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Oct. 7 Terry Francona pregame interview

October 7, 2016

Q. What's the state of your pen this morning?TERRY FRANCONA: How did I know that would be the first question. I can't believe you asked that. We're doing what we always do. The guys will go out at the beginning of batting practice. They'll stretch, have their catch game. We'll

Q. What's the state of your pen this morning?

TERRY FRANCONA: How did I know that would be the first question. I can't believe you asked that.

We're doing what we always do. The guys will go out at the beginning of batting practice. They'll stretch, have their catch game. We'll take inventory. Cody already came in today and thought he felt really good, which surprised me a little bit.

I told both of them that this -- as important as these games are, this isn't the time to fudge. If they need the day today, that's my responsibility, to be really honest.

So when I get out of here we'll go down there and kind of keep track of where they are. But, one, if you see them pitch it certainly won't be as much as last night.

Q. Can you talk about Kluber and how do you think that the days off will affect him?

TERRY FRANCONA: It could go a couple of ways. One, there could be rust, or, two, he could be a little extra strong. I'm hoping that with his routines and the way he works that he'll shake off the rust quickly and maybe have a little extra zip on his fastball. But his routines are so impeccable that he'll be ready to pitch.

Now, their lineup is going to have something to say about that, too. But I think this rest will actually do him more good than harm.

Q. With guys like Miller and other relievers, after a night like last night, you asked them how they were doing, they'll probably tell you I'm ready to go. How do you balance, in your mind, how truthful they're actually going to be?

TERRY FRANCONA: That's one of the things that -- well, I kind of learned the hard way. I've been here four years now and early in the season I used Cody as second inning, and it was in Philadelphia, and I shouldn't have. And it was one of those situations where he said it was okay. And as soon as he said he was okay that was good enough for me.

When the game was over, the next day we talked for a long time and I told him I messed up and I don't want to mess up. I said I've been here for four years now, we've been together, so the communication, that needs to be a strength. And I tried to explain to him exactly what you just said, just tell me the truth, because I don't want to make mistakes. And I think it's really helped a lot in that the guys are much more open, telling me how they're feeling.

This group, this bullpen group is incredible. They take so much pride in being available that, I mean, my goodness, I mean Shawn and Cody have pitched in so many games the last four years that I'm so proud of them. That's not by luck. They work at it.

Q. Is it safe to say that as the injuries kind of mounted on you guys, not just your pitching staff, does the pressure on you increase, do you have to maybe manipulate the game a little bit more or have more of an impact than you normally would?

TERRY FRANCONA: Oh, I hope not. I've never been very good in a clutch.

No, no, I don't think so. I think you get so wrapped up in trying to win the game you're playing. I say it every day, the guys probably get tired of it, but when you don't look too far ahead, when you just try to win today, it doesn't seem as daunting. If you figure out how to win today and then you move on to tomorrow. And rather than look too far ahead, it's just kind of how we always do it. And it helps when you have players that step in, a guy like Jose Ramirez, it makes it a lot easier to have that mentality.

Q. You guys had Martinez from the Red Sox and you guys took him back, what is it that both organizations value?

TERRY FRANCONA: You'd have to ask John about the Red Sox part. But from us it's more than whatever numbers he puts up. He's extremely energetic, extremely professional. He keeps everybody on the bench loose, into the game. He's always ready to go into the game. And he has the ability to play his best defense, in my opinion, in short spurts. And I'm not sure it's a guy that you want to run out there every day, I don't know if there's enough offense. But you can put him out there for an inning or two in centerfield or second base or third and he catches the ball really well. And he throws terrific and he's always ready.

Q. Roberto Pérez, did he need to have his Spring Training after Yan hurt his hand?

TERRY FRANCONA: Yeah, that's probably not a bad way to say it. And it was a really difficult -- it was challenging. And we knew that it was probably going to be. I remember talking to Chris Tremie, our Triple-A manager, he had said -- I called him that day and he said, you know, Roberto looks healthy. I think the speed of the Triple-A game, he needs a little bit more time. Well, if that was quick, here's going to be quicker.

And so we knew that was going to take some time, and it did. But he's done a heck of a job. And you can tell he's gaining more confidence, as he should. He's throwing terrific, he's pitching offensively. It's been fun to watch. It's fun when you see guys get better, and you can see that he's getting so much fulfillment out of it. He was wearing it for a while there.

Q. In October most of the lineups are very good. What strikes you about this Red Sox lineup, top to bottom?

TERRY FRANCONA: Well, how dangerous they are. I mean, Hanley hit a one-iron yesterday to right field. That should be illegal.

They work the count. You look at -- I'm hopeful -- I don't want this to be like Benintendi's coming out party. Because that kid is going to be really good. I hope it's not this week. But they all work themselves into counts. Leon, Trevor had him 0-2, worked it to 3-2, hit a home run. They make you work for everything.

Brock Holt plays everywhere. Not too many guys, left-handed hitters can hit a ball off Miller. They just keep coming at you, as we saw last night. Look what our relievers had to do.

Believe me, that isn't the way we drew it up. I wanted Andrew to come in and turn the lineup over. I didn't want it to be 40 pitches. And the same thing with Cody. I wanted Cody to get the last five, but not that long. They make you work so hard that that's part of why they're good.

Q. I know there's a drip, drip, drip on how trades are made. Do you remember the moment when Chris told you that the Andrew Miller trade was done, and what do you remember about your first conversation with Andrew after the deal went down, whether it was on the phone, that morning, or whether it was when he arrived?

TERRY FRANCONA: I think he was in Tampa. I think he was in Tampa. And his world was kind of spinning. I said, Hey, man, relax. Just get up here like now and we'll get it figured out.

You know, there was a lot going on at the time there. I mean, one trade was coming through, one trade wasn't, like there was a lot. But of all the things that I thought could get done, this was the one I thought that would carry the most weight. And I know sometimes people don't think a reliever can impact your team as much as maybe a position player. I would argue that point. He has been everything we had hoped for and -- we gave up a lot of good players for him. And there's a reason why, because that's how much we think of Andrew.

Q. Other than the numbers, what do you see from Josh Tomlin down the stretch, when he was thrust back into that rotation role, and how vital was it for you guys as you plug through September with injuries?

TERRY FRANCONA: I think what happened over the course of August he started getting a little bit backwards in his cutter, fastball usage. He's not our hardest thrower. So he has to pitch in. And when he pitches in aggressively, it opens the plate up. And over the course of five, six, seven starts in August, it had kind of almost reversed. And when we gave him a start, start and a half off, ten-day blow there a little bit, it allowed him also to kind of look at some things like, Hey, how do I want to pitch, and how do I pitch when I'm successful.

We give him a lot of credit because he used the time to his advantage. And he came back being the guy that we had had the first three months. Nobody wants to have injuries but the fact that he's going to start a playoff game for us I think is very fitting. He's one of the best teammates I've ever seen in my life. And our guys will be excited he's pitching.