Q. Is Ryan Merritt an option at all?
TERRY FRANCONA: Yeah, sure is. We got those guys back here that were out in Goodyear, Colon, Merritt, just because the Instruction League was over, I think Diaz is on his way to play winter ball. Erik Gonzalez, they're all back, and then we'll make our decisions. And everybody will stay with us, though.
Q. When you left the Phillies there was a thought that maybe you were managerially challenged -- not by any Canadians, we believed in you. But what are some of the things about managing a good roster that are more difficult than managing a team that's not in contention?
TERRY FRANCONA: Oh, boy, thanks for that, by the way. I think every manager's job is probably a little bit different, has a little bit different challenges. But they're all -- everybody has them.
You go back to the Phillies stuff, it probably really served me well, even though it was hard a lot of times, and I probably got beat up a lot of times, but I learned a lot about how I felt about the players, especially. And then when you get a better roster and you still feel the way you do about the players, I think that's when it has a chance to start becoming pretty special.
But I think that showed me that like the forming, the foundation of like relationships and things like that, it was pretty close to some of those guys like Rolen, Brogna, and Glanville, and we fought through a lot of frustrating times together, and still remained pretty close.
Q. A lot of your players talk about you and say players' manager. How do you maintain sort of the authority but also joking with guys and getting along with them and sort of straddling that line sometimes?
TERRY FRANCONA: I don't think you have to straddle it. I think the guys know that -- I mean, we've been together now four years. They know how I feel. I know how they feel. I think that as you're together it's supposed to be a strength. And it seems kind of silly to be around a bunch of guys you really like and not enjoy them. They know and I know there's a lot of times I have to deliver a message that's not what they want to hear, and I don't particularly enjoy it. But they also know that I'm never going to do something in a game besides try to win, do what I think is right. And they all respect that. I think that's why it works so well.
I also think when you build relationships you can tell people things sometimes they don't want to hear. As long as they know it's the truth, they'll digest it. They might be mad for a day or two, but they'll digest it and then you move on.
During the course of a year you're going to aggravate some people. You can't be together as much as we are and not have people get aggravated, and that's okay. It's just where do you go from there? Do you stay aggravated? Do you kind of talk behind their back, or do you actually make it better moving forward? And that's what I hope we always do.
Q. It seems like Carlos has rolled with a lot of different things, playing less at first, hitting lead-off sometimes. Can you talk about how he's dealt with all that and kept his production like it's been?
TERRY FRANCONA: It's been kind of a unique thing this year with Carlos. Not a lot of times you see a veteran player make some of the changes that he's made. He's always been a really good kid. But this year he's been a much more open, much better teammate. You see him laughing more. Much more open to -- he'll come to me and say, Whatever you need. And that's actually what it's been.
And I think Napoli has been a big part of that because he and Nap go back and forth at first. But when Nap doesn't play first, he doesn't just come to me and say, Hey, I need a day. He goes to Carlos and makes sure he's feeling okay. So I think Carlos feels very respected.
When we started hitting him leadoff, I sat down with him and talked to him about it. The last thing you want to do, even if you think it's a good idea, if your player doesn't really buy into it, it's probably not the greatest idea. And from day one, he was fine with it. This has been the funnest year since I've been here with Carlos, and he's made some real strides and we're proud of him for it.
Q. It's obviously not fun to lose two good starters late in the season like you guys did. Do you enjoy the creative thinking necessitated by that situation?
TERRY FRANCONA: Well, I don't know about enjoy, because you don't want to lose players. Just for the fact like sometimes when I see Brantley or somebody, my heart kind of hurts a little bit, because he should be with us. But what happens is players go down, and if you take very long to feel sorry for yourself or make an excuse, nobody else is going to feel sorry. So right away I think we all think, Okay, how do we make this better?
And at times, when you lose two pitchers like that late, I'm not sure you can move on conventionally and cover that. So we've tried to not feel sorry for ourselves and figure out, okay, how do we -- like in this series, how do we win four games before they do? That's really what we have to do. If it's Clev pitching out of the bullpen for two days and then making a start on the fourth day, we can do that.
I think we have enough players where we can win. We're going to have to play very good baseball. Your margin for error is a little bit less when guys get hurt. So you hope you don't make errors.
Q. Ross Atkins describes you as inclusive. Does that come from your time in the front office away from the dugout?
TERRY FRANCONA: No, I don't think so. I think probably it's my personality anyway. What's "inclusive" mean? (Laughter.)
I don't know, you know what, I was -- when I say this, I had the good fortune of playing for 16, I think, Major League managers, part of that was because I wasn't very good. But that's a lot of ideas, a lot of personalities, a lot of different ways people do things. And you learn a lot. But I think ultimately you kind of learn you have to be true to yourself.
I was with Dallas Green where he'd walk in and he could command that room just by staring at you. I can't do that. We do it a lot of times with humor. And again, if you aren't true to yourself players see right through it right now. They may not all be Ivy League guys, but if you're not true to yourself they can see through it right now and you might as well go home.
Q. Any update on Danny Salazar?
TERRY FRANCONA: The only update I have right now is he was supposed to throw an inning today in a game out there and we did not have a report yet when I came down from our meeting.
Q. Is that 19-inning game kind of symbolic of how evenly matched these teams are? You found a way to win that game. Did that bond the guys even more?
TERRY FRANCONA: I think there are times during a year that games like that do, or events like that do.
Now, saying that, we ended up losing the next couple of days, and had a tough time for a couple of weeks. I think that went a long way with Bauer that day, you could see guys warming up to him, which I thought was good.
I think things happen during the course of the year. Sometimes it's easily seen, sometimes it's not. Maybe it's behind the scenes, but to go into your team's personality and everybody kind of being one. I think this team has done a really good job all year of doing things together.
I haven't had one instance all year where we've pinch-hit for somebody or taken someone out of a game where there's been an incident, whether you guys saw it or not. And that's pretty rare. This team is pretty easy to work with.