you have success.

We will continue to go with our philosophy. We just need to execute it a little bit better.

Q. Do you have any more information on Schilling than you had yesterday?

TERRY FRANCONA: Yeah, I do. Schill was examined today and we kind of had a little get-together before I came down here. Schill is not going to start Game 5. He's just a little too sore to go attempt the side session today. So what they will do is they will continue to work on Schill, the medical staff, the training staff. But as far as Sunday goes, he is not our starter. And after that, it's just -- that's as far as we go.

Q. I guess maybe Theo said yesterday if he can't go in Game 5, he's done, is that --

TERRY FRANCONA: No, that's not necessarily -- that's kind of what I said is where we're at. He's not started in Game 5 but after that, that's kind of -- that's it.

Q. So it's still possible he could pitch?

TERRY FRANCONA: It's not over. He's going to continue to try to prepare. But as far as Sunday goes, he's not starting.

Q. Will it be Derek in Game 5 now?

TERRY FRANCONA: Yes. Now, weather could dictate some changes, but everything stays like it's supposed to and we need to get to Game 5, but yeah, it's Derek.

Q. Do you plan any other lineup changes for the next game?

TERRY FRANCONA: I haven't made the lineup out yet. But, to shake it up, you mean?

Q. Yeah.

TERRY FRANCONA: No. Damon has hit lead-off since March 2. No, we may flip-flop a guy or two. We got in about 3:30 last night, and, you know, we'll go down and look at it but nothing drastic.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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