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10/10/08 6:20 PM ET

Pregame interview with Francona

Manager talks about the Game 2 status of Josh Beckett

Why is Beckett so good in the postseason? I realize he's a good pitcher in the regular season, too, but what do you think it is about him that causes him to amp it up even more when you get to October?

TERRY FRANCONA: I don't think that the idea of playing in these games of this magnitude are too big for him. I mean, I think he thrives on that and he enjoys it.

But I think you have to be a very good pitcher to begin with, or regardless of how you feel mentally. If you don't physically have the stuff to do it, you're probably kind of running upstream a little bit.

As a follow up, where is Beckett at this point physically, and what do you expect out of him?

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TERRY FRANCONA: He's fine physically. The farther he's removed from his problems of last week, he can concentrate on his routine and concentrate on pitching instead of trying to get better. He went through a week where we had targeted that Sunday against the Angels, but getting to Sunday wasn't the easiest thing in the world.

I mean, he threw a pretty extended side, he did a long toss, but up to that point he hasn't touched the ball. That was tough on him.

On the turf here, do you play your outfield any different in terms of like deeper or bunch the gaps or anything like that?

TERRY FRANCONA: No, we really don't. You know, this isn't the turf of old where in Montreal or Toronto where it was kind of like the real quick -- the carpet that was laid over the concrete. This simulates grass as much as you can, and it's really not that much different.

I know Kazmir has been a pretty effective pitcher from the time he hit the majors, but what have you seen from him, from his rookie year until now? What about his development have you noticed the most?

TERRY FRANCONA: Well, what I've really noticed is he's pitching tomorrow. We're going to try to work on Shields tonight. You're getting a little ahead of me.

Before that Angels series and actually during the Angels series, you talked a little bit about Justin Masterson and the fact that the Angels had so many righties in a row in the lineup and how he was going to factor in the bullpen. Looking at the way the Rays lineup is constructed, does that accentuate Manny Delcarmen's series, given the effectiveness he's had against left handed batters this year?

TERRY FRANCONA: Yes. Both those guys you just talked about, if we're to have success, are going to have a big hand in it, but you'll more likely see a Manny Delcarmen come in in the middle of an inning just because of the left handers, as opposed to Justin.

With Lowell out, does Cora's role change at all? Are we likely to see him start a game? I know he started one of the Division Series, but have you thought that out yet?

TERRY FRANCONA: Thought it out, no. Thought about it, yeah. I'm not sure quite where I'm at with that. It could happen. We could certainly move Lowrie to third, move Youk to first on certain nights. I don't know if it's going to happen, but it certainly could.

Going back to Manny for one second, the second half of the year, he really seemed to kind of put things together a little bit. What do you point to as some of the things that started working for him or that clicked for him in the second half of the year?

TERRY FRANCONA: He threw strikes with all of his pitches. You know, coming into spring training we thought he had such a good winner. He was primed to really go get 'em. He came in in great shape, and you see guys maturing, and then he faced Frank Thomas, and Frank pretty much derailed April all by himself. So we had to work back from that a little bit, and we needed to remind him at times how good we thought he was.

So I think his numbers took a little bit of a hit, and sometimes when that happens sometimes your confidence takes a hit, too. But when he's throwing strikes, he's got three pitches that he can attack lefties and righties with, and you're starting to see that more than you're not seeing it.

Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports.

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