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Notes: Schilling heads home to prep

Notes: Schilling heads home to prep

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CLEVELAND -- As much as Red Sox right-hander Curt Schilling felt awkward about flying back to Boston prior to Thursday's Game 5 of the American League Championship Series, he knew that it was his best way to prepare for Game 6, which will take place Saturday night at Fenway Park.

The awkwardness was that Schilling faced the chance of not being with his team had they been eliminated on Thursday. Fortunately, Josh Beckett, who fired a masterpiece in leading the Red Sox to a 7-1 victory in Game 5, would not allow that to happen.

Manager Terry Francona supported Schilling's decision to focus on his next start. The Red Sox won't land in Boston until the wee hours of Friday morning.

"He left. He took off about an hour ago," said Francona during his pregame news conference. "[He] came, worked out, did his throwing, left, kind of with a funny feeling, I think. Like, '[Darn], I have to prepare for my start.' I said, 'Go, that's what we need you to do.'"

Francona also couldn't help resist taking a playful jab at Schilling before he departed.

"Plus, it maybe saves 10 minutes of drag time [on the plane]. I also made sure I told him that," Francona said.

Schilling, who will meet the media on Friday, will surely be buoyed by the opportunity to redeem himself for his subpar performance in Game 2, when he gave up nine hits and five runs over 4 2/3 innings.

"Curt is a big-stage pitcher and he knows how to handle it," said Red Sox slugger David Ortiz. "He knows how to do things, so hopefully he does well."

Papelbon rested and ready: Jonathan Papelbon's inactivity in this series is indicative of the way things have gone for the Red Sox. Entering Game 5, Papelbon's only work was in Game 2, when he fired two scoreless innings.

"When you give up seven runs, though, in two separate games, that can be part of the dilemma," Francona said. "We need Pap to be a part of this game. I think that's stating the obvious."

As it turns out, Papelbon pitched the ninth inning of Game 5 in a non-save situation.

Manny and the media: After not talking to the media for just about all of 2007, Ramirez has become a semi-regular talker during the postseason. After Game 5, he held a playful give-and-take with a horde of reporters.

Ortiz grabbed a broadcaster's microphone and began interviewing Ramirez, chiding his good friend about the purple tie he was wearing. Ramirez laughed it off.

"I'll try to take this tie to Colorado," said Ramirez.

Ramirez took some heat in national circles for his carefree comments from Wednesday.

"If it doesn't happen, so who cares? There's always next year," Ramirez said. "It's not like the end of the world or something. Why should we panic?"

His teammates knew what he was saying and felt some media outlets spun it way out of context.

"He talks to us a lot more than he talks to you guys," said Red Sox third baseman Mike Lowell. "We know Manny the person better than you do. I don't have a problem with what he said. I think the context, when we take it in a baseball sense, that it's not the end of the world, everyone's up in arms because it sounds like he doesn't care about the game. But the way you see him play, you know he cares about the game. I just think maybe he was trying to convey that there's other things in the world that may be more important than baseball. You can't fault him for that."

Tito wishes best for Torre: Francona's thoughts on Joe Torre not returning to the Yankees for 2008?

"I hope Joe is happy," Francona said. "I think he deserves the respect, and I think you're going to have people in baseball, every area of baseball, say probably very, very kind, respectful things about Joe the next couple of days, and they're all deserved. I just hope he's happy."

Francona didn't mind answering the question about Torre, who he has a good relationship with, the first time. But he wasn't much interested in the follow-up inquires.

"We really have other things on our plate right now," Francona said. "No disrespect to any other organization or any other person. This is sort of a big day for us to try to win this game."

And the manager -- asked if he would call Torre in the near future -- then came up with a one-liner that drew laughs throughout the room.

"We need to try to win this game tonight, or I might be getting phone calls," Francona said. "Joe might be calling me."

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Fun in Cleveland: The Red Sox, thanks to two off-days, have spent plenty of time in Cleveland this week. Forgive Francona if he hasn't been bouncing around the city.

"[I] came here [to the park] about 10 [this morning]," Francona said. "Did a little elliptical, watched the History Channel. We've been here a long time and I haven't gone anywhere. I've had room service like seven times and did the elliptical once."

Francona has been able to spend at least a little time with his father, Tito, who lives in Pennsylvania.

Tito Francona played in the Major Leagues from 1956-70.

"This Red Sox stuff has been good for him," said Terry Francona. "It's kind of reinvigorated him. He lives and dies with each game. I think it's actually been good for him. For everything he's been through [health-wise] -- he's been through a lot -- he actually looks terrific. It seems like every time he has a heart attack, he looks better. He looks terrific."

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

{"content":["league_championship_series" ] }
{"content":["league_championship_series" ] }