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October 10, 2021

Tony La Russa

Chicago, Illinois, USA

Guaranteed Rate Field

Chicago White Sox

Pregame 3 Press Conference

Q. Tony, you have an elimination game today. We know you want your players to play with the same enthusiasm they did all year. How do you change, or do you change your strategies in this type of game?

TONY LA RUSSA: Well, you change the strategy once the playoffs start. I mean, every inning of the playoffs, Game 1, you have to win three, so there's no difference today. There wasn't anything that didn't do Game 1 or 2 that we do today. Same thing with our players. One thing you probably have to guard against is trying to do too much. You know, just we just got to play our game. If they play any harder, it means they weren't playing hard enough, and that's not the case with our team.

Q. Do you have a plan for a Game 4 starter at this time?

TONY LA RUSSA: Yeah, I think if we -- hopefully we win the game, and then we would start Carlos. He is feeling -- he is very positive about how he is feeling now, so love to see him out there.

Q. How has he come along over these past couple of days to build confidence that he would be good to go?

TONY LA RUSSA: Two days ago, he felt better. Yesterday he felt better, and today he feels better, so there's a progress there that we're optimistic. And if he warms up, like I say -- we want to get to that, we get to that. We'll watch him warm up. If not, we'll have somebody ready behind him.

Q. You said even before the playoffs started that you guys would take what you could get from Carlos, health permitting. Is he healthy enough to give you a decent amount of innings, or is it just go out there and whatever he gives, that's what you can get?

TONY LA RUSSA: Well, if he has his good stuff, then we take an inning. You know, take a zero in the first or two zeros. You know, just watch closely, but the last time he pitched against Cincinnati, that was considerably less than his best. So if he says -- he has actually -- the ball has been coming out better. He feels better. You know, what that turns out to be, I don't know, but we're optimistic and ready to start him.

Q. Tony, was basically your lineup decision GarcĂ­a or Engel, and was it about getting that extra lefty in there?

TONY LA RUSSA: I think so. GarcĂ­a is a good pitcher, and, you know, I think it's a better matchup for CĂ©sar than it is for Engel or even Andrew. Strongly considered Andrew because he has been swinging better and got a hit -- hit the ball hard the other day. Today I think the matchup is better lefty.

Q. Tony, you saw the support that Houston had in the six games that you played in Minute Maid, and you've had great support from your fans. What do you expect from this crowd tonight?

TONY LA RUSSA: I can remember so many conversations in the first part of the year. We would have 15,000 or something like that. They were making so much noise that the guys were really -- they noticed it, and they really appreciated it. And here in the last half, we've been able to get to the 30s. It would be like Minute Maid. They'll be extremely loud. The better we play, the more they have to cheer, so we're looking forward to it.

Q. Tony, obviously not the situation you want to be in, but to be home where you guys had the best home record in the American League, how would you say that gives you maybe a boost of confidence? How does that impact thinking and the way the team feels taking the field today?

TONY LA RUSSA: If I had my druthers, I would rather be up 2-0 than going to Minute Maid. I like their spot better than ours, but we have played very well at home, and I do think the crowd has been helpful that way. I mean, they like this club a lot, love this club, I think. They really have embraced them, and we got a real shot to make this a series.

To do that, you got to win a game. And I had a number of phone calls from coaches that have been in this situation and won one game. So I had dinner last night with Joe Torre. He was down a couple of times, so, I mean, it's -- like I say, it's not the spot that you want to be in, but as long as you got a shot to win. And if you are in that spot and it's the best of five and not a best of seven, you know, just got to win today.

Q. Tony, most players you talk to them, they get a little nervous stomach before a game, and it's a good thing to get them going. As a manager, have you always gotten a little bit nervous energy going before you go out there to manage a ballgame? I mean, 5,000 games, has it ever changed for you?

TONY LA RUSSA: Well, the day it changes, it's the day I quit. You talk to players all the time. I talk to coaching friends, our staff. The only reason you get nervous is because you care. If you don't care, then, you know, whatever happens, happens. Well, that doesn't work. You're not going to compete. You're never going to play for anything in September or October.

