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10/17/08 4:00 PM ET

An interview with Terry Francona

Red Sox manager prepares for Game 6 after dramatic victory

How happy are you to be back in Tampa?

TERRY FRANCONA: Well, it beats the alternative. Yeah, as long as we're playing baseball, something is going right. So we're thrilled to be here.

Now, saying that, we have a job to do.

Can you talk a little bit about Coco? It seemed like last year we had a reverse situation where Ellsbury took Coco's job and how Coco is coming in and becoming the starter.

TERRY FRANCONA: Yeah, it's kind of weird sometimes the way things work. We tried all year not to let one of them sit very long because both of them are too valuable to ever have somebody sit for a very long time.

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The at bats they ended up both having are actually both of them wanted to play every day; that wasn't possible. But we didn't ever sit one of them too long and we tried to keep them both sharp, and they have both helped us win a lot of ballgames, none more than the other night.

Somewhat related to that, do you have your lineup ready to be announced? Do you feel like sharing that?

TERRY FRANCONA: I actually don't have it ready yet. I want to look at a couple things. Again, because of our either late arrival or early arrival, however you look at it, I just need to look at a few more things. I didn't have a chance to I was having some printer problems. We'll get it figured out.

With your team, does your history create the confidence, or does your confidence create the history?

TERRY FRANCONA: My IQ doesn't allow me to understand that question (laughter). I think anything that we can draw on, we will. Any team does. You know, that's your responsibility. How many times do you hear the us against the world mentality? If it works, go for it.

You know, this is a different team, though, than every team is different, but there are guys in that clubhouse that have done it, which I think we will try to draw upon.

The other thing is that regardless of what this team has done, because this team has only really been together for two and a half months, the guys that are together and I made sure we told them before the game, not after, how much we appreciate what they do, how much we enjoy the way they play, and we reminded them how good we think they are. And now we'll go see if we can keep playing.

Could you talk about what J.D. did last night and what he's meant to the team this season?

TERRY FRANCONA: Early in May when David got hurt, that was probably J.D.'s best month as a Major League player. Now, I might be exaggerating, but I think he was Player of the Month, and he hit 3rd and he carried us, and we really needed it.

Then he went down for about six weeks, and it was kind of iffy if he was even going to come back. Not only has he come back, but he's gotten huge hits. The more he keeps playing and the more he gets his legs under him, he's obviously a very dangerous hitter, and he's been able to show that.

The players in the clubhouse last night made it a point to really point to the fact that Josh is going Game 6 and they have a lot of confidence in him. What can you expect from him tomorrow, just being the kind of competitor that he is?

TERRY FRANCONA: Yeah, I think we're all excited about Josh pitching. You know, his season has been interrupted, I think, four times this year. He's not been able to get on that run. That doesn't mean he won't.

You know, I know he's been banged up at various junctures this year for different things, but I think the hope is that he goes out the other day, I know he goes out and plays catch during the day, he always does, and Cashy came in and said, he's going to throw 1,000 tonight. That was fun to hear. The ball was obviously coming out of his hand very well, and he felt good, and then it didn't carry over into the game as well as he wanted it to. That doesn't mean it won't.

He's not going to forget how to compete. So even if he's going out there with maybe close to what he maybe it's not 96, maybe it's 92, 93, but he's still Beckett, and that doesn't mean he can't win. That doesn't mean he can't dominate.

But their guy is good, too. This is set up to be exciting. That's the way it's supposed to be.

Again, on Beckett, he's been taking it from all angles about this postseason, he's not on his game and this and that.

TERRY FRANCONA: He's not what?

He hasn't been on his game this postseason. Knowing the pride he takes in his postseason success in the past, how much do you expect him to summon everything he has and rebound tomorrow night?

TERRY FRANCONA: Oh, he'll give everything he has. That's never been an issue. Regardless of the outcome of the game, nobody in our clubhouse will ever second guess his effort, his will to for him to pitch out in Anaheim, that took a lot to get himself ready to pitch. It wasn't easy.

And again, we didn't see his best stuff. I think we all hope you're going to, but I don't know if that was realistic or not. But again, the more he pitches I mean, we love this guy. He's one of the best competitors in the game.

So whatever he can give us, we'll take. And hopefully it's good enough to win.

When Josh went to see Dr. Andrews, you talked about how he couldn't go out on the mound now with a clear head, clear mind, whatever. He had those three starts in early September that really looked like he was tuning up for October. Then the oblique happens. Can he go out there now with a clear head? Not that an oblique is going to be on your mind the way a shoulder issue or elbow issue might, but is he pitching without having to think about whatever might be restricting him physically?

TERRY FRANCONA: Wedgie would have your head (laughter). You know what, that's the whole idea of going clear back to the long side session in Anaheim. I think he threw, what, 67 pitches, is so he could pitch without trying to think it through.

When it first happened, when he was feeling it, was when the ball was like halfway to the plate. That was which from a medical standpoint, that was good. But from a I'm going to make my pitch and then feel it, I think we can all understand, if it's in the back of your head, it can play with you a little bit.

That's why he needed that long session, because with his personality, once he knows he's okay, he it's like you alluded to, coming back from Birmingham, there was one day in between. His elbow or shoulder didn't get miraculously, he just got the go ahead and it was fine. It meant a lot to him, and I understand that.

Because he is a guy who wants to go out there all the time, healthy or not, whatever the case may be, do you feel like that increases the responsibility on you a little bit to handle him with care, if need be, and try and monitor him more than you usually would?

TERRY FRANCONA: We certainly do. We also have a very good relationship where he will tell he communicates very well. He doesn't necessarily communicate during the game very well, which not a lot of pitchers do. But in between starts, he does a very good job. He has grown into that. There's a lot of trust on our part with him.

During the game, though?

TERRY FRANCONA: I don't know that I want to communicate have you ever seen him during the game? I don't want to communicate with him. He's throwing shit and... just want him to get outs (laughter).

Last night you said Coco's at bat may have been his best as a Red Sox. Obviously the result was key to that, but was there something else in the at bat that you saw, the process of it or...

TERRY FRANCONA: Was it a 10, 12, 13 pitch at bat, whatever it was, it was a long at bat, and under the circumstances, we get a hit there, we're still playing. He fouled off a lot of pitches, and you could tell as he got into that count, he was feeling good about himself. And then he got a pitch he could handle and he rifled it into right.

I mean off the bat, my concern was that Kotsay wasn't going to score. We thought about running Ellsbury. We also and our thinking is the only ball they're going to throw him out is a ball that's rifled into right, and there we have it. But if we use Ellsbury, then we're done doing anything.

We think Kotsay is a good runner. But there was a gasp when that ball went out there. I was glad to see that ball come in with not as much on it as it could.

Going back to Beckett, is there any one thing or things that he has to do differently or better this time to get better results than the last two times? Anything you can put your finger on?

TERRY FRANCONA: I think the biggest thing he needs to do is just go pitch to pitch. I think he was trying to he was getting a little frustrated the other day, and not second guessing the game plan, but trying to think it through too much.

When he is relaxed and comfortable and just executing pitches, there may not be a better pitcher in the game. Even when he's not throwing 97. Again, there's been some things he's fighting. I mean, and some of it is inconsistency because of work, and it was hard for him. But again, if you have to give a ball to somebody in Game 6, I can't imagine not being excited to give him the ball.

Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports.

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