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Terry Francona pregame quotes10/24/2004 4:45 PM ET
Q. Your team has done so well in the last week staying within itself, the players staying within their capabilities, did you look at the errors last night as guys trying to do too much, guys not staying within themselves?
TERRY FRANCONA: I was just going to say, I didn't really agree with that assessment. You know what, I mean, and you've been following us for a while now, you've probably heard me say it a million times, we hate giving extra outs. We don't want to run into outs. We gave a lot of extra outs and a lot of extra runs last night, and we were very fortunate in a couple -- we were fortunate to win the game, but I think also, we're fortunate that even when we do things like that, they continue to play. We didn't hang our heads. I mean, Foulke made some pitches after -- it's easy when things start going wrong, to kind of put your head down for a minute or take a deep breath or even feel sorry for yourself. Foulke gets rolling on Edmonds, if they take the lead there, that's a whole different game, obviously. The idea is to play a clean game because you give yourself a better chance to win, but when you make mistakes, the idea is still to win, just makes it a lot harder on your team.
Q. When Bellhorn was struggling so much in the Yankees series, did you ever seriously consider putting him on the bench and if not, why did you stick with him?
TERRY FRANCONA: Well, no, I didn't consider ever sitting him. And that's not a jab at Pokey (Reese), either. Pokey so much of the year did so many things for us to be a really good player.
But the situation ended for Pokey, he couldn't get at-bats when he came back from being hurt. So he's not really the player he can be, just because he couldn't get at-bats. Bellhorn stepped in, and as he has most of the year, he's been a really good player for us.
I just think when you make commitments to players because of their accountability and the way they play the game, and once you do that, they are going to have some bad days. But if you think they can play and you think they believe in themselves, you stick with them. I just think that's the way it works.
Q. A couple of your players said last night after the game that during that three-month stretch where the team really struggled, the kind of game that you played last night would have been the kind of game that you would have lost. What do you think is different about this team that it plays a game like that and wins now?
TERRY FRANCONA: Well, you're right. We've had some of those kinds of games during that stretch like last night. We hung on and won last night. I think some of it is good fortune. We stayed at it. I thought we stayed at it before, too. We just didn't make pitches maybe in the same -- like I said, if Foulke hangs a pitch after all of that, we're in trouble.
I think even when it's not easy, I think we believe in ourselves, a lot. I think with good reason. We've played so well for so long now; that guys believe. You hear so often in our dugout when something doesn't go right, immediately you hear about 10 guys just chirping, "Pick each other up, pick each other up." That's what we're trying to do.
Q. Can you just talk a little bit about Foulke's ability to go one and a third, two innings if you really need him, and even in some cases he's gone longer than that and how much can that help you in terms of preparing for teams and using your bullpen?
TERRY FRANCONA: It's a huge, huge weapon for us. I mean, when we set up our day, Wally (Dave Wallace) and I try to figure out where guys fit, and knowing that Foulke can do so much, you know, it really -- and it takes away the left/right, because his changeup is so effective against left-handers. It's a big, big advantage to us.
When I saw it last year so much as a bench coach in Oakland, and you guys obviously can see how he can pitch just like I do. But he's such a good kid. I mean, he'll take the ball all the time. You know, even games when we're down runs in the middle of the season, he'll take the ball for an inning to help alleviate the stress on somebody else's arm. That's just the type of guy he is. He's got a good feel for pitching. He's not extremely quick to the plate, until he has to be. And then guys don't steal on him because he quickens up. He's just got a real good feel.
Q. Yesterday before the game, Tony La Russa talked a little bit about how he roomed with your father during his playing days, and also, how he tried to acquire you when he was a manager when you were still a player. Do you have any recollections on either of those instances, and also maybe your thoughts about going up against somebody who was a manager when you were still a player?
TERRY FRANCONA: Well, my initial thoughts are, if he tried to acquire me, he's not nearly as good of a manager as I thought he was. (Laughter.) He's gone down in my estimation.
As far as rooming with my dad, that's half the league, because he played with so many teams and so long with so many people.
You know what, when I first came into the League as a real young manager, Tony was one of the kinder guys to me, until the game started, which I actually respected a lot. You're supposed to win, but he's always been very good to me. I appreciated that. He's a good guy. His reputation, everybody knows what his reputation is in baseball. He's done a lot with different teams and they have all had success.
