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October 6, 2003

Dusty Baker


Q. What can you tell us about your rotation?

DUSTY BAKER: Our rotation right now is Zambrano, Prior and then Kerry Wood. That's the first three games. After that we'll see.

Q. On that note, how pleased are you -- everybody made such a big deal of Kerry Wood going in Game 1 of the first series but you still have to be happy with how it sets up for this series.

DUSTY BAKER: I am. Zambrano has pitched great for us. The last couple of starts he was not quite as good as he was in his previous like eight, but he was on a roll that was unbelievable. I'm very pleased with that, and that we have Prior second and then Wood. That way it rounds out we can still come back with Wood and Prior again. I'm very pleased with that.

Q. What changes have you made in your post-season roster?

DUSTY BAKER: We haven't made that decision yet. We'll probably make that after practice today to determine how he's throwing and he feels. Probably leaning more towards Cruz because they have a right-handed hitting team; they are tough against left-handers. We have not made a decision but we are leaning towards him.

Q. How is about Womack?

DUSTY BAKER: He's doing fair. He's going to get a second opinion. His arm is bad. He'll probably have something done to it here shortly.

Q. You are coming off such an emotional high after last night so, today is probably a bit of a come-down day; is everybody going to be back up tomorrow night?

DUSTY BAKER: Oh, yeah. There will be no problem getting it back up tomorrow. You need a break. You can't run around and hide emotions all the time or you'll be tired like a dog when it comes time to play so you need a little period where you sit back and relax some and hopefully guys tonight will go in, get good rest, watch the game, Boston and Oakland, do some homework against the Marlins who we have not seen in such a long time and just be with family or friends or girlfriends or whoever you want to be with and just chill.

Q. Can you talk about the pitching matchup, going against the Marlins who have a good, young rotation?

DUSTY BAKER: They are much like us. They have a good, young rotation, too. A real good, young rotation. They have a lot of talent over there. They have Beckett and then they are coming back with Penny, and Redman shut us out over there and Dontrelle Willis, I would imagine it, but I have not heard, I would imagine that that's how they are going to go. They might switch a guy or two in that order, but they can pitch. Most of them are power pitchers, probably, except Redman. They can all get you out. They are a young, determined team that plays fearlessly on the field. It's going to be a very, very good matchup.

Q. Do you know how you are going to work Karros and Damian and Bako; are you going to be altering or going with the hot hand?

DUSTY BAKER: Like all year long I've been going with who I think the best matchup is. They have two righties and two lefties so, there's a

good chance that -- it makes it a little easier for me to go with a righty versus a lefty than a lefty versus a righty. We will probably use them all because on our team, nobody sits around too long. I haven't come up with my lineup yet. I have to do my homework tonight and how they do with right against left and how they do against a personal match-up, and I'll go with the hot hand, too, and put that in the equation and come up with the lineup the same way we have been doing all year.

Q. Knowing how much momentum the Giants had as a wild-card team last year, knowing the momentum wild-card teams have, how much does that concern you from the point of view of facing Florida? And having been through '98, that one-game playoff here and the Cubs' mojo with Harry Caray's head floating up in the sky having been through that on the bad end, are you excited that you know that you would be having that on your end this time?

DUSTY BAKER: I don't really think about mojo too much but I did think about Harry. That was the year Harry died and they put that balloon up there and it's like, Harry, I love you, but you've got to go back in the grave. It didn't work. They pulled out Michael Jordan to throw out the first pitch. That was a pretty emotional night I remember in that game. Any time they needed a rally, they brought up Harry so now we have Harry on the field permanently. I'm sure Harry and Jack Brickhouse and all of the guys before me are pulling for us. Being a wild card team, at this point there is no wild card team in my mind. In my mind it's the last two teams standing in our league, and the winner will go to the World Series. At that time we were a wild card team, we didn't think about being a wild card team. You think that you're one of the top four best teams in your league that can go to the playoffs. Marlins beat us down there I think in '97 and they were a wild card team and we had the best record in baseball at the time. All of those records and match-ups and how you did during the year goes out the window, especially in a short series like this.

Q. Last night was the first step in the first stage; now you come to the second stage. Is the leash on your pitchers shorter now? Is that the style of management that we should look for?

DUSTY BAKER: No. I think you look for a style of management to do whatever is necessary to win and who I think is the best person at that time. If I feel the starting pitcher is throwing better than whoever I can bring out of the bullpen, I'll leave him in there. If I think the person out of the bullpen, you look at that potential match-up and the score and who is winning, I'll go to the reliever. I believe in trying to do things as closely to the same as you did that got you here. When you start changing things too much, start doing things that you're not -- that you don't ordinarily do, then that sends a bad message, I think, to your team sometimes, as far as how much confidence you have in that particular person or why you are doing this now and not doing this before. I believe in trying to do things pretty much the same, staying in the routine. But you do realize that every game is potentially 1/7th of the season that's left.

Q. The whole culture of team seems to have changed this year; how does that occur?

DUSTY BAKER: It occurs through winning, I guess, and it occurs through bringing in new people that really don't know anything about the coach that was there before, and I think that helps a lot when you bring in guys like Remlinger and Kenny Lofton and Veres and Guthrie and guys we bought in, especially guys that came from winning situations before. You try not to live in the past. You've got to leave it back there and play for the present and prepare for the future.

