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October 10, 2002

Mike Scioscia


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Mike Scioscia, please.

Q. What is the status of Tim Salmon for tomorrow and the rest of the series?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: Well, Tim's a lot better than I think any of us envisioned today. That's a good sign that, obviously, if it was a strain, it was very, very mild. And if it -- if anything, maybe it was a little cramping he was feeling. So, we're optimistic about tomorrow, but we'll look at him tomorrow to see how he comes out of it. If he can go out there without risking injury, then obviously he's going to play.

Q. I know you've been getting real good work from the bullpen. Would you like to get seven innings or so from the starter and take pressure off those guys?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: Any way we have to do it is going to be fine, but I think as we've talked about from the Yankees series to this series, one thing we really needed to do is have our starting pitchers pitch a little deeper and more -- and maintain their effectiveness in a game. We have to go to a lot of guys in the playoffs. If you go to your bullpen a lot in the playoffs, it brings some dimensions in as far as them facing a hitter time in and time out. Sometimes the advantage will flip-flop to a hitter a little bit. With the natural days off, obviously, I think we keep everybody fresh. We're going to piece it together if we have to. If we have a starter that is executing his pitches and pitching deep in the game, we'll go that route. I think we're deep enough in our bullpen to go any route we have to. Obviously, our preference is have our starters extending a little bit, pitching deeper than we have. We've only had one guy go through the seventh, that's Jarrod Washburn. They've been keeping us in games, that's important. We're getting it done. I think we'd like our guys to keep their effectiveness but pitch a little deeper into the game.

Q. When you took Salmon out the other day, did the score have anything to do with that? If it had been 0-0, would you have kept him in?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: It really didn't. What was important was Tim Salmon's health and what his needs were. I think you have to start there. If he was going to go out there a little bit tight and really not feeling he was risking injury, we would have kept him in the game. But as he came back, from talking to him, I could see he was concerned, which obviously made us concerned. And if we were down in that game, we would have made the same decision.

Q. In retrospect, as you look back at Ramon last night, obviously he was sharper than he was in New York early. Did he get careless? Did he just get tired? What was your view of that?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: No, none of those two. I think the Twins, as they're coming around to the third time facing him, made some adjustments. They made him work counts a little bit better. Ramon, he was sharp but he still isn't where we hope he is. He battled. He had to pitch back into counts a lot more than I think we had hoped last night, but he was able to do it. The double plays helped. He got some -- made some key pitches at some key times to some hitters that definitely had an impact on that game. But I think, you know, Guzman led off, got a double, on a ball that was up, hit it hard. You know, Koskie adjusted and got a base hit. Those guys, it's a tough group. That's not like going through, you know, a stick of butter with a hot knife. Those guys are -- they're a talented offensive group. They pressure teams a lot like we do. They work counts and they got a good rally going in the sixth inning. Fortunately, we were able to hold it down and keep the lead.

Q. Mike, what makes you guys so tough playing here at home? You have one of the best records in the league this year.

MIKE SCIOSCIA: Well, our, you know -- I think there's a couple things. I think we've had a terrific season, regular season. We've concentrated on just bringing our game to the ballpark, wherever it is - home, road, anywhere. When you go on the road, you're dealing with some things that some ballclubs are tailor made for a home ballpark. It presents a challenge when you go to play them. Sometimes that's what makes playing on the road tougher. We've had a terrific season at home. We've been able to bring our game here on a consistent basis and it paid off with a lot of wins. We obviously played well on the road, not as many wins. I think that's explainable in some other things maybe than saying, "We stepped it up at home and played better." I think we played very consistent baseball the whole year. Virtually every team is going to have a better record at home than they are on the road for some of the things we talked about.

