|Terry Francona transcript||10.21.08 at 12:08 pm ET|
How do you feel? What do you have?
Terrible, the flu. Flu-like symptoms.
On speaking with the coaching staff:
The update is that we will visit with all the coaches by tomorrow. I needed a day yesterday to kind of get myself together. I should say, we will try to visit with every coach by tomorrow. Logistically, there are just some things that guys have to get done. But that is the hope, that we will talk to everybody by tomorrow.
Would Matsuzaka have closed Game 7?
Maybe what they’re referring to is that we had talked to Daisuke about pitching at the end of the game and kind of hold him behind guys so we could match-up, maybe that’s where that was coming from. But again, please don’t make me talk about somebody because a reporter – that makes my life impossible.
On Buchholz’ role in 2009:
What role? Being a good starting pitcher. I think he’s on his road to doing that right now in the fall league. Sometimes little baby steps – it’s like the stock market. You want to get everything you lost back the day you lost it, and it doesn’t work that way. But he’s out there doing what he’s supposed to. Just get some confidence, get the armspeed, and throw his pitches. It will be an interesting progress to watch.
Will you go to any Arizona Fall League games?
I don’t think so. I need to probably have some back surgery so I can stand a little straighter. I’ve had this since May. I’ll go the next couple of days to get it figured out and then we’ll get it done so I can feel a little bit better.
What is your specific back problem?
I’m not sure, to be honest with you. We’ll go get that figured out and get that started so you can have a little bit of an off-season, we’re not rehabbing, but I’m on my way over there in a few minutes to get some evaluations.
On future managerial career considering your own accomplishments and health problems:
Have I given it some thought? Yeah. If there comes a time where I don’t feel like I can do my job appropriately, I won’t do it. This job takes an unbelievable amount – sometimes almost sucks the life out of you. Again, you need to be careful the day after the season’s over, especially when you’ve been sick and you don’t feel good. You’re at the bottom of the energy, and I try real hard every winter to make sure when I come to Spring Training I can do my job because I owe that to the players and to the organization because it does take it out of you, this place more than any other place I’ve seen. And I do have some health issues, there’s no getting around it. So I need to go get checked and get some of that fixed, but if there’s ever a day where I don’t feel like I can do my job, I won’t do it.
On the impact of opening the season in Japan:
It was a disadvantage in the true form of competativeness, sure. Anytiem you go 6,000 miles to play two games, that’s a tough trip. I think we said right away that we wouldn’t allow that to be an excuse, which I think we did a good job. I think we recognized what it is. It was good for Major League Baseball, and I hope that we were a good representative, a respectful representative. But as far as helping us win games, no it was no help. I thought it showed up in Toronto. I thought we played with cement on our feet in Toronto that trip for three games and we got swept. I’m not smart enough to know. I don’t think we ever wanted to allow it to show up. But I remember that trip we really had a tough time, but other than that I think we handled it pretty well.
On your expectations about Red Sox players participating in the World Baseball Classic:
We will deal with that when it comes. We can’t really deal with it until we really know who they will be. Because we are a pretty diverse group and we’re a pretty good team, we’ll probably have a lot of guys that are being considered. There’s going to be some, especially when you start talking about pitchers, that you certainly worry. We try so hard in spring training to bring guys along at a pace where they can fulfill their season being healthy and productive, and all the sudden you’re asking guys to compete a month early. That certainly raises a concern. It’s not just with the Red Sox, it’s with everybody. When you play late and start early, that certainly raises a lot of concerns. I know (Matsuzaka is) very excited about it also. I don’t know how to get around it. They’ve come up with that plan and you follow it. We’ll do the best we can.
On pitchers tiring at the end of the year after consecutive seasons playing deep in the post-season:
I don’t know about the back-to-back as far as leading to fatigue. I think that when you have a guy like a Beckett that you just lean on once you get to post-season, and then you can’t lean on him – he becomes a four and two-thirds, five inning pitcher – you still are in games that you can win. In both those games he pitched – one goes, what, 11 or 12 innings – so we’re dipping into our bullpen for Beckett’s days, for 12 innings of bullpen in games that aren’t where you’re just trying to finish them out where you can pitch a starter, so our bullpen got very taxed. Yeah, I thought Tampa’s did, too. Again, there’s reasons why that happens, not just because we played in the post-season last year.
On whether Youkilis has reached his ceiling:
Oh boy, I don’t know. I guess I hope he hasn’t reached his ceiling. I don’t know if that’s a fair assessment. He had a phenomenal year, and he was asked to do some things that could derail some of that in a lot of instances with a lot of players. But he never let it get in the way, he never complained. He just really tried to do his best under all circumstances. I think he’s a lot stronger mentally than people give him credit for. And I think he’s also matured in a lot of ways, too. Look at what he did. He can basically hit anywhere but first, and we’re not going to hit him ninth. He just doesn’t like to hit first, but other than that you can really hit him anywhere you want and he ended up hitting clean-up in a time where we really needed the guy. Manny’s gone and if there’s a hole there, that creates more holes than just one. And what Youk did was phenomenal. He played third, he played first, he ran the bases. He’s one of the elite players in the game. I said the same thing about Pedroia the other day when somebody asked me. When you get two kids that come up through your minor league system and can make an impact like that, that’s pretty phenomenal.
