Terry Francona “We dug ourselves a little hole early on here. We better dig ourselves out. We better not feel sorry for ourselves.”April 14, 2011 – 8:30 am by Steven Cuce
A truly inauspicious start has many people in Beantown pressing the panic button a little early here to start off the baseball season. The Boston Red Sox started off the season being swept by both the defending World Series Champion Texas Rangers and the Cleveland Indians. The poor start seemed to be in the past on Monday morning after taking two of three games against the arch-rival New York Yankees over the weekend in the first home series of the year, but two ugly losses against the Tampa Bay Rays has many people jumping off the enormous Red Sox Nation bandwagon.
Whether it has been the struggles of the pitching staff pertaining to Daisuke Matsuzaka, John Lackey, Clay Buchholz and even the up-and-down nature of Josh Beckett, the starting five has been highly inconsistent outside of Jon Lester. Carl Crawford has had a tough time adjusting to his new surroundings in the Northeast, but it’s just a matter of time before he gets going. The Red Sox currently sit at 2-9, good for the worst record in baseball, looking for answers. The saving grace about baseball is that there are 162 games and with the amount of talent that Boston has it would be no surprise if they righted the ship in no time before it’s too late.
Terry Francona joined WEEI in Boston on The Big Show to discuss keeping the same attitude coming to ballpark each day, if he’s second guessing himself a lot these days, did he ever anticipate the Red Sox struggling this much to start the season, does he believe this Red Sox team is just too talented to struggle for much longer, what is the best spot in the lineup for Carl Crawford, how long can he stick with a pitcher who’s struggling so much like Daisuke Matsuzaka, and how many games will it take for him to say the Red Sox have a major problem this season.
Did this get frustrating for you or does the attitude coming to the ballpark pretty much stay the same day-by-day?
“Well I hope it’s the same. Sure we’re frustrated, but I think the last thing the players need or deserve or want, is us, me and my staff, our staff dragging our tails in here every day. That’s not going to help anybody. We dug ourselves a little hole early on here. We better dig ourselves out. We better not feel sorry for ourselves.”
What keeps you up at night right now with this team? What are you second guessing yourself on or obsessing over?
“Well I don’t know about the second guess part. I mean I’ve always been once the season starts…I think we all grind away at our jobs. You guys probably do the same thing, but when you start out like this you’re trying to I guess find a balance of okay what’s right? What’s wrong? Am I over thinking? Am I under thinking? Do you give guys time? I mean Carl Crawford is a known commodity. He’s going to be here for an awful long time. He’s going to hit. At the same time when you’ve lost more games than you have won, okay trying to balance the immediate and the long term is probably where I struggle the most.”
Did you ever anticipate right out of the gate that this whole entire lineup with the exception being Dustin Pedroia would be struggling like this?
“Well it’s probably your worst fear. It’s the one reason with any manager down deep there’s a little bit of anxiety when the season starts because you don’t want this to happen. Guys we’ve really relied on have really had a tough time. That’s going to change, but at the same time it’s created a little bit of a hole that we’re going to have to dig ourselves out of.”
Do you sit there and think we’re going to have break out of these struggles at some point here because we’re just too talented?
“Well I definitely think we all feel that way. I want to be a little careful talking about it too much about going on a run. The best way to go on a run is take care of your business today. We got the start from [Josh] Beckett the other night and we were thrilled and than we followed it up with a stinker the next night. I mean [Jon] Lester pitched his heart out last night. If we get games like that more than we don’t that’s the best way to get on a roll.”
Carl Crawford has been in four different lineups spots so far this season. What is the best place for him?
“Well wherever he gets hot, wherever we have him, everybody is going to say that’s where the best place is. At some point he’s going to get hot and he’s going to get on fire and he’s going to get to his level and than everyone will say you should have had him there in the beginning. I think for right now we want to leave him where he is just because we’re trying to create some stability.”
How long can you support guys who are struggling in the starting rotation like Daisuke Matsuzaka if he continues to struggle? You’re already dealing with an uphill battle. How long can you stay with a guy if he’s struggling?
“Well, more than two starts. I mean that’s…I mean we’ve created a hole for ourselves in a hurry, but if you start making changes after two or three starts you’re not going to help your team. If you take Daisuke Matsuzaka for instance we need him to pitch better, but if you just relegate him to the bullpen I don’t know how that’s going to help your ball club either. When you make a change there’s gotta be a reason and you gotta get better. I think sometimes you know as a staff we just feel like we gotta help these guys get better as oppose to running away from them.”
Where do you get to the point where you say alright we got problems here? You said it doesn’t make sense to panic. Is it twenty games? Is it thirty games? What do you say is that number?
“I really don’t know that. Again our agendas are probably different. I don’t sit around all day and talk about it. You know you gotta remember when you say something you can move on. When I say something I gotta live with it or when I do something or we make a change I just can’t undo it the next day. I don’t know. If it was thirty games and we were still struggling I wouldn’t throw in the towel. We’re going to continue to fight to try to do you know this is too good of a team, it’s too good potentially, we had a horrendous first ten games. It’s been awful, but the only way…I don’t want to start judging our team and say well the first ten or eleven days of the season cost us. It’s our responsibility to find a way to fix it.”