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October 12, 2003

Mark Prior


Q. Just from the Red Sox-Yankees game yesterday, do you have a philosophy in terms of pitching inside, do you not go higher than the shoulder?

MARK PRIOR: Right out of the chute, inside pitches.

Q. Do you try to keep it, if you're going to go --

MARK PRIOR: Obviously I would never throw at anybody's head, that's just a given. I don't think anybody would throw at anybody's head. My philosophy about pitching inside, I think it's a philosophy that as a staff if we pitch inside, is just move guys' feet, at least have it in the back of their mind that we're going to come inside. Because you saw the reaction after what happened with Clemens, first ball that Manny swung at he just bailed out. You don't want it to escalate to where the benches are clearing and stuff like that. But having that mental edge that they know that you might come in, you might come in hard, if you can get a guy to bail out a little earlier, it makes that outside corner that much more effective.

Q. What's your mindset today not knowing if you're going to start Tuesday or start next weekend?

MARK PRIOR: The mindset is I'm starting Tuesday, one way or the other. It's going to be in a real game or in a fake game, one way or the other. We're up 3-1, but this is about as uncomfortable as I think you could possibly feel, being up 3-1. These guys won't give up. You know they won't give up. You know Josh is going to come out and do everything humanly possible to shut us down. He has that ability. My mindset, I just threw my bullpen like I do any other game leading up to any start. I plan on going Tuesday. Hopefully I don't have to. But you've got to approach the mindset that you're going to pitch and not try to shut it down and try to start it back up.

Q. Has there been an episode or incident this year that stuck with you where you really were able to grasp what it would mean to the people in Chicago and this legion of Cubs fans to actually clear this hurdle and go to the World Series?

MARK PRIOR: I don't think there's one thing that happened this year. I think just showing up at the Cubs convention the first year, I think that was all you needed really to see. You've got 15,000 people in a ballroom on January 15th with three inches of snow on the ground. I think you know some people are interested in the Cubs, one way or the other. It would be a big thing for them. It would be huge for the city, for all the fans that have supported them throughout the year. Being a Cubs fan has, I guess, been tough throughout the years. It was tough on me last year. It's not tough on me this year, I guess that's the best way I can put it. Hopefully we can get past this hurdle and move on. But hopefully the city, whatever the outcome, they can say, hey, 2003 was a good year.

Q. You and Kerry are 4-0 in the postseason. Is there any advice or do you talk to Carlos on how to pitch or just how to settle him down?

MARK PRIOR: Not really. Z's been pitching well. He had a bad outing the other day. You guys are trying to write-off Zambrano and

Clement, and we don't know why. They've been just as important to this starting rotation as Woody and me. I didn't really do anything on Tuesday. They had a 10-run lead, and I wanted to make sure I didn't walk anybody. Z's going to go out. He's an emotional guy. He pounds himself. He's yelling at himself. He doesn't hold a lot back as far as his emotions. And I think that's what makes him successful. He rides his emotions. Sometimes he let's them get away a little bit. But for the most part we love to watch him pitch. The guy's got probably the nastiest stuff on this team. And if he comes out today and he has a chance of being lights out. There's nothing really you say to Z. And he is who he is. The guy is great. I expect him to go out today and have a great game.

Q. Did the magnitude of the Yankees series early in the year prepare some of the younger players on this team for just about anything later on, as you came up with big games later on in the season?

MARK PRIOR: Yeah, I think that was important just from more the circus atmosphere, more than anything. These playoffs -- I remember somebody saying in the outfield, because there was a lot of media attention that series, a lot of people on the field, there were comments, get used to this, this is what it's like in the playoffs. I think it did get us ready what it was like, being scrutinized on every move you make. Anything that's done, every pitch, every move, the way a guy walks in the dugout, anything turns into a story. So I think the Yankees was key for us just having a familiarity of what it would be like in the playoffs as far as the atmosphere. And also that baseball, especially that Saturday game with Woody and Clemens going together, I think that was about as pure and as good of a baseball game that was ever played. It got us ready a little bit for the intensity, and how intense, and the magnitude the games are, every pitch throughout the playoffs. And obviously Game 1 and Game 3 were those caliber of games.

Q. You guys had to grind through September to make the playoffs and down the stretch you had those two doubleheaders late in the season and then the five-game series with Atlanta. Is there any feeling that the team as a whole is kind of running on adrenaline now, and is there any kind of a draining effect that goes along with how hard you guys have had to push?

MARK PRIOR: Well, I think, yeah, we definitely are running on adrenaline. There was one day for Dusty to rest guys, so to speak, on that Sunday. That's not really just a rest. That was more of kind of recuperating from the day before and everything that went into the doubleheader. Yeah, guys I'm sure are tired. But to be honest there's no time to be tired right now. You don't feel tired, even if you are tired. As soon as the season is over, you might be so drained you don't know what hit you. Guys are pushing right now and having a great time. It's fun to come to the ballpark every day in the middle of October and go out and play baseball. And this is what everybody plays for throughout the year.

Q. The Cubs have scored in each first inning. How much pressure does that take off you as a pitcher, when you go out you already have a lead?

MARK PRIOR: That was huge, where we don't have to make perfect pitches, and cut corners and pitch right on the black. It gives you a little wiggle room to make a mistake, and if a guy gets a double with no outs, you don't have to strike out the side or get them out from scoring, because if you have a one-run or two-run lead, obviously you're not losing the game. At worst it might be tied. Kenny's done an outstanding job for us. He picked us up right when we needed somebody to come in and jump start us. I think having Kenny and Grudzielanek hitting 1, 2, is perfect combination. Kenny is the one that gets on base. And having Grudzielanek right behind him that puts the ball in play, hit and run with him a lot, that's what makes our offense goes. Just setting the table for Sammy and Moises, Aramis, those type of guys. Kenny has been just been a blessing for us.

Q. If you were talking to somebody who had never heard of Dusty Baker and didn't really understand how one manager can be different from another, how would you describe Dusty and how would you explain him?

MARK PRIOR: I think away from just managing the game he's an awesome guy. I think he's a good person. He's a positive guy, no matter if it's baseball or if it's life. That's the first thing. He's just a good person. I think that's the first plus for him right off the bat before we even get to how he manages guys in the dugout. I think he does a great job of managing egos, different backgrounds, different types of people, which I think is a pretty big requirement for a manager in the game of baseball. I think he surrounds himself with good people. I think a lot of people lose sight of that when it coming to a manager, if he's a good manager or bad manager. I heard him in here talking about his coaching staff. He's surrounded himself with a good coaching staff, guys who he can trust and he can count on if he needs advice. I don't know any way else to put it. He's a pretty good motivator and a good, positive influence in the dugout. And I think that goes a long way in this game.

Q. There was talk about the aura in Yankee Stadium and the playoffs. Even though the Cubs don't have a lot of postseason history, do you feel any different walking in that ballpark as opposed to any other ballpark?

MARK PRIOR: It's kind of tough for me to say right now, just being so close to the situation. Talking to friends and family who have been going to the games, they say there is a little different atmosphere around the stadium during the playoff time. And obviously when you've got 5,000 people on Waveland Avenue just waiting for something to happen, obviously you know something is different. Our fans have been great, coming out and supporting us. Even the fans that can't get into the game, they're around the stadium and keeping the energy up. So I definitely think we do have our home field advantage when we're at home. We have our fans, and they're loud. We've got our home field advantage here, too. Our fans have been pretty loud, the 5,000 to 10,000 that are probably here have been drowning out their 50,000. That's been helpful while we've been here and in Atlanta.

End of FastScripts...

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