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10/11/08 7:03 PM ET

Terry Francona pregame interview

Manager believes team should take experience and make it an advantage

You guys have done a rather remarkable job of transitioning on the run and not missing a beat with this team, and I'm just curious, if somebody had told you back in April that you would be here without Manny, with Lowrie at shortstop, Masterson as your primary right handed setup guy, what your reaction might have been to all of that?

TERRY FRANCONA: I understand your point. I actually think that there had been some things go wrong, Mike Lowell getting hurt; Lugo getting hurt. But some of the names you brought up, I don't think it's quite as farfetched as maybe it looks.

When we had our meetings in Spring Training, listening to the player development people talk about Masterson, talk about Lowrie, I actually think -- and they had seen them play a heck of a lot more than I had, I think they felt like this could unfold the way it did. They were talking about Jed Lowrie as kind of a Bill Mueller type player, which is, I think, a pretty good call.

They spoke with about Masterson at some point in the season, he was probably going to accumulate some innings where we may want to put him in the bullpen because he could come up and really impact our season, which is exactly what's happened. So I think the guys in this organization had a pretty good feel for some of these younger guys.

Is the way Masterson pitching for you now in the playoffs clarifying or confusing the situation with regard to his future role with this team?

TERRY FRANCONA: Well, I don't think there's any reason today to clarify what he's going to do down the road. Our job right now is to win as many games as possible. I was asked that earlier by the other group of writers. I don't think there's any reason to do that.

Pap is similar. Pap could start or relieve. I guess when it boils down to it, if you get guys who can get outs, we'll figure out where they can best impact our team, but for the moment, we really like where he's at.

Again, there were some reasons he was put in this situation, because he's developing still as a young pitcher. Where that takes him down the road, we'll see.

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It looked as if J.D. Drew got drilled pretty good on the shoulder last night. What's his status today, and is he in the lineup?

TERRY FRANCONA: He's not in the lineup, and that's not because he got hit. We're putting Coco in center more because of Kazmir, we want Ellsbury to stay in the lead off spot.

He got whacked pretty good in the shoulder, but saying that, from where I was sitting, I thought he got hit in the face. So there was a sigh of relief because it looked a lot worse when it happened. I'm sure he's a little sore today, but again, I'm glad it was not the face or the neck.

When you send Daisuke out last night, you talked about it after the game last night, but how much discussion goes into something like that? Is it always the same amount of discussion, or are there cases where we need to go on the runway and talk this one through?

TERRY FRANCONA: There was a lot of discussion last night because there were a lot of different scenarios that could present itself, which it did. We actually got Masterson up before he went out, because we wanted to have an answer for everything that could possibly come up, and we only had two mounds.

So we got Masterson up, and we told him to get close to being ready because we wanted Oki ready for a scenario with Peña; we wanted Pap to be ready if the inning went a little bit better. And then we needed Masterson available to get a double play ball with Longoria if that presented itself. So we tried to have everybody be as ready as possible for anything that happened.

I mean, the idea when you send Daisuke out certainly isn't to have the first two guys get on, but you have to be prepared that that could happen, and we were.

A lot of people in this room, and, of course, throughout the building are spending a lot of time writing about the importance of postseason experience. In your view, is the idea of postseason experience going into a playoff series like this overrated or underrated or neither?

TERRY FRANCONA: I think you try to take any experience you have and make it to your advantage. If it ever gets in the way of how you play, then it would be a disadvantage. I think somewhat it's probably overrated, though, but again, we're going to try to use everything to our advantage we can.

If experience is part of that, good for us.

Just to follow up on what I asked you before, I know that Theo and the front office people told you in the spring that these kids are pretty good, that they may be helping you, but seeing how it's all played out, especially Lowrie with his defense, and, of course, Masterson and what he's done. Are you at least a little bit surprised at their makeup and at their poise and that they don't seem to be fazed by all of this?

TERRY FRANCONA: No, I don't think "surprised" is a good word. I'd be lying if I told you I haven't enjoyed these last two months. We've mixed in some youth, and when guys seem to be going in one direction and we have a lot of veterans, we do have a lot of young kids on the field sometimes; when they seem to be going in one direction, I have really enjoyed it.

We've got some pretty special kids in there, and at the same time, we have some pretty special veterans that have allowed these young kids to come in and be a big part of our team. And it probably goes both ways. Once these kids prove that they understand how important our games are, it works a lot quicker.

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Do you give up any outfield defense with Drew not out there?

TERRY FRANCONA: Not with Coco playing. No, Coco can go get them at center and Jacoby has done a great job of going to either corner position and can impact the game very well.

You talked a little bit about -- it might have been under the radar in Boston a little bit when you required Mark Kotsay and what you had known about him beforehand and kind of what he adds to this team.

TERRY FRANCONA: I got so many messages when we acquired Kots from people that I know in the game that respect that said we were getting a guy that was off the charts, and I agree with that.

He's a gamer. The one concern I had was one of the type of guy he was, to kind of grind it out, that there was a chance he wouldn't play every day. But because of our injuries an things like that, he's played a ton, and he's been tremendous for us.

Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.