October 8, 2003
NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK: Game One
Q. Leaving Kim off the roster, did it have anything to do with the fact that he has bad memories here in Yankee Stadium from the 2001 World Series?
GRADY LITTLE: None whatsoever. This guy's shoulder, he's had a lot of tenderness with it during this last series. We can't go into a series like this with a pitcher that's going to be iffy every day. This is way too important, and we need all of the heads we can get down there some nights, as we all know. We can't go into this series with a guy that's not 100%.
Q. In your opinion, how evenly matched are these two teams?
GRADY LITTLE: We're pretty even. Both teams, they are good ballclubs. Both of them like to battle. Both of them think they can win, and that's a pretty vital characteristic.
Q. What have you said or done to this team to make it perform in the clutch in the post-season?
GRADY LITTLE: We've done nothing different during the post-season that we haven't had to do all season long. We've had a lot of occasions where we've had to come back from some awfully tough losses. We've had a lot of occasions where we've had to come back from some awfully good wins, and each day, it's different. In this post-season, we've reacted no differently than we have all season long.
Q. Does the decision to go with one more pitcher in this round of the playoffs than in the last one indicate that you have some kind of positive news about Damon or is it just a matter of needing more pitching?
GRADY LITTLE: It's a combination of the fact that Johnny Damon is not hurt nearly as seriously as he could have been. We're still unsure exactly when he'll be back, but that's a big part of it. And the other big part of it is the team that we're playing is the New York Yankees and we might need all of the pitching that we can find.
Q. Are you still planning on going with Burkett for Game 4, and if so, why him over Suppan?
GRADY LITTLE: That's our plan right now. Anything could change between now and then, but right now we are going with Jeff Suppan as our long man out of the bullpen and Burkett as our fourth game starter, but anything could change.
Q. I know you don't have the exact answer yet but can you elaborate more on Johnny's condition and what your expectations are as to when he may return to the lineup, and also, where is he physically today?
GRADY LITTLE: Johnny suffered a grade-two concussion and he's back with the ballclub today. He's in the clubhouse. He's still groggy. He's had very little sleep since the incident in Oakland. There's no way he will see any action in these two games here in New York. He may be ready to go Saturday but that will be determined by how he feels at that time. But the first two games are out of the question.
Q. Can you talk about the relative personality of this team and the characters of this team and how much that has contributed to the success you've had?
GRADY LITTLE: I think it's 100% attributed to our success. That's one of the big reasons why we answered the question earlier; how do we continue to come back day-in and day-out. How do we perform the way we do. It's all about the character of this team. There's a lot of talent in the Major Leagues, but it takes a lot of character to get done what we are trying to do.
Q. Can you talk a little bit from your perspective why Derek Lowe has been so effective at home and struggled so much this year on the road?
GRADY LITTLE: That's a tough question for me to answer, to tell you specifically what the reason is. If we knew that reason, then we will do whatever we can to adjust and make it where he would pitch good everywhere. It's just one of those things, it's one of those seasons where he's been -- his numbers are awfully good at home. He pitches the same way wherever we go, to tell you the truth. He's got good stuff. He has a chance to win every time he takes the ball.
Q. Was there ever a concern on your part that maybe he might have been pitching too much in the series, about using him too much in that series and coming into the game, knowing that he would have to pitch Game 2?
GRADY LITTLE: We monitor everything we do with these guys. The workload that he had on him there in Game 5 was no more than -- it's probably less than he would do on a normal workday, and that's usually two days before his next start. We have no concern for that. This guy is a workhorse anyway. But I'm not going to sit there and tell you we are going to do that a lot in this series.
Q. Back to Suppan with Burkett. Burkett is bad against the Yankees lifetime and Suppan was great in the last game against Wells in September; because of that, did you think Suppan instead of Burkett?
GRADY LITTLE: Burkett had an awfully good game against the Yankees, too, later in the season, can you remember that?
Q. No, but lifetime he is 0-6 and has an 8.49 ERA --
GRADY LITTLE: But you have to look at his age and see what decade a lot of those numbers came from. I'm talking a game (laughter) -- John Burkett pitches a game as well as anybody against the Yankees this year just as Suppan.
Q. Can you tell us, what would you describe as Grady's philosophy of baseball and how will we see it tonight?
GRADY LITTLE: Grady's philosophy is pretty much however good my players are, that's how good I'll be that night. We adjust to what's going on on the field. We don't have a set way or a locked-in way that we are going to do it. We take the situation as it's occurring at the time, and we do a lot of adjusting to that.
Q. So much has been written over the years about the "Curse of the Bambino"; how much do you know about it and how much do you care about it?
GRADY LITTLE: We've heard a lot about it. (Laughter.) I'm not really a big believer in the "Curse of the Bambino." Each year is different. This club has been through a lot of ownership changes. It's been through a lot of manager changes and certainly a lot of personnel changes. I don't know, there's a few constants over there in New England, but I don't think we're battling the Curse of the Bambino here. We're battling the New York Yankees and this group of renegades that I'm putting out on the field, they don't care. They care about their Harley Davidson's running good enough, that they won't run off the Tobin Bridge over there in Boston and playing baseball. They are playing hard. That's all I ask of them is to come out on the field, play hard. We don't put a whole lot of efforts concerning ourselves with the Bambino.
End of FastScripts...