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October 9, 2002

Mike Scioscia


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Mike Scioscia, please.

Q. Mike, after you struggle against a pitcher like you had last night, then you know you're going to meet one that's somewhat similar, what can you do to help a team prepare for that?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: Well, I think we have to still stay within our game plan. Last night, we talked about Joe Mays, he had maybe a handful of mistakes the whole game, which was an incredibly well-pitched game. I think that Reed will be similar. He's absolutely a tough pitcher that can hit his spots as well as anybody in the league. I think we have to stay within our game and try to take what he's given us and put some more pressure on them with -- especially early in every inning, trying to get some guys on base to get -- put a little pressure on these guys. So there's nothing much we can change in our approach. Hopefully, we're going to get a few more pitches to hit tonight than we did last night and we can, you know, get a little more pressure out there offensively.

Q. How does the feel of everything change when you get home?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: Well, let's get through tonight, then we'll worry about getting home.

But I think you'd like to think wherever you're playing isn't going to make a difference. Whoever you're playing isn't going to make a difference as long as you're playing your game, but it's always nice to play in your own ballpark, definitely.

I think if you're going to get through this challenge, you have to bring your game and play at a very, very high level wherever you're playing, home or on the road. I don't think you can sit back and hope for any kind of home field advantage to pull you through. You have to come out here and play good baseball on a daily basis. That's what I know we're trying to accomplish, as the Twins are, too.

Q. Can you talk about putting pressure on the pitchers, how much tougher is it to put pressure on the pitchers when their control is as good as Mays' was last night or what you expect with Reed?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: They're tough. I thought they were in the count early and they were changing speeds. He pitched a heck of a game. If we can get on base, there are some things you can open up. Getting a pitcher to pitch out of the stretch a little more is something that I think, you know, can give us hopefully an advantage. We didn't have many opportunities at all, we didn't get any runner that was leading off an inning on base last night. So it's going to be tough to generate some offense, even if you try to manufacture stuff, it's virtually impossible that way. We need to, you know, hopefully we're getting pitches to hit. We're going to do a little more with them than we did last night. That's why you turn the page and move on.

Q. What makes Eckstein such a special leadoff guy? What was your initial reaction when you saw him visually, his size?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: I think Eck, first, he doesn't mind hitting deep in a count. He is really very, very good at putting the ball in play hard. So, I think you put all that together, and his ability to work counts, you know, make him a candidate to be a leadoff hitter. He's taken that position and run with it ever since probably half way through the season last year and all through the season this year. He's been hitting a very high pace, getting on base early, getting on base a lot. So, I think his make-up and the way he can make pitches work and his ability to hit also, which has made - maybe overlooked, this guy hit .290 for us, he's doing something right. You put all that package together, he's probably -- probably goes back to the classic type leadoff hitter that would work pitches and just really concentrate on getting on base. My first impression, you had asked me before, was spring training, we saw how hard this guy played, and we saw that he's a guy we wanted in there somewhere. It just took, you know, took a little working in the line-up to find out where he was going to fit in. Ended up being in shortstop, which was probably, you know, when I first saw him, the furthest thing that I ever thought was going to happen.

Q. Ramon Ortiz has struggled against the Twins in his career. He's struggled here in this building. What is he going to have to do tonight to come away with a victory?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: Well, I think he'll use his experience, hopefully, from a start against the Yankees to his advantage. You know, absolutely it's tough in any ballpark against any line-up when you're trying to get back into a zone after ball one, ball two. And especially against the Twins, who have, you know, a ton of very, very talented left-handed hitters. Ramon's going to have to work more in the count, use all his pitches, work ahead in the count and put hitters away. They're a tough group. He hasn't pitched with the consistency with this group as he has other groups, but I'm looking for him to really put it together, pitch the type of game that he has the capabilities to pitch.

Q. During the introductions last night and the ovations, it was clear the people here still remember your hitting coach from his days here in the mid '80s. How has Mickey transformed and made that transition from this persona he developed as a team clown and Major League flake into a sort of leader of men?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: Well, you know, as you peel those layers off of Mickey, of looking at him as a clown or a flake, underneath it is an incredible baseball mind and an incredible teacher. This guy has -- he's got a great sense of hitting and he knows how to teach hitting. I think when you put it together with his communication, with his personality, you know, he's very unassuming, he's approachable, I think the players feed off of his energy, he's an incredible hitting coach. I think he's shown it with, if you look at some of our guys and you see how they've advanced through their careers in the last three years or so, Mickey's had a direct impact on that. Sometimes you got to dig a little deeper from the surface of some people before you really see the, you know, the oyster inside of them. Mickey's got an oyster, no doubt about it.

Q. You talked about Eckstein in the leadoff spot, what he can do there. What about having Adam Kennedy in the number nine spot and backing them up as you get into the game, what kind of factor has that been for you?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: It's been a big factor for us all through our season. What Adam's done out of the number nine spot has been terrific. I think it set the stage for a lot of things we do as the line-up moves around to the top with Eckstein and Erstad coming up and continuing to set the table for guys like Timmy Salmon, Garret and Troy Glaus, guys that have been hitting in the middle of the line-up all year. So, we feel good at where our line-up is, we feel we can put pressure on teams every inning because I think every group of guys you look at, there's a group of either some power, situational guys, guys that will get on base. There always seems to be a good grouping there. The ability to pressure teams every inning is something we've brought to the ballpark, you know, on a consistent basis this year. And we did through the first series against the Yankees. It didn't, you know, manifest last night, but that's not to say it's not going to come back tonight and hopefully stay for the rest of the series.

Q. Under what circumstances might you use somebody, a starter, on three days' rest? Is that possible?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: I think it is possible. The dynamics of what our rotation is right now set up for this series, I think we'll have some decisions to make later. You know, I think some of our guys can come back on three days' rest. Right now, with our confidence in John Lackey we definitely want to go for these first four games and see where we are with Washburn going Game 3, Lackey Game 4. Then we can look and see what we might be looking at as, you know, as the series moves on and what our needs are. But we've already shown we can bring Jarrod back on three days' rest, Kevin Appier was ready to come back and pitch against the Yankees on Sunday if that game was necessary. He felt great after his start. I think you got to look at how guys come out of their starts and that will give you an indication, is it an option to bring them back on three days'. But we're going to look at it, absolutely.

End of FastScripts...

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