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Francona's daily briefing

Posted by Chris Forsberg, Boston.com Staff  February 17, 2009 02:59 PM

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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Red Sox manager Terry Francona spent a good portion of his session this afternoon talking about the shortstop competition between Julio Lugo and Jed Lowrie. In addition to talking about the position battle, Francona said he would not move Lugo to another position should he not win the starting job at short.

Francona also spent time talking about Jason Bay and Justin Masterson. For more on those, check out the full video above. Here's some of the Q&A:

(On meeting with the players this morning)

"We met with everybody this morning, most of it was pretty brief, but in a lot of instances, there's not a lot that needs to be said. We talked about it with Jed and Julio, about what we expect, just so there's no miscommunication.

(On what was said to the shortstops)

"Not that I can't, it's no secret, but we'd like both of them to play really well. Go out and play and we'll make the decision based on what's best for the team. But they're best served by not wasting energy. We'll make the decision, just go play well. We're in a unique spot with two pretty good players. It'll sort itself out. It's way early.

"The one thing we will do -- and you shouldn't read anything into this -- we will play Jed at third, also, just because of Mikey Lowell's [injury] situation, and the fact that Jed can go back and forth. It makes it easier to get guys at-bats, that's something Jed did last year, we don't know how it 's going to work out. We'll watch and monitor."

(On the team's defense)

"I think that can be a strength. I think Ellsbury in center field grew last year into being a pretty good defender. I think that'll only get better as he learns the league and gains confidence. It's something we talked about today. Go around the outfield, J.D. and Bay are both good. Rocco is very good. Youk and Pedey are Gold Glove caliber. Lowell's Gold Glove caliber. And we think our catcher's really good.

"We have the makings of a very good defensive team and it's something that's maybe more important to us now than maybe it was a few years ago. Again, if you score, however many runs you score, if you hold the other team down, I mean as long as we win, that's what we're shooting for, but there's different ways to do it. There's a cumulative effect on pitching staff, when you're catching the ball and it ends up where it's supposed to."

(On if people ever forget how important defense is)

"I don't. Ever. It's huge. When you're giving an extra out, you're going to lead to some problems. Not only on the scoreboard, but with extra pitches with the pitching staff and frustration. I would think if I'm a pitcher and I know they put it in play, I know our guys are going to catch it, that's a good feeling."

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