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10/12/08 6:08 PM ET

An interview with Terry Francona

Red Sox manager looks forward to Game 3 of ALCS

I know you just got here, but since someone will have to ask it, is there anything new with Josh Beckett?

TERRY FRANCONA: No, and I actually didn't just get here. I've been here for a while. No. He feels pretty good physically. We spent a few minutes with him a little bit ago just trying to go through what his day will be like today because today is a big workday. And again, just to double check and make sure he's okay, because as we all know, when guys are competing, guys will fib or try to get through it.

No, he's fine. He's certainly battling some consistency issues, and I think some of that is having some of your starts interrupted and then having the oblique a couple weeks ago. You know, it's been a battle for him.

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How close of a call was it with Papelbon, that ball he got hit with last night? Did it strike him as hard as it looked, or was it kind of deceptive?

TERRY FRANCONA: Going back to what Buck said, he waved me off when we were going out, but once my momentum is going that way, I can't turn around (laughter).

He said he hit him in the glove. I don't believe him. I think it hit part of his glove and part of his shoulder, but again, that's what guys say. I looked at the video and it was really hard to tell, but I don't think there's any repercussions from it.

How would you assess David right now? Clearly he's getting on base, which is a good thing, but the production numbers haven't been in line with what he's done in the past.

TERRY FRANCONA: Well, some of his pasts have been unbelievable. With a big bat, those kind of numbers can change in one game.

He's always that threat in the middle that they have to respect, and over the course of a series, those things can change dramatically. That's why you like having those big bats.

A lot has been made in the last couple years obviously of what Jon Lester has gone through and overcome, but can you recall whether it was last year or this that you got beyond the, okay, we have to be careful about workload and things like this, and he's fine, he's a big game guy?

TERRY FRANCONA: I don't know if I can actually remember a time -- I know we did a lot of homework on what he was going through and what to expect physically or what was fair to expect or how we should go about this. And we did really make him go slow. I've told these guys a lot.

I made a call to his folks in spring training, and I told them, we're really going to piss off your son, and they laughed. They said, you know, we understand why.

We're going to go slow with him. And we did. And it was very frustrating to him.

But I think it was the correct thing to do. He got to a point, he worked so hard, and then when he came back and pitched in the Major Leagues, he was pitching fine, but it wasn't what it is now. I don't think you ever expect that, but when you're competing you want it to be there right now.

It's come back, it's come back. He's farther away from being sick, he's getting bigger and stronger. If you look at video of him just like from the back, he doesn't even look like the same kid anymore. And his confidence has grown. He's got a delivery that's built for endurance. He's turned into a phenomenal Major League pitcher on top of being a phenomenal kid.

Is there anything in particular you see happening with Ellsbury at the moment?

TERRY FRANCONA: Kazmir (smiling). They have pretty good pitching, and they went to that pitching, and they got him on his back -- I don't want to say back foot. His bat head got a little deep, and we had a few guys yesterday that -- if we could get a hit at a certain time -- I think we stranded 13 runners, I might be wrong, it seemed like a lot. That happens sometimes. That's part of the reason they won.

For this time of year, late afternoon starts at Fenway, early October, what is it like for the hitters in terms of does it matter righty or lefty or what's it like for them?

TERRY FRANCONA: We didn't sell the seats in center field. It would actually probably be to our advantage if the sun is out with Lester pitching.

Saying that, I mean, that's a lot to ask. I mean, we're trying to manage a bullpen through the 11th inning. I can't figure out the sun and the clouds. I mean, I think you get my point. If the sun is shining, there's some shadow issues at that time of day. We can't start a guy or change a guy on that, but they didn't sell those tickets anyway, and I don't know if it's a league thing, a

Go ahead, you wanted to butt in yesterday, now you're saying nothing (laughter).

I don't know, but anyway, so it's going to be green up there, so it won't be the perfect conditions to see, but it won't be as much of an issue as if they sold the tickets.

The only time our guys have ever complained is when there's a tall lefty on a day game when it's coming out of the shirts.

I remember, was it my first year here, I don't know, somebody had a picture of it, Randy Johnson was going to pitch a day game, and we went out on the field and we were trying to simulate him, so we took a broom, and I looked up and saw all the media there, so I made Bill Hasselman hold the broom, just in case somebody took a picture.

You mentioned a moment ago leaving the men on base, and had we gotten a key hit at a certain moment. Are there tools that you and your coaching staff have to try to get the team out of a funk when they're not getting those hits, or is this just something that has to kind of ride its course?

TERRY FRANCONA: No, because I don't think that I consider it a funk. I mean, scored runs, just in a game where it's decided by one run or in extra innings, everything is glaring. Every single key -- I mean, the way we got a run was they threw the ball to the backstop. So things kind of get glossed over at times, as long as you score.

Kotsay hit a ball that I came off the bench because I knew it was ten rows up into right field, and it didn't get it. So again, sometimes it's a matter of this much, a guy pulling the ball foul or a guy missing the barrel barely or a guy lining out. I mean, a good for instance is the other night against the Angels, Kotsay leans all over a ball, Teixeira makes a catch to his left, Lowrie comes up and kind of dribbles one through the hole, and he's a hero and Kotsay had a great at bat. That's the way the game goes sometimes.

Do you anticipate any lineup changes tomorrow?

TERRY FRANCONA: We might play Cora at short. Other than that, I don't think -- I think J.D. will be back in right and Ellsbury at center.

After a long night last night and then getting in at 6:00 in morning, why is it good to be working out today? What does it do for the team?

TERRY FRANCONA: Well, it's an optional workout. I think kind of the league mandates that you have some people here to do interviews, which is understandable. So we have an optional because that's the guys that need it or want it, it's available, and the guys that can use the rest, they'll use it. They're smart enough to do that.

We will probably have a handful of guys that hit, probably have a handful of pitchers that go in and do stuff in the weight room, and we'll try to use it to our advantage.

In fact, Casey called me, and he said, do I need to be there? Because they're so conscientious. I said, Casey, it's not mandatory, so we're not checking to see who shows.

So we're just trying to use it to our advantage. Some guys will want to hit, some guys won't, because of the late arrival and things like that.

Was there any consideration on your part to go Byrd before Timlin last night, or do you like to have the starter last?

TERRY FRANCONA: Yeah, we warmed them both up because there was some -- I don't know if indecision is the right word, but when it came down to it, we really needed to have the starter after Timlin.

If something happens, we have a guy that hasn't pitched in a while as our last guy. If we can get through an inning -- I know there's some ifs there, but if you get through an inning, then you have a starter that can pitch until the game is over. Sometimes the decision is kind of made for you under the circumstances.

Just going back to Beckett a little bit, how would you assess his fastball and the way his breaking pitches were working last night?

TERRY FRANCONA: I thought they were inconsistent. Again, I saw probably a lot of what you guys saw maybe from a different angle. Sometimes you have to make decisions. We were going to have to go with somebody during that game more than we wanted to, and I thought after we scored, the best way for our ballclub was to try to let Beckett go out and have a good inning.

Now, he strikes Iwamura and then everything went to hell in a hurry, but that's the way the game goes. I thought he was inconsistent, especially out of the stretch. I thought out of the wind up, there was a little more finish to his fastball, but when he got out of the stretch, I think he's still fighting some inconsistencies on what pitches he feels he can throw maybe in a key spot and not get hurt. You could see him thinking through it and kind of grinding through it a little bit.

Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports.

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