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Francona on D&H: I think Pedroia will be back

08.25.10 at 11:52 am ET
By

Terry Francona

Red Sox manager Terry Francona joined the Dale & Holley show on Wednesday morning for his weekly discussion on the Red Sox. This week, the Boston skipper talked about Dustin Pedroia’s injury situation and Michael Jordan’s baseball playing days as portrayed in ESPN’s 30 for 30 “Jordan Rides the Bus.”

“The best way I can put it is that he passed all the tests and I think everybody felt he was safe to come back and try to play,” Francona said of Pedroia. “Now in saying that, they also warned him, and very aggressively, that if he felt pain, he’d have to let us know because that’s when he could do damage. So, when he felt some pain, we immediately went and got a scan and the scan showed there was no further damage, which we were very relieved. Since he was sore, we put him on the DL.”

Francona also touched on the difference of receiving criticism as a player and as a manager of a team.

Below is the transcript of the conversation. To hear the interview, visit the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

Last night it was pretty obvious that the field was going to be tough to play on. It doesn’t look much better today, does it?

No, but we’re getting a better forecast. I know it’s ugly out there right now but it sounds like in the next couple hours, most of this is going to be out of here and we’re going to play. It might not be the best day we’ve ever seen and as the day progresses, I think we’re going to be okay. That’s alright because you know what, sometimes in the day games when it’s not sunny, it’s a heck of a lot easier to see and the field is a little mushy. That was kind of the problem last night, the forecast wasn’t getting better. I kind of said that we were chasing our tails, by the time we got on the field it would be too sloppy to play. Finally, probably cooler heads prevailed and we figured out this wasn’t going to work.

How does last night’s postponement affect the pitching matchups and lineups today?

Well, so far, we have the same exact lineup as we did last night, so does Seattle for the first game. Now in Game 2, we’ll probably have some changes, I don’t think they’ll be wholesale changes. When we play doubleheaders early in the year, you pretty much don’t see everybody play. This isn’t really that time of the year and we basically didn’t play last night and we don’t play tomorrow, so you’re going to see a lot of guys probably play both games. That’s the time of the year it is.

Did you have a discussion with Josh Beckett and Jon Lester on which pitcher will go in which game today?

No, John Farrell and I certainly did and we were pretty stuck on the idea of staying right where we were. If there would have been something I think we felt like we needed to ask them, we would have. But we pretty much wanted to say where we were.

There have been a lot of opinions on some of the medical things that have happened with your team this year. What is the story with Dustin Pedroia and having to go back on the DL?

Yeah, he sure did. You know what we did was and I think it’s pretty well documented, [Pedroia] saw Dr. [Thomas] Gill, Dr. [George] Theodore, Dr. [Lewis] Yocum. There are actually a couple things we’re trying to get done today, Dr. Anderson, Dr. Deland just trying to get more information. The best way I can put it is that he passed all the tests and I think everybody felt he was safe to come back and try to play. Now in saying that, they also warned him, and very aggressively, that if he felt pain, he’d have to let us know because that’s when he could do damage. So, when he felt some pain, we immediately went and got a scan and the scan showed there was no further damage, which we were very relieved. Since he was sore, we put him on the DL.

When you look back, if he played more games…I don’t know, nobody is perfect. Would I be lying if I said we didn’t want him back? Of course not. We desperately want this kid back playing for us and I hope and I think you guys know me well enough to know that we’d never put anybody in harm’s way on purpose. We care about our guys. It’s been a weird year, we’ve had a lot of things go wrong. I think it’s sometimes the way things are communicated. Again, the Jacoby [Ellsbury] thing, that’s a never-ending story. What I cared about is that we couldn’t get the kid on the field and he’s got broken ribs. How it gets regurgitated, I’m not that concerned about.

Was there progress on Pedroia’s part that he told you there was pain because I can see him thinking that he could tough it out?

I think like most athletes, he probably downplayed what he was feeling because of his excitement to get out there and play. I know a lot of fans and you hear the stories about pampered athletes, but there’s probably just as many or more stories about guys that want to get out in the field. You’ve been around Pedroia enough to know that’s the case. This guy was probably willing to say anything and talk himself into it. Again, when you get him quietly away from everybody and ask him, “Okay, what do you really got here?” Before that one game, that’s probably where we were at. He was a little concerned so it made us concerned, so we pulled the plug and before we wanted to play him again, we wanted him to get looked at and then we end up putting him on the disabled list. That doesn’t mean he isn’t going to come back and play because I actually think he will. But I think we’ll need to keep an eye on him and again, we’ll just do the best we can.

I have a feeling that with a guy like Pedroia, he would play the same way in rehab assignments. So, I don’t think more rehab assignments would have made much of a difference?

Well, I kind of agree. I understand if a guy has a hamstring, a guy like David Ortiz or someone, you say, “Go out there and give us your four at-bats, we know you’re hurting.” [Pedroia] has to play the way he plays. And quite frankly if he doesn’t, you’re getting him more in name than what he does. Part of what makes him a good player is his ability to steal bases, make the plays defensively, be all over the field, things like that. So, I don’t know if that’s ever going to work if you tell him to slow down?

