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October 12, 2003

Jack McKeon


Q. Jack, just wondering, everybody asked the momentum question to Dusty. We'll ask about momentum to you. Does this give you a lot of momentum going into Chicago the next two days, and a lot of extra confidence?

JACK McKEON: Well, we played our usual game tonight. And, once again, it all starts with pitching. We got the kind of pitching we hoped we'd get in all four games. But unfortunately we didn't. Beckett did an outstanding job. This is the kind of ballclub we are. You get good pitching and we're going to be hard to beat. Momentum, you know, we're going to -- we know our backs are still against the wall. But we're used to that. But we're going to face some good pitching. But hopefully they are, too. Maybe we took them out of that little spurt that they were going on.

Q. How long were you going with Beckett in the 9th?

JACK McKEON: All the way. I couldn't have anybody in the bullpen that had better stuff than he had in the 9th inning. That was probably his finest game of the year. He's a kid that sometimes talks a lot, but today he talked the talk and he walked the walk. He did an outstanding job. That's the best game I saw him pitch all year. And I had talked about him previously in the week about talking about Kerry Wood and Mark Prior, and I also said we had a guy over there that was right in the class of those two guys. And you've got to remember, he's only 23 years old, and he's probably the shortest on experience. Outstanding job, he's got great stuff and great command of his stuff.

Q. At what point did you realize that you had to get Mike Lowell back in the starting lineup? And then talk about what he brings to the team.

JACK McKEON: There was never a moment where I had to get Mike Lowell back in the lineup. We were running pretty good. Mike is a hell of a player, no question about it. And you're always looking for angles to get him back in there. At the time we were going pretty good. And the guys you took out weren't doing the job. Most of the guys were doing the job, so it was tough to take somebody out. The other day when I made a double switch, I said I've got to get Mike back in. And Encarnacion was struggling a little bit. This is the perfect time to get Mike back in there and see if he doesn't add a little juice to our lineup. Psychologically the guy carried us a good portion of the -- up until mid season, until he got hurt, really, he was doing a heck of a job, All-Star third baseman. But trying to give him enough time to get his timing back, and every player wants to play, even before they're ready, and we were trying to make sure he was darn ready before we gave him any extended period of time.

Q. Do you have a Game 6 starting pitcher?

JACK McKEON: We're going to start Pavano.

Q. Why Pavano and not Penny?

JACK McKEON: Well, Pavano matches up good against the Cubs, and he's pitched extremely good against the Cubs. And we talked to the coaches, and we decided this is the way we're going to go.

Q. How much difference do all the fans make for you as you're in the dugout during the game, and particularly there's a huge contingent of Cubs fans that have been down for the series. Does that make any difference for you or don't you even notice it during the game?

JACK McKEON: No, I don't think so. There is quite a few Cubs fans here, there's no question about that. They must have been getting some of the good tickets, really. But the crowd is on our side, and would drown them out once in a while. It kind of reminds you of Miami Hurricanes, and Florida State football crowd, they're pretty loud.

Q. Jack, when Beckett came inside to Sammy, Sammy got pretty upset about it. Beckett really kept his composure, though, and kept his composure throughout the game. Would you talk about that?

JACK McKEON: Well, he's pitched a few postseason games, and really except for the one bad inning out in Chicago, he's pitched with a lot of poise, and has a lot of self-confidence, the young man does. He's a good pitcher and has outstanding stuff. I tell you, and I said this at the start, this guy is going to be an All-Star winning-game pitcher in the future. I like his attitude and he's learning and maturing and staying focused, trying to pick up something new each day. If he continues the kind of work habits he has now, he's going to be an outstanding pitcher.

Q. About the decision to go to Pavano over Penny, can you talk about what's wrong with Penny? What have you seen that would force you to remove a 14-game winner and go with Pavano?

JACK McKEON: I didn't say there was anything wrong with Penny. There's nothing wrong with Penny. What do you see?

Q. I'm not the manager. I'm not the expert.

JACK McKEON: What do I see wrong with him? Nothing is wrong with him. Just a decision. Like the decision do you play Lowell or somebody else. It's a decision, and you sit down with the coaches and decide which is the best matchup. And basically there's nothing wrong with Penny, only Pavano in this series against the Cubs has matched up much better.

Q. When you go up to Chicago, in the event the weather turns for the worst, how does your team play in cold weather conditions?

JACK McKEON: Our guys don't mind whether it's 95 degrees or 40 degrees. You're in the playoffs, and when they go to Chicago I'm quite sure they're going to think it's 75, Florida weather. So it doesn't make any difference to us. We're just going to go out and do the best we can.

End of FastScripts...

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