Q. What is it about you, that you believe, that you get across to players that they value?

DUSTY BAKER: I don't know. That's a tough question. I genuinely believe. That's all I can say. Maybe they see that I'm not trying to sell them anything. I don't want to necessarily buy into it necessarily. I want them to -- I'm just being myself. I remember back in my days with the Dodgers, I mean, with Tommy Lasorda, he genuinely believed and he would always tell us, you've got to believe it. I remember when I was going for my 30th home run on the last day of the season, and I had came back to the dugout, and I would never say this. I said, "I don't think I'm going to do it," and I said it too loud because he heard it. He told me, he went into this long dissertation about the children of Israel standing by the Red Sea, and they didn't believe and those that didn't believe and fled perished and those who stayed there and waited for the Lord to deliver them and the sea parted, and I was like before he finished, "OK, Tommy, I believe." (Laughter). That next at-bat, I went up against J.R. Richard, my nemesis, and I hit it over the centerfield fence. When you're 54 years old and you've been through a lot of situations where there was a necessity to believe in faith was really what you're going on, and the more times you deliver and the more times things come through, the easier it is to believe. So once you start believing or once you start -- I mean, you can tell the team that really wants it; and you can tell when a double-play ball is hit right to a guy, or everybody in the dugout is like "boot it" or "kick it", and the ball seems to jump up on him and bite him and they don't turn a double-play. I guess it's just been two years of seeing things happen when you do believe.

Q. Zambrano, how much of what he has under his belt in the post-season is going to help him tomorrow?

DUSTY BAKER: That's going to help him a lot. Everybody can say, I can do this when I get there, or I know I can handle it, but until you actually are there and until you handle it, you really don't know. But once you get there and you've been through it, it's a lot easier to say, hey, after the first pitches, it's another game, another big game and you have to just have that mindset that, you know, it's not do-or-die. You do what you can do and you concentrate. Just above all, you have to be natural and be yourself. It's helped a lot that he's pitched in a game already.

Q. Can you talk about what this match-up of the Cubs and Marlins for the sport of baseball? Through most of the season, not many people predicted this.

DUSTY BAKER: Probably not, because the Marlins, I don't think they were picked over there and I know we were picked third or fourth over here, other than our No. 1 guy told me he picked us and everybody told him he was crazy, Cincinnati, Hal McCoy. He told me that when we first went into Cincinnati. Everybody said he was crazy, but maybe he saw something in us that probably we didn't see in ourselves. I think it's good for baseball. I think it's good for the country. It's definitely good for Chicago, big-time, and it's definitely good for South Florida, considering earlier in the year they were at the bottom. They were drawing 6,000, 8,000 people and talking about moving the franchise. And here, they had 50,000, 60,000; people that's great for South Florida and that's great for Chicago.

Q. You've accomplished so much as a player, so much as a manager over the years; what motivates you deep down inside about this game of baseball as a manager today as you bring your team, possibly to the World Series?

DUSTY BAKER: What motivates me is the drive for perfection, the drive for excellence. The drive just to compete, the need to compete. And also, you know, the need to thrive and prosper and basically give the Lord the credit for that, and hopefully to help other people in situations that appear impossible, to help other people see that, you know, if you have that power of belief or whatever that you can accomplish whatever goal that you really want to accomplish. A lot of people out are there hurting right now for strength.

Q. When a guy like Pudge comes off a series that he just had, do you spend a little extra time in your pre-series meeting talking about a guy like that; and how did he impact this series and impact how you manage?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, this guy is a ten-time All-Star and Gold Glove. He can pick you off, throw you out. He can hit. He can drive in home runs. He's one of the best in the business. But just because a guy had a great series many times, which I've seen it many times, doesn't necessarily mean that he's going to have a great series this series and whoever had a bad series last time doesn't mean he's going to do bad. Just like during the regular season, you know, generally speaking, when a guy is hot, he stays hot for a while and when he is cold he stays cold. But I've seen in the playoffs and World Series that it changes from series to series.

Q. Your top-two starting pitchers are a lot more heralded than the Florida Marlins. Do you think Beckett and Willis should be considered in the same class as Prior and Wood?

DUSTY BAKER: I haven't seen them that much because we don't play them much during the season. It's hard to be heralded as much as our guys are right now, I mean, because Kerry Wood struck out 20, had the no-hitter, No. 1 draft choice, led the League in strikeouts. And Mark Prior was the No. 1 draft choice, College World Series hero, No. 1 draft choice. I mean, they automatically come with a certain amount of publicity. But, I mean, we are not looking for -- we are not overlooking those guys at all over there. Really, it's up to you guys who gets the headlines, basically. So if it's up to them to, I guess, live up to that.

Q. Can you put your finger on something specific Larry Rothschild does, on why he's able to do that with so many different individuals?

DUSTY BAKER: I think that's the sign of a good coach and a well-rounded person, actually, because he relates to them. He talks to them, he communicates with them, he's one of the first ones here, one of last ones to leave, watches a lot of video, picks up on a lot of things, knows their personalities, knows who to push and to leave them alone. Knows when to chastise them, pat them on the back or sometimes you need to get in their face. Depends on what's needed at that particular time and at that particular situation. Larry is easy to get along with, but he's not one that you should cross -- be in a hurry to cross at the same time. In my mind, he's firm and fair with everyone.

End of FastScripts...

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