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October 7, 2003

Grady Little


Q. Joe was asked if this is what he wanted, Boston/Yankees; is this what you wanted, is this what you desire?

GRADY LITTLE: I think that that's what most of the fans want. We just set ourselves into the direction where we'd be able to play in the post-season. Now we've gotten to this point and we're going to keep playing.

Q. Can you talk about how you're setting up your rotation for this series?

GRADY LITTLE: The first two games here in New York will be Tim Wakefield will start the first game and Derek Lowe will start the second game. The first game back in Boston will be Pedro Martinez.

Q. An update on Johnny Damon and how that's going to affect what you have to decide over the next 24 hours?

GRADY LITTLE: Well, Johnny, we certainly feel like he'll be ready to play before this series is over with. Whether he's ready to play or not tomorrow, we're not sure right now. He did suffer a pretty severe concussion out there and he was taking some more tests this morning. Hopefully he'll be ready to get back in there in a couple of days. It will affect some of our thinking in setting the roster for the playoffs but we don't have to make that decision until tomorrow morning at 10 o'clock.

Q. Do you have any idea who your starting centerfielder and lead off guy is if Johnny cannot go to start the series?

GRADY LITTLE: Our starting centerfield would probably be Gabe Kapler at this point in time. Where he would hit in the order, I'm not sure.

Q. Does the energy that your team will get playing the Yankees make up for maybe being tired or beat up right now, or is that a factor?

GRADY LITTLE: That has not been a factor with our ballclub; these guys get ready to play every day. They have been going through a pretty tough schedule here since we arrived in Oakland last Sunday night, but it's nothing that the other teams have not been through before, and when it comes down to play a baseball game, they are always ready to play. They have a term they have been using, "cowboy up," cutting everybody's hair off. I don't know if that's trying to distract everybody from the attire or what. They even got myself last night. They will be ready to play.

Q. How is Kim's condition right now and will he be on the post-season roster and if so how will you use him?

GRADY LITTLE: At this point in time we are undecided. We've got to make sure he's totally 100% healthy and ready to take the ball before we make our decision on this playoff roster. Right now, we are uncertain. We are going to check again today and that will be a last-minute call there.

Q. Is Williamson still your closer and was last night -- did he pitch too much and the walks came?

GRADY LITTLE: He's the guy we used in the two nights prior to last night in the ninth inning. He's the guy we tried last night in the ninth inning. Right now, we've played 167 games and I can't tell you if we've got a closer. We're about the same way we left spring training. These guys have been doing a heck of a job lately, and the two games in Boston, Scott Williamson was outstanding last night. He had pitched two innings the night before, and we tried it again last night and it didn't work out quite that well.

Q. In the other bullpen, does that affect the way you have to manage your game, the fact that they have Rivera back there?

GRADY LITTLE: I think Mariano is always a factor when he's out there in their bullpen. He's certainly a factor that we will be considering throughout the course of a game every day.

Q. Did you get a sense as this season was going along, the way you played the Yankees, that it was going to lead to this; that it was going to be you and they playing for the American League championship?

GRADY LITTLE: We know that we have two good clubs here. They have a good one across the way and we have a good ballclub. You never know what will happen when you play the game of baseball. You can't assume anything. But I think for a while people could see this coming about and now it's here. Let's play.

Q. Obviously, there's a series to be played here still, but knowing the history, is there anything in you that thinks if it did come down to a World Series of you guys and the Cubs that this may be a sign of Armageddon or something with the history between these two teams?

GRADY LITTLE: I haven't thought that far ahead. We've been moving so quickly since we started this post-season play that we do our best to plan for the next day. That's all we're doing right now. I know that a lot of people are talking about that, a lot of people are thinking about that. You never know. It could happen. Right now, it's certainly a possibility. That's two of the four teams left playing, but you have to play the game on the field.

Q. What will the absence of Damon do to your lineup and what does Kepler add to the lineup?

GRADY LITTLE: I think what Johnny Damon brings to a lineup is well understood. He's a good lead-off hitter. He's a good centerfielder. He's a tough man to replace, but we feel confident that Gabe Kepler can do the job whenever he's in the game. He did a good job for us filling in for Trot Nixon for a couple of weeks going towards the end of the season in right field. He's very respectable.

Q. I know that part of your lineup for tomorrow might depends on Johnny, but do you have a tentative lineup, and also, sometimes Mirabelli catches Wakefield; do you plan to use him or Jason tomorrow night?

GRADY LITTLE: We'll continue on our same program we've had all season long, with Doug Mirabelli being the catcher in the game for Tim Wakefield's starts. But if there are games where Tim comes out of the bullpen, it doesn't necessarily mean we'll make a change behind the plate.

Q. Some of the Oakland players had some pretty harsh things to say about the reaction of some of your players, Manny after the home run and Derek after the last strikeout, what are your thoughts about that?

GRADY LITTLE: I felt sorry if they took any of those things the wrong way, because these guys, there's a lot of emotion involved in what's going on out there in that game yesterday. If anything is done by any human being from the winning side that offends someone on the losing side, I'm certain it is unintentional. Derek Lowe makes gestures all the time when he's successful or when he wins a ballgame. If someone takes it the wrong way, that's their problem.

Q. There's going to be an extreme atmosphere here, to say the least tomorrow in Yankee Stadium; do you feel you had to talk to your team about the atmosphere here tomorrow and have you talked to them?

GRADY LITTLE: I'm not going to talk to them about it. The atmosphere was like this when we came here in May and it will be like that any time the Red Sox come to New York or any time New York goes to Boston. All they have to do is walk around the street and get breakfast; they will know what the atmosphere is going to be like. We don't have to have a meeting. (Laughter.)

Q. How will you make a decision about who starts Game 4, when and how?

GRADY LITTLE: I could tell you now, but I'm not sure if Burky made it off that plane last night. I'm trying to make sure he showed up in New York, and then we've got to get him to Boston. (Laughter.) But it will probably be John Burkett as we speak.

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