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October 15, 2007

Eric Wedge


Q. Outside of the crowd, which is a home-field advantage for every team in every ballpark, what is your biggest home-field advantage here?
ERIC WEDGE: Well, you like being able to hit last. That's a big part of it. But being here at home in front of our fans, being able to be with your families and be comfortable and back in your routine, that's all part of it. You have your routine at home, you have your routine on the road. We had an off-day to recover a little bit yesterday and are excited about playing here at home tonight.

Q. Can you talk about your decision, Trot Nixon is in the starting lineup?
ERIC WEDGE: Well, Trot, his playing time has been somewhat limited here the last couple of months, but when we have had him in there, he's given us some good at-bats.
You know, I look at Gutierrez, and we've thrown a lot at him for a young kid, and he's done a great job. He had a big home run the other night. But they've been feeding him a steady diet of breaking balls, and I think we'll see more of that tonight with Matsuzaka. Getting another left-hander in there with some experience, I think it's the best way to go tonight.

Q. Assuming Shoppach is going to start tomorrow, what is it that you like about that working relationship with Byrd?
ERIC WEDGE: Well, they've been doing it all year, and we're not going to veer away from it now. Shoppy has caught Byrd every start. It's a relationship that grew from early in the season and just kind of took on a life of its own, and we don't want to do anything to disrupt that.

Q. Does Boston present particular challenge in terms of pitching style? They go all the way from pure power pitcher to a knuckleballer.
ERIC WEDGE: Well, I think when you get to this time of year, you have a great deal of challenges when it comes to the opposition, or they wouldn't be here. Surely a knuckleball pitcher takes it to the extreme. It's not something you see very much of anymore.
But you go up there and you've got some people with experience with it, some people that have their theories just in regard to how to approach that, and I'm sure we'll see and hear a little bit of both of that tomorrow, and we'll go from there.

Q. When you guys went through that thing in the summer where you really weren't hitting, there were nights where you'd say, boy, I felt like it was the pitcher and there were nights where you'd say, I thought it was more us. Daisuke's outing here, what do you remember of that and how much of it was him and how much was you guys?
ERIC WEDGE: Well, I felt like we had some good at-bats. I felt there were some times when we had some hard outs. With him I feel he does a good job of staying away from the middle of the plate, utilized five or six pitches, works hard to stay away from patterns. You add Varitek to that mix and they're going to work harder to stay away from patterns. I think from us, and you hear me say this a lot, I think even more so with this young man on the mound pitching against us, we really have to focus on what we need to do individually and collectively with our game plan, and have the discipline to stick with it.
That will hopefully allow us to have the type of quality at-bats that create opportunities and ultimately take advantage of opportunities for us.

Q. Knowing that you have a day off between 4 and 5, does that affect how you use bullpen and how you use pitchers in the first two games? Is that part of the game plan going in?
ERIC WEDGE: Yeah, you have to take that into consideration. We most definitely took it into consideration a couple days ago, and we will again here today and tomorrow. It's about winning the series, it's not just about winning one game. Having said that, without a doubt, today is the most important day and we're going to do everything we can to win. But you need to know what's ahead of you schedule-wise as you're making decisions.

Q. What's different about it?
ERIC WEDGE: Well, you can extend guys a little bit more. You can maybe go to guys a little bit earlier. You know, it just depends on what their workload has been. We've got a couple of games to work off of, and that's how we'll play it out.
But you won't see us saving somebody for tomorrow, but as we work off of today, once tomorrow does come, we're never going to put somebody in harm's way, but it'll allow us to maybe do things that we wouldn't normally do knowing we have an off-day the next day.

Q. Looking at Paul Byrd, in what way was his Game 4 start in the ALDS kind of a microcosm of the season?
ERIC WEDGE: Well, he was a guy that was very consistent for us this year. You know what you're going to get from Paul. He knows himself very well. He knows how to get hitters out his way. Great competitor, doesn't give in, and he just goes out there and does his thing, and he's been doing it for a lot of years. He's pitched in a lot of big ballgames. He's won a lot of regular season ballgames, multiple postseason games, and you have to like every bit of that.

Q. Going back a couple questions to holding guys off for tomorrow or whatever, Betancourt threw over 40 pitches. Is he limited at all tonight or anything?
ERIC WEDGE: No. He feels good, and he's ready to go. I mean, we have those -- Carl Willis has those conversations with our pitchers every day, and he's ready to go today.

Q. Sorry for asking such an old question, but could you tell us what those bugs were like the other day?
ERIC WEDGE: Well, it happens here about two or three times a year, usually when it's hot and humid, and there's not much wind, and we're not too far from the water and we've got lights all over the place. You add all that up, sometimes they're going to come in and settle in, and that's what happened. It was just one of those things.

Q. Did Paul Byrd rub off on your younger pitchers, the way you guys have improved your strike zone the last couple years?
ERIC WEDGE: I think that was as much about Carl Willis and just his overall approach with everybody. But Paul has definitely been a positive influence, just in regard to throwing strikes and working ahead and stay ahead and trusting your stuff.
I do believe that when you talk about your starting pitchers, you can really work off of each other, feed off of each other and help each other be that much better, and I think they've done a good job of that the last couple years.

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