Q. I know. I know. So we'll stop there. But guys always stepped up somebody, maybe you thought he would or thought he wouldn't. But it makes it more remarkable you're here when you look -- usually a team can't have that happen and get to the World Series. How did your guys do it?
TERRY FRANCONA: You know, I've been associated with teams where injuries have kind of overwhelmed the season, and it's not a lack of trying. It's just you couldn't pull it off. We've been fortunate enough this year where when things happened, we had other guys that either stepped in full-time, part-time, you know, and the idea is you've got 25 players, you've got to score a certain amount of runs, you've got to hold the team to a certain amount of runs. Okay, do you use all your guys? Sometimes it's actually more fun.
I mean, I feel bad for the guys that are hurt, like Gomes, even though he's on our roster is not playing because of his hand. You know, Brantley is the heart and soul of our team. I feel bad because what they've been through helped to get us here.
Last year at the trade deadline we were playing so bad, and that core group did such a good job of turning the year around that I think they kind of planted the seeds for this year.
Q. How much extra satisfaction did you get from doing this with a low-payroll team that couldn't go after Jon Lester, couldn't make a huge trade in July?
TERRY FRANCONA: I don't know if the extra satisfaction comes from that. Once the game starts, it really doesn't matter. I know during the winter maybe sometimes we are in a different neighborhood than some other people. I get it. And Chris (Antonetti) kind of told me about that before I got here. I think the extra satisfaction is actually doing it with the people that we're doing it with. I think that far outweighs the salary limitations and all that.
I'm pretty proud of the way we've done it. Everybody says "we", and it really is. I mean, every time something happens, and it has happened, somebody in that room says, "Okay, how are we going to fix it?" And I have really enjoyed that atmosphere. And it's just grown since I've been here. I mean, I think Chris and his guys are unbelievable to work for. They bring out, I think, the good in just about everybody.
Q. A big part of your success this postseason has been the game plan that you guys came up with to neutralize the offense of the Red Sox and of the Blue Jays. Who deserves most of the credit for the game planning?
TERRY FRANCONA: Well, when it goes right, I would say me. When it doesn't go right, I would say Millsie (laughing).
No, it's really not that difficult. I think our job is to take our guys and use the strengths as much as we can. And when you have a guy like Andrew Miller, Cody Allen, and not only are they able but are willing, you want to use it to the best of your ability. For the local guys, I've said it all year, this has been one of the funnest bullpens to work with I've ever seen. That's before Andrew got here. Those guys pride themselves on taking the ball every day and pitching early, late, they don't care. It's fun to them. They give up runs -- Shaw gives up runs sometimes because he shouldn't be pitching, but he still takes the ball. So it's hard not to respect that. Now that Andrew's here, it's made it even better.
Q. What has Bauer done with his finger since the last start? And how much confidence do you have that he's not going to be leaking oil on the mound?
TERRY FRANCONA: Yeah, I was confident last week, and I said that I didn't think the finger was going to get in the way, and I'm going to say the same thing again this week. And if it doesn't work, I'm going to make the doctor come up here and talk to you guys. But I do think with the week in between and some extra work and things like that, he threw the ball pretty well the other night and there was no blood. He had it covered, but there was no blood on the inside. That thing's wound up pretty tight there. And they've learned a few things over the week also that will help. I don't think that finger's going to be the reason he wins or loses.
Now I said that last week, too.
Q. You in Boston had a very successful run with Theo. Why do you think you guys connected so well up there? And what do you think it is about him that works in his job?
TERRY FRANCONA: Oh, my goodness. Well, I mean, he's smarter than -- I'm going to go out on a limb and say smarter than anybody in this room probably added together, and he's a hard worker. So you take those two qualities and he's going to be successful wherever he goes. He's too smart and he's too driven not to succeed. I mean, he could see, if some people can see two or three things at once, he can see 10 or 12, and you need to keep up or he'll let you know.
But I also knew when things got tough where I could go, and in Boston a lot of times, that's a feeling, and that was a good feeling. I mean, just the fact that I told these guys yesterday, eight years together there, I think, speaks volumes.
Q. What did you guys see in Brandon Guyer when you reached out to get him? That was kind of maybe an unexpected move, and what has he given you?
