Terrry Francona ‘Envisioned’ Tim Wakefield Getting The Red Sox Through The Summer, Feels Josh Beckett Is A Different Pitcher
The early struggles of the Boston Red Sox pitching staff has seemed to have gone by the wayside. Although Daisuke Matsuzaka is out for the season with Tommy John surgery later this week, John Lackey has picked it up since coming off the DL. Clay Buchholz has had a nagging back injury, but has looked to have weathered his early season struggles. Josh Beckett had been up-and-down, but looks to be regaining his form as a new pitcher according to Terrry Francona. The Red Sox starting five had been highly inconsistent outside of Jon Lester to start the season, but the start of the summer has the Red Sox on a roll coming into yet another big AL East standoff against the New York Yankees.
Carl Crawford had a tough time adjusting to his new surroundings in the Northeast, but through it all he won over his teammates in the clubhouse and now seems to be back to his old self coupled with Adrian Gonzalez’s monster season [.339, 12 HR, 50 RBI’s] has Boston’s lineup living up to the spring training hype. The Red Sox who started at 2-9, are now 34-26. Francona had hoped that his team would snap out of their early season funk and the Red Sox are different team heading into the start of June and look to continue their hot play.Terrry Francona joined WFAN in New York with Mike Francesa to discuss the back end of the Red Sox starting pitching rotation, Carl Crawford’s resurgence, Adrian Gonzalez sensational season, Josh Beckett being a different pitcher, the Yankees being a different team this year as compared to other years and John Lackey and Tim Wakefield being counted on to get the Red Sox through the summer.
Where are you right now with your rotation? How do you feel about the back side of your rotation right now?
“Well we got at the end of this series…we have [Jon] Lester, [Tim] Wakefield, and [Josh] Beckett. We moved [Clay] Buchholz back a couple of days because his back has kind of been nagging at him a little bit and we wanted to give him a couple of days. What really helped us when we got [John] Lackey back, which was really nice and he threw the ball pretty well. When Wakefield and [Alfredo] Aceves came into our rotation, when we lost Dice-K and Lackey, obviously there is some concern when you lose two starters and both those guys for the most part have pitched really well. It’s kind of really picked up our rotation. None of them have really made us go to our bullpen too early and not only that we’ve won most of their starts, so it’s really helped us.”
It seems that Carl Crawford’s resurgence has mirrored the way your team has started this season. Your thoughts on Carl Crawford’s bounce back? What did you think when you watched this unfold with Carl Crawford?
“I think we all knew that obviously we signed him to a huge contract and you’re certainly going to be patient with guys like that. You’re not going to bench him. This guy needs to play and we knew it was a matter of time, but it was certainly nice to see it. The first month was miserable for everybody. It was cold. He had played indoors his whole career except for maybe some road trips up to our place and in New York. I think it bothered him and he tried too hard and he was trying to impress everybody and make people not to talk about that contract and it probably ate at him a little bit and then he got on track and he’s really picked it up. I tell you what, it’s been fun to watch because the one thing that has been impressive was even when he was struggling he worked so hard that he kind of won over the clubhouse and that’s an important thing. Nobody wants to catch it from the fans or from the media, but he won over everybody in the clubhouse and that’s important.”
People thought Adrian Gonzalez would have a big season on the Boston Red Sox, but boy he’s been sensational?
“He’s been about as good as you can be. He went through a little period there towards the end of April where he didn’t drive a lot of runs in and then from that point on he’s gone crazy. He’s been banging the ball off the wall, over the wall, if you throw it in he pulls it. He’s a very intelligent hitter. When you need contact he can do that. When you need a homer he can do that. He’s got a real good idea and he’s been about as productive as anybody you are going to see.”
Is Josh Beckett back to being Josh Beckett? Is he different or is he the same Beckett of his great days?
“I think he’s a little bit different. I think he’s more of a pitcher now, which is okay. His velocity is still good. It’s probably not what it was when he was twenty-three. I don’t know how many guys do, but he’s got a good change-up, he mixes in his cutter, his locating, he’s working quick, all the things you want a pitcher to do. You say they are pitching and not throwing. That’s what he’s doing.”
When you look at these Yankees does it feel like a different team? Does it look different with Curtis Granderson and Robinson Cano carrying this team? Has it changed a lot since the old days of the early 2000′s?
“I think we try to pay attention to everybody. I think we have an obligation to do that. I mean I know what [Curtis] Granderson has been doing not just against righties, but against lefties, which kind of makes you nervous. [Mark] Teixeira is heating up. [Derek] Jeter is [Derek] Jeter. I don’t care what Jeter is hitting. I hate when he comes up to the plate when the game is on the line because I know how much he cares about winning and [Robinson] Cano? I don’t know how he’s not hitting .380? You watch him and you think my goodness this guy doesn’t have any holes. You make good pitches and he still hits them. They’re dangerous and they’ve always been and they always will be. We know that. We know we are going to get their best because we are the Red Sox.”
Can you count on John Lackey? Tim Wakefield? Can they get you through this long summer?
“Well that’s what we kind of envisioned Wakefield this year. He’s always been such a good pitcher for a long time here, but we probably ruffled his feathers a little bit at times when we said ‘Look you’re not going to start every fifth day, but there’s going to be starts for you.’ Right now that has happened. I think he’s thrilled and he’s done a good job. That’s part of the luxury of having Wakefield. You can plug him in and you can expect more then three innings when he’s sitting for two weeks. He’s kind of a freak of nature. Lackey. That’s why we DL’d Lackey. We thought he could have pitched. We didn’t want him to continue to just go out there and struggle again. It was May and we have too much baseball to play, having him down for a couple of weeks really helped. Hopefully now he can not only win, but maintain his stuff the rest of the year.”