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Pregame interview with Terry Francona

Pregame interview with Terry Francona

Q. Terry, can you just talk about the mood of your team right now?

TERRY FRANCONA: The mood of our team? Not tense. I think the mood of our team has been loose since the very first day of Spring Training two years ago.

Our guys handle situations and critical games and critical times of the season very, very well. I'm not downplaying the importance of this game. I would never want to do that, nor do I feel that way, but I think our guys handle it the best way to get the most talent out of our team very, very well. You can't fake being loose. You have to be the way you are. Some teams make life better being quiet.

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Q. How heavily can those guys draw on last year's experience when it comes to staying loose, knowing they've come down from 3-0 before?

FRANCONA: I can rely heavily on answering that question 9,000 times. I got asked that yesterday and I don't know that I would have a different answer today. Were you here yesterday?

I'll try to deal with it again. Any experience you can draw on, you try to learn from. This is a very different team. This is 2005, not 04. If anyone can draw on something in the past, whether it was good or bad, and us be better for it, that's good. I think, generally, in anything you do, whoever you are, if you have had experience, you probably are going to be better for it with the experience.

Q. Terry, can you talk about what positive feedback you got from Clement's session?

FRANCONA: What we're trying to do with Matt today is, we called him in and talked to him about him possibly being available out of the bullpen on Friday. That again, we're trying to give our ballclub every option there is to be successful.

Is it going to happen? It might not happen, but we're trying to cover every base we can. With that in mind, he wanted to go out and play a little catch and get the blood flowing. He's got a pretty nasty bruise on his thigh that I think is going to get worse before it gets better, and a contusion on his wrist that I don't think is much of an issue.

He wanted to go out and try to prepare, like, "This is what I'm aiming for." We also told him that if he can't do it, we won't do it. We won't have him be available. I think because of the kind of guy he is, he's shooting for that also.

Q. Terry, what do you suspect your loose team did with a free night off in Chicago last night?

FRANCONA: I don't know. I went and swam. Pretty exciting, huh?

Q. Not really.

FRANCONA: It depends on what you think I look like in a Speedo. You saw me, how did I look?

I was crossing Michigan Avenue in shorts signing autographs, my bow legs were all over Michigan Avenue. It wasn't very good. I don't know. I have never checked curfew here. I have never felt the need. I think our guys show up always ready to play. I have never questioned that, from the day I have been here.

Q. Terry, hopefully you won't take a deep breath on this one.

FRANCONA: I am already before you even start.

Q. Having been the manager of this team for two years, and looking back at their history, and it seems to start by losing the first game in the season and going on to win, would you say you have players that could be called "September players?"

FRANCONA: I don't know. I hope that they're October players. If they're September players, we might be in trouble. I'm not sure I necessarily quite agree with your premise, so when you talk about losing the first game, sometimes it's hard to answer a question when you don't necessarily agree with the premise of it.

I think our guys are able to ... I think that's what I said originally, our guys are able to handle the importance of these games without getting too riled up. Maybe if you're saying that, yeah, I do agree with that part.

Q. Terry, you had a tough decision at first base because neither [John] Olerud or [Kevin] Millar has done good against [Mark] Buehrle. Can you tell us why you went with Olerud?

FRANCONA: Sure, there was more to it than this, but I don't want to go into everything, but Olerud is so good defensively, and the way that the White Sox play the game, I think that's a big part of the decision. There are certainly some other things that maybe need to stay in our coaches room, because of competitive advantage or whatever, but the defense certainly meant a lot to that decision.

Q. Terry, if Matt goes into the bullpen to be available Friday, and is able to do that, does somebody else become, like, a potential Game 5 guy who you don't use, then?

FRANCONA: What we're going to do is, I think what I just said is, we'll try to have every option available to us so we can win. Me sitting here and naming a Game 5 starter would be a little presumptuous. We'll try to win tonight and have a day off tomorrow.

We're trying to have as many options available to us. You never know what's going to happen. We've seen line drives go back up the middle. We want to make sure we have every single base covered that we can. We have a responsibility to do that.

Q. Terry, because Contreras pitched so well yesterday and Matt didn't, a lot was made of the two teams' starting pitching. Do you feel there's a decided disadvantage in starting pitching for Boston, and does it matter at this point in the season what the statistics say?

FRANCONA: They certainly mean this: In 162 games we did this and they did that. I think there are ways in a short series about maybe bringing that closer together. We talked about that yesterday, about staying out of the middle of the bullpen, which we didn't do. Some of those statistics won't be as important.

What it says, though, is that they had a great year, pitching-wise. They're good. They deserve that. We understand that. It's our job to find a way to be better than them, regardless of what the statistics show.

Q. Terry, in a five-game series, is there such a thing as momentum? If you win tonight, do you take the momentum to Boston?

FRANCONA: Well, it would be on an off-day. We're not going to win on that off-day. It will be a lot more fun plane flight if we win, and the off-day would probably be a little more enjoyable. In baseball, momentum is not necessarily the correct word all the time. It's our responsibility to create an atmosphere where we can win.

I think a good example is the other night, we were down 4 [games] to 1 at home. I don't know that you can call that momentum, but we felt like we were going to win the game. You can't fake that. It's a feeling your team has, and we had it so we will continue to push for that.

Q. Everybody talks about David Wells being a big-game pitcher. Can you talk a little bit about Wakefield and that situation, as well?

FRANCONA: You're getting ahead of me a little bit. We love Wakefield. Again, because it's we, and it's our team, everybody we send out there, you've got to believe me when I tell you, we really like them. They're our guys. I think that's the mentality you have when you know you're going to win.

Sometimes you're not sure how, but that's the mentality you have. I feel that way about everybody. Can I clarify something before I go? I didn't wear a Speedo.

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