10/18/08 7:26 PM ET
Terry Francona pregame interview
Manager talks about team's ability to win under tough circumstances
By / MLB.com
This is not meant to sound flippant, although it may. It seems like being down 3-1 and 3-2 and coming back is almost old hat for you guys, and I'm wondering if there is anything you can possibly say to your players or said to your players tonight, before the game, that they don't know, they haven't heard already, that you haven't already said.
TERRY FRANCONA: Boy, that was long (laughter). No, we don't need to meet every night. We did actually meet the other night just for a couple minutes, I think just to remind them of how we felt about them, things like that. No Knute Rockne, foam trash cans or anything like that.
We've gotten ourselves into a lot of predicaments, and fortunately we've had the ability to get out of them. There's no other choice. But that gets a little big picture-ish. I think the best way to go about it is play the game at hand. We do it all year, and there's no reason to change that philosophy now because that's the only way.
You've talked in the past about how the role the Fenway Park club plays with your club, and of course when you guys are on the road you have pretty supportive clubs, too, and particularly here. When you guys rally, you're going to hear a lot of cheering for your team. Does that play any role?
TERRY FRANCONA: I think maybe during the regular season more than now. In Fenway it's hard for people to get tickets, and that's a good thing. But when we go to Baltimore or when we go to Tampa, there's a lot of following during the summer.
I think that's a little bit different now. They're in the playoffs. I don't know that you can just grab a ticket -- you know what I'm saying? Or make plans in July to come to Tampa. It just doesn't work like that. So it'll probably be a little bit different.
Is there any reason to think that this is now a rivalry that should last for some time, looking at the competition of both clubs, and two, was there any difficulty at arriving at a lead off man for tonight's game?
TERRY FRANCONA: The first part, we were actually just talking about that with the beat writers. It makes life in the American League East difficult. We all know what the Yankees can do and are capable of doing. The Blue Jays have an unbelievable pitching staff and some injuries that maybe kept their winning total down this year. And then all of a sudden you've got another team that comes out and wins 97 games. We beat up on each other, and it's hard.
It makes life very difficult, and it's not going to get easier because they're not going to go away.
Lead off tonight.
TERRY FRANCONA: We thought about it a little bit. Millsy and I stayed around here yesterday and we thought about a couple things, and we kept coming up with the same thing. If Coco leading off our lineup has more balance one through nine, if Coco can get on a couple times, get a couple hits or a walk or something, our lineup works better. That's kind of what we arrived at.
Can a team have too much time off this time of year, because whoever wins the series will be playing a Phillies team that will have a whole week off.
TERRY FRANCONA: You're talking about the Phillies?
Can a team playing the World Series have too much time off? Is that a detriment?
TERRY FRANCONA: I don't know. We've never had that ability. I mean, we played Colorado last year and they had a lot of time off, and I think that we hoped it would hurt them.
Again, it comes back to you try to take everything and make it turn into an advantage. If you have time off, you try to use it to your advantage. If you don't have time off, you try to use it to your advantage. I don't know how else to do it.
Was there a point this season where the Rays went from being just another American League East team that you played 18 times to one of your new rivals? Was there a particular game or particular home stand or a particular trip down here that sort of flipped it?
TERRY FRANCONA: You'd have to ask them that. I don't know. I mean, they were winning all year. You know, I don't think we really look at it like that. You come in and you play a series, and we had our hands full down here a lot. But when you leave, you play the next team.
I don't know that I would have gotten on a plane and thought, this is the game that made them legit. We really don't think like that. They were good all year. But we just don't look at it like that.
Last year in the ALCS you ended up having to bench Coco the last couple of games. This year obviously you're turning to him for a spark. What does that say about the need for both depth at this time of the year and also just riding a hot hand?
TERRY FRANCONA: A little bit of both. I mean, even taking a step further, having Kotsay. He's played in just about every game we've had, whether it's right field or first base. The one thing we try to stay away from during the season now is -- and I don't -- when I say this, this might sound flippant, I don't want it to, is like the flavor of the week, because I think you can make some mistakes doing that. I guess we just try to show up and do what we think is right and put our team in the best position to win, and sometimes -- I mean, Coco and Ellsbury are a little bit different for me this year because they both played so much, and we tried to make it where nobody ever really sat, because I think we both we reviewed both of them as kind of everyday players, but they both couldn't always play every day. So we have used them both a lot.
What goes into your thinking of your seven, eight, nine hitters? What's gone into it in this series and kind of how you adjust per game as you go?
TERRY FRANCONA: You know, everybody is looking at you like you're a dumb (expletive), which I'm glad. (Laughter). Everybody is looking at you like you're dumb.
You know what, we're trying to have innings where we don't have quick innings and can grind it out and have balance. Some of that has to do with our bullpen. They have the ability to match up so well and then have a guy stay in there. So we're trying to have balance, and the three switch hitters certainly don't hurt. Now, a couple of them are better one way, but it certainly helps having switch hitters.
You guys were looking to sign Drew. You knew he was a good player, but did you know he had, for lack of a better term, that clutch gene, that ability to do things in big moments?
TERRY FRANCONA: Well, I didn't know J.D. very well. When we were trying to sign him in Philadelphia, it wasn't the most popular thing to do, go out and talk to J.D. on the field when he was playing when he didn't sign for the Phillies. If they're going to hit him with batteries, I don't want to get the shrapnel (laughter).
He is a very good player. Sometimes, I think, the clutch situation things, when you're on good teams, you get put in those situations. If you're not on a team that's winning, hard to tell, because you're not put in those situations. But he's done a very good job. He's come up with some huge hits for us.
Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports.
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