Here’s the transcript from Terry Francona’s press conference today at Fenway Park, as provided by the Red Sox media relations staff. Click “full entry” at the bottom of this post to read all of the manager’s responses:
On the Red Sox’ pitching rotation for the ALCS:
Francona: We’re going to go Daisuke [Matsuzaka], [Josh] Beckett, [Jon} Lester, [and Tim] Wakefield [in that order] now. We reserve the right if something crazy happens in the middle to make a change but that’s the way we’re set up to go. The reasoning is actually pretty simple. I think I thought this was how it would shake out even before we did the media after we beat Anaheim. I just needed to take the proper time to talk it through. It gives people rest, not too much rest not too little. It’s probably the best way where we don’t have one guy going on [eight days’ rest], one guy going on regular. Keep everybody somewhat in line. Rest at this time of year is huge and we’ll take advantage of it while trying not to give too much. And the guys that pitch [Games] 1, 2, and 3 are lined up for 5, 6, and 7. Nobody’s going to throw three [games] so having those three twice is really what’s important regardless of how it’s lined up.
On if Lester’s 11-1 record at Fenway factored into the rotation decision:
Francona: Not really, I know what it is. You can get into a lot of details but there really didn’t need to be. The way it lined up was appropriate. Those three [Dice-K, Lester, and Beckett] will pitch twice if it goes to seven games. In the end, as long as they’re pitching the order isn’t as important so then you go on what’s best for them.
On playing the Rays in the ALCS and if there is any bad blood between the teams:
Francona: We know them really well, they know us really well. It’s the way it is when you play in your division. You play so much that’s the way it is. It’s been like that for us with the Yankees the past few years. You play them a bunch. The bad blood, I don’t think anyone has even thought of it. That was a long time ago. This is the playoffs that really doesn’t enter into it.
On whether he has finalized the ALCS roster:
Francona: We have not done that yet. We have a lot of meetings tomorrow in Tampa. We have a workout at 3 p.m. and we’ll have our meetings in the morning. I think we’ll have a meeting from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., we’ll workout at 3 p.m. and I think we’ll probably have our roster to announce tomorrow before the workout.
On whether he considered going with Paul Byrd in Game 4 instead of Wakefield:
Francona: We considered everything but when it comes down to what serves the ball club best, Byrd can probably be used more flexibly out of the bullpen and then when you line up Wake, you put him with Cash, you see how far you can go and then you can make your determinations with how to go with the bullpen as opposed to trying to bring in Wake in the middle of the game knowing that he’s possibly throwing to a catcher that you haven’t had. It’s an easy decision when you look at all the dynamics of it.
On the Rays’ success and what makes them a good playoff team:
Francona: I hope they’re not a good playoff team. It shouldn’t be a surprise [after] 162 games and a playoff series that they’re good. I understand some of the story behind this. They haven’t had any success going into this year and all of a sudden they went from the bottom to the top. It’s a great story for baseball. It made our life a little bit more miserable this year. If you look at their team from top to bottom there really shouldn’t be a surprise. They have a very good, very healthy starting rotation. They have a deep bullpen. They’re able to match up, they have power. Their starters got them deep enough where they didn’t wear out their bullpen. They catch the ball better than any team in the league and offensively they have gotten contributions from everybody. How many times do you turn on the TV and see somebody hitting a walk off homerun or somebody got hurt and somebody else picked it up. They have a real good thing going. Our job will be to derail that.
On how much experience matters heading into the ALCS:
Francona: I think the one thing where it really does help is there are so many things that happen on the periphery that can get in the way. There are little things like ticket requests and the extra media things that can throw you off a little bit. At least we know what to expect so it doesn’t get in the way of baseball. That’s the whole idea, to be able to play the best baseball you can. It doesn’t guarantee you’re going to win but that’s what you really set out to do. The first time you hear people say , myself probably included, it can be a little overwhelming. We really try hard to never let that happen. You get thrown a lot of unusual requests, everybody has a request, so if you’re used to it at least you have an idea so baseball doesn’t get pushed to the side.
On what has allowed the young Red Sox players to succeed:
Francona: They’re good players. If you’re a good player, I don’t think it matters what age they are. We try to talk to players if they are inexperienced and not hold that against them. Continue to talk to them and if they make a mistake not jump down their throat but give them guidance. The only way to get experience is to play. I think we’ve been blessed with this organization; there are some really good players that come through here. Because they’re young, we would never hold that against them. They can help us win.
On why the Red Sox have traditionally had difficulty in domes:
Francona: I used to think it was fairly obvious. When we were slower and we would get on turf, it was Toronto, Minnesota, teams that could run and we couldn’t we were at a disadvantage. I don’t feel that way anymore. We’re built differently but you’re right, our record is not very good. I’m hoping that’s going to change.
On second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who struggled in the ALDS:
Numbers-wise he had a tough series and we won. This will never revolve around one person. The better he does is important but the idea isn’t to get one guy going, the idea is to win. But to get your best players swinging the way they can certainly helps.