Do you feel lucky to have the kind of flexibility that Youkilis gives you?
Yeah, I do, because that’s not the norm. It allowed us to play guys throughout the season that we wouldn’t normally be able to play. If Youk can’t go over there, you can’t play Kotsay. Youk made us better in a lot of ways that go past his numbers. His numbers were phenomenal, but he still had the ability to make us better because of other things.
On Schilling this off-season:
Oh boy, you’d have to talk to Theo about things like that. I don’t think Schill has any ambitions to come back and pitch at the beginning of the year. I was going to say, I don’t think that that’s probably an option, him pitching at the beginning of the season.
On dealing with the Ramirez situation:
I don’t know how you think it was. It was tough at times. The one thing I won’t do, though, is – I think I need to be consistent in when we have problems or when we deal with them how we deal with them, regardless of how its viewed publicly, we’d like to be consistent in how we view it. So when a guy leaves, for me to start saying things I didn’t say when they were here I think is wrong. There were portions of this year that were very difficult for me, I think that’s a fair assessment.
On evaluating Wakefield’s season:
He won, what, 17 the year before. I actually thought, well maybe it’s not fair, but for the majority of the year I actually thought he pitched almost better. I think wins and losses are – Daisuke is 18-3, we’ll take it. I don’t care how you get to that. We’ll take it. I also think at times that can be deceiving. And I thought with Wake’s year, it was deceiving. He’s run into problems the last couple of years at the end of the year physically, which again you try to look at innings for all your starters and piece them together and he gave us a lot of innings. I think he gave us 186 innings. That’s a pretty significant number of innings.
On plans to keep Wakefield fresh later into the season:
We’d like to keep everybody fresh, but at the same time we’ve been playing into the middle of October or the end of October. You have to have a certain amount of innings and you have to get there. We’ve tried to be very careful and very cognizant of where everybody is during the year and try to space people out. At the same time, you have to finish games. You can’t win 85 games and make it to the playoffs. There’s got to be a way. It’s not easy. You can’t just plug a guy in. We tried to do it at intervals but you can’t do it once a week or the roster would be in shambles and it won’t work.
How will you handle Lester’s off-season considering his heavy workload in 2008?
We’ll see. That’s something that we certainly need to be aware of. I talked to him the other night and said ‘go rest’ but he understands that he will have to work very hard, which that part is reassuring because we know he will. But we’ll discuss that in the coming weeks how best to recognize what he did and move forward and not have that be a hindrance.
On taking time away during the off-season:
I don’t know if I want to take time away. I’m going to go get my back fixed, but I don’t know if – I don’t know if I want to get away. This game is kind of crazy. I laugh when people say it winds down. No, it comes to a crashing halt. You’re going 100 miles an hour and then its over. You either won or you lost and it’s hard to understand. But then when it is over, you regroup and you go about a different side of baseball, looking at your team and evaluating. During the season is really not a good time to evaluate. It’s too emotional. You’re so invested in winning that it doesn’t always help. If you’re not good enough, you’re trying to make yourself good enough. If you’re missing in some areas, that’s not the time to say you’re short. It’s the time to – it’s almost like a used car salesman – figure it out and sell it, and when its time to evaluate we will, which now that time is beginning.
On your upcoming back surgery:
Yeah, I’ve known I’ve needed it since May. I haven’t been able to feel either arm for four or five months. I need it.
On what Beckett had to go through to pitch in the postseason:
You know, I’m really not sure that we completely know. I think we all know he was beat up. He had the strain in his oblique. Thought he did a great job getting ready to pitch in Anaheim when he went through that period. And then to take the ball when he did was important. None of us expected him to go out and throw 98. Some of that is just again because of the inconsistencies in his pitching. But none of us downplayed his ability to go out and pitch when it was difficult and he really did. We all know what a gamer he is and we appreciate that. The time off will be huge for him. How beat up he is right now we may not know until he has a chance to rest and get better. Again, you get into that part of the year where if you’re not healthy enough you tell yourself you are, or if you’re not good enough you tell yourself you are and you try to figure out a way to be better than the other team. We came close. We just couldn’t quite pull it off.
On players other than Lowrie being examined at the season’s end:
Nobody will leave here, hopefully nobody will leave here, coaches included – Millsy, DeMarlo – without getting extensively the end of the year exams. And if there are things that pop up, like something like Lowrie, that he was playing with it, really didn’t need to be on the medical report every day, but since the season’s over he had it looked at. We will do that with everybody.
On Masterson’s role next season:
I think Theo answered that appropriately. Some of that will depend on how we’re situated pitching-wise. He certainly gives us some flexibility. The good news is he’s a good pitcher, and good pitchers can get outs. If we gets outs, everybody will be happy, the Red Sox, Masterson.
On Masterson bouncing from the rotation to the bullpen:
In the grand scheme of things, I think the way it worked out this year was very productive for him. He needed major league innings as a starter. I don’t think you if send him to the bullpen with Double-A experience that’s going to work. I think the way it was drawn up this year worked very well. Going forward, I think a lot of it will depend on how we’re situated with our pitching.
