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October 9, 2003

Grady Little


Q. This might be kind of a delicate topic, but did the lengthy seventh-inning stretch play any effect on Wakefield's pitching afterwards?

GRADY LITTLE: No. At that point in the game, Wake, he had had a number of pitches, and we hit for about 20 to 25 minutes in the top of the seventh. So we about halfway expected to see what was going to happen in the bottom of the seventh, just from his past history and the number of pitches he had. So it came as no surprise. We were forewarned about what was going to happen there in the middle of the seventh, so that kind of thing, it would probably affect someone much more if they were not prepared for it beforehand.

Q. Are you, and if so, how, are you a different team when you play in Fenway Park?

GRADY LITTLE: We've had a lot of success in Fenway Park this year. I think it's purely a matter of the type of hitters that we send to the plate, one after another. They are designed to hit in that ballpark. They like hitting there and they have had a lot of success. That's the only way I know how to explain it. Last year we were completely opposite of this year. We had much more success on the road than we did at home. Sometimes things are hard to explain.

Q. We all know about Manny's phenomenal hitting, but many of the enduring images that we've seen of him on television have been, you know, less than good, loafing on an up-the-baseline or having problems in the outfield with fielding a ball or being showy; is that what he's like or do people not really understand what he's like? Can you give us an idea of what Manny is like?

GRADY LITTLE: It would take longer than this interview would allow me to tell you about Manny Ramirez (Laughter.) I know if each individual in the country that's a baseball fan had the time and the opportunity to get to know the kid, they would probably not be thinking too many negative thoughts about him. He's got some weird ways about him, but this guy can hit a baseball. That's not natural for him. He works hard at it. He works from early in the morning till late in the evening, working on that hitting, and he gets a lot of results to show from it. I'm not saying he's a perfect outfielder, but he's done a very good job for us this year in left field. He's made some great plays for us, some game-saving plays, and he probably plays the wall in Fenway Park better than any outfielder I've seen. A lot of people may sometimes give their opinions on a fella like that without really knowing him.

Q. Manny mentioned yesterday that you had a little bit of a heart to heart with him while he was struggling; did you just feel the need to try to get him going or say something to encourage him?

GRADY LITTLE: We have heart-to-hearts with a lot of folks, but we did have one with him recently. Mostly it was just to tell him that I remember back when he used to be a good hitter, four or five years ago. (Laughter.) And he likes to play, he likes to have fun, and he'll get it going. A lot of people seem to get worried about him when he's struggling at the plate, but we never seem to worry about him. Every time he goes to the plate, he's got a chance to hit it in the seats.

Q. Last night, Mike pitched well in the eighth inning, and then you decided to go with Williamson in the ninth inning, how did your decision-making differ last night from last Saturday when you had him in there for three innings?

GRADY LITTLE: What we did with Timlin the other night when we let him go three innings was something that we don't need to be doing on a regular basis with a guy of his age. I'm not saying he's too old, but we need him much more in this series, and we've got the other people down there, we've got a lot of confidence in Scott Williamson right now, in what he's going to be doing for us, so we are not going to use anyone.

Q. Can you talk about the decision not to play Walker, and is that basically because Lowe is a sinkerball pitcher and you expect that there might be a lot of defensive plays at second base?

GRADY LITTLE: This is the same thing we've been doing for the last month or so. Whenever Derek Lowe is on the mound we know there's going to be a lot of activity on that infield. With Damian Jackson in the game, it gives us much more range out there and we know there's going to be a need for it. So we are sacrificing a little bit offensively with this move, but we like the way everyone else in our lineup started swinging the bats again last night, so we think we can afford to do that.

Q. There's been a lot of criticism about team behavior, everything from Manny's posing on homers to Lowe post-game, and we all know about Kim; did you have any problems in general terms with your team's behavior and is there anything that you would change?

GRADY LITTLE: I think at this point in time, I wouldn't change anything. We've gotten ourselves in a position that we're in right now, we are playing good baseball, we are entertaining a lot of people. I know that we might not run a ship there in Boston that's perfectly acceptable to every baseball fan in the country, but it's acceptable to me right now. It's acceptable to my players and we're being successful.

Q. Could you comment on the mild renaissance your bullpen is having, and also comment on the adventures of the bullpen and what that's taught you?

GRADY LITTLE: It's taught me that when I go through a winter and go into spring training, I want to have a closer, to tell you the truth. We tried the system earlier in the season; that was not successful for us. When we placed Kim into the bullpen in June, our season started clicking along a little bit better. I think that ideally, you need to have a closer.

Q. Is there any update today on Johnny Damon's condition and any reason to think he might be able to play by Saturday?

GRADY LITTLE: We're still hoping. He's going to try to take some batting practice today. That's a very positive sign. If he can do that he'll hit some more tomorrow. We're still hopeful that he'll be able to play on Saturday.

Q. You were talking about Todd again. The way he hits the ball, the home runs that are coming now, is just a natural result of that?

GRADY LITTLE: Todd Walker is a good hitter. Nobody can ever question that. Just because he's not in the starting lineup today doesn't mean he's going to go back to the hotel. He'll be able to come off that bench for us later on in this game if we need him. He's the type of hitter -- he went through about six weeks during this season where he really struggled at the plate, but he fought his way out of it. Right now he's back on the very top of his game offensively.

End of FastScripts...

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