TERRY FRANCONA: The first thing we wanted to find out is if Cashie worked with him on his hitting. And when we found out that he hadn't, we thought the right-handed bat, he's got about 1.000 OPS against left-handed pitching, which we really needed. We had Raburn a couple years before, and he did that. It was kind of an under-the-radar move, and it's really helped us a lot. As you know, he's a great kid, plays hard, always ready. He's been a fun guy to have. Fit right in like three, four days later like he had been here.
Q. You've been in a lot of postseason series, is there ever a tendency when a team has made a great run to not be ready for Game 1? And how do you make sure that you get the jump, especially when you've got home field?
TERRY FRANCONA: I don't think you can guarantee you get the jump, but I get your point. We actually talked about that. We've talked to the team before each series, and not just before the game, but well before it starts, just here's what's in front of us and here's what we're going to try to do. And we did that again for this. And we actually talked about that, like not easing into the series and being ready to play.
Lester's going to have something to say about the outcome of the game tonight, but I don't think our guys will stop doing what they do now. They've done it all year.
Q. Are you aware and in your room do your guys care that this event around the country is all about the Cubs? Do you feel like saying, "We're here, too"? You've sort of been on both sides of that with the Red Sox and now here.
TERRY FRANCONA: I wasn't aware of that until you said it.
Q. Oh, yeah, totally. All about the Cubs.
TERRY FRANCONA: Hey, don't let him ask anymore questions, huh? THE MODERATOR: You want me to throw him out? You want me to throw him out?
TERRY FRANCONA: You've already been banned in Boston, now you're banned in Cleveland.
You know what, I actually think they deserve it. They've won 103 games, and the Cubs are the Cubs. I get it. I played there. People liked me when I was the 26th man on a 25-man team. That's just the way the Cubs are. I get it. I think if you go into our clubhouse though you'll see 25 guys, coaches, trainers, our front office that are perfectly content with where we are and how we got here. And if we can win, this city will go bananas.
Q. You've managed some pretty elite pitchers in your career. Does Corey remind you of anyone in particular in the way he handles himself on the mound, his mindset or maybe a hybrid between a couple of pitchers that you managed before?
TERRY FRANCONA: Personality-wise, maybe a little bit like Schill. Kind of outspoken. That was a joke (laughing).
No, actually not. He's really quiet. There's a fire though that burns in there that maybe people don't see. I think he shows more of his personality in the clubhouse than maybe he ever will to the media, which is his choice. But his work ethic is, I mean, probably second to none. I mean, his routines are impeccable during the year, and there's a reason that he holds his stuff all year. Like his gas ank doesn't -- the needle doesn't start going down because he just gets after it every day. It's been fun to watch. He's kind of grown up into this pitcher right in front of us, and it's been fun to watch.
Q. When you lost Brantley it was obviously a big loss, and you had to shuffle a lot of outfielders. Does it kind of speak to your team that it's kind of a collective effort in all three positions out there to get to where you are today?
TERRY FRANCONA: Yeah, I think some of that is definitely true. I also think that it's easier to sit up here and talk about things like that when a guy like Jose Ramirez does what he does. I mean, he kind of saved our ass. I mean, like I said, it's nice to sit up here and say, well, we do it this way, our culture. Well, you know what, he played pretty good. Because out of Spring Training I would be lying if, when we didn't have Brantley, if I wasn't worried about how we were going to score runs. And Ramirez kind of took Brantley's at-bats and he took the at-bats and ran with them. Now he's turned himself into one of the better players in the American League, and he's done it in multiple positions.
Q. About Kluber growing up in front of your eyes, has he always had this focus, or has that gotten better, too, over the last couple years?
TERRY FRANCONA: Well, I mean, I'm guessing that like everything else you probably improve as you go. I mean, shoot, my first Spring Training here, he was so quiet. Remember, he had the knee injury, and he never told -- he had the knee scoped before and he never said anything. He was just okay during Spring Training. We sent him to Triple-A. Then when we called him back up, we found out that he really couldn't push off that knee, but he never said anything.
So, I think we got glimpses of like what he was made of early, even before people realized what kind of pitcher he was.
Q. When you think about the factors in deciding who will start Game 4, what criteria will you use in terms of what the situation is and who you have available?
TERRY FRANCONA: In fairness to our three starters, I think, again, we've said who our first three starters are, but just to be fair to them, we need to wait until everybody pitches just because it's not just if one guy can handle and maybe come back early. Because once you do that, then the other guys pretty much have to, too, or you're really not helping yourself. So we've talked to all the starters. They understand how we feel about things. But we also need to wait and see because as we noticed with drone attacks, that things can happen (laughing).