October 1, 2003
OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA: Game One
Q. What was your thought process in putting Wakefield in for Game 2 and how does that affect the rest of the rotation?
GRADY LITTLE: We try to put these guys all season long to give them the best chance to succeed. By doing this with Wakefield here in Oakland, and with Derek Lowe in Boston, we feel we've done that also. This enables us to strengthen our bullpen, as a matter of fact, and several other games in the series. Everything just added up to doing that, so we went with it.
Q. Did you give any thought to starting Varitek with Wakefield in Game 2? Why or why not?
GRADY LITTLE: At this point in the season -- I'm not going to say you're not going to see some things that you haven't seen all season long. We'll be consistent with what got us here. One of those is Doug Mirabelli catching Wake in all of his starts. We caught Wake in Tampa Bay and that was to enable us to feel comfortable with Tek back there in case Wake comes out of the pen in another game.
Q. Can you go over your roster and some of the reasons for the decisions?
GRADY LITTLE: I wasn't planning on being up here long enough to go through the roster. I think you're talking about the pitching and going with ten pitchers. We've decided to do that and the major reason for that is, the health stats of Trot Nixon. We felt after the workout yesterday, he's fully able to go today with the way he felt this morning after that workout, he's going to start in Game 1. But still there is a little bit of a question mark there so we added one more position player, took it down to ten pitchers. We felt completely comfortable with that.
Q. Can you discuss which pitchers you took?
GRADY LITTLE: The pitcher I think most in question here is Bronson Arroyo who has done an outstanding September for us. By going with ten pitchers we feel this fills a need we have in a series like this first one, and we feel confident he will be the man that we want to go to down there. We had some tough decisions. We had some guys that pitched well for us lately, who were not on our postseason roster, but they will remain with us and Jeff Suppan, Todd Jones, Mendosa had a couple of good games late in September, Brandon Lyon is coming back from his injury, throwing the ball really well. These guys will remain with our club pitching in case we need to make some changes later on.
Q. How important is Mirabelli been to your team as a backup catcher and why has he been important for Wakefield?
GRADY LITTLE: The problem with catching a knuckle ball pitcher is familiarity, and they certainly have that with one another. We've been fortunate in the fact that Mirabelli has been healthy all season and made the post every time Wakefield has pitched. Doug Mirabelli is an important part of this ball club. At no time do we ever feel like something, knock on wood, ever happened to Jason Varitek that would take him out of the game for two weeks at a time, a month at a time, we felt comfortable with Doug Mirabelli behind the plate.
Q. How much does Wakefield mean to your team in pitching staff?
GRADY LITTLE: Wakefield is one of our most consistent starters all season long. He prepared himself last winter to be one of our starters, and he's done an outstanding job all season. He's also got the capabilities of working out of the bullpen on certain days in between starts. But this season we haven't had that luxury that often because in his starts he goes so deep into ballgames and he's consistent with that and he gives us chances to win.
Q. What's essential to catching a knuckle ball pitcher?
GRADY LITTLE: First of all, the guy has to be to have complete confidence in his own ability and the ability to relax his arms. And once he's confident in his own ability, he's able to relax. Because a knuckle ball is inconsistent, there are a lot of variables that are factors in which way that thing is moving on a given day. This guy has got the ability to relax, mostly because of his confidence.
Q. Did you pick Wakefield for Oakland because more balls get hit into the air when he pitches?
GRADY LITTLE: That's one of the factors that we took into consideration. He's had a lot of pop-up outs on the infield, whether it be fair or foul throughout the course of this season, and the proportions here in Oakland warrant that this is the best time for him to pitch if we had a choice.
Q. When you talk about a catcher relaxing his arms with a knuckle ball pitcher, do you mean not jabbing his arms out?
GRADY LITTLE: I think just relaxing your arms instead of having them stiff. If you're stiff and you try to adjust to the movement of a pitch, it's much more difficult to catch.
End of FastScripts...