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Francona on D&H: ‘We don’t want anything to get in our way’

06.30.10 at 5:57 pm ET
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Red Sox manager Terry Francona called into The Dale & Holley show for his weekly discussion on everything Red Sox. This week, the topic was what has been on everybody’€™s mind, the surplus of injuries to the squad, including those of Dustin Pedroia and Víctor Martínez.

‘€œI think Víctor was kind of hoping that when he got the inflammation out, he could play. I think pretty quickly, he realized that that wasn’€™t happening,’€ said Francona. ‘€œWe waited a day out of respect, and maybe a little bit of hope, but we realized he was going to the DL.’€

The following are highlights of the interview. To listen to the full audio, click on The Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

On the recent plague of injuries and if it hampers the team:

I know what happened out there and everything, but I don’€™t think we feel that way, especially during a game. We get so caught up in winning the game that you just move on, and I don’€™t mean that unfeeling, we care about our guys, but during the game we need to win. We certainly get updates from the trainers during the game, but our objective is to win and we don’€™t want anything to get in the way.

On nearly blowing an 8-1 lead over Tampa Bay Tuesday night:

I think there’€™s a couple of ways to look at it. First of all both [Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon] had two days off, so we’€™re OK there. With the last day in San Francisco and the day off [the day before] yesterday, it’€™s not like they were being overused. We went to [Hideki Okajima] and he gave up the home run, and then he gave up the hit, so rather than let [the Giants] get back into the game, we brought in Bard to snuff out the 8th, then we start [Scott] Atchison and we could have gone right to Pap, we’€™ve done that before with a four run lead. We went to Atch; it didn’€™t work out quite as we wanted, we brought in Dustin Richardson to not only get outs, but to buy Pap some time, and it actually worked pretty good. Neither Bard nor Pap threw very much.

On Joe Maddon leaving in James Shields to face David Ortiz in the 5th inning:

No, I’€™m not surprised. I actually saw him make a trip to the mound and we don’€™t know what they’€™re saying, but I think a lot of times when a manager or a pitching coach goes to the mound, what they’€™re trying to do is create a little doubt in the hitter. ‘€œIf we do pitch to you, we’€™re going to pitch around you,’€ things like that. How many times do you see a guy throw a first pitch fastball inside and the batter freezes because he’€™s outthinking himself? David didn’€™t do that, he was ready, he took a great swing and it got us going, because we hadn’€™t done anything up to that point.

On Adrian Beltré offensively:

Well, he’€™s had some pretty big years now. He’€™s had some injuries, [but] he’€™s had some amazing years. We’€™re seeing him at his best; he’€™s held it for a long time. He’€™s hitting everything. He hit a ball down the right field line last night; the ball had to be a foot outside [the plate]. With two strikes, he shortens up a bit, he squares up the ball to all fields. It’€™s obvious he feels great about himself. I think his biggest fear is that we’€™re going to walk to him and tell him he has a day off, so we’€™re going to stay away from him.

On Adrian Beltré defensively:

I think he’€™s made some errors early, whether you chalk it up to consistency or maybe a new team, new field. He’€™s also made some unbelievable plays. I guess from where I sit, if you told me that you put his numbers across the board offensively and defensively, I’€™d probably say, ‘€œOK, I’€™ll take it.’€

On the foul pop in the 3rd to Varitek:

It actually happens pretty quick. Once it’€™s over and you have a chance to think about it, you’€™re like, ‘€œWhoa, that would have been quite a collision.’€ As it’€™s coming, I’€™m actually looking at the ball and thinking myself, ‘€œBoy, ‘€˜Tek doesn’€™t look like he’€™s under that.’€ Then as you see it unwind, or you watch it in slow motion, you’€™re thinking, ‘€œBoy, that had a chance of being quite a collision.’€

On Fenway Park‘€™s infield:

I talk to Dave [Mellor, the head groundskeeper] a ton; and the infielder’€™s talk to Dave too, which is good. Dave’€™s really good about [keeping up with them]. Every fielder has their own thing. Good groundskeepers, they talk to their infielders. What the players are looking for is consistency and each guy is a little bit different. Early in the season, there was no way to have that consistency, because they had to dig up the infield [because of the ice rink over the winter] and we knew that. David told me in spring training, he said that the infield has to grow back in. We all knew that, it was just that balls were taking funny hops, people don’€™t want to hear excuses, but the second hop especially was getting that top-spin and guys were kind of getting stuck in between. It just created some doubt, which we didn’€™t really need because we had enough things going wrong.

On the most consistent infield in the league:

Some of them have changed over the years, there’€™ve been some really good ones though. Chicago White Sox, the guy there, it’€™s like his baby. You see him on his hands and knees out there. I know Roger [Bossard] is really good friends with Dave. It’€™s a great field.

There’€™s a lot of good fields, I mean they’€™re a heck of a lot better than there used to be, with the new technology and everything. Some of it is you’€™re at the mercy of the weather. If you’€™re in a northeastern place and you get bad weather and they start pulling the tarp, you’€™re at the mercy of that. There’€™s not much grounds crews can do, so you just hope for good weather.

