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October 9, 2002

Ron Gardenhire


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. For a thousand years in baseball, the first and second hitters are supposed to get on, set the table. The four hitter's, an RBI machine. All those good things. How is this working? Those things don't apply to your club really.

RON GARDENHIRE: We try to keep it as a total team effort. You know, I've always looked at the line-up as after the first time through it, it's not the same anymore. So, Jacque Jones leads off one time a game, after that, he just hits somewhere else in the line-up. We just try to play and get after it as best we can. Let the chips fall where they fall. We're a younger team. We've got some guys still learning to hit in RBI situations, so it's not always pretty. We try to manufacture runs, we try to do the little things as best we can. That doesn't always work out. More so than anything else, we just try and play and have some fun and stay after the game.

Q. Is the leadoff hitter less important in a DH league?

RON GARDENHIRE: The leadoff hitter less important in a DH league? I would imagine so. I mean, you get in the National League, you've got the hit -- pitcher hitting down there, a lot of bunt situations. You have to play the game a little different over here. Over here, you know, you got your nine guys whacking away. Withhout a pitcher in the line-up. So the strategy's a little different. It's basically, "Let it fly," in this league and that's what we try to do. Jacque typifies that. He lets it fly.

Q. Why do you think your team's had so much success against Ramon Ortiz in the Metrodome?

RON GARDENHIRE: If I had that answer, boy, we'd do good again tonight. I don't have that answer. You just have to face the guy and we'll see what happens tonight. He's a great pitcher, won some baseball games for them. He's very emotional out on the mound. He gets on a roll, he can stop anybody. I think we have to stay after him. We're a contact type team. That probably helps the fact against him. We like to beat the ball around and run. Hopefully, that will work out for us tonight.

Q. What makes Weber such a tough pitcher to hit off of?

RON GARDENHIRE: His glasses (laughter). Glasses are really tough. We won't talk about that nasty sinker, slider, we'll talk about those glasses he wears. I don't know. He's nasty. I mean, he's not just tough on our baseball team, he's tough on everybody. That double hitch that he does out there, I mean, I don't know if, you know, as a little kid you intimidated and emulated players growing up, Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle. This guy's going to have people doing him for a long time (laughter). Our players do it right now, they love to go out there and go (imitating style). That's pretty special. Maybe they're watching that instead of his pitches, I don't know. He's fun to watch, he's got great stuff. That's why he gets people out. But we like those glasses a lot.

Q. At this stage, role players come in to play, have roles, can you talk about Matt LeCroy, where he might fit in in a series like this?

RON GARDENHIRE: We've used Matt as our DH, a little bit at first base, he's our third catcher on this ballclub. He's gonna be my DH Friday against Washburn, for sure. He'll be out there. We tried to get him in a situation where he gets swings in late in the game. Some of the games where they brought in left-handers, I've pinch hit him and used him in those situations. He'll swing the bat. Not afraid to let it fly. He has a chance to hurt you if you make a bad pitch. Like I said, he's a backup catcher and he can also play some at first.

Q. Did you just turn the page, or did you watch a little of Mays on videotape to believe your eyes, after as good as he threw it?

RON GARDENHIRE: I was real happy. I went home and watched all the different sports channels and checked him out. That was fun. I mean, you know, you like to see good things. That was a nice performance by our whole baseball team. We caught the ball very well. But Joe certainly set the tone, getting the first out, like he does. We call that "half way" in Minnesota, we had a guy set that tone long time ago. You get the first out in an inning, I know there's only three, but we still call that "half way." Figure that one out for yourselves.

Q. All year you guys were -- had the reputation of hackers, the last few games, the last couple in Oakland, the first one last night, your team seems to be taking a lot more pitches now than they did during the season. Is that an approach you took coming into the postseason?

RON GARDENHIRE: Well, we talked about trying to be a little more patient, we've talked about that all year. It's just taken all the way to October to finally actually have some of that. We did it with Oakland, you know, the guys coming back on the three days' rest, we talked about making him make pitches. Guzman's taking pitches, that's unbelievable. A.J.'s taking pitches. It's all about having good at-bats. Our guys are concentrating and trying to put together quality at-bats and make the ball go over the plate. Right now, we've had some good at-bats, haven't had a lot of hits. I think we had six last night. It's not like we're killing the baseball, but we are having some better at-bats and making people work a little bit.

Q. If we could jump ahead to Friday and talk about the Milton matchup with Washburn and going to Anaheim.

RON GARDENHIRE: Jumping ahead till Friday? (Whistling)... Tough to do in this business. Gonna be fun. We know Washburn is as good a lefty as you're going to get. He's very tough. Milton threw very well in his outing in the playoffs. We always like our chances when he's on the mound. An exciting baseball game, two power left-handers that come right at you, they'll both come at you with their pitches. It ought to be a pretty good matchup. We're looking forward to it - after tonight's game.

Q. As a coach, did you ever see the real Reed last year? Is this a different guy, once he got rolling this year, than anything you saw after he came over from the Mets?

RON GARDENHIRE: I thought we saw a little bit of it last year. We knew he went right at hitters. He was learning the league, learning the hitters last year when he came over. That's tough to do late in the season when you're in a pennant race trying to figure out the league and learn the hitters all over again. That was hard to do. This year, as it's went along here, you can see him getting more comfortable with our catchers, then also knowing the league a little better and knowing the hitters. He's been pretty good. Since All-Star break, he's been really good.

End of FastScripts...

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