Transcript of Terry Francona on The Big Show: Andrew Miller ‘in our plans, that’s for sure’
|06.15.11 at 4:03 pm ET|
Red Sox manager Terry Francona joined The Big Show Wednesday to talk about baseball, hockey, Game 7s and his recent conversation with Bruins coach Claude Julien.
Francona called Julien before the Bruins’ Game 6 victory Monday night.
“Yeah I talked to him about the power play a little bit,” Francona joked. “Guys, I don’t even know what a line is.”
Following is a transcript of the conversation. The hear the interview, check out The Big Show audio on demand page.
So is [not liking hockey] a Western Pennsylvania thing? How did you never grab on to the Penguins? What happened?
You know what, when I was growing up I never went to a Penguins game. They used to come down every once in a while. My dad ran an ice arena when he retired at the park and they’d come down every so often and work out. I thought that was pretty cool, but it just doesn’t interest me. I actually told [Julien] that. I said, “Hey, I like the way you do things, I love the way you handle yourself.” And from what everybody tells me, the media that are around him, they love him. I said, “I don’t get into it, but I just want to wish you luck.” I didn’t want to lie to him.
I get the excuse that you grew up in a baseball family, but you said your dad ran an ice rink?
Yeah. How about that? You ought to see me on skates, it’s pretty great.
So, what did [Julien] say to you?
He was great. He was great. He said, “I appreciate the call,” and we just talked for a minute. First of all, I couldn’t believe he answered his phone. I mean, he’s got a lot going on. I just heard so many nice things about him. I just wanted to call and wish him luck.
Claude probably said to you, “That’s all right, I don’t like baseball, either, so we’re even.”
No, he was actually really cool. He was really nice. And again, I’m glad I ended up talking to him. Like I said, I hear so many nice things about him, I just wanted to wish him luck.
How different are Game 7s from just any other big playoff game?
We’ve had so many elimination games since I’ve been here that those are obviously every bit as important, because if you don’t win those you don’t get to Game 7. Speaking truthfully, and I really mean this, I don’t know why, and I wish I had a better answer, and I’ve had people tell me this, they’ve noticed it: I’m so much more relaxed once we get there and are able to enjoy it.
We’ve talked about Dave Roberts stealing [against the Yankees in the 2004 ALCS] and it all looked like it was in slow motion and I enjoyed the heck out of it. I never once, for one minute, thought he’d be thrown out. I just really love it. You just work so hard to get there. It’s not like I don’t care. It’s not like I don’t get nervous. I just love it. We’re so competitive and want to win so bad, I just enjoy the heck out of it. I’m glad, I’m glad it doesn’t have to be over for it to set in and go, “Hey, that was fun. I enjoyed the whole thing.”
I’ve told people before how crazy you are in these situations. When you were down in the 2007 ALCS against the Indians, you were just hanging out. You weren’t nervous.
It’s probably more excitement. I don’t know. You can’t change how you’re built. Sometimes you’d like to. I just really enjoy it. I mean it’s exciting. You know, you work so hard to get there and I just really like it. And again, part of it’s probably because of the faith I have in our players, and we do a lot of preparation, so I get more relaxed. We do so much preparation in the playoffs that it helps relax me. So, I just try to go about the game and have fun and hope we win.
Which one of your players in both of those runs — ’04 and ’07 — was most like you in those situations, where you knew they were going to perform and they knew they were going to perform, but they were very relaxed?
I don’t know. I remember back in ’07 when we were in Denver, and Pedey [Dustin Pedroia] and myself and Mikey Lowell had this thing going every day where we were playing cribbage. And we played three-way, and we were having fun. There was obviously a lot of stuff going back and forth, and that was when the security guy wouldn’t let Pedey in the ballpark [laughter] — “Hey I’m really a player,” and the guy said, “Nah. Show me your ID.” And he said something like, “Go ask Jeff Francis who I am.” Pedey came in that day, he had a lather going and he was all worked up. I remember thinking, “Boy I don’t want this to be over. I mean, I want to win, but I’m not ready to go home.” It was just, it was fun.
It’s funny that different athletes approach things differently. Some guys say I’m just going to go out and treat this like any other game and have fun. Others talk about it emotionally, like this is what you dream of when you’re on the playground as a kid. And then others seem to get a little bit nervous to the point where sometimes they almost don’t’ perform at the same level that they do in a regular-season game. Do you see that with different guys?
Yeah, I think that’s normal. I think all the things that you just talked about are normal. I think that’s why we talk a lot about during the season about not needing to raise the level when you get to the playoffs. Try to keep the level high all the time, because you can’t hit a button to make your game better. So, if you treat every game like it’s important, then when you get to those games like that, guys don’t change what they’re doing. That’s an important thing.
And there’s no getting around it — they are different. You manage different. Shoot, when you’re in the playoffs or World Series and you have days off, you might go to your bullpen differently for sure. Sometimes you take gambles that you certainly wouldn’t during the year. So, I think you need to recognize that, but at the same time, if you start asking players to do different things or bunt when they haven’t bunted all year, that’s not going to work.
You said you manage different, you do thing differently. How about when you’re away from the park? Because, right now, it’s a long time before Game 7 of the Bruins playing— 8 p.m. can’t come fast enough. We’re thinking about it right now and we’re not even playing. When you were in those situations vs. the Yankees, vs. the Cardinals, vs. the Rockies, Indians, is that all you could think about, or did you make yourself say, “Look, at 11 a.m. in the morning, I’m sorry, I’m just not going to be thinking about the Cleveland Indians. I’ll wait until 12:30 p.m.”?
