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October 5, 2002

Dusty Baker

Livan Hernandez


Q. How do you feel about playing second fiddle in the Yankees in terms of TV prime time?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, that's something you get used to. That's what happened in 2000. Nothing you can do about it. You've just got to do what TV does with you. Tell you the truth, a lot of teams that would love to be in our position to play second fiddle.

Q. Are you hoping for a day game or a night game (tomorrow)?

DUSTY BAKER: Probably a day game, you know, because it's very difficult to see it -- I think the night game would be 4:30. That's not exactly a night game or a day game. That's a dusk game. It's very difficult to see at that time. Preferably, you know, a day game. And if by chance we had to go to Atlanta, we could get there a lot earlier if we had a day game, but we'll worry about that tomorrow.

Q. Would you talk about your home-field advantage here, what it means to play at home?

DUSTY BAKER: You know, most teams have a home-field advantage. You get to be with your family. You get to sleep in your own bed. You're familiar with the surroundings. We have our own fans. And the fact that our ballpark plays pretty big and we know how to play here in our ballpark. It really helps our pitchers. And I was told the home runs we have given up here have been the fewest home runs in, I don't know, 60 or 70 years, given up to the opposition. So the main advantage is we are a team that depends on the home run and most of the time we can hit more home runs here than the opposition can.

Q. How much did Hernandez's post-season record and his ability to come up big in big games come into the decision to start him tomorrow?

DUSTY BAKER: That had something to do with it. The fact that he's 5-0 in post-season and he pitches well at home. At the same time, you know, it was his turn. We have four guys that are pretty close and equal in ability. Nobody really stands out exactly on our staff. We have a very equal staff. We would much rather go with a rested Livan than somebody else on two or three days' rest. If we have to go back to Atlanta, Russ Ortiz would get the nod in Atlanta, and that would be his fifth day.

Q. The '97 NLCS game where you pitched against the Braves, it was said that your pitches were unhittable, especially with the strike zone. Do you ever think about that game?

LIVAN HERNANDEZ: Yeah, I was pitching in that game, everybody said it wasn't fair but I don't know. Somebody else can hit home runs, too, two or three home runs, double, triple. I think they were looking for an excuse. If they had the opportunity to pitch again and the game is 2-1. I think it's no excuse. Maybe, if it's 2-1, 3-2 I think they would say it's the other way.

Q. It's been over a week since your last start. What have you done to keep yourself fresh, so that won't have an impact?

LIVAN HERNANDEZ: I throw to the bullpen already. I throw every day with Felix. He catches me, like 20 pitches every day in batting practice. I'm keeping my strike zone perfect ^ because I don't want to -- I threw for 18 minutes already and I think it's good for me.

Q. Since your rookie year with the Marlins, you've come up big in big games. Is that something you take pride in?

LIVAN HERNANDEZ: You know, '97, it's a big year for me. It's my rookie year. They give me the chance to throw in the playoff and I'm doing good and I continue throwing well. You know, I think I go and throw and I'm not thinking about it, I'm not putting so much pressure. The pitching coach told me, you know, you need to go and pitch like it's the regular season and you need to watch out because the hitters, they swing the bat a little more now and they are looking for a pitch to hit a home run. They want to hit the ball and they want to swing at it. You know that you need to keep the ball down and try a little hard because it's different baseball. You make the playoffs and it's different baseball than the regular season.

Q. How important is it to win two here and not have Game 5 back in Atlanta?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, it's important to win the games here. The name of the game is to win three, not two. So no matter where you win that third game, as long as you win that third game -- preferably, yeah, in a perfect situation, scenario, yeah, you would love to win it here because your fans are here, your family is here, everybody is here. But you can't put that kind of pressure on yourself and figure if you don't win them that you're not going to win. The most important thing, like I said, is to win that third game, no matter when you win it.

Q. You mentioned how your approach was in '97 when you were a rookie. How has it changed, five years later?

LIVAN HERNANDEZ: You know, it's different. The only difference is it's five years. I know the hitters a little more now, and the hitters they know me a little more. In '97, my rookie year, I go and throw the ball. What I said before, I'm not putting a lot of pressure. When you put a lot of pressure, I think you try too hard. For the pitcher, when you try too hard, you try to throw the ball hard, the ball doesn't go nowhere. I don't put pressure -- you know, tomorrow, I try to put the ball -- try to throw the breaking ball down. I don't want to make a lot of mistakes.

Q. You've pitched very well in your final regular season start, do you feel you needed that coming into the playoffs for your confidence?

LIVAN HERNANDEZ: Yeah, I wish. I try the best I can. Every time I go to the mound I try the best I can, 100%. This is what I want to do tomorrow is try, 100%. I don't want to make a lot of mistakes. I do that tomorrow, I've got a chance to win.

Q. Do you remember specifically the game in '97, the first game when you had men on first and third ; do you remember that?

LIVAN HERNANDEZ: Yeah, I remember that. I've got video in my house. Talking about that game, everybody is talking about the strike zone. The strike zone I think is good. The umpires can miss a couple of pitches, but I'll say again, I won the game. If I don't win the game, I'm talking about maybe should the umpire give some. But what about -- maybe you win the game you say the same thing.

End of FastScripts...

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