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October 12, 2007

Eric Wedge


Q. These clubs look to be really pretty equal to the naked eye, but your club is considered widely the underdog. Does that do anything for you, can you use it as motivation, or just something you toss out?
ERIC WEDGE: No, it means absolutely nothing to me. I can say that with all sincerity. That's for other people to talk about. It's part of, you know, the leading up to a series. Any time you're talking about baseball, I think it's a good thing.
We've got a couple of good baseball clubs here that have good years, done a good job up to this point in time, and I think everybody should be looking forward to us and Boston competing against each other. I know I am.

Q. How much, if any, do you think Carmona's experiences last year in the bullpen affected his results this year?
ERIC WEDGE: Well, I think it's a part of who he is. I'm a big believer that anything you experience in and outside of the game is a big part of who you are today, on and off the field. I think that goes for all of our players.
People tend to forget what Fausto did before and after being in that role, and really, he had a great season for us just in regard to the experience that he gained. He was one of the best setup guys in baseball for six weeks prior to being a closer. Starting prior to being a setup guy, then starting after being a closer, then doing that in winter ball and coming into this season.
I mean, you talk about a tough young man that understands -- tough, intelligent young man that understands what he has experienced and how to be a better baseball player for it, Fausto is a great example of that.

Q. Just to follow up, what was it about the experience that he had as a closer that didn't suit him, and what is it about being a starter that suits him?
ERIC WEDGE: You know what it was, it was baseball, and when I say that, you know, two or three times he was literally one pitch away from closing the ballgame down. Sometimes baseball can get in the way of what you think is going to happen or what people think is supposed to happen. I think that's where we were. It wasn't like he was pitching particularly bad, it just wasn't meant to be at that point in time in that role for him.
Did he learn something from it? No doubt about it. Is he a better pitcher today? No doubt about it. He's tougher, he's more experienced. I think that this young man could probably be very successful in any role we put him in, and that includes being a closer. But I would think that right now it's in our best interest to keep him starting for us because he's done a great job for us.

Q. Fenway Park has a lot of history and mystique to it. How much does it help you guys, a young club coming off a successful series in Yankee Stadium to prepare for the atmosphere here?
ERIC WEDGE: We've already gone through a lot of firsts here as a ballclub. I should say the majority of our ballclub. We brought in some experienced players, as well. But the core group of guys, the young kids, we've been going through a lot of firsts. We just came off a crash course of it, and I think our kids did a great job handling everything. They're a close group of guys. They're tough, they're confident, they understand what's important when it comes to playing this game.
The focus is on them. It's not about anything else that we can't control. So when they come out here to play, it's going to be steady as she goes, let's play some baseball, play good baseball hopefully, and see where we are in the end.

Q. When you made the move with Cabrera at second base, was there a thought that that was a permanent move, or did he have to go out and prove to you that he was your starting second baseman?
ERIC WEDGE: Yeah, initially it was not a permanent move. We knew that we were going to give him some playing time, and he just went out and took it. If you look at the way he handled himself offensively, the way he handled himself defensively, you know, the kid was just in the middle of everything.
And at that point in time, we called him up, he was at the bottom of our order, and then we made some changes with our entire order, I mean, from really head to toe. And that's when we put him in the two hole, and we weren't sure how that was going to work out, either. Anybody that tells you they figure this is going to happen and that's going to happen with young players is full of it. If you know the game, you just don't know how it's going to play out.
I think Asdrubal earned that spot, as well. He did it the way you're supposed to do it, and he's really been a great addition for us.

Q. This is a little bit off the beaten path, but I noticed after postseason when you haven't crossed the foul line to go out and congratulate the players. What's the reason or the story behind that?
ERIC WEDGE: I've done that all year, it's not just a postseason thing. If you're talking about the celebrations, this is their team. It's their clubhouse, it's their team. It's about the players. You know, managers and coaches do what they can to help them be the best they can be, but ultimately it's all about the players. I mean, as soon as you get done playing and you start managing and coaching, it sure as hell better not be about you anymore or you shouldn't be doing it because your time is done. It's about the players and it's about what they do and what they mean to each other.
So they've earned the right to be out there and they show us the respect by coming through and shaking our hands when that's all said and done.

Q. How much credit does Victor Martinez deserve for his success of the pitching staff this year? And is his improvement in terms of his overall performance as a catcher experience or has he had to do a lot of work?
ERIC WEDGE: He's had to do work hard at it. He's always been a great baseball player. He's had certain issues that he's had to work on fundamentally behind the plate, and he's done a great job. Joel Skinner has done a great job with him, and with Kelly Shoppach for that matter. Our strength and conditioning crew has done a great job with all of our guys, and Victor did some things that helped him work from the ground up, as well.
He's been a tremendous influence on the pitching staff. C.C. and Victor have been together for a long time, as Jake and Cliff Lee and Betancourt, some of the guys that have been here for a while. He takes a tremendous amount of pride in his game. He understands the influence he can have on our ballclub. As good a hitter as he is, the influence he can have on our ballclub is much greater behind the plate than it is when he's at the plate. I think that says it all right there.
One of the hardest workers that I've seen, and believe me, we've got a lot of them in that clubhouse. But he's done some things that have made him a special player.

Q. Just to follow up on the closer thing here, can you talk a little bit about Borowski and what he's meant to this club? And when you look at the ERA versus the saves, is it easy to reconcile one number because of the other?
ERIC WEDGE: Well, you know, it is, because it's all about the closer when it starts your bullpen. Your bullpen starts with your closer. We've got someone down there with as much strength -- actually more strength than I've ever seen in regard to being the leader of our bullpen, as a closer needs to be. And because of that, other people that are down there are more confident.
It's black and white; either you get it done or you don't. He saved 45 games for us during the season, saved the final game here this previous series. He's the one that we want to get the baseball to. I've got all the confidence in the world in him. There's nothing gray about that job, and the only thing that matters is him getting that last out, and he's done a great job of that this year.

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