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Francona has high praise for Tazawa

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff  August 12, 2009 02:45 PM

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During his weekly appearance on WEEI's "The Dale and Holley Show," Red Sox manager Terry Francona offered a rave review for rookie starter Junichi Tazawa, the winning pitcher in last night's hard-fought 7-5 victory over the Detroit Tigers.

“I used some . . . adjectives about him last night that were pretty glowing of him, and I think he deserved it," said Francona, who confirmed that the 23-year-old Tazawa will make his second career start against the Texas Rangers over the weekend. "In the first inning, we had the potential to get six outs and we don't turn the double play, [Nick Green] has a hard time on the other ground ball, and [Tazawa] held his poise . . .

"All the extra-curricular things that were going on, and he still held it together. Then his last three innings were spectacular. I tell you what, this is an exciting kid. I don't know if I've been that comfortable with a guy on the mound in that situation ever. This kid's got it together. He's a sharp kid. And with a different culture and everything else . . . nothing throws this kid. This is an exciting young man to watch."

A few other topics Francona discussed:

On his on-field discussion with Tigers manager Jim Leyland last night, during which it appeared Leyland was doing most of the talking:

Francona: “You know what, Jimmy and I go back a ways. Oh, my goodness, he was the Evansville manager back in 1980 when I was playing in Triple A for Denver [in the Expos system]. He was a guy all of us young guys gravitated towards because you could tell he had it ... . I have a lot of respect for Jim. Nothing that he said to me last night diminished that, I can tell you that. I don't feel comfortable talking about something that we talked about [on the field]. But I can tell you right now that there was nothing he said that would ever remotely diminish the respect I have for him."

On whether Kevin Youkilis was justified in charging the mound in the second inning:

Francona: “Well, I don’t know if you can say what should have happened or shouldn’t have happened. It's not a game that's played on paper and you don't have the ability sometimes to think it through. You know, Youk got whacked, and I thought he actually explained [his thought-process] pretty good. He's tired of it. It was the second night in row where he got hit pretty good. He went to the mound, he regrets that, but he did it.You know, now we're going to have to pay the consequences. . . . If you actually pick up one of those balls, they hurt. He got whacked pretty good, and again, there’s emotion involved and sometimes you do things, and it happened, so now we have to deal with it."

On MLB discipline boss Bob Watson's sometimes contradictory methods of dispersing punishment:

Francona: "I’d be at the head of that club, the confusion club. I have had a lot of conversations with Bob over the past six years where I’ve left scratching my head. And he knows that, he knows I feel that way, so I don't think I'm speaking out of school. But again, I also understand that there are going to be repercussions from last night. So we'll sit tight and wait to hear what they are.”

On whether he thought Tigers starter Rick Porcello was trying to hit Victor Martinez, the batter before Youkilis in the previous inning:

Francona: "I don't know, I don't know. That's for you guys to debate. I'm sure you'll have an interesting day doing that. I don't have any interest in doing that."

On distributing playing time among several players accustomed to starting, including Mike Lowell:

Francona: "Well, again, I think there’s a little confusion there. We’re not here just to keep people happy. I do agree a good clubhouse makes for a better team, at least in most instances. What’s really important is how they play the game. ... What’s more important is having guys put the ballclub first, and regardless of how they feel, again, trying to get past their own personal goals and aspirations, which is not always the easiest thing to do, I recognize that, I haven’t seen any problems out there. Mike Lowell and I talked about this the other day. I don’t expect Mikey Lowell to come in and bow down and say, ‘Wow, what a great manager. You’re playing me three days a week or four days a week’ or whatever it is. He likes playing every day. I like the fact that he likes playing every day. For four years now, he’s been grinding, and we respect that. So now, when things maybe changed a little bit, I need to make good decisions but I also need to recognize that, and I do.”

On how the team has handled the changes in the lineup:

Francona: “Again, I think guys have somewhat of an idea because we try to stay consistent. But at the same time, every night after a game, [bench coach Brad Mills] and I will huddle, actually before I go up to the media if possible, because guys get out of here on different time schedules. So we want them to know before they go home if they’re playing or not playing. We all think it helps. They may not get the news they want to hear, but I think it’s better for them to prepare that way. And I think they agree with it, too. It just makes their job a little bit easier, whatever the job is that we're asking them to do."

On why he was ejected by umpire Scott Barry in the second inning last night:

Francona: “I went out and was arguing a lot of what happened in the first inning. I thought there was an obstruction play [when a runner slid into second in the first inning]. The rules say you have to make an attempt to touch second. There was no attempt. I know how I feel. And Scott’s explanation I didn't think was very good, and I was looking for a reason to go back out and tell him that, and I did. So I knew I was going to get ejected. I got to a point where I thought, 'OK, he didn’t throw me out,' so I said, ‘Cool, I’ll hang around.’ Right as I’m starting to leave, he ejects me . . . I deserved to be thrown out.”

On how difficult it has been to handle the David Ortiz situation:

Francona: “It’s been tough, tougher on David. The only reason it was tough on me I was privy to some of it. Not all of it. But I understood the process at least, and I understood how unfair it was to David. I saw some of the things that were being said about him. . . .I understood, and I was disappointed it took that long, because the longer it took, the more heat David was taking. His hands were unbelievably tied. And I did see that. I would have like to have helped, but I was told to zip it and the process would take care of itself. So I kind of had to stay put and listen."


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