On Víctor Martínez going on the DL:

We held off [making a decision] until he was examined, but no, there was no way [he wasn'€™t going on the DL]. He’€™s going to be in a splint for at least a week, 10 days, maybe even more. You got to get the swelling out of there and you getting get this thing to heal. I think Víctor was kind of hoping that when he got the inflammation out, he could play. I think pretty quickly, he realized that that wasn’€™t happening. We waited a day out of respect, and maybe a little bit of hope, but we realized he was going to the DL.

On Dustin Pedroia‘€™s injury:

He’€™s got to be like a little caged animal right now. Not playing is harder [for him], he’€™s trying to figure out what to do with himself. He’€™s sitting on the bench in the dugout last night, he just didn’€™t know what to do with himself. Whatever the timeframe is’€¦ my guess is that he’€™ll be on the under. He’€™s unique and he’€™ll figure a way to get back, I don’€™t doubt that.

On Papelbon’€™s wavering confidence:

Well, I guess [he wavers] but Pap’€™s done a great job of moving on and I think the second night in Denver was a great example. He gives up the lead [in the 9th], and that’€™s after the night before [doing the same thing], and then he goes out and gets them out [in the 10th inning]. When you give Pap the ball, it’€™s a good feeling, and it’€™s been that way ever since he’€™s been here. Even his first year, when he was real young and he took over for [Keith] Foulke, you give Pap that ball and he’€™s got that look.

He’€™s all business and the game’€™s not going to quicken up on him. He’€™s run into a few hiccups, but it’€™s still a good feeling. There are a lot of teams in the league that would be happy to have him, we’€™re one of them. When things don’€™t go perfect, that’€™s just the way the game is sometimes. Just try to figure it out and get better, and we also know when things don’€™t go perfect, he’€™ll go out there with John Farrell and try to figure it out.

On considering walking Jason Giambi last week in Denver:

You need to know who’€™s hitting behind him. Why would we, I guess my point is. Going into that at-bat, Giambi was 1-for-14, with no home runs as a pinch-hitter. The guy behind him [Todd Helton] was really hitting better. Every time a guy hits a home run, I think that’€™s a little bit of a surprise, but hitting as of this year, .190? He got a pitch up and he whacked it, we just can’€™t walk everybody every time. It just doesn’€™t work.

On Josh Beckett‘€™s return:

He does feel great, but he’€™s been out for a while now and he can’€™t go from a dead-no throwing to pitching in a live game, that’€™s not going to work either. Thursday, tomorrow, he’€™ll face some hitters, which is good and will get him on that five day cycle. He’€™s going to need three or four appearances in rehab games, so that’€™s 20 days. We’€™re looking at the end of July, at best. It’€™s not that he doesn’€™t feel good, but we got to ramp him up in the right way or just all the time down. We shortcut it, we’€™re going to do something wrong.

On Papelbon quieting down from his previous ‘€œoutrageous’€ behavior:

I also think when guys have kids, you see the natural maturation. I think that’€™s a normal process, I think we’€™ve all been like that. When you don’€™t have kids, I know you’€™re number one [in your life] and then all of a sudden, when you have children, you go from being number one to way, way down on the list and everything changes. I think we’€™ve all seen that.

On using Gustavo Molina to catch Tim Wakefield:

A lot of it depends on how ‘€˜Tek does. ‘€˜Tek was actually cramping up last night, which for whatever reason, a lot of guys seem to be [doing]. Coming off the road trip, I don’€™t know if we were tired or Denver had something to do with it, the long flight. We had four or five guys seeming to be cramping up. Even coaches [cramping up], so I don’€™t know if we were just tired, but ‘€˜Tek was cramping up early and they were trying to keep him stretched out so the cramp didn’€™t turn into a pull. Now, he handled it great, he got through the game, but if ‘€˜Tek got a foul tip or if he’€™s tired, we’€™ll catch Molina. The plan is to catch ‘€˜Tek as much as we can, but again we’€™re going to try to use some common sense because you reach for a little too much and then a guy gets tired or he gets hurt. Once you go too far, you can’€™t go back so we’€™ll try to use some common sense.

On Ryan Westmoreland:

I didn’€™t get to see him yesterday, with everything that was going on, I was on the field and I missed him. I was mad, but I did see his picture on the television last night. Boy, if that doesn’€™t bring a tear to your eye [then nothing will]. The last time I saw him, he was sitting in a wheelchair in my office, upbeat as he could be, but really struggling. To see what he’€™s doing now, if that doesn’€™t warm your heart, then nothing [will].

On the Rays being no-hit three times in the past two years:

My theory is that on a certain night anybody could do it, but on those nights where things are really clicking, like they have to be, you need to be good, you need to be a little fortunate and then you have to be good enough to take advantage of that good luck. That’€™s why those things happen. They seem to happen in cycles, you see a couple and then you won’€™t see one for a while. I don’€™t think it matters. Some nights the guy has got it working and it doesn’€™t seem to matter who they’€™re facing, or what they’€™re facing, they just got it working and you can see it coming.

That’€™s what is so amazing about Nolan Ryan. When you look at what he’€™s done and how close he’€™s come so many times’€¦ if you look at how many times he got to the 7th inning, it’€™s amazing. I’€™ve seen it, the number of two-hitters, or the amount of no-hitters he’€™s carried through the 7th inning, it’€™s unbelievable. I understand you get a pitcher who is commanding one night that maybe is not a 20-game winner, and everything is working. Well, OK that’€™s something special, but understand that what Nolan did was incredible.

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