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October 6, 2016

Terry Francona

Cleveland, Ohio - Pregame one

Q. Could your catcher usage be potentially not dissimilar to the last game of the season with kind of a rotation there? How do you view that?
TERRY FRANCONA: You could see something like that. The only thing, you've got to remember the last day of the season we had a lot of players. So you can only pinch-hit so many times or pinch-run. But if that's the point in the lineup where we can leverage our bench or whatever, we thought that having a third catcher could potentially impact us better than maybe carrying one more pitcher.

Q. How do you view Andrew Miller and how much has he helped you since you got him in the trade?
TERRY FRANCONA: Everybody who has seen Andrew pitch knows his numbers, he's an elite reliever. But on top of that, because we can leverage him whenever we feel helps us the most, you have that going for you and it takes -- he faces obviously the left-handers, so it's easier for Cody and Bryan Shaw and Otero, so their numbers have been better, too. But the idea that you can pitch him anytime and his willingness.

Saying that, our other guys do the same thing. So it's been a really fun bullpen to work with.

Q. Trevor's had some really good starts and a couple of rough ones along the way. When do you know if he's locked in? Do you know early on which one you're going to get?
TERRY FRANCONA: No, you really don't. There's been a number of starts where he's gone out in the first inning and had a really tough time, to the point where you have to get somebody up. And you look up and he's pitching in the eighth inning. There's been some other times where he's been cruising and then he's run into trouble. I think you can certainly tell the stuff but I think you just always keep an eye on things. That's the same thing with anybody, especially this time of year. You're not going to give anybody too much wiggle room, because there's not that many games left to play.

Q. Back to the catching, after Gomes went out, can you talk about what Perez did for you guys behind the plate with the pitchers, maybe offense notwithstanding?
TERRY FRANCONA: I probably have to back up a little bit. He was on the disabled list, also. And he had just gotten to Columbus and played one game when we cut that short because of Gomer getting hurt. So not only was he coming back to be our mostly every day catcher, but he wasn't really ready to boot. So it took him a while to get back in the flow. I think once he started to take ownership of the stuff, that's when you started to see his confidence grow. He's always been a good catch and throw guy, but you've started seeing him even become more confident there. And it's something we value so much. I don't know the stats, but I would guess we're towards the bottom of the league in pitch-outs, because our catchers throw so well. So we don't feel like we have to put our pitchers down in the count because our catchers throw so well.

Q. You saw a bit of David Ortiz in the circumstances over the years.

Q. From your perspective, what makes him so good at this time of year? Not every player embraces that pressure, obviously.
TERRY FRANCONA: Well, I think you just said it, I think David embraces the moment. I think some people go to Boston and it can overwhelm you a little bit. David, from the minute he got there, seems like he embraced it and it brought out his personality. And you've got to be good to do what he does. But, like you said, he knows that what he does is good enough. He doesn't have to do more. And I don't think people realize how smart he is as a hitter, too. He's one of the more intelligent hitters I've ever seen. He studies a lot. I don't know if he says it or not, but I've seen it. And you better not fall under a pattern with him, because he'll be the first one to know.

Q. What does it mean to you personally to see David in his last postseason series?
TERRY FRANCONA: It would mean more if he announced his retirement today (laughter).

I would write a check to his foundation and -- (laughter).

I love David. I don't want him to beat us. And when he's in the batter's box it makes me nervous. The problem is is the guys in front of him, the guys behind him make me nervous, too. They've done a really good job of building and constructing a lineup. And if you're a pitcher you can't take a hitter off or you're going to pay for it. And if you want to walk anybody, if you continue to do that, they're going to score, also. Sometimes you just have to get good hitters out.

Q. Just from a manager's standpoint, when you see those young players on the Red Sox, what goes through your head?
TERRY FRANCONA: What a good job Ben Cherington did. It's hard in Boston to bring guys to the Major Leagues because you don't have the -- you don't have the ability to see if a guy can kind of sink or swim. When you get there you better be good. And the guys they've brought up are not just good, they're bordering on great. And it's a hard place to do that. And I think Ben Cherington and Hazen, those guys deserve a ton of credit because they've got some really good young players.

Q. I know we've been over this and I apologize, what is Jose's versatility mean for you as a manager? And do you see maybe a trend down the road that that versatility becomes even more important across the majors?
TERRY FRANCONA: I don't know about the last part of that. I think in certain situations, and I can really speak to ours, I think the way we're constructed we need to have versatility, because if somebody gets hurt or we need to be able to maximize our roster, with guys like Mike Aviles a couple of years ago, and certainly Jose now, it allows us if there's an injury to move him. Also to create platoon advantages when we want to. And it has helped us enormously. Without Michael Brantley in the lineup, you're coming out of Spring Training, where are our runs going to come from? And Jose stepped in and took Brantley's at-bats. And those are big shoes to fill. He did it almost like Michael Wood, he put the ball in play, using the whole field, hitting the clutch. And has given us as big a boost as anybody.

Q. How would you compare your 2004 Red Sox team, all the heavy hitters you had on that lineup to the team the Red Sox have this year, with such a deep lineup offensively?
TERRY FRANCONA: Boy, I don't know. I'm not good at that. I know '14 was -- one of the biggest challenges I felt I had that year was not putting Ortiz or Manny in positions where teams would pitch around them. You wanted guys, Johnny Damon not to steal certain times, because you wanted to pitch to Manny, or didn't bunt to Pedroia or whoever, these guys are so balanced. Everybody keeps saying, Are you going to pitch to Ortiz, but Betts, and Bogaerts, and Manny, if you keep putting guys on base they're going to hurt you. If there's a time when there's an open base and we can create a double play possibility, that's something to think about. They've constructed quite a lineup, it's so deep. And then when they get a couple of catchers hurting, Sandy Leon does what he does, it makes it even tougher.

Q. I don't know if you've seen your dad today. Has he been practicing?
TERRY FRANCONA: I haven't seen him yet. I'm kind of worried, he said he was leaving at 1:00. I'm hoping -- he might be here somewhere. That will be pretty special. In an atmosphere where you start to get a little bit of anxiety before the game and you want to get it started, and having him there and doing that will be pretty special.

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