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October 8, 2002

Mike Scioscia


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Mike Scioscia, please.

Q. You guys hit like nobody's business against the Yankees, we all know that. Any thoughts on how you sustain something like that, or does the break throw your timing off? I know coming into the playoffs, that period in Seattle and Oakland, you weren't hitting so well.

MIKE SCIOSCIA: Well, it's a challenge. It's a terrific pitching staff that we're faced with in this series. They have a great balance of lefty, righty in their pen. They have some starters that have stepped up and done a great job for them. I think the important thing for us is to bring our style of play into the game. You are not always going to have that success offensively we had last series, but, hopefully, we'll bring our style in the game, run the bases aggressively, that we're going to be able to put enough pressure to score the runs we'll need. It will be a challenge. They have a great pitching staff, no doubt about that.

Q. Have you solidified your rotation through Game 4?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: Yes. We're going to have Kevin Appier, Ramon Ortiz, Jarrod Washburn and John Lackey.

Q. You were talking about hitting again. Mickey was saying these guys are just a bunch of bad-ball hitters. They can basically hit anything, especially bad balls. Can you talk a little bit about that?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: I don't know if I'd go that far. I think our guys are -- I think one of the reasons for our success is we've been selective. We've expended our zone at times and had success, but we've been selective. But we're not sitting there trying to sit and take a walk. I think when guys are aggressive when the ball's in their zone, then that's what hitting's about. I think our guys have done a great job of that. Some guys have hit some pitches that are maybe a little bit out of the zone, but for the most part, I think we were patient enough to get good pitches to hit and we were able to hit them hard. Sure Mickey wasn't talking about the Twins (smiling)?

Q. You guys will be facing Rick Reed tomorrow. Just talk a little bit about facing him, what are going to be some key things for your team against him?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: Rick's always been tough on us. He's a pitcher who has an incredible feel out there on the mound. He has very, very good command, changes speed well. He's not afraid to challenge guys. So, as you said, you know, I think every day presents a new challenge as far as starting pitching. And for our offense to do what is needed, we have to really bring those things we've been doing all year into a game. And Rick Reed has -- he does a great job pitching ahead in counts, putting guys away. He's a tough pitcher.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about David Eckstein? Seems like he's always going 100 miles an hour, whether it's a slow roll, back to the mound, fly ball to centerfield.

MIKE SCIOSCIA: Eckstein's incredible. To really appreciate him, you have to see him every day. Some guys that might be seeing him now might think, "That's just playoff adrenaline," or whatever. When we were playing inner-squad games, this guy was playing at the same pace. I think that's how you can really measure David Eckstein. He knows how to play this game one way and one way only and you're going to see it. We saw it all year, we saw it in the first series, we'll see it again in this series. That's why he's incredible. He's our catalyst. We wouldn't be here answering these questions if David wasn't doing his part. He certainly has this year.

Q. Have you talked at all with Ramon, calmed him down? What did you say to him after his start last week?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: I think Ramon will learn from the experience of his last start. I think he was a little too pumped up. He's -- when he can get those emotions under control and execute pitches, he's one of the top pitchers in our league. He's gonna have to find a way to do that. We can give him on input, prepare him, but I think experience is the best teacher. And certainly, as he's improved from day one when he came up to the Major Leagues three or four years ago to where he is now, hopefully, as he gets playoff experience and is pitching in games where everything is a little more magnified, we'll see that same improvement. I look for a much better outing from Ramon, you know, tomorrow night.

Q. You talked about how important David has been to your team. Can you remember what you thought when you first saw him?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: We have about a half hour? I don't know if we have that much time (smiling). Give you, I guess in a nutshell, when we first saw David, we had some reports that this guy was a scrappy little player, if you can find a position for him and you can play him, he's gonna help you win. Well, it was a challenge at first to find a position. We had Adam Kennedy coming back at second base, we had, you know, Benji Gil was playing shortstop for us, Gary DiSarcina was actually trying to rehab from an injury, was still playing. We had some guys up the middle that were doing the job. I think when Adam Kennedy got hit by a pitch and broke his hand in spring training, that cracked the door open for David and he hasn't looked back. Once he got on our club, we knew there was no way that we were going to move him off it. You could see he was just such a big part. Alfredo Griffin talked me into the fact that he might be able to play shortstop, and I remember looking, when Alfredo told me, I looked at him and said, "You are kidding me." Alfredo believed in him. From the first game he played shortstop for us, early last year, in -- it was like April or May last year -- he hasn't looked back. He's been incredible.

Q. With the Giants winning last night, it's four teams in the playoffs that aren't in the top eight in payroll in a long time. Do you think that's good for baseball, that baseball needed that?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: I think it's great for baseball, but I think that also, I think it shows that if you use your resources wisely, you can build a team that can contend. We've certainly done it. The Twins have done it. I think the challenge, when you have teams I think that are talented at the core, as we are and the Twins are, is not so much keeping them together for one year or building them, it's keeping them together for a period of time so you hope they can, you know, you can really reap the fruits of the team. And, you know, that's being perennial contenders. I think that's the challenge as we move forward with our club and with Minnesota, is certainly the ability to keep two very talented clubs together. You hope you can see that come to pass, but, you know, you might be talking three or four years from now about these two clubs here being in the higher payroll because these players are so incredibly talented and they've accomplished so much that, you know, there's gonna be a market there that's going to raise your salary structure.

Q. Talk a little bit about how well your platoon system has worked this year, particularly with your right-handed hitters?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: We have really two positions that we've rotated lefty and righty, that's at our DH spot and second base. That's been really I think two of our most productive spots. If you look at what Benji Gil and Adam Kennedy have done at second base, they've been incredible both on the defensive side and offensively. If you look at Brad Fullmer and Shawn Wooten, they've almost become a two-headed monster. These guys don't miss a beat, wherever you put them in the line-up against whatever pitchers they're matching up against. They get their at-bats, their cuts, have done a great job. They've both been very, very productive. Looking at last year, we really needed to step up some of our offensive production, if you look at how we ended up last year and where we were, particularly against left-handed pitching, what Benji Gil and Shawn Wooten have brought have been incredible. Really, those two guys only came back midway through the season because of injuries. It's almost a situation where you don't really know what you have until it's gone. When we didn't have those guys, you know, we had some struggles early in the season. When they came back, it really added to our cohesive offensive line-up. Those two positions platooning have been terrific. You know, I think all four players can hit against any pitching, but that's part of the sacrifices of a winning club, for us to get the matchups, you know, Adam and Brad have taken a back seat against a lot of lefties and vice versa with the other guys.

End of FastScripts...

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