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October 8, 2003

Dusty Baker


Q.. Dusty, how tough has it been the last couple of weeks for Guthrie coming into a couple of key situations and not coming through for you?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, for a guy that's had success in his career it's been very tough. It's been tough on everybody. We're all pulling for him. We know he has the stuff. Seems like whenever he makes a mistake, they don't pop it up, they don't hit it in the ground. But that was yesterday, today is a new day, and he'll find a way to get it together. We need him. We need him and other guys in the bullpen badly, or else you end up overpitching and killing the guys that are there.

Q.. In a game such as last night, how difficult is it for the younger players to step back and say it's only one game?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, life is difficult. You don't have any choice. It's not like this is the first round of the playoffs. I think it's easier the fact that some of the guys have been in at least part of the battle already. So this is a very resilient team. You can't let yesterday affect today. That's one thing that you can't do. Plus yesterday was Game 1 of a seven-game series. It's not like it was Game 1 of a one-game series. Things can turn around very quickly. We have to realize we've got another game today.

Q.. In the best-of-seven situation, when you lose the first game last night, is it critical to come back and win tonight in your mind?

DUSTY BAKER: No, it's not critical. If you say critical, that means panic is right behind critical. That's the one thing you don't want to happen. I've been on teams, even World Series teams that lost the first two and came back and won four in a row. I was on a World Series team that won the first two and lost four in a row. You saw Boston, now, that's critical when you lose two and you've got one to go, and they came back and won three in a row. That's a bit premature to say anything is critical at this point. Do we want to make it one and one before we go down there? Oh, most definitely. But critical, no, that's far too strong at this point.

Q.. What are the benefits of having a couple of great strikeout pitchers coming up next? It would seem logically the more strikeouts they get the less that can go wrong with guys putting it in play.

DUSTY BAKER: That's partly right. The only thing is strikeout pitchers throw a lot of pitches. It's a Catch-22 situation. A strikeout pitcher can strike himself out of trouble, that's probably the biggest positive that there is. You can run around third base -- I've seen ourselves strike themselves out of trouble, a strikeout is exciting, it's very exciting.

Q.. The average fan looks at Alex Gonzalez's numbers, and say he's not had a very good year, low batting average, but he's had a lot of big hits for you. Can you talk about the season he's had?

DUSTY BAKER: I don't know, you must have just talked to him. What did he say when you talked to him? Did he say something similar?

Q.. He didn't address that, other than the fact that he's got some big hits.

DUSTY BAKER: He has had some big hits, and he had a tough year, too, at the same time. He's had both. You get .222, that's .222. But he has 20 home runs, and he's got some big hits. You've got to forget what he's done during the season. He's swinging the bat as well now as he did at any point in the season, probably similar to his first month or so of the season when he was swinging the bat exceptionally well. Especially when you see him not pulling everything, that means he has his stroke together.

Q.. Can you talk a little bit about the difference in strategy between Wrigley Field and Pro Player Stadium, how you're going to manage the game, is there a difference?

DUSTY BAKER: Pro Player Field is a much bigger park, especially out there and left center, all the way around to right center. No, I'm not going to manage any differently. And I urge my pitchers not to pitch any differently. I remember talking in Spring Training, and asking Jenkins who was a six-time winner in Wrigley Field, I asked him did he pitch any different with the wind blowing in or the wind blowing out and he said no, he didn't. He continued to pitch the same game. And that's what he urged my pitchers to do. Again, you manage according to the situation. Like last night, I mean you can tell from when that first ball went out, that was going to be an offensive night and you've got a pretty good idea, here in Wrigley Field, when you have a still night last night the way that ball was jumping, their pitcher gave up four, and ours gave up five and they're still out there, because you know that's not going to be the final score. On a different night with it cold and the wind blowing in, you try to get the one run or bunt and do more things and manufacture those.

Q.. Much has been made of Carlos and his emotions, and of course he's been Carlos all year, and he's done pretty well during the regular season with the emotion. Last night when the home runs were flying into the grandstands it looked like he was really trying to rein it in, and not be emotional. But has some thought been given that trying to change him now would make him worse?

DUSTY BAKER: Who's trying to change him?

Q.. He said he's trying to calm down, when he's an excitable guy.

DUSTY BAKER: I haven't been trying to change him. If you try to change yourself, that's on you, you know what I mean? But I always tell everybody to be themselves. But everybody has made a big deal about him being emotional. And I was thinking about that last night. How many of us in this room can go back to 23 years old, yourself, and think about were you in control or charge of anything, basically? You know what I'm saying? I mean was everybody in this room cool at 23 (laughter)?

Q.. Dusty, what is your interpretation of just why these games and this club is so important to the fans and to this town and how a sport can unite a town?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, it's important because this town knows history, and they've been taught history. They've been bombarded with numbers. It took me all year what those numbers across that street meant out there in right field. And I finally saw 0-0 up there. I started figuring it out, and somebody told me. It's important, because this is a sports town and people eat, sleep and drink their teams here. And we haven't won here in a long time. At this point we've got work to do, but at the same time we have to think about how far we've come and how fortunate we are to be one of the last four teams standing here. Because if anybody six months ago would have told anybody that we'd be down 1-0 in the LCS, I think everybody would have been very, very glad or else they would have told somebody, you need to go check yourself in a hospital or something.

Q.. Now there's a perception that all you need is Prior and Wood to get this thing done. Can you address that, whether that's confidence or foolhardiness?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, you need more than those two to get it done. You've still got other guys who are going to pitch. And it wasn't just Prior and Wood that got us here, it was everybody that's gone out there. Certainly everybody compares him to -- that's what Arizona needed when they had Johnson and Schilling, or when I was with the Braves. So, no, we need more than them, but it sure helps to have those two.

End of FastScripts...

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