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October 10, 2003

Grady Little


Q. Anything new on Johnny Damon's status?

GRADY LITTLE: Johnny is continuing to get better. He's going to hit today. I'm not sure if he's going to hit on the field yet or in the cage, but last night in the plane he was very optimistic about the way he was feeling, and we're still very hopeful that he'll be able to play tomorrow.

Q. Can you talk about the performance of your four starters throughout the playoffs so far?

GRADY LITTLE: We've been very pleased with the way our pitching staff has performed throughout the playoffs so far. We just hope they keep it going.

Q. Can you talk about the Pedro/Clemens match-up tomorrow and whether you anticipate any lineup changes?

GRADY LITTLE: I think everyone is anticipating that game tomorrow. It's going to be a good match-up. We have two good competitors out there on the mound, and our lineup changes will only involve Johnny Damon if he's able to play or not able to play. But otherwise, it will be as usual.

Q. It appears now that Contreras is really solid in that seventh, eighth inning role for the Yankees that for the season has not been one of their great strengths; as well as he's pitching how difficult does that make it on you as the opponent?

GRADY LITTLE: I think it speaks for itself how much more difficult it makes it for us, as the way our bullpen is doing right now, as opposed to the way it was the majority of the time during the season. Our bullpen is on a roll right now also.

Q. In tomorrow's game it's Pedro against Roger, same match-up as four years ago; are they the same pitchers as they were four years ago?

GRADY LITTLE: I think both of them are better pitchers now than they were four years ago. I think that the stuff that each of them feature may not be the same as it was when they were at a younger age, but I think their knowledge of pitching and their plans to attack the opposing hitters has increased. I think they are better pitchers, for sure.

Q. Anything you saw in Roger's last start with the standing ovation here; do you think what he did here still strikes an emotional chord with the fans all these years later?

GRADY LITTLE: I think there's no doubt about that. Any time you see him take the mound here, since he has not been with the Red Sox, I think you'll see an emotional chord struck, and I think it will be no different tomorrow when he takes the mound. It starts as soon as he comes out of the dugout heading toward the bullpen to warm up to start the game and then increases going from the bullpen to the dugout and tomorrow it may be a little bit magnified.

Q. I know you are a manager and not a parent, but Pedro Martinez has taken a code of silence for quite a while now. Have you ever talked to him about his reasons for doing it and ever tried to talk him out of it?

GRADY LITTLE: We have had conversations with him about it, but when he got into this mode about the middle of the season was about the time he started getting really good results on the mound. I think the day is coming that he will again speak with the press but right now he wants to continue doing what he has been doing and try not to break his karma.

Q. What is it about Pedro that makes him a click above everybody else, what makes him special as a pitcher?

GRADY LITTLE: His knowledge of pitching. His knowledge of pitching is by far the best of any pitcher I've ever seen. He makes instant adjustments, he's got the ability to make those adjustments and attack a hitter, because hitters are making adjustments at the same time, and this guy, he has the ability to do that. There are probably a lot of pitchers in the world who would like to make adjustments but are physically unable to. This guy is able to.

Q. Why do you think Pedro has such great success against all of the great hitters in the lineup yet someone like Enrique Wilson can do as well as he did?

GRADY LITTLE: I don't know. All I can explain is just a freak of nature. We've gone over an attack against Enrique when he faces Pedro; we know he'll be in there. And the best thing we could come up is with we'll have Jason Varitek tell him what kind of pitch is coming and we'll hope that he'll overswing and pop the ball up. (Laughter.)

Q. The way this team has hit all year, and for the pitching to be so huge here, are you surprised; did you expect the pitching to be in the forefront or was that just playoff baseball?

GRADY LITTLE: I think it's just playoff baseball; there's a whole lot more emphasis on getting a plan of attack, and if the people on the mound have the ability to execute that plan, I think you'll see pitching will stop some good hitting any day of the week. In a playoff situation, I feel like pitchers, a higher percentage of them are able to execute the plan, and that's the key.

End of FastScripts...

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