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Terry Francona on The Big Show: Ortiz ‘can handle himself’

06.08.11 at 3:49 pm ET

As always when the Red Sox and Yankees play, there was a bit of controversy Tuesday night after Sox slugger David Ortiz flipped his bat following a home run in their 6-3 win. Red Sox manager Terry Francona was a guest on The Big Show on Wednesday and offered his take.

“I don’t think it matters. We’ve got [Tim Wakefield] going. He’ll handle it,” Franconca joked. “David’s a big boy. He can handle himself. I don’t know if there’s any difference in somebody hitting a home run and looking in their dugout and waving or something like that. David’s a big boy he can handle himself.”

As for the notion of baseball’s unwritten rules, Franconca dismissed those. “I don’t know about the unwritten rules. I think the people who are writing these rules aren’t in the game. I don’t know who’s writing them. I think there a lot of different books. Everybody’s got their own thoughts. I think David respects the game. I think he flipped his bat, I don’t know, he just flipped his bat. David’s a big boy. He can handle himself.”

To hear the whole interview, visit The Big Show audio on demand page.

Here’s a transcription of the rest of the interview.

Is the fact that Jon Lester is struggling but still earning victories a good sign?

I think it’s a great sign. Sometimes these things don’t even out. If he can get some wins when he doesn’t have his A game going, he’s going to get it together. We’ve all seen it. He’s healthy. He’s not being as consistent right now as he has been. When he dials it, we’ve all seen it, he keeps it. I think that bodes really well for us.

On nights when you don’t have your A game you’ve got to find a way to stay out there. Against the Yankees that’s hard because they make you work so hard and if you don’t execute your pitches you’ll drive that pitch count up in a hurry, as they did with Lester. But to his credit he stayed out there and he kept them off the board.

How as Ortiz’z ability to hit lefthanders affected the lineup this season?

It does a couple of things. One, it lets me answer a heck of a lot less questions. The second thing is last year we were vulnerable against left-handers. When David didn’t get hits or JD and that happened probably too many times we had a tough time. Now we’re not having to drop him in the order. We can hit him fifth. We can hit him behind [Kevin Youkilis] and he’s a big presence right in the middle, whether it’s against lefties or righties. We have become used to that over the years.

For whatever reason, I know a lot of people thought he was getting old and everyone was taking their shots at him. But he got himself in a position where he wasn’t able to show his bat speed. He was swinging at balls out of the zone. He was check-swinging. He was behind the fastball. He was ahead of the breaking ball. Now he’s shortening up with two strikes. he’s not striking out very much at all. He’s hitting the ball to left field and when they come in on him he turns it he hits a home run. It’s fun to watch. He’s been productive and he’s probably going to be more productive as the season wears on because it will get hot.

How’s [Clay] Buchholz doing? What’s the status on him? And secondly isn’t it the greatest thing in the world to see an old geezer like Wakefield out there getting it done for you?

I don’t care how old they are. It’s a good feeling seeing guys get it done. We’re not biased on age or anything like that or where they come from. We just want to win. Buchholz is fine. We didn’t actually have to back him up a couple days; I think we get concerned. When you tart talking about starting pitching, not taking care of them, we probably over-analyzed, maybe over-worried a little bit but when you lose starting pitching, man it scares you. And we don’t want to do that, so we just gave him a couple days to kind of let his back settle down, and I think he’ll be just fine.

You are going to lose [Jonathan Papelbon] for up to three games. You don’t know, do you, when that appeal is going to be heard, and with [Bobby] Jenks tweaking his back last night, how do you schedule? Do you have to monitor this thing now?

Good question. I don’t know how to do that. It’s not like they call you and you know let you in on the process. I mean you’re kind of at their mercy and I really don’t quite know how it is. Hopefully they’ll have some communication with our front office so we’re not completely blindsided because again it’s tough. I actually don’t know how they feel about it, whether they want to communicate or they will communicate or it’s just on their time table. Hopefully we’ll be able to find some things out in the near future just so, again, we can make the best decision as possible.

