October 11, 2003
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS: Game Three
Q. I assume Damon is definitely in the lineup and Walker at second base?
GRADY LITTLE: Yes, your assumptions are right. Johnny is better after the workout yesterday. He feels good today so he's in there today. He's hitting first and Walker is hitting second.
Q. Can you just comment on John Burkett, how he held up in that elimination game in Oakland and what you expect from him against the Yankees?
GRADY LITTLE: John Burkett has been a steady performer for us all season long. He has had his up-and-downs, just like everyone on our ballclub has. He's the man we want on the mound in a situation like that game tomorrow, and we have no fear about the competitiveness that he's going to bring to the park with him. He had a good game earlier against the Yankees right here in Fenway Park, and we look for it to happen again.
Q. The fans here are rabid, can you tell us if there is a time or something that happened to you that first brought it home to you how much the people in this city care about the fate of the club?
GRADY LITTLE: I think we've been doing that a long time, exactly the way these fans feel about this ballclub. I don't see where there's any comparison anywhere in the world as to the passion these fans have for this ballclub and what's going on right now. It's tremendous. Our players feel it. They just can't wait for 4:18 to roll along today and to clear the field and we get to play a game.
Q. Considering how well Suppan pitched in his start against the Yankees later in the year, was there any consideration of starting Suppan tomorrow instead of Burkett?
GRADY LITTLE: No. We are going to use Jeff Suppan out of the bullpen during this series. Chances are, we'll get some opportunity to use him early in the ballgame if the situation comes up. But we are confident in both these guys. Both of them did have good games against this New York Yankee club this season, and we are just going to use one of them, and that's John Burkett.
Q. I think I understood you said that Johnny is going to bat first, and you said Walker second. Did you mean that he was batting second or back at second base?
GRADY LITTLE: Both.
Q. My question would be not long ago you seemed comfortable with Nomar number two and Todd number three; anything that's caused you to flip flop those two?
GRADY LITTLE: That was the series we were playing the Oakland A's and we have reasons why we were doing it then and mostly it was because of the bullpen match-up that Oakland presented to our ballclub and the same reason applies here with this team here, is the reason why Nomar is hitting third in this series.
Q. Several players praised your ability to keep your contract status away from the clubhouse, but does it bother you, that you think you've done enough to be around another year?
GRADY LITTLE: That doesn't bother me at all. We talked in spring training about my contract status. They said they wanted to wait until after the season, so that's exactly what we are doing. It's a non-factor right now.
Q. What led you to hire Jerry Narron as your bench coach and what has he added to all of this?
GRADY LITTLE: Jerry gives us somebody with some sense around the coaching staff. He's a good baseball man. He was the best available. At the time we were looking to field that position and we were very fortunate that he didn't take another job before we were able to get him here in Boston.
End of FastScripts...