October 10, 2001
HOUSTON, TEXAS: Game Two
THE MODERATOR: First question for Brad.
Q. Dave Mlicki said yesterday that part of the reason for his success is being reunited with you from your days in Detroit. Can you talk about maybe the impact or the things that you've helped him with to improve the last couple of months?
BRAD AUSMUS: I don't think it's anything I've done in particular. I think, just like Yogi Berra said, This game is a mental game. And if throwing to a particular catcher gives a pitcher confidence, then he's going to be a more effective pitcher. And he has, since he's gotten over here, pitched very well for us, has a very good record, and we expect him to pitch well today.
Q. Talk about the mental part of the game. Mentally, where do you think your team stands right now?
BRAD AUSMUS: I think yesterday if you had asked me that question, I'd say we were down. I think as soon as Chipper hit that home run, you could feel the energy in the stadium dissipate. But today is a new game. Certainly, if we can win today, we're 1-1, both teams are equal, we start over and it's the best of a three-game series and we go on the road, which is a place that we play well. And although I don't want to discount the Braves, they have seemed to struggle at home. It's certainly not a task that can't be handled. But today is certainly an important game.
Q. Larry just mentioned he talked to some players. Were you one of them, first off? Secondly, what did he say? It's a two-parter. The other part is, do you think the players will have a meeting or just talk to each other about the present position that you're in?
BRAD AUSMUS: Larry has not talked to me today, so I don't know what was said or who he has spoken to. There has been no meeting. I don't think there's anything that can be said. We lost yesterday, and that's basically it. There's nothing we can do about it. We can't change it. We have to move forward, and in a couple hours we'll begin moving forward.
Q. If not a meeting, has there been four or five guys talking here, four or five guys talking there, that kind of thing?
BRAD AUSMUS: There's always occasions where players will get together during batting practice in the outfield, or even yesterday a couple guys would hang out in the locker room and talk about the what-ifs. But there's nothing we can do about it.
Q. Did that home run help you out on a confidence level?
BRAD AUSMUS: Not particularly. I mean, it was nice - it seemed to change the momentum of the game a little bit. But personally it didn't do too much. It is important to note that you need people, the guys in the line-up, six, seven, eight, sometimes even the pitcher, to produce offensively because you can't always ask the two, three, four, five guys to score and drive in the runs. There's going to be days where they don't have big games. But certainly over the long haul, those four hitters are going to produce the majority of the runs for this team and have over the course of 162 games.
Q. Was there any surprise, confusion or even talk about why Larry used Mike Jackson rather than Octavio Dotel in yesterday's game?
BRAD AUSMUS: You know, Dotel had come in in the eighth in close games the majority of the season. But it's the manager's call, and certainly Mike Jackson has pitched very well for us. He's an experienced veteran pitcher who has pitched in the post-season before. We had all the confidence in the world with him on the mound. Unfortunately, it didn't work out with us so there's going to be a lot of second-guessing going on.
Q. Everyone knows how much you've worked on your hitting all season long. You had a really good second half of the year and have continued that into the post-season. What are you doing at the plate to make sure you're able to keep hitting well?
BRAD AUSMUS: I'm not doing anything differently today than I was from mid July on. It was a tough first three and a half months for me. I certainly didn't feel like I produced the way I should have or the way I have in the past. But there's nothing I can do about that three and a half months. And fortunately for me the team carried on without me and was able to earn first place in the Central Division, and we were able to maintain it through the final stages of the regular season. But I haven't changed anything since mid July. I felt pretty comfortable, and I'm not going to change anything today.
Q. After yesterday, the fact that you're playing the Braves and you lost to them in '97 and '99, does that have any impact on your guys' mindset?
BRAD AUSMUS: Yeah, I wasn't here in '99. I was in Detroit. I certainly remember '97, but '97 was different in the sense that on that team the great majority, with the exception of maybe two or three players, had never been to the post-season. In '97 there was that "I'm happy to be here feeling, it's great to finally make the post-season." The Braves had Maddux, Glavine and Smoltz who were renowned for pitching so great in the post-season. I don't think there was any sense of urgency to actually win. But that has certainly changed. '98 we had a great opportunity to win with Randy Johnson anchoring the staff. We're booted by the Padres and Kevin Brown in the first round. '99 after I left, same thing happened against Atlanta again. There's certainly a feeling in the locker room that, "Hey, we need to win something. This isn't just about making the post-season. It's about winning in the post-season."
Q. With them having Smoltz in the bullpen, can you talk about the weapon of facing Maddux for six innings then facing Smoltz in the last two.
BRAD AUSMUS: Smoltz is certainly - no matter where and in what course during the game he comes in - is an outstanding pitcher. But you got to realize that most teams, if not all the teams in the post-season, have some type of dominating closer coming in the last couple innings or at least the last inning. So facing John Smoltz though in '95 and '99 is really no different than facing any other closer in the game, whether it was the Giants - say we were playing the Giants and Robb Nen, or if we were playing the Yankees and Mariano Rivera, you're going to face those type of closers in the eighth or ninth. It doesn't make that much a difference. It could be a break for our right-handed line-up that we don't have to face John Smoltz for seven innings.
End of FastScriptsÃ¢ï¿½Â¦.