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Terry Francona on Dale and Holley

08.05.09 at 1:25 pm ET
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Red Sox manager Terry Francona appeared on the Dale and Holley show (with NESN’s Tom Caron sitting in for Dale). Francona talked to the guys on a wide array of topics. (Click here for the full audio.)

Here are some of the highlights, including Francona’s comments on the wait for David Ortiz to address his positive test for a performance-enhancing substance in 2003, the decision not to walk Evan Longoria in the Sox’ 4-2 loss to the Rays on Tuesday and the state of the roster – including the health of outfielders J.D. Drew and Jason Bay, as well as the need to add another pitcher to the bullpen:

On finding out about Ortiz’s 2003 positive steroid test – was it when the report came down?: “I may have found out a little later than that. I was doing some Daisuke stuff. My door was closed. Guys know my door isn’t closed very much, but when it is closed, leave it closed…I opened my door up, and knew something was going on. I said, if David needs me, I’m here. He was okay to play the game. I talked to him a little during the game, and that’s not the easiest time to have those conversations. Then sat down with him quickly after the game….There’s a lot out there that nobody knows, there’s a lot of opinions. Go about the process properly, it’s tough, but it’s what we have to do.”

On playing the waiting game with the Ortiz steroids saga: “There’s a lot of things out there that nobody knows. There’s not a lack of opinions, but there’s a lack of informative opinions. What we need to do is be patient and let the process, go about it properly. It’s not easy to do, but it’s the only way to do it. It’s tough…Nobody knows. I don’t know. But I’m certainly not going to go out there and say something that I don’t know. There certainly needs to be answers. I think David is very adamant that he wants answers. And when we get those answers, we’ll deal with them.

On the 2003 steroid list and recent leaks – should it be disclosed?: “We’re talking about something illegal. It’s illegal to do that, so there’s no discussion. I don’t know how there can be…However many people tested positive, I’m not coming to their defense. But it was done for a reason. It was probably done too late. But it did get done, and what’s in place now is good — maybe not perfect, but good. If we’re guilty of anything, it’s probably acting a little bit late as an industry, which we’re all responsible for. But for what’s happening now with these leaks, you’re talking about lawyers that are knowingly betraying an oath and a trust. I think that’s reprehensible. I’m not coming to the defense of someone who has done performance-enhancing drugs, but what they’re doing is reprehensible.”

Is it surprising that there’s no answer yet?: “What do you want him to say? We were very honest. We need to let this process play out. There are things that I’m sure are happening that are way over my head, that Major League Baseball, the union, lawyers are taking care of. David said when he has answers, he’ll address it. We don’t have answers. I don’t know how much more explicit I can be. That’s where we’re at.

There was a belief that people on the list would have known that, in which case, they would have had six years to get answers: “You’re getting into an area that needs to be addressed not by me. I understand the question. I think it needs to be addressed to someone with the Players Association, to a lawyer with direct knowledge of that. I’m not the right person to answer that.”

Any feel for a timeframe?: David doesn’t know. You’re asking me stuff that’s impossible. Believe me, we’d love to deal with this and move on. Nobody on this end is dragging their feet. I told you guys upfront: when it’s appropriate, it will be dealt with.

How is Ortiz doing: “I think he’s okay. That makes me feel better. He seems okay. We’re in a business that’s emotional anyway. You lose the game last night, it’s a tough loss, you feel like you lost a fight with your pillow. It’s part of what makes our game special. I think he’s okay. He knows he has a lot of people who care about him.”

On the loss last night: “Everybody can have an opinion. In my opinion, we were running on fumes. To ask a guy like Saito, who was going to be up north of 40 pitches, to walk the bases loaded, there’s absolutely no wiggle room to make a pitch. I understand Joe Dillon didn’t have a lot of at-bats. He was 5-for-10 off of right-handers coming into the game, in very limited at-bats. I think you’re putting somebody in an unfair position. I respect how good Longoria is. I respect how good the guy behind him is, too — Zobrist, the way he’s swinging the bat. I thought our best opportunity was to allow Saito, with Tek back there, to act almost like it’s an 0-2 count. Because we have the open bases, we have the ability to expand the strike zone. We didn’t do that. That’s part of the game. That’s why they won. There’s a lot of things I do lose sleep over. Last night, I did. It was one of those tossing and turning nights, but not because of that. It was a tough game. I had no problem with how we handled our pitching or things like that. I’m closer to it than anybody, so I probably have a better understanding. We were not going to bring Buchholz into a game in that inning. The reason he was up was that Clay would have pitched if there had been another inning. We wanted to give him ample opportunity to get loose, because we didn’t want to hurt him. There’s no way we were going to bring Clay into the middle of an inning after throwing 72 pitches the day before.

