PrintPrint © 2004 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.

Terry Francona pregame quotes
10/17/2004 5:20 PM ET
Q. How much is the inability of the top of your lineup to get on base, Damon in particular, and Bellhorn to an extent, how much has that hurt your lineup?

TERRY FRANCONA: Well, you know what, I mean, they are such huge parts of what we're doing. But we did, we've actually scored some runs. I know the first two games, what happened the first six innings, but we scored eight runs and we have had some offense. The first game we came back and scored a bunch of runs. I admit it's a little abnormal the way we did it, but under normal circumstances, we have probably scored enough runs to win a couple of games.

Q. What would be your plan as far as a Game 5 starter to if you get that far and what kind of challenge has Sheffield been to you guys?

TERRY FRANCONA: Okay. As far as Game 5, the way things were going last night, things were kind of happening in a hurry and as the local guys know, until I speak to people, I'll pass that along to you guys. I need to talk to a few guys first. We need to get together and straighten some things out.

As far as Sheff goes, it's not just Sheff, it's Matsui, the middle of their lineup what they did to us last night, that's, you know, I mean, we spent so much time preparing for the series, just like we did with Anaheim. Same people, same scouts, same coaching staff, and I felt really good about the way we prepared. But a couple of these guys, we have not been able to get them out.

I mean, Matsui had a split off of Schill that was at his shoe tops down away. Last night he hit a fastball up around his chest in. He's covering everything right now, so we're going to have to find a way to do something.

PHYLLIS MERHIGE: If I'm correct that's why a Game 5 starter will not be coming in today?

TERRY FRANCONA: We haven't named him yet.

Q. Even though it didn't work out, how much did you appreciate what Wakefield did last night, telling you he was going to give up his start and pitch last night?

TERRY FRANCONA: I appreciate you bringing that up. Fourth inning, things aren't going our way real well. We're springing the bats but giving up too many runs. Wally and I are standing there going through the game trying to figure out how we are going to piece this thing together and win. And not only do we need to look for Wakefield, he comes up behind us, I could see him behind me and I was trying not to look at him because I was talking to Wally and he said, "What do you need me to do"?

When you're in my shoes or Wally's shoes, it makes you pretty proud. And what he did, he didn't get to start in the first series, he gets bumped back in this series, he volunteers to lose his start to do that for our ballclub, it makes you pretty proud. And I made sure he knew I felt that way.

I hope we get to play long enough where he gets to pitch again because when you're coaching and managing and you have players like that, even under circumstances last night, it makes you very proud.

Q. Have you seen Curt Schilling and is there any update on his condition?

TERRY FRANCONA: I have not seen Schill yet today, no. Because of the late start, guys come in a little bit later than normal and we get this stuff started so early.

Q. What does it say that two teams have won 199 games during the year, in the third game of the series, after a rainout, are out of pitching in the fourth inning, what does that say about the state of pitching in Major League Baseball?

I don't think it says anything about the state of pitching in Major League Baseball. We have good pitching and they do, too. When you have a 10-man staff, or 11-man staff, and in our situation somebody gets hurt, you get to your bullpen, a rocky start and a guy that gets injured, anybody -- you're liable to run into problems. You take that into a bad night when we're locating the way you are and you saw what happened. I don't think it's the state of pitching necessarily. I just think it's the circumstances.

Q. As little as Derek has pitched in the past couple of weeks what does he have to do to be successful tonight?

TERRY FRANCONA: What he's always done: Throw strikes, work ahead, keep the ball down. When he's down, he has a chance to be successful at any moment. I mean, even with men on base, if he's down, he's always got a chance for a double play. He's got to throw strikes.

It's been a while for him. It's set up where he could certainly have an excuse. I don't think he's going to use it. I think he's going to pitch well. And we're certainly pulling for him, but I think he's actually looking forward to this, to kind of show that he deserves to be a starter.

I know it's been tough for him. We were not thrilled about putting him in the bullpen but we also can't start five guys.

Q. Can you just elaborate a little bit more about Matsui, specifically, does he remind you of any other left-handed hitter you've seen in your time, and given his rate of improvement, year one to year two, what does the league have to look forward to the next two, three, four years?

TERRY FRANCONA: I don't know that I could compare him to anybody. I haven't thought about it. You know, he's a real interesting hitter to watch and to break down. I think he has different ideas himself on what he wants to do in his at-bats, he wants to drive the ball, wants to hit the ball to left field, wants to fight the ball off. He wants to bring his weight forward, but his hands don't come forward, a little like Ichiro, but not to that extent. When you want it in, which you need to with him, you'd better get it in because if you don't get it in, he'll put it where he wants to put it, we've seen it all. And when he gets hot, you see a good hitter get hot, you run into problems. Last night it didn't matter, after what we were throwing last night, they were going to hit it. The best hope we had last night was Sheffield would swing so hard he would hurt himself. That's kind of the way the night was going.

Q. Did you give any consideration to using Pedro on short rest, particularly given that it's an elimination game or was there no consideration of that at all?

TERRY FRANCONA: No, no consideration. None.

Q. Is there -- I don't know how much he's done it this year but is there a reason for that or is it just that it was Derek Lowe's start?

TERRY FRANCONA: He's done it no times, I believe. It's just the idea behind that is that we're not trying -- we're trying to win the series, that's what we're here to do. That doesn't give us, in our opinion, an advantage. A rested Derek Lowe, a Pedro on time is our best way to win, we feel.

Considering the fact that you had to use quite a few pitchers out of the bullpen last night what would be your plan tonight if Lowe gets into trouble early?

That's not a good question. (Laughter.)

Everybody is going to be available. I mean, we have no choice. The plan where I'm sitting is, Lowe, Timlin, Foulke, win and play tomorrow.

I don't like your plan. (Laughter.) We'll see what happens.

Q. Does that mean Pedro would be available in relief if need be, if the situation dictated it?

TERRY FRANCONA: Today?

Q. Yes.

TERRY FRANCONA: Well, I don't think we're going to do that. I don't think we're going -- we still need to have a starter somewhere along the way.

Q. You said everybody, so I just wanted to clarify.

TERRY FRANCONA: I meant bullpen guys.

Q. With the situation at hand, is your message to the team that this is a special club capable of making history, you know, that you have to put nine innings together starting tonight?

TERRY FRANCONA: Well, I've got to be real honest with you. This entire season, we've had about, I'm not exaggerating, about one minute worth of meetings. We've had two 30-second meetings. One was in Cleveland, and one was about a week later and they were very short meetings and there was no throwing any tables or throwing the spread or anything like that. I think they know how I feel about things. They know how our staff feels. They know we're behind them. They have shown us no reason to ever doubt them. They try as hard as they can, even when things are not good.

So I don't think they need to go drop a new rock on them. I know they call themselves idiots, but they are smart enough to know if they lose, we'll go home so we'll try to play a good game.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


MLB.com