Did you really have Michael Jordan call Pedroia and talk to him about injuries?

Pedey was talking about it the other day and saying something about he thought Michael had the same injury. Now, Pedey has had 17 guys that have had the same injury, Bill Walton to Yao Ming. So, I was kind of messing around with him and I thought Pedey would kind of get a kick out of it if I called MJ. I told him, “Hang on a minute, I’ll get him on the line.” Well, five minutes later we had Michael and I think Pedey got a kick out of it.

What did Jordan say to him?

I don’t call Michael very much just because I know how much people bug him. But because of Pedey, I knew that Michael would enjoy talking to him, and he did. He was almost fatherly in his advice. He was like, “I went through this, it’s tough, you got to listen.” Pedey was all ears and that was good. When guys like Michael Jordan talk, people are apt to listen more.

Did you get a chance to watch ESPN’s 30 for 30 on Jordan?

I actually watched part of it and I thought maybe because I lived through it, I actually thought it was kind of disappointing. They were interviewing the real estate lady and I could have done without all of that. … Then they used, and I don’t know why, a stunt double and I never did quite figure that out. They had so much footage of him playing baseball, again I’m not a producer, but it didn’t do much for me.

Did you agree that if baseball hadn’t been on strike next year, Michael would have continued to play baseball?

Yes, yes I do. I think when we were going through that very difficult time in baseball, I think it gave him an opportunity to do a ton of thinking. He didn’t want to get placed in a really difficult situation with the guys that were crossing and the replacement players and it gave him a reason to go back to basketball. I also think that when he went back, he enjoyed playing more. I remember it was on a Sunday and he was on his way to the game and we were at the ballpark and he called from his car. He goes, “You know what, I just wanted to tell you, I enjoy basketball more now. I watch what you guys do and you love what you guys do.” And I remember sitting there thinking, “You know what, that’s pretty cool.”

And I didn’t realize how well he played in the Arizona Fall League after your season.

He did a good job, he did a really good job. He was starting to get the hang of it. He was so hungry for the lingo and he always watched. He was really good for me because I knew him so well by then, that he helped with a lot of the younger guys, attitudes and how to do things. Because we had some guys with a few issues and he was helpful in a lot of areas.

He was helpful to you too in pickup basketball.

Yeah, we had a couple blowouts. We got in an argument on the golf course one day, I remember pulling some clubs out of his bag I was mad at him. On the basketball court, he was screaming at me. Those stories about his competitiveness, those aren’t exaggerated.

Is he like Pedroia in that regard?

You know who he reminds me of? Yeah, Pedey is a good name, Pete Rose is a good name. I think those are guys that are the best at what they do. They don’t feel like you can beat them, ever. That’s probably why they lose so many bets, they always think they’re going to win.

I don’t know if you can answer this but did you talk to Johnny Damon in the last couple days?

No and I understand that was coming. I really can’t. We get these things all the time about tampering and it’s a pretty hefty fine. I don’t know if they’re sending those to Tampa because I saw Joe [Maddon] made some comments but we really can’t. I understand why you would ask. Don’t have my head in the sand but I really can’t.

For you, where has the criticism been more personal? Has it been as a manger or was it as a player?

Oh, as a manager I’m sure. As a player, shoot, when you’re hitting .230, you’re hitting .230. But I don’t know. Right now, when you’re doing something in a place like Boston or Philadelphia or New York, whatever you do isn’t going to be popular with everybody. Shoot, if you’re trying to please people, you’re in the wrong line of work. Maybe sometimes it gets misunderstood with the media, but I’m not too worried about being criticized. I do think people have an obligation. I told you guys before, to have an opinion is great. But to have an informed opinion is harder and you have to work at it. That’s just what I would hope for and I guess sometimes I feel people come up a little short.

What’s the thought process in making Daniel Bard a relief pitcher? Looking at Stephen Strasburg in Washington, wouldn’t the team be better off in the long run having him be a starter?

Well, let’s see. One thing, Strasburg is on the DL and hurt. At the time, you have to remember, Daniel Bard was a two-pitch pitcher. He threw real hard, he didn’t have good command of his fastball and he had a breaking ball that was in-between. Well, now they put him in the bullpen and tried to refine the delivery and make it very simple. Look, instead of trying to figure out a way to go out there for nine innings with two pitches, go out there for one inning, try to command the fastball and now the breaking ball is tightening up and he’s adding a changeup. So, what you’re talking about is guy who’s matured as a reliever but if you would have asked him to do that a few years ago and start, yeah the arm was tremendous but you would be looking at a guy that would have to work so hard to get through five innings because he was a two-pitch pitcher and his pitches weren’t even defined yet. So again, this is a guy who’s really gotten better.

We talked about how you’re a better gambler than MJ. If you were a gambling man, would you start this thing on time today?

Yeah. Oh, wait a minute, no. I don’t know. You know what guys, we’re going to play. Who knows about this weather, you guys have the most unbelievable weather up here I’ve ever seen. But we’re going to play. We might get halted but we’re going into it with the attitude of being ready and when they pull the tarp, let’s go.

Read More: Dustin Pedroia, Michael Jordan, Terry Francona,
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