Francona on Gonzalez, bullpen and more

December, 7, 2010
12/07/10
3:20
PM ET

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- A few quick hits from Terry Francona's media session at the winter meetings on Tuesday:

* On Adrian Gonzalez: "It's amazing how one hitter can make you feel, not just feel, but look different. You stick him in the middle of the order whether he's hitting third, fourth or whenever, we're a lot different team.''

* Francona confirmed the Red Sox are looking for a right-handed outfielder, "but I think the bullpen is really important. We probably lost some games that way last year, and that hurts. That's a hard way to lose games, especially when you want to be a good team.''

* He projects Jed Lowrie as a "super-utilityman,'' with the ability to play all four infield positions.

* He saluted Kevin Youkilis' versatility as a big reason the Red Sox were able to make the Gonzalez deal, because few players can just move from first to third.

* He has had little contact with Marco Scutaro, but said the shortstop is undergoing a shoulder strengthening program and will be OK by spring training.

* He said outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, recovering from fractured ribs, "is still feeling it in his back,'' but that was normal, and anticipates he'll be ready by spring training. "I think we'll all take a deep breath when he's running and not feeling it.''

* He said he has talked to David Ortiz about times when he hit may hit for him against lefties, and telling him not to look at that as a referendum on how the Sox feel about him as a player. "Last April was miserable,'' Francona said. "It was hard on David, hard on me, hard on everybody.''

* He expressed confidence in the catching combo of Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Jason Varitek and noted that when Saltalamacchia caught, pitchers tended to go deep into games.

* He predicted a bounce-back year for Josh Beckett -- "he'll be mad enough to bounce back" -- and a better performance from John Lackey. On Daisuke Matsuzaka, he said: "If I sat here and told you I can figure him out, I'd be lying, but if he's pitching out of your 4- or 5- hole, you have a chance to have a really good staff.''

* He said Gonzalez probably will not be swinging until March 1 because of his shoulder surgery.

* He suggested Felix Doubront most likely will start the season in the bullpen, though his future may eventually be as a starter.

* He said he felt no urgency to reach out to Jonathan Papelbon regarding the two-year offer the Red Sox made to Mariano Rivera. "He may not even know,'' Francona said.

Gordon Edes

Red Sox reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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