Pregame notes: Francona talks to media

October, 8, 2009

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Before each game during the playoffs, manager Terry Francona meets with the beat writers of the team. There wasn't much news coming from Francona's meeting Thursday afternoon, but he did touch on a few items.

The first was Rocco Baldelli being left of the ALDS roster. Francona said Baldelli has shown little improvement with the strained left hip flexor he suffered last Friday. Baldelli, who would have been an important righthanded bat, will now miss the first series.

"I think we wanted to take every chance we could to see if there was a lot of improvement," Francona said. "And it just wasn't reaching so we didn't want to make a mistake."

Francona wouldn't speculate whether Baldelli would be healthy enough to make the roster for the next series. He also added that Baldelli can't run and has only taken dry swings with the bat.

Hideki Okajima, who suffered some pain in his right oblique about 10 days before the regular season ended, threw on Wednesday and felt good. Francona said they were encouraged and think he should be fine.

Jason Varitek is not in Thursday's lineup, and it appears he is not slated to start any games this series. Francona wouldn't come out and say so, but said he had discussed Varitek's role with him toward the end of the season.

"He's ready, he kind of knows what we're doing," Francona said. "He's always ready."

Daisuke Matsuzaka will be in the bullpen on Thursday, but Francona said that if he gets up and starts longtossing, it won't mean anything is wrong with Game 1 starter Jon Lester. It will be just part of Matsuzaka's routine.

With outfielder Brian Anderson the righhanded bat off the bench, Francona indicated that lefties J.D. Drew and David Ortiz will likely both start this weekend at Fenway. The Angels plan on throwing lefties Scott Kazmir and Joe Saunders in Games 3 and 4, respectively. Without Baldelli, it's likely both Drew and Ortiz will start.

"J.D. and David are good players and I have no problem playing them at all," Francona said. "I might have played them anyway."



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