No. You know what, that’s all I do anyway. I got here today about 11:15 a.m. When the season’s going on, that’s all we do. That’s probably why I like my job. There’s nothing else, I can’t wait to get to the ballpark. I’m miserable sitting at the hotel. When I’m at the hotel I just keep thinking, “Well I’d like to get to the ballpark.” And once I get here I relax, and you get to be around the coaches and the players, and that’s what I enjoy. I really don’t want to do something different. Like I said, when I’m at the hotel, all I want to do is come here.
We don’t know the situation with Andrew Miller yet, that I know of, unless you know something that you can reveal on whether he’s opting out or not, but would you be willing to go — because Tim Wakefield’s been pretty damn good for you — would you be willing to go with a six-man rotation?
You’re getting a little bit ahead, and I can’t give you all the details because I’d have to kill you, and I don’t want to do that. [laughter] … Andrew’s in our plans, that’s for sure. I think Theo spent some time talking with him yesterday. He also talked to him again today. The best way to say it is this kid’s in our plans and we really like him. And I think in the near future things will kind of become a little bit more clear as to what we’re going to do. I can’t really go much past that now.
You had some back-and-forth when you were in New York. Guys were getting hit, everyone was saying the ball was slipping out of their hands. Sometimes that’s true. Most of the time it’s not. When do you make the determination that a pitch was accidental and somebody is throwing at you? And how do you determine now is the time to respond? How does that process work?
That’s a really hard question. I think if you talk to any manager, they’d probably say that’s right up on top. Again, most of the time the game takes care of itself. When you have veteran players they usually take it upon themselves to police the game and that’s good. Actually, CC [Sabathia] hit David [Ortiz] in the leg. I thought it was pretty obvious he was trying to make a point. I thought he made a pretty good point and then he got us out afterward.
That’s a good way to do it. You know, you start heaving the ball around someone’s head, that gets a little scary. We’ve seen that happen to [Kevin Youkilis] a few times over there and that’s when it makes you think a couple times. But, guys get hit low and that’s part of the game. You’ve just got to move on.
He seemed to be very upset at the media, David did, about the stat. It’s an incredible stat. … All the success that he’s had against the Yankees in the regular season and the playoffs, isn’t it a little amazing that it took them that long to brush him back or hit him?
Well, when you say brush him back, he’s been brushed back a million times.
Yeah, to hit him.
I think David’s got a reputation that’s probably well deserved. You throw in there, you’d better be careful. Because if you don’t get it in there — you saw his next at-bat. He turned it up a notch. Some guys may shrink when they get hit. David’s not going to do that. And I think it’s his reputation throughout the league. He’s earned that. So, you’d better be careful when you throw it in there. Like you say, it didn’t bother David when he got hit in the leg the other day. He just kind of gave a little smirk and went to first.
I think David’s point was — and he was a little riled up — is that the media doesn’t have to promote stuff like that. When he got hit, the whole crowd cheered. And I think that bothered David a little bit. Certainly not to the extent where [Cowboys receiver] Michael Irvin‘s laying on the ground in Philadelphia and everybody’s going crazy. But I think it bothered him a little bit. I understand that. I don’t blame him.
In Philadelphia they do things differently. That’s your town, buddy. [laughter]
I was at that game. I didn’t cheer.
Remember, you were at the Eagles game and [Terrell Owens] was there and they had the chant going? Tell that story.
The photographer for the A’s when I was [a coach] out there, his name is Z [Michael Zagaris]. He does the 49ers games. He asked me if I wanted to be his assistant when he came to the Eagles game. That meant I could go on the sidelines. All I had to do was carry an extra camera and I could have access to the whole field and the locker room before the game and halftime. That was kind of a treat for me.
So, before the game, you know when they run out to the end zone to do their stuff, they run their little pass plays? I’m out there with Z, and I told him, I said, “Hey, this isn’t real cool.” And the players were kind of like, “Don’t worry about it. It’s no big deal.”
Well, before long, there’s a chant going in the end zone, and it’s, “Tito sucks.” Well, all the players, I think they thought they were yelling, “T.O. sucks.” Finally, a couple of the linebackers ran by me, and they’re like, ‘Hey, that’s you, huh?” I said, “Yeah.” They said, “That’s so cool.” … Yeah, that was really fun.
Time for the Mohegan Sun’s Dinner With Tito question: Are you concerned about Youkilis wearing down as the season goes on due to him playing a more physically demanding position?
No, I think Youk used to wear down a little bit his first couple of years just because he was so emotional. Every at-bat would wear on him. I think he’s learned to handle that. He’s certainly still an emotional kid, but he’s learned to handle that a lot better. And as far as being more demanding, I think he had the time over the winter to get ready for it — strengthen his arm, get his legs under him a little bit. So, I really don’t think so. Again, he’s handled it pretty well. He’s a pretty strong kid. I think he’s going to be fine.
Tito, did you give Claude [Kevin] Millar’s phone number so they know when to pass around the Jack Daniel’s before the game.
[laughter] No, no, no, no. Let’s not go there.
With hockey that could be dangerous, going at those speeds.
I got to enjoy winning the World Series [in 2004] for about an hour-and-a-half. All of a sudden my phone was ringing; I thought I was going to get fired [because of the Millar controversy].
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