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10/02/07 6:19 PM ET

Workout day interview with Francona

Red Sox manager talks about leaving Wakefield off roster

Have you selected the roster, and what can you tell us about that?

TERRY FRANCONA: I think we can solidify it. I mean, we have till 10:00 o'clock, I don't know that there's any reason to do that.

Let's see, walk through the position players. We have our lineup. We have extra guys, we have Hinske, Kielty, Ellsbury, Cora, Mirabelli, Cash.

You want me to go through the rest of the roster? You want to jump in, Tony? Do you have anything to add (laughing). How about we go through it, and then I'll go ahead and -- I thought you were covering golf (smiling).

Pitchers, we've got Beckett, Matsuzaka, Schilling, Lester, Papelbon, Gagne, Timlin, Delcarmen, Lopez, and Okajima. Please tell me that came to 25. Is that 25? Yes. Okay. Ask away.

Wondering about Lester over Wake.

TERRY FRANCONA: That needs to be addressed. Up until just a little bit ago, Wakefield was on our roster. Trying to be competitive in the last month of the season. You know, Wake got a cortisone shot. In his role with us now, if something unfortunate ever happened to a starter, Wake would be asked to come in and fill something like that in the game, And he's not ready to do that. He's been fighting it for a long time and it's not fair to Wake.

Now again, because of our feelings for Wake, some of the loyalty, some of the respect that's there, we want to give him a chance to pitch on our roster, in the series. It wasn't fair to him, and it was putting the team in a very difficult spot, which he understood. But we needed a chance to revisit it and talk about it again.

Although, we all know Wake, he bleeds for us, but he understands it's the right thing to do. We were going to possibly put him in a situation that was not fair to him or the team. So now doing this, we can slow this down, his throwing, not rush him into two or three innings in a game where he's not ready, and get him ready for a start, hopefully later on. That's the thinking there.

Very important to know that, I mean, Wake's been fighting this for a while. I think most people are aware of it. Got a cortisone shot the other day after he pitched, and he didn't feel very good today throwing, so we needed to discuss it further and we did.

Where was the shot?

TERRY FRANCONA: In his back. The part that's been bothering him for a while. We were aware it's been bothering him, and he takes the ball and goes and pitches. And you know, again, because of what he does for us and has done and will do, there is certainly a loyalty factor there. And I thought all the way around it was handled very professionally, and he is at the top of the list.

When you said up until a little while ago, how recently was that? And pitching Lester out of the bullpen over the weekend at all, was that at all because of what's been going on with Wake?

TERRY FRANCONA: We wanted to try to have everything covered, so we could make proper decisions.

I've got to tell you, we intended to have Wake on this roster. That's just the way it was. But we did want to be able to have everything covered. I think we did that. We addressed that.

Now with Wake not being on the roster and having Lester, Lester will be available to give us length if we need it. If we get into extra inning games, you can use your other relievers knowing you have a guy that can go multiple innings behind those guys.

How is Josh Beckett different from last year? Has he matured? And talking about Wakefield, you seemed to suggest if you were to advance, he might be available later?

TERRY FRANCONA: I think we fully expect that he would be available as a starter. That is the hope. I think we're going to get ourselves into a bind where we were going to try to use him out of the bullpen. Then we knock him back a couple steps and don't have him for anything.

It was difficult because of our affection for Wake and our respect, and his ability to try to pitch in those situations. I think we're all coming to the same conclusion, it was just difficult to do.

As far as Beckett goes, we've seen a young guy work so hard and mature so much, and he became the guy that we really needed him to become. And every good team has guys like that on the team, where you send your guy, and you say this is our guy, and go get 'em. And he'll respond to adversity, and he competes. He's got a lot of different weapons. And you need that, because we're playing a good team.

What sort of challenges do the Angels represent because of their style of play, which is sort of atypical for American League teams? And what do you and John tell your pitchers about runners, slide steps, holding the ball, those sorts of things in this series?

TERRY FRANCONA: It's really no different than any other series. The Yankees, I don't think, get enough respect for the way they run bases. Their top four guys steal about as many bases as anybody in baseball. We try to prepare for every series and every situation. Some of it is different. Sometimes a stolen base we don't feel will break our backs, whereas opposed to a three run homer will.
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There are times when you absolutely probably need to not only not have a stolen base, but you don't want the attempt, sometimes from second to third, you'll actually hold a runner there.

If somebody hits the ball by Pedroia, I'll take the blame because we don't want our pitcher getting stuck in between leaving a pitch up and taking a hit. I think every situation's a little bit different.

We know their style. I think by being aware of it and somewhat respecting it, not fearing it but being ready for it, it will help us be ready to handle it.

Two roster related questions: One is what went into the decision to have a third catcher on the roster? What kind of flexibility does he give and does he give you? And how healthy do you think Coco is going into this series?

TERRY FRANCONA: Second one's easy: I think Coco's real healthy. I don't think I need to elaborate. Because I think he feels real good. We're trying to be very careful at the end of the season and we did a good job of that and he looks good. His legs look fresh, and he has some life in his body and his eyes don't look kind of glazed over like they did for a few days. He's doing okay.

First part, the catchers, in the five game series I think we felt comfortable going ten pitchers as long as there was health. So we try to maximize everybody on the roster by having the third catcher. We want Ellsbury to be able to impact games, if needed, and that can mean running for a number of different people.