So, yeah, I like being nervous. I'm nervous in Spring Training. That was the first thing this spring made me realize. I don't know how it's going to turn out, but as far as caring and wanting to do well, I mean, it's the same. You got to be nervous.

Q. Tony, I don't know the full extent to which you're able to plot out scenarios before the playoffs actually start. Like, for example, if you had an essential plan for what if we're down 0-2 going into Game 3, we've used these relievers this much, are we into the territory of the unplanable at this point? And how much -- if we are, how much when it gets to this point once the games start and unforeseeable things develop, is this your comfort area? You know, is this sort of your wheelhouse?

TONY LA RUSSA: Well, players will tell you, if I answered the question about comfort, they would fine me because we don't like comfortable. Comfortable means you sit back and confidence is one thing. Comfortable is not good.

You go to the first game, and you know you got to win three. So you are going to watch the game based on how Lance is doing and so forth just like yesterday or two days ago. You know, when we got into that one situation I know and think it's time to make a move, I mean, we had a chance to win. There wasn't anything different about the intention to make -- to get three outs that one inning in the fourth, that changes today. I mean, it's the same exact urgency. The consequences are different, you know, if it doesn't work out.

The thing we always talk about -- you say some kind of sense of sanity is the other team has talent, and they're trying to win too. So, I mean, we'll take Crochet against any leftie. I will take Bummer. We like him against lefties than rights. When the matchup doesn't work, you give credit to who laid off the pitches and took the walk.

You know, the thing that's disappeared -- I have a lot of coaching friends, and we talk about it all the time. There's no benefit of the doubt anymore. There hasn't been for a long, long time. If you make a decision and it works, it's a good decision. If it doesn't work, it's a bad decision to a lot of people.

That's why what you do is you pay attention, and the only thing that's different earlier in the season is, you know, you have -- you have can back off somebody because you want to see if they can handle the situation. Once you get to August, September, for sure in October, it's total urgency. Every inning of every -- and that's the fun of it. That's why there's nothing different today. I mean, there wasn't anything in the first two games that was holding back.

The only time -- I'll correct that. If you don't have a deep bullpen, you know, then you really have -- if you only have two or three guys that you think can get big outs, then you might say I need to get one of those guys in there in the fourth or fifth, but our bullpen has got -- you saw Tepera. He came in in the sixth and it was lights out. It's a real strength of ours, and they have good hitters. Sometimes they'll beat you. I hope we have a close game today, and we give our bullpen a chance to get those outs again.

Q. Tony, kind of playing off that real quick, your team has been so good at blocking the outside noise all year, whether it's what people are saying, the media, injuries, whatever it might be, so how do you use that as a positive going into an elimination game tonight?

TONY LA RUSSA: Well, probably the workout yesterday was the best answer that I can give. Everything in that workout was exactly what this club has been since the first day of Spring Training. That's why I love this club. They like each other. They love each other. They love to practice. They love to compete.

That carries through a lot of those obstacles in the first half. You know, we got beat by this club at home, their home. We beat them two out of three here, so these guys are very special. That's why tonight we're going to have a hellacious effort.

If they're good enough to beat them, we'll tip our cap, but yesterday's workout was -- I was so impressed. Guys were getting ready, and they were themselves having fun and being serious at the same time, so it's a great club.

Q. I would like to ask you one non-game question. Dusty is closing in on 2,000 wins, about the only box he hasn't checked as a manager. He has won a World Series. Have you looked at the possibility of him joining you someday as a manager in the Hall of Fame?

TONY LA RUSSA: I think he has the credentials already. I mean, because -- he has won divisions. He has taken teams to the postseason. I looked at -- it's no secret I'm great friends with Jim Leyland. There are managers in the Hall of Fame with one world championship, and Jim has one. I'm a Hall of Famer, so I guess I've got some credibility. Maybe they don't all agree, but I think a lifetime of success with the number of wins he has and the championships he has, I think he has the credentials already.

And I also think just like with Joe Torre, you know, you can't discount the kind of playing career he had and the fact that he stayed in and continues to coach and any team he coaches for, players love playing for him, sounds like a Hall of Famer to me. I don't want to advance his case here in the series, but I feel that way now. You don't have to beat us for me to feel better about that.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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