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October 17, 2016

Terry Francona

Toronto, Ontario - Pregame 3, Canada

Q. What are you thinking about for Game 4 with your starting pitcher?
TERRY FRANCONA: Here's what we have going. Obviously Bauer pitching tonight. And hopefully everything's okay as far as his finger goes. And then the outcome of the game will be determined by how he pitches or how they hit, stuff like that.

In that case, if he's okay, Ryan Merritt will pitch tomorrow, who is sitting right there, he'll talk to you in a minute.

If something happens with Bauer and we have a little bit of a malfunction in his finger -- not the drone -- the finger, then we would bring Kluber back tomorrow, and then Merritt would pitch the next day. And then that would allow Kluber to pitch a Game 7 if need be. If Trevor is okay, then we slot Corey in two days -- everybody stays on normal rest.

Q. What prompted that change with Merritt in Game 4?
TERRY FRANCONA: When we announced Clev earlier in the week, Ryan actually wasn't on the roster. Colon was our reliever. When Trevor had his drone accident we decided we'd better make sure we had some length. So that's the reason. With Clev -- if Clev pitches really well, he's probably going to go a couple, maybe three, if Ryan throws really well. He's stretched out where he could give us some innings.

Q. I know how your team's Twitter feed perceived it, but from your perspective, Bautista's comments suggesting the umpires had been anti-Blue Jays in the series.
TERRY FRANCONA: You have to get me up-to-date. I have never read a Twitter in my life.

Q. Less a Twitter question and more a Bautista question. Bautista said yesterday that circumstances had something to do with the Blue Jays offensive problems, and he wouldn't elaborate, but suggested it had more to do with umpiring. But I wondered with what you accomplished pitching-wise this series, if you took that as a slight?
TERRY FRANCONA: I didn't even see it, so obviously I didn't take it as anything. I didn't even see it. You could ask Jose. I don't know. I would hate to answer something that I had no idea about to begin with. And it doesn't mean much, anyway.

Q. As far as the balls and strikes issues, there are some amateur independent leagues computerized systems calling balls and strikes. What do you feel about that some day in the Major Leagues?
TERRY FRANCONA: No, I don't think so. I guess I fall back on sometimes that when you have a pitcher that's commanding the ball, throwing into his spots, and you have a catcher that is receiving the ball, you're probably going to get more pitches than a guy that's all over the place and a catcher that doesn't frame well.

And I don't think that's luck. I think that's skill. So I know when we played the Cardinals in interleague, if you go back and watch the games where Yadi is catching, every pitch looks like a strike. It's unbelievable. Even horrible pitches he manages to frame it so well, and that's something that I'm sure they use to their advantage.

So, no, I think the umpires have done an incredible job -- I'm not talking about this series, I'm talking about because there's so much scrutiny now, when a ball is this far off (indicating), everybody sees it.

Back in the day, those strikes could get pretty wide. And there wasn't any replay or anything to show it. So I think they do a pretty good job.

Q. We're talking a little bit about your stay in Montreal with a few friends, and everybody remembered the injuries, of course, the two big injuries you had. But everybody remembered also the slide that you did. Do you remember that and can you reflect on that and the injuries?
TERRY FRANCONA: You could tell I was a manager in the making, huh (laughter)?

Actually, it was Larry Parrish actually made me do it. It wasn't like I had a choice. It was either have LP punch me in the chest like he always did or take off running. I was -- I think I was 21 years old. I was young, yeah, it wasn't the most mature thing I did. It wasn't the most immature thing, either, unfortunately (laughter).

Q. Can you talk a little bit about the injuries?
TERRY FRANCONA: Oh, man, I don't think anybody cares about that. I mean, I just got hurt so early that my goals changed. I wanted to be like everybody else, lead the league in hitting and be wealthy and retire on your own terms. And three months into my career I'm trying to hang on and be a defensive replacement or a pinch-hitter. And it was hard. But I think it helped me for when I got into this side of the game because I got to see the game differently. And I think it was really good.

Q. Do you think in the postseason at some point you'll kind of maybe have time to sit back and think how crazy it is that you have a pitcher who had a drone injury with his finger and you're backing them up with one guy, and the next day you're thinking about who might pitch? How sort of nutty is that in the circumstances as opposed to just being able to throw four guys out there?
TERRY FRANCONA: I get it. It doesn't really seem that nutty to us. I think we're just trying to be organized. And it helps when every single player we've talked to just says, Okay. Kluber didn't even bat -- because we wanted to talk to him first because it's fine for us to be organized but if he's not ready to do it or if it's going to bother him, that doesn't help. He said, Just let me know when and I'll be raring to go. And same thing with Merritt. Everybody just kind of tries to do what you ask. It's been kind of fun.

Q. After two games in the ALCS, what are you most proud of your team?
TERRY FRANCONA: Oh, boy, we don't start taking bows in the middle of a series. I've been proud of our team all year for the way they've played the game, because our style, we have to be aggressive on the bases. We can't just throw the bats and balls out there or we'd win very few games. And they've done that all year. And for that I'm really proud of them.

But I'm proud of them for a lot of things. I'm proud of them for the way they carry themselves. The thing, the Larry Doby fund that we started last week, that's probably my proudest moment in my entire baseball life. And it was with this group.

Q. We saw Danny Salazar throwing a simulated game yesterday. What's his status? Is he making any kind of progress that maybe you would consider?
TERRY FRANCONA: Yesterday was the best progress he's made to date. He threw his fastball, and threw it with pretty good velocity. Also threw his change-up and it didn't bother him, because in the past that had been bothering him a little bit.

We're not ready to activate him but he is doing much, much better. And like we said before, the first goal was to get him completely healthy, and then when that happens we'll see where and if it leads to him helping us in a game.

Q. You mentioned Yadi with the Cardinals. What have you thought of what Roberto has become in terms of pitch framing and that side of his game?
TERRY FRANCONA: That's always been his strength. Coming up through the Minor League when you talk to Trem or his Minor League managers, his ability to receive has always been outstanding. Even when you talk to Sandy, he said even in Spring Training, sometimes he gets bored because it's so easy for him. Sometimes you have to kick him in the pants. As his confidence has grown this year, he's gotten to the point where he's catching the ball so soft that it does give him an advantage.

Q. It seems like you guys as an organization always have a good backup plan. You've had to use a lot of them. Where does that come from?
TERRY FRANCONA: Chris Antonetti and his group of guys. They are so, in my opinion, so much under the radar or unheralded, or however you want to put it. They've done more with less. And they're so good that -- not only are they fun to work for, but they're organized. Like yesterday Chris, Derek, Mickey and myself, we sat down and talked it through and then we started talking to players, and we talked it through until it made sense. Because the first couple of times it didn't. But then we eventually get where we want to be.

And I give Chris a lot of credit, he's patient, because it usually takes me a little bit longer than him. He's a little bit smarter. And he allows me to arrive at the answer without making me feel like I'm not as smart as him.

Q. How loud does it get here and how difficult of a place is this to play?
TERRY FRANCONA: It will be a great atmosphere. It will be loud. It will be fun to be a part of a baseball game here because they'll get after it. It will be exciting for everybody.

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