10/20/07 5:43 PM ET
Pregame interview with Terry Francona
Red Sox skipper to start Ellsbury over Crisp
By / MLB.com
TERRY FRANCONA:Sure. I kind of thought we were going to do that, and you guys that are here locally and every day probably, as I spoke yesterday, probably felt that that's where we were kind of leaning. But I hadn't talked to Coco yet and I didn't want to announce something like that and have him get bombarded. So I went down and talked to him after the workout and explained to him what we were doing. I thought about it the other day because of his history with Byrd and his defense and the fact that Sabathia was pitching the next day; didn't want to do it. But you get to a point where -- I always talk about doing the right thing, and I felt like this was in the best interest of our ballclub.
Lugo's numbers are not a lot better than Crisp's. Was there any temptation to make a change there?
TERRY FRANCONA:Yeah, there was some temptation actually. And the reason I didn't is that Lugo always has his speed, and the part that worried me about playing Ellsbury is the fact that he hasn't played that much, and A.C. (Cora) hasn't really played at all. So I think A.C. had four at-bats. He was 2 for 4 four months ago. You know, I think you're putting a guy in an unfair position. I think with Ellsbury, even if he makes soft contact, there's always the ability to use the wheels to get hits. But I did give it some thought.
Forgive the cliché question, but anything special you said to the guys tonight, or is it at this point where you don't really have to say a thing?
TERRY FRANCONA:You haven't been to too many of these press conferences, have you? We don't meet before every game. This isn't Sunday football. They know how to play the game and what's expected. We don't do that very often. If I knew it would guarantee us winning, we would do it.
When you get down to this point in these short series and everything, the focus is so much more intense, how do you have to adjust your ways as a manager, making these lineup decisions?
TERRY FRANCONA:As opposed to it not being intense around here on other days? That's kind of my answer.
But your season can't end on August 15th, your season could end tonight.
TERRY FRANCONA:You haven't been here enough (laughter).
Yes, I have (laughter).
TERRY FRANCONA:Actually you have. You know what, I understand the question. I just find personally the games -- and believe me, I love when we're up and not down, but the games are so much more enjoyable this time of year as opposed to even like in September when you're really trying to find a way, and you're getting beat up, to win games and be good enough to get here. I think our preparation is very good. The players and the coaches that we go through this with, I'm crazy about. So I actually really enjoy it. Being that nervous about a game, it's a weird feeling and it's really hard to explain, but it's a good feeling.
Where does the home field advantage come from for you guys? I mean, in basketball and football obviously, the crowd can become a big part of it. But is it just because you guys are built well for this ballpark or guys are happy to be home in their regular routines or where does it help the most?
TERRY FRANCONA:I think you just named two. I think the other thing which is bigger than anything is you get to hit last. You can handle your bullpen differently. Once you get to a certain point of the game, you have two at-bats to their one basically. And the other thing, and it is part of Fenway, you get to the seventh inning and the opposing pitcher throws ball one, and you can feel the place shake. I remember that as a visitor. There's not too many places in baseball where you really feel like that. Yankee Stadium can somewhat feel that way, but nothing like Fenway.
From what you saw of Ellsbury when he was planning for Manny, I know that everybody gets excited about young players and you don't want to overhype things, but what type of things do you think he needs to do in this game?
TERRY FRANCONA:You mean tonight?
Correct, and in coming years.
TERRY FRANCONA:He's got a chance to -- you're right, we do try to hesitate because, in this culture a guy goes 3 for 4 in his first game and they're ready to take him to Cooperstown. He's got a chance to be a great player. He does a lot of things. He can really run. We don't know if he's going to hit for power. He doesn't hit a couple home runs in the minor leagues, and then he comes up here and hits a few right away. But I think the biggest thing of all, Allard Baird said in one of our meetings, "This kid has survival skills." I think what he meant by that is kind of like a Pedroia; he's not up here for the ride, he's up here to win. When you get a young player like that, that's pretty special. You can get a guy playing and maybe get some hits that help you. But when you get a young kid that seems to understand Boston, what every game means, that has a chance to make him even a better player.
You've had some tough ones. How hard is it to tell Coco? And is it fair to assume that he becomes kind of Ellsbury in the fact that he could be your lat-inning speed guy off the bench?
TERRY FRANCONA:Yeah, that can certainly happen. Anybody that sits there and says they can't wait to tell somebody something they know is going to crush him I think is crazy. I don't enjoy doing that. I don't think anybody does. But we always try to do the right thing. We try to do it in the right way. That's what we do. I didn't expect Coco to jump up and hug me. If I was him, I wouldn't, either. So we try to do it correctly and with respect and give him reasons why.
You referred a lot to the demands here and what's expected. You managed in another place where it can get pretty nasty, too. How would you compare this place to Philadelphia?
TERRY FRANCONA:Well, they were at completely different times. When I went to Philadelphia, they were looking for a guy to come in and be patient and help the young guys get better because quite frankly I think they weren't expecting to be very good, and they were right, unfortunately. My job description called for me to be very patient and try to help young players get better, and I think I understood that. Then we got to a certain point where I think we were expected to get better and our pitching wasn't ready to get better. But if you can endure Philadelphia four years of losing, it'll toughen you up a little bit.
You talked about how Coco took the news, that he didn't jump up and hug you and you didn't expect that. What about Ellsbury? Was he excited, nervous? How would you describe him?
TERRY FRANCONA:I didn't ask him if he was nervous, I just told him he was playing. If we thought there was going to be an adverse reaction, we wouldn't have played him. I don't see hives or anything down there. I think he'll be okay.
Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports.
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