On the approach the team went with during Saito’s outing last night: “You’ve gotta take this further. It’s not just pitch count. It’s the ability to expand the zone. Saito is a guy we’ve tried to protect more than anyone on this staff. He pitched two innings on Sunday. So you’re asking a guy to come in and execute pitches when we’ve pushed him harder over the last three days than at any point in the year. My opinion is, let’s give him a chance to expand the zone. If you fall behind, you can always walk him. But let’s give Longoria a chance to get himself out. He had done that a couple of times earlier in the game. He also hit another home run. The safe thing is for a manager to walk people and go to Joe Dillon. I didn’t think that put the team in the best position to win. It didn’t work.”

On whether the four balls in an intentional walk factor into pitch count: “It doesn’t factor in…We’ve asked Saito to do more than we’re comfortable with. We’re doing some mixing and matching yesterday not based on matchups. We’re trying to go not just on matchups and rest. We’re trying not to hurt anybody…I think regardless of who’s hitting, we want our pitchers to expand the zone, especially a pitcher like Saito, who has had some command issues.”

On what kept Tito up last night: “Just losing. Sometimes you lose tough games. You lose a tough game, it’s hard to turn the button off and sleep…There wasn’t a whole lot to second guess because we used just about everyone on our team.”

On making a move to help ease the strain on the bullpen after last night’s marathon: “Yeah, we will. We’re gonna have to cover ourselves tonight, We’re in the process of doing that.”

On Victor Martinez’s daily effect on the lineup: “Who’s pitching for us, who’s pitching for them, rest, production, health. There’s a number of things taken into consideration. Tonight, we’re going to get into New York probably 4, 4:30, 5 in the morning. We probably won’t catch Tek tomorrow. We’ll catch him tonight, even though last night was a long night… We’ll catch Victor tomorrow. It’s Smoltz, who hasn’t been here for years and has that relationship with Tek etched in stone. Even though Victor’s new, Smoltzy is relatively new too. There’s a level of cooperation that needs to go on here right now, which I think our guys are doing a great job of. Ultimately what we’re tying to do is win, and guys are sacrificing a little bit of their personal stuff for the good of the team. I think it’s working out really well.

“There’s probably some comfort level with guys who Tek has caught here, and caught very well with success. There’s a lot of things that go into it. We try to use good judgment. We try to look ahead and have somewhat of an idea, and when things crop up, you’re prepared to make a change and have some balance in your lineup.”

On his latest conversation with Daisuke Matsuzaka: “We had a pretty good conversation on the phone the other day, but like he said, we need to have a face-to-face, which I agree with. We had a tough week. It was a good meeting, a real productive meeting. I stressed that we all make mistakes. It’s how you go from there that’s important. He understands that and wants to, and I think he’s actually in a good place. He looks terrific…He’s off the mound again in about a week. I know that’s a little bit of a slow progression, but I think we made some huge strides. The one thing we’ve done is we communicated, and we forced ourselves to communicate. It doesn’t mean it’s always going to be all fuzzy and hugs and stuff like that, but we’ve had some good honest communication, and that’s important. I think this will be better going forward.”

On Matsuzaka conversing with Francona in English: “He read me something he wrote in English…It meant a lot to me. He’s working on his English. This is a good kid here. We’re talking about one of the premier pitchers to come out of Japan. We’ve had our ups and downs and differences of opinion, but he’s s good kid. Everyone makes mistakes. I think this is going to be good going forward.

On the recent new look of the outfield: “Jason Bay is ready to play tonight. JD ran pretty well last night…We’ll play Rocco in right. They’ve got Price pitching, a left-hander, having Rocco’s bat will be helpful, and with a quick turnaround we don’t push JD where he ends up missing a couple games against those righties in New York. Reddick has been good for us. He gave us a surge of energy. This kid will run right through the wall if you tell him to. He’s still learning. There’s times when he will expand the strike zone…He’s got some thunder in is bat, and he has some bat speed. It’s been kind of fun to watch him. It’s going to be interesting to see where his career goes, because when he squares the ball up, it comes off the bat like he’s a lot bigger than he is.”

Read More: 2003, Daisuke Matsuzaka, David Ortiz, jason bay
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