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October 9, 2004

Russ Ortiz


THE MODERATOR: First question for Russ.

Q. Roger wore a Texas hat. Where's your Oklahoma hat?

RUSS ORTIZ: I thought about bringing it. I was really close to taking it along, but since the game time was pretty much the same as the OU-Texas game, I didn't figure I'd have really much time to wear it. So now I'm regretting that decision (laughter). But I thought about taping it up somewhere, but I didn't think it was a good idea, covering the "A" on the hat. He's got an advantage. He's at home, so he's got a lot of Texas hats, I'm sure, in his house. So it's a big advantage on his part.

Q. Having so much time in between starts, ten days, has this been a good opportunity for you to work on some things? What have you done to get ready? How have you occupied your time?

RUSS ORTIZ: The biggest thing was just being off the mound as much as possible. I had a small chance to get in one of the games on Wednesday or Thursday, so I had to be ready for that. That allowed me to get off the mound and make sure that physically I was ready to do that, and play catch before the game and all that stuff, which I normally don't do on a start day. Then after yesterday, I threw a bullpen again. So try to just get off the mound as much as I can to try to keep everything the same and not feel like, you know, I've spent four or five days without getting off the mound. That's made it easy to stay prepared for tomorrow's game.

Q. Bobby Cox mentioned that your side session was very good. Have you noticed an improvement in the location of your pitches?

RUSS ORTIZ: Yeah, I mean, the consistency has been there. That's the one thing that's always been pretty good, is the bullpen sessions. Actually taking that out to the game and being consistent is a trick for every pitcher, just to take what you do in the bullpen or warming up out to the game. It sounds easy. Obviously, it's not as easy as it sounds. But feeling good in the bullpen is obviously a big key. Yesterday everything was consistent. So I'm going to do the best I can to take what I did in yesterday's session to the game tomorrow. With that confidence and being able to execute all that, I think I'll be able to help this team win.

Q. Have you ever had this long between starts in your Major League career?

RUSS ORTIZ: I don't believe I have. Maybe seven or so days. But I don't believe -- I mean, realistically, being able to get off the mound, I haven't really thought about the duration of time in between my last start and tomorrow, so it hasn't really affected me that way. I haven't really thought about it at all. I haven't felt like it's been that long, so I couldn't even -- I mean, you guys probably know better than I do exactly how long it's been. So, for me, it's just getting off the mound as much as possible. I'm not worrying about all that other stuff because as long as I can get off the mound and throw to a catcher, I feel like I'm fine. I don't believe there's been really a long -- maybe the All-Star break has been maybe the longest time that I've had in between starts.

Q. How big was Furcal's home run in elevating the team's spirit with an off-day and moving to a new site?

RUSS ORTIZ: It was huge because, I mean, that was also a game that we had to win in order to come into Houston with it tied 1-1 instead of being down two games. Obviously, from that standpoint it was huge. But also for everybody on the roster to be able to celebrate like that, I think, was a big boost for our clubhouse because I know the hitters felt like that when we had runners in scoring position, that we weren't getting those big hits. For the pitchers, to come in after Mike had to come out of the game and do what they did, I mean, that's how everybody wants to throw the ball. Obviously, having Smoltz in there, he's someone that you want to have in the game. For someone like Fookie, that's not necessarily a home run hitter, to kind of bring spark to the team, I think it's a big boost for our ballclub to be able to come in here and feel even more confident that, you know, we know what we need to do; now we just need to go out and do it. That was a two-out hit, that big hit that we've been waiting for, so hopefully that will be contagious throughout this series here.

Q. Does your focus get sharper when you're facing an opposing pitcher like Roger Clemens or somebody of that stature?

RUSS ORTIZ: I would say that has a little bit to do with it. But mainly getting up to game time, especially in this part of the season, in the postseason, that's where most of the focus comes, is just facing that team. I've never really necessarily looked at "I'm facing a certain pitcher," because I've got to get the eight other guys in the lineup out and not really worry about what the other pitcher is doing. That's kind of the approach that I've always taken. Before the game, after the game, it's an exciting thing to think about when you face someone like Roger, to see what he's done throughout his career and what he's still doing. It's an exciting thing to think about. But once the game day comes, I'm just concentrating on the hitters and not worried about what he's doing on his side. Because if I start to do that, I think I'm going to try to go out there and if he's throwing real well, I'm going to try to do what he's doing, instead of just concentrating on making my pitches and worry about getting our team back into the dugout as soon as possible.

Q. There's a short leftfield here. Are you conscious of that, and do you pitch any different because of it?

RUSS ORTIZ: No, I'm not really that conscious of it during the game. I think it's just a given coming in here that there's a short leftfield. I think just knowing coming in that that's what you have to deal with, you don't necessarily change your approach. Because you have to be able to pitch with your strengths and not give into the elements all the time. Obviously, there are some times when you are afforded to do that, but you can't worry about, you know, a fence being short or the wind blowing out, things of that nature. You can't worry about that all the time. I learned by pitching in Colorado a lot that you know the ball's going to fly, but you do the best you can just to make your pitches and keep the ball down. If it goes out, it goes out; you can't do anything about it. That's the same thing here. You make your pitches, and if the ball -- if there's a cheap home run to leftfield, you deal with it. That's just the way it is. You can't let it affect your mindset, I don't think. At least for me that's the way I feel about it. I just go about my business as far as doing the best I can, use my strengths against the hitters, and trust that balls aren't going to go out cheap in leftfield. If they're going to hit them out, you want them to hit it as hard as they can. But no pitcher wants a ball to go just in the first row of that leftfield, over the leftfield wall. Like I said, you just deal with it beforehand, and once the game starts you can't think about it at all.

End of FastScripts...

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