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October 10, 2002

Ron Gardenhire


THE MODERATOR: First question, please.

Q. Jacque Jones hasn't been hitting the last four or five games. Is there a major concern? Would you think about moving him out of the line-up spot at all?

RON GARDENHIRE: None whatsoever. I don't worry about our starters. You go through periods where you don't hit. Good pitching can make you not hit. Jacque's going through a little phase. Some very tough-pitching left-handers, a couple right-handers that are pretty nasty. He's hit the ball. He's hitting some balls on the nose, just not getting any hits right now. I'm not worried about Jacque.

Q. How is his ankle?

RON GARDENHIRE: The one he sprained in Detroit is fine. I think he's doing okay on that. The one he fouled the ball off his foot, he says, no problems. He got it pretty good, but he's okay.

Q. You pride yourself on defensive excellence. There's been a couple errors during the playoffs and a couple plays that you should have made. How concerning is that to you?

RON GARDENHIRE: We know we don't like to give up extra outs. And missing the ball is not our forte. We have to catch the ball. Our pitchers throw it over and we have to catch it. We didn't do very well yesterday - not just the errors, just not getting to a few balls, which was tough. Not easy plays. But we make those plays. That's how we win baseball games. Yesterday, we didn't do it. That turns into a loss. That's pretty much the way it's been all year. We don't make the plays, we get beat. How concerning is it? We have a very good defensive baseball team and our guys pride themselves in it. Sure, you're always concerned when you make mistakes. But they're not out there trying to. They're out there trying really hard to catch the ball. So, I'm concerned, but then I'm not concerned because I believe these guys. They all can catch the ball.

Q. A couple questions. Number one, have you decided on your rightfielder?


Q. Tomorrow?

RON GARDENHIRE: I haven't. I haven't really given it a thought. Cuddyer's been out there. I was a little disappointed in the way he attacked a couple balls, whether he lost them in the ceiling or whatever, I thought he looked a little tentative. So I'm thinking about that one. I've got a couple other guys out there I know that need some playing time, too, and should get in there. I can go that way. I haven't really decided what I'm going to do yet. This kid's played very well for us during the course of the playoffs and hit the ball very well for us. But like I said, I wasn't happy with the tentativeness that he chased those balls with, but they weren't easy plays either. When Mr. Glaus hits a ball, he's a pull hitter. When he hits the ball down the rightfield line off the baggy in the corner, wow, I don't know if he should have made that play or not. That was pretty ugly. That was a tough play off the corner. I wasn't happy with the way he attacked them. I'm worried about that a little bit.

Q. Second question, would you talk about Matthew LeCroy, and what he's given to you guys when he's been up here, and how he matches up against Washburn tomorrow.

RON GARDENHIRE: Well, Matthew's gonna swing, we know that. He's another one of these guys, comes up, got a big bat. He'll try to put some charge into the baseball. You like to see that, he's a DH, and he gets up there hacking. We used him against some tough lefties, he's got some hits. I'm sure he'll be out there hacking tomorrow. That's what we're after. As you know, we swing, we get after the ball and we try real hard. We hit the ball good yesterday, just didn't get enough big hits. Matthew is going to be in there tomorrow and he'll be swinging.

Q. Remember when you invited second-guessing on your pitching (laughing)?


Q. Game 3, only because Radke has kind of, so far, has been kind of the best pitcher in the tournament. I was just wondering your thoughts, did you think about putting him there to be on regular rest for 7?

RON GARDENHIRE: We talked about it. What happens is, we said all along, we don't like to back Reed and Radke together. We've done that all year. We don't put those two together because they're very similar in pitching, so we like to mix up in between them. Milton threw very well. If we had done that, then we're changing them up, Milton is going to end up going on seven days and Radke backs him. You know what? You start screwing around with your pitching staff, in my opinion, you start getting in people's heads and shows that you don't have any faith in Milton, in my opinion, if I had done that. And I have all the faith in the world in Eric Milton. He's a great pitcher. He's been great for this organization. He's pitched very well here in Anaheim. We'll take our chances with him and then Radke following him up. That's just the way we're going to go, my pitching coach, myself, my staff. We have a lot of confidence in every pitcher we put out there.