On any conversations with Varitek:
Not after the season, before it was over, yeah.
On Varitek’s offensive struggles:
I know that there were times where he was very frustrated offensively. It was hard for me. I fought it during the season because of who he is and what he means to the team. Hitting for him, and I ultimately decided during the season that I would not hit for him because I didn’t think it was in our best interest to win a World Series. I think we could have won a game or two, potentially, during the season, but I did not think that situated us moving forward. When we got to the playoffs I sat him down and told him that could happen and we did it a couple times. Still, in my opinion, it put us in a difficult position because you’ve got a switch hitter that when you start hitting for your switch-hitting catcher, you’re not putting yourself always in the best position. It’s difficult. But I still love and respect what he brings to our team. When he does that and he adds that offense, that’s part of the reason you win the World Series.
More on not hitting for Varitek during the regular season:
In a nutshell, I guess how you say ‘lose the battle, win the war’ and I thought for us to get where we wanted to go, if we started hitting for him early in the season, that wasn’t necessarily going to help us. Maybe we win a game in June, maybe a Casey comes in and wins a game in June. I acknowledge that, but I don’t know that we could win more games going that route. I don’t think that would have helped us. You get your starting catcher, your captain, looking over his shoulder in June when he goes to hit in the 7th inning and I don’t think you win as many games as you think.
Were you surprised by Varitek’s season offensively?
Well, yeah. There’s such a belief in Jason, and there still is. And the one thing we hang our hat on a lot is even when he’s not hitting, it never got in the way of him catching, and I have seen that happen with other people. They are human. He has time for the pitchers. He could be the guy who’s leading off the inning and he’d be in an 0-for-10, 0-for-15 and he’s talking to the pitcher about what he needs to do. That’s really appreciated. There were times when it was really tough. I think physically he bears such a burden that physically sometimes it’s hard for him to hit. There are some things that work against him as a switch-hitter, which is good. Then you get beat up a little bit and you have him hit one way and it was tough. Left-handed was difficult for him for a significant time of the year.
On Papelbon at the end of the year:
He was tired. I think the two-inning stint took a lot more out of him that people realize. Going out for that second inning was tough. You can add up innings or you can add up pitches and you can say he should be this or he shouldn’t be that, but if they are, that’s what it is and you deal with it.
Would Papelbon have pitched in Game 7?
I don’t know. I really don’t know. I would never put somebody in a position that is unfair, even in a game like that, I would never do that. I can guarantee that. We ask a lot of guys, and we’ve seen some pretty miraculous feats, but we’d never put somebody in a position where they’re going to get hurt.
Was Matsuzaka prepared to come in?
He was notified. Again, that’s where there is some gray area. And that’s where if I have to answer things because of the Tokyo paper or whatever, that’s not fair to me. If Lester got to a certain point of the game, which he did, we’re not going to bypass Masterson or something like that. Again, you have to be ready for anything that can come at you, especially at Game 7. That’s what we were trying to do. But we’re not going to bypass a guy like Oki that’s gotten everybody out. I think that’s maybe a little bit of a miscommunication between the media.
On managing Crisp and Ellsbury during the season:
I think we handled it pretty well. We had two guys that I think could probably have been considered everyday players in the major leagues. One is a little bit more of a veteran guy. One is a young and up-and-coming hopefully star. One guy excels in the World Series, the other guy struggles. So we have both of them coming back. Everybody is certainly calling for Ellsbury to play at the beginning of the year. My job, if they’re both going to be here, is to make it work. I think we actually made it work pretty well. Nobody sat too long, they both ended up being pretty productive. Ellsbury was going to have his bumps in the road as a first-year major league player and he did. Coco was there to step in when we had injuries on the corners. We could move guys. We ended up playing them both enough where they both played pretty well or where we never lost somebody. I think it’s easy for the media or the fans to go ‘Well just play this guy.’ But we tried to do it where we would never lose a player and we didn’t. Coco ended up being a big part of what we were trying to do.
On having outfield depth:
Having depth is huge. We found out this year. You have to have some depth. But also, you have to have the people to accept it and handle it. I thought Coco did a great job this year. It was not easy for him all the time and he handled it very well. Moving forward, those are decisions we’re going to have to make about what’s best for us, but I thought Coco did a good job.
On any moments from the season that stand out other than Game 5 of the ALCS:
Well that would be a big one for me. We were looking at kind of going with a whimper. Coming back, that’s a pretty special night. I thought that if we won the World Series, that would certainly be the night that we would point back to. No, nothing sticks out. I thought we battled a lot of adversity this year. and still found a way to win 95 games. It wasn’t good enough to win the division. We’d push at Tampa and they’d push back. We had some inconsistencies along the way. We had a lot of losing streaks early in the season that got in the way. I thought we actually played pretty good baseball and then we’d lose three, lose four. You know, the really good teams lose one or two. We couldn’t get around that at the beginning of the year. There were a lot of frustrations but we found ways to be a pretty good team, just not a great team.
Will you watch the World Series?
Oh, I don’t know, it depends on if Prison Break is on.
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