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October 1, 2008

Terry Francona


THE MODERATOR: Do we have questions for Terry?

Q. Terry, is Beckett a lock for game three or is there a chance he will not pitch in game three?
MANAGER FRANCONA: I don't think if "lock" is an appropriate word, I don't know if anybody is a lock, not sure I am. I tell you what we did do today. He went out and threw his long toss, he got to 150 feet and did pretty well. He has to answer some physical questions every step of the way and today was a good one.
Now, if everything goes okay, he'll throw his side tomorrow but we reserve the right to make a change if we don't think it's in his best interest physically, but he's had a real good last couple days and today was another good day. Now, part of that is the evaluation of how they respond later and do they stiffen up but so far everything has been pretty positive.

Q. Who would go if he didn't?
MANAGER FRANCONA: We really don't feel the need to announce, you know, some of that might be how we get there, we'll see. We'll obviously have a back-up plan.

Q. Terry, how difficult was it to leave Mike Timlin off the ALDS roster?
MANAGER FRANCONA: That was a hard one. I think we felt like 10 pitchers with the days off in between the games was sufficient and we could have a better use of our roster by carrying three catchers. It's still, because of who he is and what he's done, it was not a conversation that we really were looking forward to because of our respect for Mike.
But I think we still have an obligation to always do what puts our ball club in the best interest or, you know, in the best possible place.

Q. How do you feel about Lowell and Drew? Are they as well as you can expect them to be going into this thing?
MANAGER FRANCONA: I think J.D. had probably his best day in a while yesterday so that was really good. And, again, there are some days off that help. Mikey Lowell did -- I don't want to speak out of turn, I think he actually did better than we thought. With him at third and Youk at first is probably our best team. I think we want to give Mikey every chance possible and he really thinks he can do this and if we ever get to a point where we can't, we'll make a change.

Q. Having said that, especially with Mike Lowell, do you watch them carefully, maybe something that wouldn't get your attention in July is going to be a big deal now, maybe how they react to different things?
MANAGER FRANCONA: Not necessarily -- I think I understand what you're saying, but, again, if Mikey is -- I was joking with the beat writers a little bit ago, he's not running the 100 meters in the Olympics, he's not that fast to begin with. If he can't score from second I think we'll make a change but I think it's more what he can handle and that's part of the reason why I want to give him a chance.
This kid has handled so much adversity, this really hurts, I'm sure it's painful, what he's gone through and his willingness to play, he deserves a chance here. He's been very realistic, all along about, hey, I don't want to get into the way of our winning, if I'm good I want to play. If I'm not I won't. This has been good for us. We're proud of his efforts.
THE MODERATOR: Terry, Matsuzaka's improvement this season, how much of that is acclimation the states or knowing the league better or is there something more precise than that?
MANAGER FRANCONA: I think the point you just hit on are all true. I think it's easier this year for him to concentrate on pitching. So many things last year -- everything he did was a first and it was with flashbulbs going and, you know, we spoke about this I believe last week in Boston.
In spring training if somebody made contact it was big news, what's wrong with Dice-K, and the expectation level was very unfair. Now whether he goes to the ballpark whether it's at Boston or on the road he doesn't need somebody to show him where to go, he's part of our team. I got a kick out of it when we were celebrating last week, he had goggles on and he looked more part of the team. That's the way it's supposed to be, that stuff doesn't happen over night and when you don't speak the language it's not always very easy, hasn't been easy for Oakie all the time, either, it's a different culture, different league, different travel but they've tried very hard to be a part of our team and his season has been -- he's 18-3.

Q. Terry, can you talk about the improvement Dice-K made on the mound, talk about his stuff, his manner in the big game pressure situations?
MANAGER FRANCONA: Well, he doesn't ever give in. He's created at times some base runners with some walks, but there have been so few hits, again, there has not been a lot of solid contact off of him. He doesn't give in to who is coming up. He knows the situation, he knows who is on deck.
I think he looks forward to pitching in these types of games, that's why he came here. Again, if you can't have a guy like Josh Beckett start game one, having Lester and Dice-K pitch one and two isn't too shabby.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, Terry.

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