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October 27, 2002

Dusty Baker


MODERATOR: We'll take questions for Dusty Baker.

Q. Does this feel like the last round of a heavyweight title fight?

DUSTY BAKER: I guess so, yeah. Seventh round, I guess. Title fights are 12 rounds. Yeah, it does. I mean, this has been a heavyweight fight. You know, it's been the ups and downs. Overall, it's been fun and very gratifying. We'll see who's standing in the final round.

Q. Now that you've seen Mike Scioscia manage under far more important conditions than just interleague play, what impresses you about him in regard to the way he handles tactics, his players, or himself?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, I don't like to judge another manager. I know that he handles his players to play for him, which I think is number one. His tactics are good. I know Mike's not scared. Mike is calm and cool in the dugout over there. It's been a pleasure to enjoy a match against Scios, to see progress in a young man - well, he's not that young anymore, younger than me still (smiling). Seeing him from the day he came in as a little rookie, now he's a very, very good manager.

Q. When it's all said and done, no matter when that might be, what would you like your legacy in San Francisco to be?

DUSTY BAKER: I don't know. Probably a man that was firm but fair, and was prepared, because I pride myself on being prepared daily. Above all, a person that's a winner.

Q. Jeff Kent said last night that you guys haven't become emotionally attached to losses at all this year. Have you found that to be true, not just with losses, but maybe hamstring injuries in the outfield, anything else that you have dealt with throughout this season?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, I think Jeff said it very well. It's not only this season, it's been the past five or six seasons. This team deals with adversity just as well as any team I've been on. This team is a team that invariably - I don't know what our record is after tough losses, but I think we play 750, 800 ball if you look over the course of time. We have a way of letting yesterday go, especially if it was bad, because you can't bring it back. That's the mark of a true professional and a man, to me. You let whatever happened negative yesterday, let it go, and dwell on the job we have to do today, because you can't bring back yesterday. That's probably the thing I'm most proud of this team. This team has been a very, very, very resilient team since I've been here.

Q. Santiago appeared to take a beating on his left hand last night. Was there any question about his availability? What influenced your decision at DH?

DUSTY BAKER: No, there was no doubt. Benny is swinging the bat right now. I don't know what kind of bones and muscles this guy has, but he heals quicker probably than anybody I seen. He did take a beating. You try to take him out of this lineup today, you might get a beating. He's ready. He comes to play. As far as what made my decision on DH today, young Pedro Feliz, who is going to be a star, number one, I think he can handle it. Number two, I think his swing and where he likes the ball in his happy zone is most conducive against Lackey. Also, it gives me options where I can use Goodwin later, Dunston later, without locking them into the DH situation. Also, Lackey has been much better on right handers -- I'm sorry, left-handers, than he has been on right handers. I think right handers are hitting .317 with nine home runs, and left-handers are hitting .210 with one home run off of him, with almost .200 at-bat. That's pretty clear, for some reason he's better against left-handers than right handers. Plus, they don't know a whole lot about young Pedro Feliz, his power, straight away, which is probably the most successful part of this ballpark. All those variables and factors there. I called him last night, midnight, to tell him he was in the lineup. He said thank you, because his family is here, and I'm sure he'll respond.

Q. Do you think going through this long emotional post-season experience with the Giants is going to influence your decision to come back in any way?

DUSTY BAKER: I mean, right now, I don't know what's going to influence anything, other than us winning today. I mean, it's been a great, great ride since we've been here. Have been here a long time. We're at a point where we're about to reach a goal that we wanted to reach years ago. We just have one more game here before we reach that final goal that we've always wanted to reach.

Q. I know it's never a positive for a manager to talk about whether players are available or not, pitchers, but is it a double-edged sword for you right now, as far as the use of Nen, worry about possibly injuring him beyond today?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, that's always something that is our concern, you know. Right now, everybody is injured to some degree because everybody's tired and worn. These guys have a lot of miles on their body this year. I mean, the one thing we're proudest of is probably the fact, you look at our team record as far as injuries, as far as injuries to our pitchers, we have to be amongst the league leaders as far as our pitchers not getting hurt. Other than Joe Nathan having an operation on his shoulder, I can't recall any major operations to anybody on our team, other than just minor cleanup work that's happened. I think we've done a very good and a very conscientious job of protecting our guys.

Q. Obviously, nobody gets to the World Series without a lot of good pitching. A couple more runs tonight, this is going to be the highest-scoring World Series in history. Why do you think that is?

DUSTY BAKER: I don't know. You got two high-scoring offenses, I think, number one. Plus, you got some guys that are on both sides that haven't been this far. Very few guys have been this far, especially the pitchers. There's only a few guys out there with post-season experience. Like I said, this extra whatever it is, 17 games, is a lot on some of the guys. Right now, it appears that the hitters are still stronger than the pitchers. You don't get tired hitting. You can hit, like, all day long (smiling). You get tired playing defense, you get tired pitching.

Q. With Benito hitting under .200 for the series, Jeff Kent hitting over .300, did you give any thought about going back to the lineup you had earlier in the year with Jeff Kent hitting behind Barry?

DUSTY BAKER: I thought about it. But Jeff is just now starting to get going, himself. We don't want to have two guys possibly starting to tail off because of whatever situation. I thought about it. But I said, "Hey, man, we got to go with what got us here to this point."

Q. Your decision on Livan, was that based on his playoff pitching experience today as a starter?

DUSTY BAKER: That had something to do with it. He's most rested. Rueter would be out there on three days' rest. As you've seen in the past, a guy on three days' rest hasn't pitched too well, in modern history anyway. Kirk is available today as well as everybody else, except Russ Ortiz.

Q. A couple of the Angels did not like your gesture to Ortiz of giving him the ball. Are they misinterpreting your gesture at all? They thought you might be showing him up a little bit.

DUSTY BAKER: How was I showing him up? I don't care what they like, really. You know what I'm saying? I mean, that wasn't intended for them at all. That was intended as a gesture straight to Russ Ortiz, a gesture of appreciation, thank you, you pitched a heck of a game, you've had a heck of a year. That was a gesture of thank you to Russ. It had nothing to do with the Angels. The Angels weren't even in the equation. Nobody should flatter themselves they were in this situation. You know what I'm saying? If they took it the wrong way, I'm sorry. But I'm not sorry that I gave Russ the ball.

Q. Could you talk about the finality of the situation? You made the .200 lineup cards since Scottsdale. There's always another game tomorrow - except today. Can you talk about that? Can you enjoy the experience?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, I think you enjoy the experience once the game starts. Pregame, postgame isn't that enjoyable (smiling). I'm honest. I don't mean anything by it. I say that every day. You hope you win today's game, and then it would be enjoyable for everybody, the city and everything. The name of the game is to win.

Q. I know you don't want to think about this right now, but once the series is over, given the nature of your situation in San Francisco, is there anything you would want Peter Magowan to say to you that would indicate to you he would like you back, outside of the obvious, "I want you back"?

DUSTY BAKER: I don't know right now. That's not the most important thing right now. Right now, the most important thing is to win this game. If somebody wanted me back, then they would -- a lot of times you wouldn't wait till the last minute to tell them. Who were those Angels?

Q. Alfredo Griffin last night said guys on the bench. He said, "I can understand it, but some of the guys on the bench weren't happy about it." Alfredo was the one that mentioned it.

DUSTY BAKER: Thank you.

MODERATOR: Thank you, Dusty.

End of FastScripts...

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