Q. Can you talk about what you remember from Milton's no-hitter in '99, specifically the atmosphere. Pretty small crowd, early -morning game.

RON GARDENHIRE: I think it was an 11 o'clock game, Gopher football that night. We were not very close to the top of the division. But Eric Milton, he -- all year long, he uplifted us that year. He was one of the big bright spots of that baseball team. And it was a pretty special moment for our baseball team. It was very, very exciting, and a time that, you know, you're just trying to get through the season without anybody getting killed. That was a great moment for our baseball and team and Eric Milton. Pretty special .

Q. You got Milton the year before, in '98, you traded an All-Star veteran player in Knoblauch for a bunch unproven guys. Do you remember watershed moments with Milton and Guzman where you realized, "Okay, we got guys who can play here."

RON GARDENHIRE: Well, you know, you make a trade with the Yankees, you get rid of a player that was very good for us, he was there through a World Championship, Knoblauch was, and did some good things with us. He wanted out. So, when you move a guy like him, you want to make sure you get something in turn. We had Buchanan, Milton and Guzman. You look back at the effects it's had in our organization, it's pretty good. Guzman is as good a shortstop as we've had here in a long, long time, since Greg Gagne. Eric Milton, a big, solid, young stud left-handed pitcher. They've both been All-Stars. It was tough to see Knobby go for myself because I managed him in the Minor Leagues and we had been close. On the flip side of it, our organization was changing and we got some players back in return that we thought we were going to be able to build around, and that's what happened here. We've done some pretty good things with a few trades and got some good people. These guys have been All-Stars.

Q. What's the difference between getting a team pumped for a series versus a regular game?

RON GARDENHIRE: Well, of course the press, all the surroundings around a playoff series is massive - unless you're in New York. In New York, it's an everyday thing. We see that all the time. But in Minnesota, we normally have our few little beat guys that come in and have a good time and then we walk away. But this is massive. I mean, it's -- everything's on you. Everything's focused on you. And you honestly end up having to calm players down rather than pump them up. They don't need to get pumped up for the playoffs, you have to calm them down and get them into a mode where, just play the game, have some fun and treat it like a regular season. That's not always easy. The emotion thing comes out. You can see guys get flustered during the course of the game if something doesn't go their way. It's a calming effect more so than anything else. Sometimes I'm good at that, sometimes I'm not.

Q. Do you believe that you and your team cherish the role of being an underdog created by the whole contraction issue?

RON GARDENHIRE: Cherish the role of an underdog... Good question. I think that this team has been motivated from winter, when the contraction issue came out. When we got to spring training, I don't think we really needed any motivation from being underdogs. We were together as a baseball team and we had a goal in mind and that was getting back to a pennant race in September and proving to people that we could play because there was a lot of people that said we couldn't play, that we just had a good year, a decent year. So, that's been our motivation all year. The underdog thing, that's something that other people put on us. You can use that as motivation. "Hey, they don't think we should be here, let's go get them." We do. You'll take the chalkboard talk any time you can get it and I'll take advantage of every opportunity I have to throw something out there that the guys might grab onto and run with. But for the most part, these guys are here having a good time, we're doing something that hasn't been done for the Minnesota fans in a long time. We're just trying to have a good time and play. My goal as the manager is to make sure I don't trip them and let them have a good time and play.

Q. Would you have any reservations going with Rick Reed in a Game 6 in this series?

RON GARDENHIRE: Absolutely not. Rick Reed, I really thought -- he should have given up two runs yesterday. He got fly balls like he normally does. We just didn't catch the ball. Rick Reed's fine. He'll want the ball, believe me. He'll want that ball. He's a big-game pitcher, I've said it all along. I thought he was fine yesterday. Made a couple of mistakes. We just didn't catch the ball for him. Before the playoffs start, I was told by everybody, most of you sitting right out there, that Rick Reed should be our number one pitcher. Now people are worried that he shouldn't pitch in Game 6. That kind of flusters me a little bit. Rick Reed's a very good pitcher, has been very good for this baseball team. Believe me, I have all the faith in the world in all my pitchers. If we go there to number 6, he'll be the pitcher.

Q. Does it seem funny to you that two weeks ago you were worried about Eric Milton's knee and now he can not only pitch Game 4, but possibly a Game 7? And also could you clarify your comment about little beat writers.

