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September 30, 2008

Terry Francona


THE MODERATOR: Terry Francona, questions for Terry?

Q. Terry, are you guys at all prepared to announce your roster and how is the health of Drew and Lowell?
MANAGER FRANCONA: We're not ready to announce our roster because of the timing of everything. We wanted to watch our guys work out and they're not done. We will go back and have a meeting at the hotel between the staff and everybody, and we'll probably talk to the players later tonight just so they know for tomorrow, but J.D. looked real good, I actually thought Mikey Lowell looked really good, now he's not done doing everything he needs to do but he looked encouraging moving around or the movement he did do, it didn't grab at him and that was really encouraging.

Q. Terry, juggling the DH spot with Drew and Lowell's injuries and David in that spot, have you put any consideration into putting David at first base and letting one of those other guys hit?

Q. Mike was saying he feels like he could hit, but maybe he isn't as comfortable in the field --
MANAGER FRANCONA: No, no, David is our D.H. with the way the Angels play the game, that wouldn't put our best team on the field. We want David D.H.ing and if we have to make adjustments we will but. No, we don't want to do that.

Q. Is there any update on Beckett?
MANAGER FRANCONA: Beckett threw starting at 60 feet made 30 throws, moved back to 90 made 20, came back to 60, the ball came out of his hand real well, everything was very encouraging, he'll long-toss tomorrow, we'll decide Thursday. Everything was real positive.

Q. Terry going up against Mike Scioscia and the Angels many times in the playoffs, discuss what that is like for you as a manager, what's it like to play against him?
MANAGER FRANCONA: I don't want to evaluate Mike Scioscia, he's one of the best in the game, that's obvious. They play an aggressive style of baseball, if you're not prepared for it they can run you into problems. If you're prepared for it and the ball ends up where it's supposed to, then, again, I think we can do some of the same things now. We're a little different team than we used to be. We go first to third better, I think we were third in the league in stolen bases and I think we were pretty efficient at it. You know, when they're on third, they're going to go on contact. There is not a lot of well, "be ready, they're going to go." That's the way they play, they push and push and push and if you're not prepared they can push you into problems. It's happened this year during the regular season. During the postseason, we've had -- we've done very well. They know us real well and we know them real well. Whoever plays better will win, not going to be a whole lot of secrets.

Q. How much more dangerous are the Angels middle of the lineup this year than last year with the addition of Teixiera?
MANAGER FRANCONA: I hope they're not anymore dangerous but with Hunter and Teixeira they're a much more -- they're much more dangerous through the middle. They've always had the ability to run, now you put a couple of bats in the middle that can leave the ballpark, Teixeira works the count very well. He makes you certainly think twice about doing something with Vlad, so it gives them a couple of different looks and add some punch right in the middle of their lineup and it makes their lineup deeper, we talk about that with us all the time. They've done very well.

Q. Terry, as a manager, what is it like to have a guy at the end like Jonathan Papelbon when you look around at teams that struggled to close out games, as a manager I think you've been on both sides. What is it like to have that guy that inspires such confidence at the end of a game?
MANAGER FRANCONA: It allows you as a manager to -- there is an end in sight. You try to line up your bullpen and get to him and it doesn't guarantee you will win but it guarantees that when you give him the ball and he's going to win it or lose it. You don't have to get other guys up throwing, and he's one of the best in the game. I imagine it will be hard to have a successful team without a guy at the end that anchors it. To be honest with you it's hard to have a successful team without -- if you're short in an area it's going to get noticed over the course of a long season. I get asked all the time, would you rather have a good bullpen or good starters? If you don't have both you're going to get exposed at some point.

Q. What makes Lester so effective this year? What are some of the things he's doing right?
MANAGER FRANCONA: He's throwing a power fastball, he's able to sink it, able to cut it, can spin a breaking ball, throw a change-up, basically pitches, uses all the plate, in, up, ball goes in all directions, pitching with confidence, he should, after that first month in the season he's been one of the best pitchers in the game. He's worked hard and in fact there has been gains his voluntarily left as he's progressed, which is a testament to his work ethic. The farther he gets removed from everything he's gone through, better for him. He's very healthy.

Q. In the chance that Beckett cannot pitch game 3 do you guys have a contingency plan and would you be so kind as to share it with us?
MANAGER FRANCONA: Yes and no! (Chuckles.) Again, I think we think he's going to pitch and if he doesn't as much that won't be determined on how we get there but we couldn't come into a series without being ready, hopefully for everything.