Q. Three weeks into the season you guys were ten games out of first place. What was the catalyst that turned it around?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: I think we can point to a number of guys that were out of the line-up for the first 20 games, and them getting back in the line-up had such a positive effect not only on the talent of our club, but it had a spillover effect on the offensive chemistry of our club, which really fueled our turnaround. If you look at, you know, Darin Erstad, who missed seven or eight of those games with a concussion, Scott Spiezio was serving a suspension from spring training, as Troy Glaus was. We had Benji Gil and Shawn Wooten were injured. Troy Percival was on the disabled list. I think there were some things that happened in those 20 games that were very explainable why we were 6-14. I think the fact that we -- those guys got back in the line-up, everybody feeds off of everyone in any line-up. When you have a lot of guys out of the line-up or some guys not swinging the bat as well, Tim Salmon got off to a slow start, it's going to create natural holes in your line-up which are tough to fill. So, I think it was very explainable. That's why, when we talked about what our course of action was, it was saying, "Patience is what we need." These guys got back in the line-up, started winning and had a terrific season.

Q. Mike, you guys talked about so much over the last couple of days playing in The Dome, dealing with the bounces, turf, roof. What kind of transitions do you have to make to come back to playing on grass outside, normal baseball circumstances, I guess, to you guys?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: Well, I don't know if the transition is going to be as much as I think you'll see -- you'll see plays maybe evolve a little differently here when you're playing on grass, as far as the turf. You know, I think that at times, you know, that surface is so fast that you have to get in a different defensive configuration, maybe open up some holes for balls to drop in, as I think both teams had happen to them over the last couple games. Hopefully, that won't happen here, especially on our side, as we keep trying to play that consistent defensive baseball. I don't think you're going to see too much difference in our style, the way we go about doing things. But it is, obviously, a different game because these surfaces are like night and day.

Q. This is a two-part question for you. First of all, what are some of the challenges that Eric Milton presents? And then, are you inclined to go back to your right-handed hitting line-up with Gil and Wooten?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: Yeah, Gil and Wooten will be in the line-up tomorrow. As we talked about, when you get into pennant races and playoff bases, there's a challenge every night with a pitcher you're facing. It's no exception tomorrow. I think Milton's an incredible pitcher. I think the fact that, you know, at times when he's scuffled he's still been able to keep his team in the game and has come out of a rough spell to be throwing the ball very well right now. There's a big challenge ahead of us as we start to face some tough pitching, which starts tomorrow with Milton. He's always been tough on this group of guys. I'm sure he's going to go out there and pitch his game. Hopefully, we'll be getting some pitches to hit and put them in play hard and supporting what we hope is a good pitch game from Jarrod Washburn.

Q. You talked about -- talk about what your impression of Tim Salmon was before you got the job and what you learned about him.

MIKE SCIOSCIA: I think I always had a great respect for Tim Salmon as an outsider looking in. As you get into this position and see him on a day-to-day basis, it's just enhanced whatever great feelings I've had about Tim. You're going to be hard-pressed to find a more professional player, a player that has passion and pride in his job, works as hard at defense as he does at offense. Takes every part of this game to heart and I think that's why he's been an incredible player for a decade. I just think the world of him. I think, you know, we wouldn't be in this position without Tim Salmon and a lot of the pains he's gone through over the ten years of getting close and not making it, to finally busting through. I think, you know, I think that he's -- he feels as good as anybody about that, and we feel good for Tim. But his efforts are a major part of why we're here talking about it. He's persevered through a lot of tough times, a tremendous athlete, tremendous competitor. He's just a tremendous human being. When you get to see him on a daily basis, you really have an appreciation for that.

Q. You may have already touched on this, but how big was it to get that split in Minnesota? How confident do you feel with three straight home games?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: You know, after you lose the first one, it's always great to get a split. But I really think if we had come back here 0-2 or 2-0 or not coming back 1-1, our mission is still the same. Our day-to-day focus has to be evident in our play and the way that we bring the game to the park. You need four wins to, you know, to wrap this thing up. So, as our focus is going to be we're going to come out here, play a game tomorrow, play as hard as we can, hopefully come away with a win and we'll let you guys add them up. We're not going to look too far ahead. We're certainly not looking behind. We want to make sure we bring our play to a ballpark every day from here on out, as we have all year. We'll let you guys do the math.

End of FastScripts...

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