Workout day interview with Jeff Francis
Pitcher says team is there to win games and have a lot of fun
A young Canadian in the World Series, I know winning the World Series is your top objective, but at a time when there's a real arc of talent in Canadian baseball, how proud of you for the moment tomorrow night?
JEFF FRANCIS: It's a lot of fun. I mean, I know every Canadian baseball is proud, playing baseball, being a Canadian. I think I can speak for every Canadian in that play, that we're all -- we're very proud to be Canadian. But I think more so than that, right now I'm proud to be a Rockie. It's something special that we have over there as a team, and I think it's a lot of fun to be a part of.
How familiar are you with Reggie Cleveland? He says he follows your career pretty closely.
JEFF FRANCIS: Yeah, I've read about him quite a bit. I don't know a lot of specifics, but especially in the last couple weeks, there's been a lot written about him and just really about Canadians playing in the World Series.
How tough has it been to be off for eight days when you're used to your every fifth day routine, and what have you done to stay sharp, and do you see it being a problem at all?
JEFF FRANCIS: I don't think there's a lot of us who are worried about it in there. I think, yeah, we've had time off, but if you think about it, it's probably a good time of year to have some time off. You talk to a lot of guys in there, it's nice to be relaxed and take care of things that need to be taken care of before a World Series.
So I think as a pitcher, you're used to having some days off between starts. You know, we threw some intense pitching sessions, you know, on schedule, the fifth day will be tomorrow. I don't see it being a problem.
Being from British Columbia, obviously you grew up watching Larry Walker's career. There's a story going around that during the playoffs Walker has been text messaging you after games, you guys have been communicating. Will you talk about that and just overall his influence on you?
JEFF FRANCIS: It's only been a couple times. I don't know if it's story worthy, but it was a nice thing to hear from him after my start in Philadelphia. He said in his message that he was sitting down to watch the game and wanted to wish me luck, and I thanked him, and then he got back to me and he said that he's proud and he's having a lot of fun watching. And I think hearing from him after we won the National League was special because I know that he had been there with St. Louis, the same place, coming into Fenway and playing in a World Series for the first time. I think that was pretty cool to hear from him, especially being from BC. I've been watching him play forever. He's a hero back where I'm from.
What makes this ballpark for you most special and different than other places? Is it the wall, the short right down the line, the front porch, the fans being on top of you?
JEFF FRANCIS: Well, being a young player and not being here. I was here for the first time in June, being a young fan for all my life and watching a lot of big games here, a lot of special things happen here, you know, it's a ballpark with a lot of history. You know, it's a special baseball place, the fans, the players, the team, the city. You can't really say enough about it. But it's a special place and it's something that you never forget.
What do you remember about that start as far as -- because you had success on the mound that day. I know it's hard to say what happened in June can repeat here again in October, but having been here once, having been able to take it all in that first time, how much will that help you go into your start tomorrow?
JEFF FRANCIS: I think especially with a team full of guys like us, we were here in June for the first time, we got to see it for the first time, and like you said, take it all in. And now I think we can come in here and concentrate on the game. We're not in awe of the stadium. We're not kind of blown away. Coming in here we've seen it, we know what to expect and we can concentrate on playing.
Could you talk a little bit about your evolution as a pitcher from the time you reached the big leagues until now?
JEFF FRANCIS: That's a big question. I don't know if I can answer it all. I think I've learned a lot in my short time here. You know, I look back and I watch tapes of my pitching rookie year, and my delivery looks different to me. I've learned a lot about pitching, about changing speeds on pitches and reading hitters and just finding ways to get people out instead of just trying to throw it by people, because I've learned that really no matter what level you're at, 90s is starting to get it by people.
There are going to be 500 of us in your face. Is there anything about the setting or atmosphere here that told you immediately this is the World Series?
JEFF FRANCIS: That's the big thing, the media coverage. I'm sure the Red Sox are used to this every day, but we've never seen anything like this, the bus pulling up into the parking lot and the trailers and the satellite dishes, and that's really what tells you. We haven't been on the field yet. I think we've only been here about 20 minutes so we haven't been here a long time.
You mentioned all the young guys on this team, and I'm just curious, it's almost like a college atmosphere in the clubhouse, and if that's had a lot to do with sustaining all this energy and momentum you've had.
JEFF FRANCIS: It's a lot of everything, but we've got young guys, we've got experienced guys, we've got older guys, and I think that mix has helped us as a team kind of come together and work towards one goal. You know, we've been able to minimize mistakes over the last month to the point where we find ourselves now getting ready to play Game 1.
When you guys were in fourth place only four guys over .500 in mid September, was the goal of this team simply just to have a winning season? And when did it change, when did it kick in that you really did have a shot?
JEFF FRANCIS: The goal has never changed. It sounds cliché or whatever, one game at a time type thing, but that's the approach you take. You're four games out and you've got three teams ahead of you, trying to get into first place. You realize you have games against those teams in the last three weeks of the season, and you just try to take it step by step. If you would have told us we had to win 13 out of 14 to get in, we probably would have thought it was impossible. But there we go, we sweep a road trip and come back, take two out of three in Arizona and we have a chance for one game to get in.
I'm sure you're well aware of what Josh Beckett did in the ALCS. When you're going up against a guy like that, do you get up more when you're facing a guy as good as he is and what are your thoughts on what he's done so far?
JEFF FRANCIS: Well, he's been everything you think about when you think of dominance. I think he's shown that he's one of the best pitchers in baseball all year, not just this postseason. I think for me I just have to go out and try to do my job. I can't concentrate on what other pitchers are doing, just hope that our offense can come out with a couple runs here and there and that I can go out and do my job. I can't worry about what Josh Beckett is going to do, because he's shown what he's going to do. If he can do it consistently then they're going to have a good chance, and that's what makes for a good baseball game.
I'm just curious how you guys feel about being kind of being the stealth team in this thing. You guys won on national TV, and the rest of the country doesn't really know you guys. Do you guys feel a little funny about that, or do you kind of feel a little bit excited now that you're in the spotlight and the rest of the country will get to know you?
JEFF FRANCIS: We're fine with it, I know that. I mean, I think we just go out and try to win games, and if people take notice, then they will. If we win enough games people will be coming out to watch and TV stations will be coming out to broadcast, and the next thing you know we find ourselves in the World Series. People take notice, that's great, but we're here to win games.
For you what's been the neatest thing about being in the World Series?
JEFF FRANCIS: I don't know. Like I said, we've only been here about a half an hour. Once we get out on the field it might sink in a little bit. You know, it's the biggest stage in baseball. For a lot of young guys on this team, as well as myself, it's something you've thought about a lot, and we're going to enjoy it. We're going to have a lot of fun.
Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.