Q. Are you surprised that Bellhorn has not received more national attention, given the recent emphasis on on-base percentage and how good he is at obviously getting on base?
TERRY FRANCONA: I'm surprised he has not received more local attention. I think this guy -- and again, I understand. We talk about this; he misses a lot. I mean, I understand the strikeouts. There's a lot of strikeouts. But you try to put your best team together and win. I think he has a real good grasp of that. He doesn't go away from his game. I mean, I guess my point -- say he went out there and tried to not strikeout and put the ball in play four times. He may do that and he may come up empty. This is his game. He gets on base, he works pitchers, hits the ball out of the ballpark from time to time, gets a big hit from time to time. Maybe in the way we do things, maybe we value on-base percentage more than other teams. If we do, that's just how we feel and he fits in maybe better with us than he would on another team. That's okay.
Q. You told some of the local Boston area writers not long ago that maybe media and fans underestimate Foulke's toughness because he does come off as such a good kid. Was his mental toughness something that was obvious to you when you first started dealing with him or was that something you learned along the way in dealing with him?
TERRY FRANCONA: Well, I learned along the way when I first met him in Oakland last year, I had never met him before and knew he was a pretty good pitcher, and had had a little bit of a tough year with the White Sox. And just watching the way he did things in Oakland, and sometimes as a coach, you get a little better feel than the manager, because the players don't tell the manager a lot of stuff, but they will confide in a coach quicker. And just watching him for the year, I just really respected the way he did things. I'd watch him on the couple of occasions when he would give up a lead, he had no intention of ever coming out of a game. He was going back out and winning the game; that showed me a lot.
Q. On a different note, I wanted to ask you about the look of your team, and I mean sort of the physical look, Johnny (Damon) kind of with the longer hair and David (Ortiz) has a beard going kind of, and Pedro (Martinez) has the poofy hair under the cap, just the way they look compared to the way they play sometimes doesn't seem to fit.
TERRY FRANCONA: I think it was very appropriate last night. (Laughter.) It matched.
You know what, for the longest time this year, I wanted our team to latch on to their personality. You know, I mean, on the field, because we were kind of -- we were just kind of .500; we could not break loose. Last year they did the "Cowboy Up" thing. Those things aren't artificial. And finally we kind of started kicking it into gear and people were commenting on their hair, their clothes. I was just glad that we kind of had something to latch on to, and they seemed to come together with it.
You know, if this was Cub Scout Troop 14, I'd ask them to cut their hair. It's not. We're trying to play the best baseball we can and I think these guys really have come together as a ballclub, and if it's the hair thing or whatever, that's not important; it's the fact that they came together is what's important.
Q. How is this team different now than it was before the trade deadline, and how tough as an organization was it to trade a guy like Nomar (Garciaparra)?
TERRY FRANCONA: Well, as far as being different, we're -- well, let me start at the beginning and I'm sure I'm boring, everybody has heard this a million times.
When we traded Nomar, it was basically Nomar for four players: It was Mike Myers, Cabrera, Mientkiewicz and Dave Roberts. I know he wasn't traded for all four but that's what we got back. We got a left-handed relief specialist that made Embree's job, not only did we get another lefty but helped Embree and we didn't have to kill him. Cabrera comes in and plays a great shortstop and gets what they hit. Mientkiewicz comes in and although at the end didn't play as much as maybe was thought, every time we won a game, it was like having Foulke in. He was in the game almost getting a save because he was so good defensively. And Dave Roberts, everybody has seen firsthand what Dave Roberts has done to our ballclub. It not only made our starters better, but it made our bench much more usable to win games. I mean, we had Pokey, I mean, everybody on the bench had a role that was very defined in how they were going to help us win.
And actually, the other part of it, we just started playing better, too. Guys like Millar, guys that had struggled a little bit stopped struggling, so it all kind of came together at the same time.
Q. How tough was it to trade Nomar?
TERRY FRANCONA: I didn't trade him. You'd have to ask Theo (Epstein). But I'm sure it was difficult. Especially in an area like Boston where they latch on to their favorite players so much and there's so much passion, I'm sure it was very difficult. But, again, Theo's job, I saw our job; we do things together, but is to win. It was a very tough move. And I'm not talking about getting rid of Nomar. I'm talking about attaining the players that we did.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.