RON GARDENHIRE: Oh, big beat -- see, now, you're getting on LaVelle about being a big beat writer. That's just the skinny guy getting on LaVelle, that's wrong. Eric Milton, like I said, the one thing we were considered about with Milty was his knee. It was disappointing the night in Detroit, where he threw two innings, and got rained out. We were looking for him to press on. Then he came back the next time and did what we thought and got better. He assured us that his knee was fine. When we saw him out running sprints in the outfield before the first game of the playoffs - he hadn't done that since he hurt his knee - that told me he was fine. You know what, he's ready to go. Eric Milton is, like I said, he's been one of our studs also and All-Star last year. We feel very comfortable with him.

Q. You have struggled offensively against left-handed pitchers this year. You face a good one obviously tomorrow night. What do you do to combat that? You start more righties? What happens?

RON GARDENHIRE: We got some hits off Mulder. Come on. You know what, I've said all along, left-handed pitching in this league, they're pretty good. A lot of teams struggle off of the left-handed pitchers, the Zitos, the Mulders, the Buehrles, those guys are unbelievable, Wells, you can go on, Pettitte. Those guys are nasty. It's not like too many teams have done very well off those teams. So throwing us out there and saying we struggled, yeah, we have the left-handed hitting line-up which makes it a little tougher for us. You have to take your chances. We're going to go out there tomorrow and we've seen Mr. Washburn plenty of times. We know he's going to come at you. There's a guy that throws right around 90 miles an hour, just keeps pumping those fastballs and has the heart of a lion. We know we're going to have to be good and we're going to have to get after him as best we can. That's the way this team has played all year. To struggle against left-handers, that's just a little more incentive for our baseball team to get after.

Q. Any line-up changes?

RON GARDENHIRE: Any line-up changes, that's a secret. That's my secret weapon for tomorrow.

Q. All season a lot of reporters have been on Jacque's case about the lefty versus lefty thing. Knowing his personality like you do, do you think he can use that as motivation to prove us wrong?

RON GARDENHIRE: You said one of us, now you're saying "us" (laughing). Jacque Jones is fine. Jacque Jones is my leftfielder. We started putting him out there consistently every day against some of the toughest lefties in the league and he's been doing fine. He hasn't got a hit in this series, but he's been banging the ball around. There a few other guys that - if you look at numbers - that haven't exactly killed the ball in this series from both teams. You just have to have faith in your line-up and what's gotten you here. I have faith in these guys. Jacque Jones can start off the ball game tomorrow with a home run, and then your little dot com stuff is going to go another way, you know what I mean (laughter). So I'm staying with Jacque Jones. He's my guy. He's been my guy, and he will be my guy.

Q. I don't doubt that. I'm just saying, knowing the way you know him, does he get motivated or mad about the comments people make about him hitting against lefties? Does he use that as motivation?

RON GARDENHIRE: I understand that, but Jacque's not in my pocket so I don't know. You have to ask Jacque those questions, if he gets mad about those things. I can't answer for Jacque Jones. I will answer that I will have Jacque Jones in that line-up, and we will live with him. He will be my leftfielder because I really think the guy can play. He's played very, very well for us. He hit .300. That's against lefties and righties.

Q. Could you just address the difference between the bullpens. With Angels, you've got Rodriguez and Percival who really throw that just blazing heat; and Guardado and Hawkins, the difference between that? How are you going to work with that?

RON GARDENHIRE: Well, it's two very good bullpens. They've proven themselves all year long. Percival looked really mad out there yesterday. Our guys don't ever look that mad. He looked mad. He throws very good. We've always known him. We've seen him, I've seen him forever it seems like. When you end the game with a guy like that, that's pretty good. But we got Eddie. Every day, Eddie goes out there. He's going to throw the ball over the plate. We know Hawk's gonna set him up, Ramero's going to set him up. If we get to those situations, we feel just as comfortable as the Anaheim Angels do in their situation going to their bullpen. We think we can shut the door on people too. We've done it all year. I have all the confidence in the world in these guys. I'm sure they do too. They've got some very qualified pitchers over there that have proven themselves all year. I think that's why both teams are here, because of very solid bullpens.

End of FastScripts...

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