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Sean Casey on M&M: Terry Francona ‘has that calming presence’

09.28.11 at 12:17 pm ET

Former Red Sox first baseman and current MLB Network analyst Sean Casey joined Mut & Merloni Wednesday morning to discuss the Sox’ big game against the Orioles Wednesday night and if Boston will put September’s woes in the past.

“The collapse, it’s over,” Casey said. “They don’t worry about that stuff. They’re at game 162, it’s for all the marbles tonight, you’ve got to win. It’s a must-win situation and you’ve got a lot of pros in that clubhouse, you’ve got a lot of veteran guys that have been there, done that. These guys don’t care about what’s going on outside.”

While Boston may have plenty of veterans on the team, many have questioned the mental state of the Red Sox through their collapse. With the obvious pressure that comes in a must-win game, Casey said that certain players will help keep the team loose and relaxed.

“[Dustin] Pedrioa‘s the guy. He’s going to be that gritty, grindy guy, he’s going to be burying guys in the clubhouse, busting people’s chops,” Casey said. “He’s the guy that kind of keeps everybody going over there. And Big Papi [David Ortiz]. Those guys are keeping it loose in the clubhouse.

“You love Tito, too. Because he’s got that calming presence. He’s been there, done that. Everyone wants to roll him under the bus and say Tito this, Tito that, he’s got to go, he’s lost the clubhouse. No, man. This guy has that clubhouse. He’s laid back, which they need right now.”

Following are more highlights from the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

On Ryan Lavarnway: “What a story. You see him come out there, who’s this guy? They lost [Jarrod Saltalamacchia], and if [Jason Varitek] can’t go, he’s got to be pretty banged up. So Lavarnway comes in … he pops two out, four RBIs, a couple of big plays. That one play in the ninth, that swinging bunt that he had to come out to get it, I thought for sure that was a hit. … He makes a great play on that ball. But I don’t know how you play Lavarnway. I think if Tek or Salty can go, you have to go with those guys. But Lavarnway came up huge for them yesterday.”

On the Red Sox’ September struggles: “I think the rotation has been in disarray for a long, long time. I also think that their lineup has been solid. You look at [Jacoby] Ellsbury and Gonzo [Adrian Gonzalez], two of the top guys in the MVP race, Pedroia, Big Papi’s had a huge year. I can’t explain why they’ve struggled so bad in September. The bottom line is they haven’t pitched.”

On Boston’s offense: “Hitting is contagious, that’s the way it goes. I think the one thing that’s scary is, they hit all those home runs, they put up eight runs, and they end pulling it off 8-7. That’s the one thing, if the Red Sox want to win, they have to keep banging, they have to keep putting up runs, they have to keep coming up with those big home runs. And they’ve got the firepower in their lineup to do it.”

On Terry Francona and Theo Epstein: “Guys in that clubhouse love Tito, he’s a great guy to play for. When you’re losing and having this kind of struggles in September and you have a huge payroll and you’re expected to be the best club in baseball, I think there is going to be a certain disconnect, if there is, between Theo and Tito. … Chemistry is great when you’re winning. When you’re losing, chemistry is bad or there’s disconnect here and there, those are the stories. Bottom line is if they go out and win, it’s not even a controversy.”

Read More: David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, Sean Casey, Terry Francona
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