Oct. 30 Terry Francona pregame interview

Oct. 30 Terry Francona pregame interview

Q. Obviously you've been on the other end of some deficits before, 3-0, 3-1, and come back from them. Now that you have that advantage, what have you been telling your guys in the locker room going ahead?

TERRY FRANCONA: We don't -- like it's just a normal day. That's our biggest challenge, I think, as you get into postseason, is fighting to have a sense of normalcy. Because in our game you can't give them the Knute Rockne speech every day. It's not like you can hit longer because you're going to be better. We're 200 games into the season counting Spring Training. I think, actually, today's Sunday and football's on, I think that's good because it gives the guys, again, some sense of normalcy, because that's what you really want.

We don't have speeches every day.

Q. Jason Kipnis said last night that he was happy to finally contribute to the World Series with his home run last night. I'm just wondering if you could address how bad his ankle was when the series started, how much better it's gotten, and what he means to you guys on and off the field?

TERRY FRANCONA: Well, I think he's contributed before that. I think he's being a little bit modest, which isn't the worst thing in the world. I think sometimes that word's gotten a little lost along the way.

I think a lot of guys are beat up this time of year, probably with the Cubs, too. Like I said, we played almost 200 games. But when you go play, nobody's going to care how beat up you are, and I think he's done a good job of handling it, getting here early, and kind of getting it better each day. I do think the more we play, I think the better he's feeling.

Q. When you won your first World Series with Boston, obviously it was 86 years. You're trying to win one now that's 68 years. How does the historical component kind of add or contribute to the accomplishments?

TERRY FRANCONA: It doesn't. I think for fans it does, and I get it, and I think it's really cool. But for us, it can't enter into it. I mean, it's hard enough to go beat Jon Lester. I've kind of joked with the local guys a lot, I don't feel responsible for the fact that my dad wasn't good enough to win when he played here. Winning is hard enough. I get it that fans have lived through maybe not winning, and it's fun to talk about it or to commiserate, however you want to say it, but it's also unfair to the group in there to ask them to win for other people. This is hard enough doing it right now, and that's how we approach it.

I mean, believe me, we've never had a meeting saying whatever, it's been how many years. I mean, I'm aware of it because people have asked, but we just need to go play baseball.

Q. Last year was the Royals. This year it's Cleveland. What is it about a smaller-market model that you've followed that's allowed you guys to get to this point?

TERRY FRANCONA: Well, I think our front office has done an incredible job of this year, I think, being honest enough or realistic enough. Like, okay, what neighborhood are we in in the winter? Going after Napoli, not allowing that to go away. Because that could have, a lot times, being persistent enough to get him done. Signing Rajai. We had Uribe for a while that helped. We had Marlon Byrd for a while. We weren't going to go out there and give somebody eight years.

So I thought they were realistic and incredibly persistent in getting those guys done. Because the goal was to try to add offense without taking away from our defense, and I thought they did a great job in doing that.

Q. Obviously your focus is on today and winning the World Series, but when you take a step back, is it cool to think that this is a group because of maybe the youth, the contracts, that might have a chance to be together for a while for the next few years? I mean, your core guys are all sort of committed to being here. Is that something you can really appreciate?

TERRY FRANCONA: As an organization, I think we feel like we're pretty healthy. But I can tell you without one ounce of me not telling the truth, I never think about that now. It's like trying to figure out a way to beat the Cubs every minute of the day and during the night when we're playing.

But to your point, I do think we feel good that our organization is pretty healthy, just because of the guys that are under contract and where they are in their careers. You know, even our pitchers that are banged up now, none of our guys are really that old or have that much wear and tear on them.

Q. Moments ago Joe Maddon was in here, and he said that the key to tonight's victory for the Cubs will be to grab the lead and not having to face your dominant relievers. How would you describe the key to the Cleveland victory tonight?

TERRY FRANCONA: To get the lead and let them face the dominant relievers (laughter). It's really not rocket science. Joe knows that and so do I. If it was, they'd probably have two other managers.

You want to put your team in the best position to succeed, and I think both of us know that when you have good players, you let them play. That's part of it. Sometimes it's getting out of the way.

Q. This is also one of those questions where you step back, I guess, and take a look. 32 years ago you were leading the National League in hitting. You tore your knee up, and five and a half years later you're out of baseball. Now you're one win away from winning your third World Series. Do you ever step back and take the measure of the highs and lows you've been through? Because you have a good story.

TERRY FRANCONA: Well, thank you (laughter). You know what, I really don't. I mean, the truth of the matter is I mean, I got hurt so early in my career, that my whole career I was kind of hanging on. It's just the way it was. I honestly felt like -- I mean, I got let go from teams and I'd move on to another team. Sometimes going to Triple-A again. I kind of felt like every time I did that it was an opportunity. I mean, I was getting to play baseball, which I loved, and I really thought if I was good enough -- you know, I didn't feel like I was getting screwed. I used to stand on the trainer's table. Andre Dawson and I would stand there together every day. We'd get our knees taped the exact same way. He went out and hit 30 home runs and drove in 100, and I hit .247 with two home runs.

So I guess I felt like, if you're a really good player, you can get past whatevers and I couldn't. But I think it helped me for being on this side of the game, because I saw a lot of different things because I was put through a lot of different things.

Q. Just with all you've been through going way back even to Brantley, was it almost like, I don't know who is going to step up but I know somebody will? I mean, you didn't know who was going to come through?

TERRY FRANCONA: Yeah, I mean, I can't remember ever really starting a game that I didn't feel like we're going to win. I think everybody feels it. That's why we're doing this. Sometimes you kind of think well, we might have to do something a little special. But I just think that's the way we're built. Like you start the game, like we're going to figure out a way to win. Even towards the end of the game when it doesn't look good, you're always like, let's try to get the tying run to the plate. It's just, I think, the mentality that you always have.

Now this group has done an unbelievable job of living that out and not just picking their spots. They do it all the time.

Q. Along those lines because you pretty much just answered the question, is that just a testimony to the core players that they had that ability to kind of go through, between the injuries, the suspensions, all the different things you guys had to deal with? They've shown a lot of resiliency it seems.

TERRY FRANCONA: I agree with you. I think last year at the trade -- and I think I touched on this yesterday a little bit, but at the trade deadline last year we got significantly younger, and I think everybody thought we were kind of throwing up the white flag. We called in, Chris and I called in the core group. It was Brantley, Gomes, Kip, that group of guys, and we said, Look, we're getting younger and we may take some lumps. We'd rather not. But we still need to -- this can go a couple ways.

Then we called in the younger guys that were going to play. We said, "Hey, we're excited to have you play, but you need to go about this the right way." And we actually were a much better team the second half. I think we kind of sowed the seeds of like being resilient and fighting back.

I thought the second half of last year really helped us going into this year.