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October 3, 2003

Dusty Baker


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Dusty.

Q. Is there a scenario that Matt doesn't pitch tomorrow and what is it?

DUSTY BAKER: No, there is no such scenario. Matt is pitching tomorrow.

Q. Dusty, in a short series, you talk about this game is pivotal. Is tonight in your estimation the pivotal game in this series?

DUSTY BAKER: They're all pivotal. Tonight would put them or us up 2-1, with one victory to go. This is a big game tonight. We would certainly like to go 1 up. They're all pivotal right now.

Q. I don't believe you've ever used a starter on short rest in the postseason. Why not, and do you ever remember a situation where you were tempted to do that?

DUSTY BAKER: The reason I haven't done it is because most of the guys aren't conditioned on short rest, and then you risk an injury and you're risking all kind of things. So if the starter is a fourth starter and strong or better than the first or second starter that's operating from low rest or although energy, you've got to go with him.

Q. Dusty, you have been in the postseason a lot with a lot of different teams. Can you describe what might be different about this Cubs team that you're taking into the playoffs?

DUSTY BAKER: I don't know. When you get to the playoffs there is not a whole bunch of difference. Every season I've went to the playoffs, they're extremely determined. They play down to the last outs, all 27 outs and 9 innings or more if necessary. Probably the difference between this team and the Giants team is we probably had more power on that team than we do now.

Q. Baseball is usually played in nice warm weather. Tonight it will be chilly and damp. Do you prepare or manage differently for this type of situation?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, wear more clothes. That's number one. You try to stretch the guys out, so guys don't get hurt or pull anything, and you -- it depends on the wind. If it's blowing in, you tend to play more close games and play for that one run. If it's blowing out, it's tough to play for one run because one swing of the bat negates that one run you worked for. A lot depends on the field conditions. If the track is slow, you might not run as much. If the track is dry on the infield and on the outfield, it will roll more and you've got to come get it or it may skip more. Our team is pretty prepared in these conditions. We played in these conditions most of the year, especially in the beginning of the year, we played in these conditions. If you recall April was extremely cold and wet and damp like it is now.

Q. Dusty, with postseason rules and more quiet time for you and your team without the media in there all day long, does that make it a more conducive situation to be able to get your work done and more relaxed?

DUSTY BAKER: I think so. You know how people -- I mean, with our normal people standing around, it's no big deal but when you have half of America here, it crowds up in there. It's a little clubhouse. I think it's better for my team to get prepared and also to just relax before the game. You realize the battle is going to start very shortly. I think it's a great idea. I think it's great for my team.

Q. Dusty, talk about the importance of your bullpen, in particular Joe Borowski, to come in and close it down when it will be much colder tonight?

DUSTY BAKER: You know, in close games, the bullpen plays a big role. More than likely most games at this time, that's the same reason you don't go with guys with short rest too much, because guys have a lot of innings on them. This is new territory. We're playing hopefully another couple weeks of the month here. Joe Borowski and everybody out in the bullpen has a very important job to do.

Q. Dusty, how do you make your decision to catch each day in the series and how much of Bako having caught Maddux affects your decision?

DUSTY BAKER: Catching a guy and hitting a guy is two different things. I kind of went on you know the fact that Damian has done pretty well against Maddux offensively in the past. Number two, Damian has been bothered by some groin problems, and him catching Prior is probably easier than catching Clement tomorrow, because of the fact that Clement throws more balls in the dirt and wild than Prior does. That's why we went with Miller today and probably Bako tomorrow.

Q. We haven't seen the bunt used very much in this season. (Inaudible)?

DUSTY BAKER: I mean, you're talking about the bunt for a base hit or a sacrifice bunt?

Q. Bunt for sacrifice?

DUSTY BAKER: I use the bunt for a sacrifice. During the season we used to do that, but I mean, the other night we tried to bunt in the first inning and didn't get it down, and he almost got hit by Ortiz. It depends on the situation. It depends on how my bullpen situation is. Depends on who I got coming up next.

Q. Clearly you don't expect Mark to have a problem with nerves, but if he does, how would it manifest itself and conversely, when easy pitching well early, what are the signs?

DUSTY BAKER: Everybody is subject to nerves. I don't care who you are. In you're not nervous, you're not you. There is a difference between being nervous and being scared. I expect them to be nervous. Nervousness is good. If he can channel it after the first pitch, it's over with. I don't expect any adverse problems with Mark having nerves. He usually starts off fairly well. You can pretty much tell generally in the first inning how a guy feels or I'll ask Larry or different things like that.

Q. Dusty, did you experience anything in the last week about this city?

DUSTY BAKER: It's unusual the way the people have rallied behind us. It's unusual really the electricity and energy you feel and see here. I don't really see it that much because I go from kind of home to the ballpark. I didn't listen to the radio or read the paper. People tell me about it. In San Francisco we were a little more spoiled by it. This is the first time it's happened here in a long time. In San Francisco it's become an annual thing that the Giants go to the playoffs. It was the same way in Atlanta when they first got to the playoffs. Then the more they went, it became like a ho-hum situation.

Q. Dusty, can you talk about a follow-up to that what kind of atmosphere you expect in the ballpark tonight, compared to Atlanta?

DUSTY BAKER: Atlanta is 15,000 wild Cub fans and here it will be 40. They'll be excited, wild. It will be different. It's going to be new for me too, because I've never been here under playoff conditions. I know how it was at the end of the season. It was a wonderful feeling.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Dusty.

End of FastScripts...

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