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September 30, 2003

Dusty Baker


THE MODERATOR: We're ready to start with Dusty Baker. Anybody have a question for Dusty?

Q. Your roster decisions today?

DUSTY BAKER: You know, I've decided to go with Juan. Shawn is still experiencing some soreness after that complete game and they're predominantly right-handed over here and have guys that hit Shawn pretty good. We would hate to have Shawn start on the roster, and say he goes out there one inning and he feels more soreness and wouldn't be able to do the next series. You can't replace a guy until the series is over. It was a big move for us.

Q. Any other roster decisions?

DUSTY BAKER: We decided to go with Glanville instead of Womak. They have Mercker, Hernandez and King in the bullpen. We will needed another right-hander at bat. The fact that we have Tony playing short and second and he's still having some discomfort in his arm and he's limited to playing second base, that's why we decided to go with Glanville.

Q. What's your lineup tonight?

DUSTY BAKER: My lineup tonight is Lofton, Grudzielanek, Sosa, Alou, Ramirez, Karros, Gonzalez and Bako.

Q. What do you think has been Hampton's turnaround from the Rockies to here?

DUSTY BAKER: I don't know because we haven't played him in so long, and plus I think he pitched against us the first series and we haven't seen him, really, in like four months. I can't answer that if I haven't seen him.

Q. Do you have to preach patience with a pitcher like him?

DUSTY BAKER: Yeah, you can preach it. I can preach it until the sun goes down. You have to enact it. It's easy to say be patient. A lot of times it depends on how -- what kind of control he demonstrates. If he has control, he's exceptionally tough. If he doesn't, you have to be patient with him.

Q. What did Ortiz do to make a big leap last year and continuing this year?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, I mean his leap wasn't that big. His record has been pretty consistent. He's won 18 games the last four years. He's been consistent. This is another four or five more victories than he won with the Giants. Part of it is just maturity. Part is the fact that he's on a very good team. Russ can pitch. He's a young guy too, just getting better.

Q. With Zambrano being a high-strung individual, is there any concern about that being pumped up even more because of the postseason?

DUSTY BAKER: Possibly. Everybody is going to be pumped up. You can't really control if a guy is pumped up or not. I'm not going to give him a valium before he goes out there to pitch or anything. The main thing is what got him here and made him successful. Just keep doing the same thing and be himself.

Q. What are your feelings about the length of the series being five games as opposed to seven?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, I mean, we've got another seven after this. If this was seven, and the next one and next one, you've got 21 games. That's a lot of games on your pitchers and innings on your pitchers. I'm not opposed to five, seven, seven. It has to end some place or else we would be playing into Thanksgiving, like hockey or basketball or something.

Q. With Sosa struggling trying to do too much down the stretch and the postseason previous to this, how do you guard against that? Is there a way to guard against that?

DUSTY BAKER: The main thing is you hope he stays in the strike zone. Most time when the guys are struggling, they're swinging at balls. A lot of them are fast balls out of the zone. Some are breaking balls out of the zone. The main thing you have to do is to swing at strikes. He was a lot younger and a lot more vulnerable then. I wasn't here in '98. But in '98 you've also got a younger Smoltz.

Q. Could you comment on Borowski's evolution and how he can do as well as he has?

DUSTY BAKER: I'll start backwards. I'm not surprised, because I didn't really know what to be surprised about, number one. He's a guy that has a lot of guts, struggled to get here and stay here, and you know, you just got to give him tremendous credit for seizing the opportunity. Basically, all that you're going to get in life basically is an opportunity. The rest is up to you to capitalize on the opportunity. I've got to give him credit for capitalizing and making the most of his opportunity and seizing the job and keeping the job. I had every intention when Alfonseca came back to turn the job back to him, but Joe did such a great job and Alfonseca was struggling. It was impossible to take Joe out. He made it hard for me to take him out. This is what I want all players to do.

Q. Is it a concern that Wood is your only starter with postseason experience and that the Braves have a lot more?

DUSTY BAKER: It can be a concern, but there is nothing you can do about it. I mean, that's just like coming out of college without -- you graduate from college and everybody asks you how much experience do you have. You've got to start somewhere. You don't come out of college with the experience for that job. This is a learning process. There is really nothing to be concerned about. Look at the Braves over there. They didn't start with postseason experience. There is some point in time every guy in there it was their first time in postseason experience. So, we are in a position where they were already. So, I just tell the guys to be natural and be themselves and learn from outing to outing, inning to inning or pitch to pitch. Experience means a lot, but I keep referring to the Mets. They didn't have any experience in '69. So, it's just a matter of how you can handle the situation and the pressure.

Q. Everybody talks about your pitching, but you have some people who can hit the ball. Can you comment on that?

DUSTY BAKER: Everybody comments on our pitching because that's our strong point. We scored more runs than some and not as many runs as others, but in the meantime, the bottom line is to win, and so, you can't win if you don't score. I mean, that's obvious, but at the same time, I mean, we have scored, and we found a way to win ballgames whether it's by high-scoring or low-scoring games .

THE MODERATOR: A couple more for Dusty.

Q. Do you believe in big-game pitchers or big-game players? And if so, do you think Kerry Wood might be one of those?

DUSTY BAKER: Yeah, I believe in big-game pitchers and big-game players. There is some guys that love being in that situation; some guys that pretend they love being in that situation. You don't know until he actually plays. Rather than me commenting, you have to wait to see how a guy does in that situation before you can say. You've got to play the game first before you can determine if a guy is a big-game player or not.

Q. Does the Yankee/Clemmens thing have any bearing on that, or is it a different situation?

DUSTY BAKER: That's -- the Yankee series, that was definitely a learning experience and added to this situation. You know, I mean, you know what he's capable of doing, and at the same time, I mean, every time you go through a period, it makes you stronger and better. So I'm glad he had that experience in order to correlate it and relate it to this experience tonight.

THE MODERATOR: One last question.

Q. Have you come up with something to keep your team loose, and would you share it?

DUSTY BAKER: I haven't really come up with nothing. We had a meeting yesterday and had laughter. Any time you can laugh, it cuts the edge on everything. I'm sure I said something crazy, didn't make a whole bunch of sense, but I got some laughs on it.

THE MODERATOR: Thanks, Dusty.

End of FastScripts...

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