Again, now we have a catcher that we're comfortable with. We actually have two catchers we're comfortable with, but they have a little bit different skill set, so hopefully we can use both and just maximize the strengths of our players.

What kind of a threat, weapon can Ellsbury be in a post season situation?

TERRY FRANCONA: He's got the kind of speed that can change a game. He can hopefully run for just about anybody in a game changing situation, and we can put somebody else in the game. We have Hinske, we have a couple catchers. We can put somebody in the outfield, if need be. We can have Ellsbury play the outfield the last couple innings, if need be. There are some ways that he can help us, hopefully, win games.

A lot of people have made parallels between Ellsbury's possible role in the playoffs this year and Dave Roberts in 2004. Do you see any parallels between the two and what he's going to be asked to do?

TERRY FRANCONA: What Dave Roberts did was very, very special. It was about six inches from not being special. You know, I mean, those types of things. That's why they bring him back in the winter, and they have a video and all that.

But this kid can impact games. Everybody always wants the Dave Roberts, you've got to have the Dave Roberts. That was Dave Roberts. And it was one instance and it was awesome. But this is more, I think long term thinking of multiple games, you know even defensively, possibly pinch hitting, scoring from second, playing a couple games in the outfield or couple innings in the outfield, something like that.

As far as we've talked a little bit about the way that the Angels play a different sort of style ball with the speed and the bunting and whatnot. Is there anyway that you think that playing in a small ballpark like this one helps you guys deal with those weapons better than if it was in a larger park?

TERRY FRANCONA: Well, they're not changing the bases. I mean, if they wanted to move them back a couple feet, we would probably take it.

No, home field, we play here 81 games and I think we're somewhat built for this ballpark. We get to hit last. Hopefully that and the fact that we play better than them, because that's what it's ultimately going to come down to, will make a difference.

I know that at their place they have one of best home records in baseball. So getting them here, hopefully that will mean something. Ultimately it's going to be determined who plays better.

When it comes to teaching your pitchers how to attack Vladimir Guerrero, what are some of the unique challenges he presents to the pitching staff?

TERRY FRANCONA: In a nutshell, and I've said this before, there's not a pitch that's thrown that he doesn't think he can hit. And, unfortunately, he actually does hit some of them. He seems to hit balls six inches off the ground. When you go over how to pitch him, throwing him a strike on the black is not necessarily a good pitch. Sometimes you have to attack him off the plate in and out, because he can reach so much and with so much authority.

Can you talk about the impact of Orlando Cabrera on the team.

TERRY FRANCONA: I hope there's no impact. He's a good player and we've certainly seen his ability to play the game under these situations and be comfortable. He's a very good baseball player. I hope we're not giving him a whole lot of situations where he's out on second, waving his helmet to the crowd.

But he's a good player. We certainly know that and respect that.

Just talk about Beckett's post season experience. Just wondering what you think pitchers specifically can draw off of when they have experience like he has in the postseason.

TERRY FRANCONA: I don't think experience can be bad. Any experience you have has certainly got to help with comfort. It doesn't mean you're going to win or lose a game though. But there's going to be some guys that have no experience going in that we hope carry huge loads with us winning.

But I don't think any experience is bad. I mean, as a young kid and he did okay then. So I think it's more important how you play.

When you were talking about Beckett earlier, you were basically saying that this is the year he became an ace, it sounded like. Do you think that that growth meant something to him?


-- to become that?

TERRY FRANCONA: I think he cares a lot about how he's perceived in the game and what his goals are in the game. He's got some pretty lofty goals. He wants to be good for a long time. I think you can say that and you can go show it, and I think he's done the latter. He's worked incredibly hard, incredibly consistent. When young pitchers come here, we point towards Beckett and say, follow him. When Clay Buchholz was out here, we said, follow him. He backs up his words with some pretty serious actions.

He's been a monster in his workouts, and I think he's got a lot of talent, but he's worked awful hard.

You may have done it in 2004, I didn't see it. Did you have the pitchers do PFPs?

TERRY FRANCONA: Yes, we had a little meeting with the business players to go over some meetings we needed to go over. And rather than bore the pitchers, we let them take the time to go catch some grounders and move around out there. Just to eliminate some time where they don't have to stand around and shag.

Didn't have anything to do with the Tigers experience last year, did it?

TERRY FRANCONA: No, no, no. No, one PFP isn't going to -- just trying to cover everything, get the blood flowing.

You've had some success against Lackey this year. What have you done well against him and how is that figuring into preparing for this game?

TERRY FRANCONA: We certainly know him as he knows us. We've had a couple games where we got to him and did a good job. Drove his pitch count up on, and we've seen what he can do like he did the other day against Oakland.

I think he's also a true ace. I think they feel and Scioscia will say that about him, too. We'll have our hands full. We know that. That's, I think, what this time of year is supposed to be when you play baseball. It should be interesting. We respect what he can do. That's a good way to go into it.

Just kind of a follow up talking about John Lackey: Why do you think you've been able to have such success against him in the past?

TERRY FRANCONA: I don't want to go through our whole scouting report. I don't think that's appropriate. We have some good hitters, at times, in this ballpark. And circumstances are different. Last time he pitched here, that was a crazy day game when they got here, what, 4:00 in the morning? So who knows. Sometimes the schedule has something to do with it. Sometimes the way guys are throwing, the way guys are hitting. There are a lot of different reasons. Tomorrow will be a different game into itself and what happened two months ago won't matter.

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