© 2005 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.

10/03/05 6:41 PM ET

Interview with Terry Francona

Red Sox manager on Game 1 starter, his team's chances

People are talking about this matchup being about pitching strength versus hitting strengths.

Terry Francona: I hope it's pitching versus pitching. We really love our lineup. Over 162 games, our lineup has been pretty special. But to win in the playoffs, we're going to need pitching.

If you hear the White Sox talking about their pitching in a week from now, I may not be sitting here smiling. Pitching is very important, especially when you get into a shorter series.

Talk to us about Matt Clement and what he's meant to your team this year.

Francona: Early on, we ran into some bumps in the year. He's a real workhorse-type guy. He's strong, he's durable. He went out there all the time. Early on, he worked so hard. He made the All-Star team. Our guys love him. I love him. He's got the personality, not the loudest guy in the locker room clubhouse. He really competes. He's very intense. He's just not so much outwardly. His stuff is real, real good. Almost electric at times. His fastball starts throwing all over the place.

When he's good, even in hitter's counts, you don't see hitters squaring up the ball because his ball is driving all over the place. Varitek has got bruises everywhere to prove that. There's been a few times where his fastball and his slider lump together a little bit, and there's been a couple of times where they haven't.

But we're excited about him pitching. He's excited. He is ready to pitch today; I'm glad he's not. He'll be fine.

Terry, so-called experts always have something against your favor. Do you believe any of that, or is it even-Steven?

Francona: Well, again, I'm not an expert; you guys are. I'm well aware of that. I have us even-zero-zero.

I don't think that's real hard to comprehend. I can understand why people, why writers, why media go ahead and do this and do that. I mean, that's fine. Why writers want me to go ahead and do this and that, I mean, it's fun. What happens is the game gets played on the field. Some people inevitably rise to the occasion. Somebody does something special. Somebody struggles. I guess from my point of view, I hope it's their guys that struggle. That's why you don't know what's going to happen. You play everything out and see how good you could be.

Any decisions on the roster and lineup?

Francona: Yes, we have. What we did was -- I don't know. Roberto Petagine is going to report to Fort Myers, the exact date is a little bit sketchy. Hanley Ramirez went to Fort Myers today. The idea is our instructors are going to work out there with him.

We brought Kelly Shoppach here. He will not be on our roster, he'll be in our bullpen.

Our extra players are Youkilis, Hyzdu, Machado, Mirabelli.

We have to make an announcement on our bullpen, and we haven't talked to the players yet. Buses just got in, and I'm in here. So we will do that later, and then I'll announce our roster.

(Inaudible question)

Francona: Well, we can pinch-run, we've got defense. I don't think we want to box ourselves in. It's a five-game series. We already have Bronson down in the bullpen. I think we value the possibility of pinch-running or, again, if something happens, we have an infielder, we have an outfielder, we have a guy that can do both. Helps us a little bit.

How is this year's pennant race different than last year's?

Francona: Well, at this time last year we hadn't won anything. We're basically in the same position we were in last year. You know what, I don't know that I can give you a difference in the fans' perspective. We sold out every game. Everywhere we went was craziness. It feels as if we played 162 playoff games. I don't know if I could tell you there's a big difference.

However, on the flip side, I don't know if there's supposed to be a big difference. What happened last year was great, but it was so long ago. Guys get tired of me saying, "Let's stay in the present," things like that, but that's what we try to do. We try to stay in the present, learn from the past, try not to get too far ahead so you won't feel overwhelmed, and I think that's how you have success.

Again, I can't tell you how fans look at it.

Do you prefer the three-five format or the four-seven format?

Francona: It depends on how many we win. I've never even thought of that. I know what the format is, so you do what you're supposed to do. Never been real big on, I hope, second guessing the way the league is set up. Again, we know what it is, so we go play it.

Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.