10/05/2004 4:36 PM ET
Notes: Williamson left off roster
Leskanic added to pen; Youkilis edges out McCarty
By Ian Browne / MLB.com
ANAHEIM -- When the Red Sox submitted their Division Series roster on Tuesday morning, the most significant piece of news as that right-handed setup man Scott Williamson was left off.
|Scott Williamson was 0-1 with a 1.26 ERA in just 28 appearances out of the bullpen. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
The move was not entirely surprising in that Williamson was still regaining the strength in his elbow after coming off the disabled list on Sept. 9.
He pitched in seven games since his return, going 0-1 with a 1.29 ERA in seven appearances. However, his velocity, which has been in the mid to upper 90s throughout his career, had dipped to the upper 80s and low 90s.
Francona held a meeting with Williamson, essentially giving the reliever a chance to talk his way on to the roster. But after the honest discussion was over, the Sox decided Williamson wasn't quite strong enough to carry a heavy load in this series.
"We brought Willie in and talked to him, and actually let him talk," said Francona. "Because we think so much of him and what he can do, we kind of explained to him how he could be used -- like a lot -- and we asked him basically what he thought. Although he was more than willing to try to do it, I think he understood that this is a team thing and he wasn't sure he could answer the bell. He was very honest, which we really respected and appreciated, that's kind of the bottom line."
The man who benefited most from Williamson not making the roster was rookie third baseman Kevin Youkilis. If the Sox had taken Williamson, they would have carried 11 pitchers and 14 position players. Instead, they went with 10 pitchers and Youkilis secured the final spot, beating out veteran first baseman-outfielder David McCarty.
"I think we just thought having the position player may come in handy, it will allow us to use Dave Roberts in a pinch-running situation a little bit more aggressively," said Francona. "It gives us a couple of more options."
Curtis Leskanic nailed down the 10th spot, edging out Ramiro Mendoza and Terry Adams. However, Francona said it was a given Leskanic (1-0, 1.69 ERA in 13 September appearances) was going to make it.
Though Mendoza had a strong second half, the fact that the Sox are carrying starter Derek Lowe as a reliever in this series lessened the need for another long man such as Mendoza.
Here is the roster breakdown:
Catchers: Jason Varitek and Doug Mirabelli.
Infielders: David Ortiz, Kevin Millar, Doug Mientkiewicz, Mark Bellhorn, Pokey Reese, Orlando Cabrera, Bill Mueller and Youkilis.
Outfielders: Manny Ramirez, Johnny Damon, Dave Roberts, Trot Nixon and Gabe Kapler.
Pitchers: Curt Schilling, Pedro Martinez, Derek Lowe, Bronson Arroyo, Tim Wakefield, Keith Foulke, Mike Timlin, Alan Embree, Mike Myers and Leskanic.
Should the Red Sox advance to the American League Championship Series, they can re-submit their roster at that time.
First base is Millar's: There will be no first base controversy in this series for the Red Sox. Though Doug Mientkiewicz has been superb on defense since joining the team on July 31, he will continue to serve mainly as a defensive replacement. Kevin Millar, who batted fifth in Game 1, is expected to start every game at first.
"Millar is our first baseman," said Francona. "We are pretty much gong to stay consistent with what we've done. If we have a lead later in the game, Mientkiewicz will come in because is so good defensively."
Nervous excitement for manager: While Francona played in the playoffs when he was with the Expos and served as a bench coach under Ken Macha for Oakland in last year's Division Series against the Red Sox, Tuesday was his debut as a postseason manager.
"I didn't sleep good last night. That's always on day games. I never do," said Francona. "It's exciting. I am always kind of excited for games, but it's more exciting. I'm excited to be a part of it, I think everybody is. I'm looking forward to it. I guess I just think it's a great opportunity for us as a ballclub and an organization, so let's go ahead and play."
No more Cowboying Up: Center fielder Johnny Damon was asked before the game how the club's mentality was compared to the beginning of last year's postseason. Damon indicated that the phrase "Cowboy Up" will not be taking hold of New England like it did in the fall of 2003.
"We were a bunch of cowboys out there last year, just enjoying every minute," said Damon. "Now we have something to prove. We don't want to be remembered as a team that, OK, we keep making it to the playoffs, but we keep having tough losses. I mean, we want to be a team that, you know, rewrites the history books."
Lowe's role: Now that Lowe will be pitching in relief, what type of role will be utilized in? Francona pretty much said that Lowe could be used in any fact of relief.
"It depends on how the pitching goes. He could do anything," said Francona. "I think he has. He's stretched out, so he can always go long. He closed the game out last year [Game 5 in Oakland], which we saw. He can do anything. We're going to do everything in our power to win these games."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.