If you know that you can use him for the two nights before that, and lets say you don’t need him for next Tuesday or Wednesday’s game, but then the suspension comes up Thursday and it hurts you for possibly up to five days.

Yeah it’s bad, and I think you’re at their mercy. I certainly can’t imagine that they would allow us to pitch him 40 pitches one night and say, “OK we’re going to appeal,” and do it the very next day. The reason they suspend people is to make it hurt a little bit. Again, you just … whatever. We’ll just do what we’re supposed to do and we’ll do it the best way we can.

Last night, [Bobby] Jenks came out of the game with … what was that, a back spasm he had?

We’re hoping, we’re hoping. It grabbed him pretty good. If you watched the game, you could see him and he was a little unsteady. It did settle down when he came out of the game which is good. We knew he was going to be stiff and sore today. We got him over right now, he’s probably just finishing up getting an MRI. We got to get a handle on this because again if it’s a spasm, and it’ll settle down in a day or two, that’s one thing. If there’s some bleeding in there or some fluid, you got to be careful so we’re trying to figure it out right now.

The next biggest thing would be Matt Albers coming in there because he’s about the second biggest guy on the team. How do you like his flexibility? The way he’s helped you out as kind of a surprise for you this year.

He’s been terrific. You got a lot of nerve getting on his body. Jeez. But yeah to answer your question, [Albers has] done a great job. I know there’s been a couple games lately where he’s given up some runs, but he competed for a job on the team and his regular season started in February and he’s really been a blessing for us because he’s filled some really important innings.

Why do things seem to always even out between the Sox and Yankees?

I don’€™t know. I wish I knew. A couple years ago we won, what? The first eight. Then we lost the next nine. I don’€™t know. I think some of it is the way the schedule is because we seem to play them in spurts. We play them at home and away, and then we may not see them for a month or two. And then you play them twice again. I don’€™t know. I really don’€™t. If I knew we’€™d probably win more than we lost. It’€™s kind of crazy. Since I’€™ve been here, I think we’€™re almost .500 in the eight years so go figure.

How has the mentality changed since the slow start to the season?

I think we needed to believe that [we were a better team than our record indicated]. Again, It’€™s a little hard. There was no getting around what our record was. When you’€™re trying to explain it every day, there’€™s a reason you’€™re trying to explain it, because you’€™re not doing too well. I think you’€™ve got to be strong enough to realize you’€™re going to bounce back. And you’€™ve got to be patient and it’€™s not easy. I think our guys did a great job. When we lose now it’€™s aggravating, but it’€™s not the end of the world because our season is not over. When you’€™re 2-10 and you’€™re looking at teams that are already six games ahead of you, yeah it makes you a little nervous.”

What has Adrian Gonzalez done to impact the lineup, particularly Ortiz?

I think he’€™s had an impact on everybody because you put a bat like that in the middle of the lineup and it affects everybody. As far as maybe the way David’€™s hitting, using the left field side more, I can’€™t imagine he’€™s not influencing him. Everybody watches Gonzy hit and David being a left-handed power hitter; I don’€™t doubt that it’€™s had some effect on him.

What Gonzalez moment has stood out?

The funniest thing, or not funniest, but the most impressive thing I think I’€™ve seen yet was remember the day, this was probably about a month ago. He was facing somebody. Where the heck were we? I think it was Baltimore. A guy that was really tough on him. And he said, ‘I’€™m going to go up there and I’€™m going to give him the Ichiro’€™. And he took that kind of step forward and hit a three-run home run.

And I remember thinking to myself, ‘€˜You’€™ve got to be kidding me. This isn’€™t fair. This guy is unbelievable.’ You watch him take batting practice, he’€™s got a plan. He executes it every day. He’€™s routine oriented. And again, every good hitter is. He watches video. I guess I wish fans, not that I want them all in the clubhouse; I wish they could see what most of these guys do. They prepare so hard. I think they’€™d have a greater appreciation for what they do.

Is there anything he can’t do?

He’€™s the slowest player I’€™ve ever seen. He’€™s Doug Mirabelli slow.

Read More: adrian gonzalez, Big Show, bobby jenks, Clay Buchholz
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