Q. You guys last played the Angels on July 30th, in a sense do you feel you're a different team than the last time you played the Angels?
MANAGER FRANCONA: We are a different team. We really weren't playing very good baseball last time we were out here. Some of that's due to them.
They played very well against us, but we are definitely a different ball club. The next -- this series won't be determined on what happened July 30th, it won't be determined on what we did last year. It will be two very good teams going at it and see how it ends. I don't think that will have anything to do with it.

Q. On a personal level what did it mean to you to see Lester win that Game 4 last year in Denver, given what he had been through?
MANAGER FRANCONA: Oh, boy. It's hard not to -- I mean Game 4 of a World Series is obviously exciting anyway, but it's hard not to root for this kid. He's got a special place in all our hearts, just because of -- not what he's gone through but kinda how he went through it. The grace and the dignity that he showed through everything. You know, any kid that comes up through your organization, it's hard not to have a soft spot as you see him mature in front of your eyes anyway, but then everything he's gone through, it's hard not to -- when he threw that no-hitter.
There is another -- there is tension and anxiety in the dugout anyway but then you add the emotion because of who it was and with the staff and the teammates and I'm sure you looked up in the booth and saw the ownership and Theo, and we don't need to hide our feelings for how we feel about our guys.

Q. You said that you were a better team now than you were July 30th. You lost --
MANAGER FRANCONA: I think I said "different."
Q. Okay, you've played better, your record shows you've been better. How did you get better losing a guy like Manny Ramirez who is a first ballot Hall of Famer.
MANAGER FRANCONA: Some of that going into that last week we weren't playing very good baseball. We talk all the time about frustration and how you handle it, and we were allowing the frustrations to get in the way of the execution of the game.
Last seven weeks or so we've played very good baseball and when we haven't played good baseball we've gotten back on track right away. We've -- it's been an enjoyable team to be around, the way we've played the game and, again, it hasn't always gone the way we wanted it to but when it hasn't they've battled back and given themselves a chance to win games.

Q. Vladimir Guerrero is a little older and his numbers are down, do you think he's no longer the power threat that he once was?
MANAGER FRANCONA: We certainly respect his ability to do damage. I've said it numerous times, there is not a pitch that you throw that Vlad doesn't think he can hit. You throw it off his shoe tops, you throw it head high and he can leave the ballpark on any swing. So when we talk to our staff a good pitch to other hitters isn't necessarily a good pitch to him. When you talk about missing off the plate with him, you better miss off because he's swinging that thing and, you know, he's not a hitter that you can necessarily set up.
He takes some of the damndest swings, I wish he would swing so hard he would hurt his back. I say that laughingly, you can't set him up. We've had success at times and times when he's hit the ball a long way. With the addition of the guys they have in their lineup, though, that changes some of the ways you can attack hitters or not attack hitters.

Q. When you talk about their ability to play and run and bunt, does Lowell's health, ability to move at third at all concern you because of that? And playing off that further, if Youkilis had to move over does that factor into who you would play at first base?
MANAGER FRANCONA: I should have just said "yes." (Chuckles.) Mikey, if I said we weren't concerned about his health, I don't think that would be entirely honest. He's one of the best defensive third basemen in the league.
If he can move -- speed has never been a huge part of his game. If he's able to move around and he's not in any pain, he's a smart defender, he knows how to play, where to play, I think we're probably a better team with him at third. If we need to move Youk over there, then we've got to play somebody at first. We're just not ready to make out our lineup today because we just don't know yet until we get through this work out and see how everybody responds to it. The one reassuring thing is whoever we play, guys are willing to move to different positions, we've done it all year and they do what you ask and they don't think twice about it.

Q. With Jacoby Ellsbury, what do you recall of what he did in October of last year once you did put him into the starting lineup and how important has it been to see him perform as he has over the last month of the season?
MANAGER FRANCONA: Last year he gives us -- he jump started us, I don't think that was realistic to think of what he did -- I mean, that one game he and Dustin Pedroia were on base all night and with his ability to run and he had some extra base hits and I think I said all year even when he wasn't hitting lead-off, we would be a better team when we got him back in that lead-off spot and that's what's happened.
I don't think it was entirely appropriate all year to hit him lead-off because there were some struggles, but I think we acknowledged all year long that's where we wanted him to end up.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Terry.

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