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October 4, 2003

Grady Little


Q. Talk a little bit about using John Burkett tomorrow and talk a little bit more about him, what you don't find in the stat sheet.

GRADY LITTLE: He has been very consistent for us the whole season. He brings a whole lot of experience to the mound. Our whole ball club is confident when he goes out there once he gets through his little difficulties he has in that first inning sometimes, not all the time. But he is fine. Burkett is a competitor, he is a battler, and everybody in that clubhouse is glad when he's on the mound.

Q. Talk a little bit about this being your first managerial chance in the post-season. Talk about how different it is and what it's meant to you.

GRADY LITTLE: I've had a lot of experience in the minor leagues in these situations, and I've had a lot of experience as a coach in the major leagues in situations like this. One in particular in '99, we were down 0-2 to Cleveland, we were able to come back. Everyone that was around here at that time saw how that was. It's purely a case as long as you're playing, you still have a chance. And during that year, with things not looking too bright at the time -- Nomar was hurt, Pedro, we didn't know if he was going to pitch anymore or not -- we won. We came back and won the series. That's always a possibility.

Q. There might be a delay or two tonight because of the weather. Would that in any way affect how you handle Derek?

GRADY LITTLE: He's about as resilient as any pitcher we have. He can wait on a rain delay and pitch effectively. I feel confident we'll be able to wait. If there are short delays, he'll be able to come back and pitch effectively. If it's too long and we need to make changes, well, we have a lot of people available to pitch today, including (Tim) Wakefield, if we need him. We'll use everyone that's available.

Q. Are there any changes in your lineup tonight with (Damian) Jackson playing second? Is that because of defense?

GRADY LITTLE: Damian Jackson has been our second baseman the majority of the time with Derek Lowe on the mound. We're doing something at second base that's effective for us. We'll also start (Gabe) Kapler in right field. And that's our only lineup change tonight.

Q. Going back to Burkett...was it a close decision between him and Pedro to start Game 4?

GRADY LITTLE: It was a close decision until the fact became known that we needed to win three. And right now we need to win a game that Derek Lowe starts, we need to win a game that John Burkett starts and Pedro starts. Before that situation came up, there was some question there what we would do, what Pedro would be able to do. Right now we know what we have to be able to do, and that's it.

Q. So physically Pedro could have gone if he had to?


Q. Talk about what role the catcher plays to help Burkett.

GRADY LITTLE: That situation there is kind of hard to explain. In my years I spent with the Atlanta Braves, I saw one of their key starters over there, Tom Glavine, have the same situation in the first inning, and everyone knows the quality of pitcher he was. They are so tough to explain. If we could, we would do something to prevent it. Our catcher and our pitcher working together, they help each other as much as they can, and that's the key to the success. That's why they're able to get through a struggle in the first inning and come back with five or six shutout innings. That's the whole key.

Q. With Nomar batting third again, would you explain what you think is the biggest impact between him batting second or third?

GRADY LITTLE: I didn't mention that as a change a while ago. He's hitting second tonight, and Billy Mueller hitting third. The reason for that being we're putting a lot more on the other team's dugout as far as match-ups that we have with their particular pitchers, against our particular hitters. And we feel like that's working in our favor to this point as much as it can. And we'll continue to do that.

Q. Does Burkett kind of embody the resiliency of this team? He struggled early in the year and came back.

GRADY LITTLE: I would say so. He's a perfect example of that. He felt, and probably a lot more people felt, he had his back to the wall there early in May. He had a lot on him every single start going through the rest of the season and this guy stood up to it. He handled it well, a true professional, as a veteran player would, and he's meant a lot to this team.

Q. With the chance now to reflect back on the first two games, what is it about the A's that have given you so much trouble?

GRADY LITTLE: A baseball game is a game of mistakes. To this point in this series they have made none. That's been the difference.

End of FastScripts...

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