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September 29, 2003

Torii Hunter


Q. Talk about how crucial it is to get at least one while you're here, especially in a five-game series where seven might be more forgiving?

TORII HUNTER: Well, we've got to go out there. We know that we are playing the Yankees. We are in Yankee Stadium, there's a lot of history here. The crowd can be kind of strong sometimes. We are going to go out there and we are going to play ball like we did at first. Against the White Sox, I mean, same game. A little more intensity, a little more pressure but not going to throw that out the window. It's the playoff time so we are going to do fine.

Q. What's it been like watching Santana dominate the way he has in the second half?

TORII HUNTER: It's been fun. You know when Santana is taking the mound, he's going to make this game quick and he's going to go out there and throw strikes and dominate some guys. Just like anybody else, you make a mistake, they can capitalize on it. Santana has not made too many mistakes, but I'm looking forward to going out there the first game and seeing him pitch. I know he's going to do well. Hopefully he keeps us in the game to where we can really get some runs and try to use our defense.

Q. What message is Ron sending by selecting Santana as the Game 1 starter, what does it say about Santana's maturity?

TORII HUNTER: That says that, hey, Santana is one nasty sucker, boy. (Laughter.) He's been consistent since he's been in the starting rotation. He started off in the bullpen, but he's been pretty consistent since he's been starting. We have all of the confidence in the world that he's going to go out there and he's going to pitch fine. That's why he's the No. 1 starter.

Q. How easy or how hard is it for you to not think about all of the success the Yankee pitchers have had against you guys?

TORII HUNTER: It's very easy. What happens in the regular season doesn't matter. All of that goes out the window. When you are in the playoff games in the post-season, you throw all of that stuff that happened in the past out the window. It's a different intensity, different game. The guys are ready to play. We don't care what they did in the past. They have dominated in the past. I give them that. But I don't care what happened in the past. This post-season, this is a different feeling. I'm ready to play. I come here to win.

Q. Specifically what makes Mussina so hard to hit?

TORII HUNTER: Mussina has been around. He's smart. I can't tell what you makes him hard to hit because he might go out there and try to do it, so I'm not going to say that. I don't answer that question. He's already nasty. I don't need him to have any kind of advantages over us. He's been around. He's a smart pitcher. He knows how to hit his spots and he knows what he's doing up there. I respect him, but at the same time, we are both enemies right now till off the field.

Q. How has your team helped by being in the post-season; what did you take away from last year that can help?

TORII HUNTER: Last year we were young and we went out and we beat the A's, and the Angels came back and kicked our butt. But at the same time, we learned from that. We know what to expect now. We know about you guys, the media, all of the pressure of the game and the intensity. We know about all that. So I think it's going to help us a lot. We are still young, but we are a young team that has some experience now.

Q. Big difference in payroll between these two teams. Do you guys ever talk about what you accomplish with what you have as a payroll?

TORII HUNTER: No, not really. We never talk about that. Yeah, we know there's a big difference in payroll but that doesn't mean nothing. You're a human being. You go out there, you make a mistake, we can capitalize on it. I don't care if you make $20 million a year, we can go out there and you make one mistake, we are going to capitalize on it. If we make a mistake they are going to capitalize on it. You know, payroll doesn't mean anything. Okay, we make minimum wage, but, okay, we go out there and we beat teams that make a lot of money. (Laughter.)

Q. Is there more of a feeling of same story, different year; last year not a lot of people gave you a great chance against Oakland and you were able to win that series, a little bit of the same feeling here?

TORII HUNTER: I was waiting for that question. But yeah, it's the same feeling. Everybody has us written off. Some of you guys have us written off. You know what, if we come through with a win and win this Division Series, I think that we're going to prove a lot of people wrong, just like we did last year. But if we lose, it's like they already expect us. So we are in a win/win situation.

Q. Ron talked about a meeting that he had around All-Star Break time, can you talk about what, what you recall about that and how much of a factor was it in your strong second half?

TORII HUNTER: Oh, man, that's sad. I don't even know what you're talking about. (Laughter.) Oh, man. Why you putting me on the spot like that?

Q. Sunday morning in Anaheim.

TORII HUNTER: He just told -- I don't know. Only thing I know, when we came back from the All-Star Game break, guys went home and they were refreshed. Everybody went fishing and got away from baseball. We were getting our butt kicked the whole time, every day, before the All-Star Game, we were getting whooped, and it was sad. We went home, refreshed our minds and next thing you know we have Shannon Stewart leading off and having good at-bats at the top of the lineup and it carried down to the bottom of the lineup. Shannon Stewart has been a big help for us.

End of FastScripts...

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