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October 10, 2002

Eric Milton


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Eric Milton, please.

Q. Whenever you pitch against the Angels, do you have some flashbacks of the no-hitter in '99? Can you talk about that? It's a strange atmosphere, being a late-season game, not too many fans there.

ERIC MILTON: Yeah, the no-hitter was a great thing, obviously, in my career. That's a thing of the past. The last thing I remember about the Angels was the last time I faced them wasn't very good. I got to do a lot better tomorrow night.

Q. Are you developing more of a cutter slider this year? Are you throwing that pitch more this season than you have in the past?

ERIC MILTON: No, I don't believe so. I believe I've worked on my curveball and changeup a lot and mixed them in a little bit more this year. I've always had the slider or the cutter, however you want to call it, for a couple years now. But, you know, I've tried and -- trying to perfect my off-speed pitches, all of them.

Q. What about the knee injury? Are you pitching any differently? Are you doing anything different with your knee since it's the push-off leg? Are you whipping it less? Is there anything you're doing to protect it or is it 100 percent?

ERIC MILTON: No, I think it's, you know, 100 percent. I felt great in my last two starts of the regular season and in the first start of the postseason. Everything felt good, and, you know, it's nice when you can go out there and not have to worry about something else.

Q. Here you are in the playoffs now. Your fifth year. The Yankees are not here anymore. I'm wondering, during your time in the Big Leagues here, have you ever wondered what it would have been like if this trade didn't happen? Have you always thought this was meant to be and you were content with the way things were going?

ERIC MILTON: Well, you know, I've always wanted to be here with these bunch of guys that I'm here with right now. I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity with Minnesota. They were, you know, very adamant about having me here and wanting me here. I appreciated that. You know, it was a great opportunity for me. I never looked back.

Q. When the Yankees lost last week, was there any disappointment? Were you looking forward to being able to pitch against them in the playoffs?

ERIC MILTON: No, not at all. I was worried about us and our team and getting to where we wanted to be, which is here, right now, and a chance to play in the World Series.

Q. The no-hitter, what did that do for your confidence at that point in your career and what impact did it have on this team as a whole, considering the year you had?

ERIC MILTON: Well, I don't think it was a very good year for us in general. It did a lot for my confidence. That was right after I had developed a slider, as Mel was mentioning. And, you know, it did a lot for my confidence. I had four pitches now in the arsenal. You know, I could go on from there and try and perfect them and use them. But it was big for myself.

Q. Can you talk a little about why you like pitching in this park so much? It looks like you have good numbers here. There's got to be something about this place you like?

ERIC MILTON: You know, I heard Brad Fullmer talking last night about Rick Reed and him seeing the ball well out of his hand. There's certain pitchers that hitters see the ball well out of. There's certain mounds, so to say, or pitching mounds around the Major Leagues that you like and feel comfortable with. And this is just one of them.

Q. Does the way the game is played change at all when you go from inside the Metrodome to outside, on to grass, in an outdoor park?

ERIC MILTON: I don't think so. Not for us. You know, the game's played on the field whether it's turf or grass. There's going to be two teams out there battling tomorrow night. Their fans here are going to be just as crazy as the fans in the Metrodome. I'm sure it's going to be loud and hectic. It's going to be a lot of fun.

Q. You had to pitch basically an elimination game on Saturday. That one you guys had to win. Tomorrow you don't have to win, but, obviously, is taking a 2-1 advantage a significant advantage for you guys?

ERIC MILTON: Well, I don't try to get into the numbers. 1-1, 2-1, we had our backs against the wall in the last series. I just didn't want it to be our last game of the year. I wanted us to go on and see what would happen in Game 5 and things worked out. Tomorrow night is not a must-win but we're going to go out and do everything we can to win it, as well as the Angels are. It's going to be a tough battle.

Q. Two-part question. What was your feeling after you had the knee injury? Were you thinking, "Oh, this could be it?" How serious did you think it could be? Two, after you came back, what was the hardest thing or most difficult adjustment to get back to where you were, the old Eric Milton?

ERIC MILTON: I think when we first had the injury, me and the pitching coach had talked. We were kind of glad it happened when it did. It could have happened later in the year, you know, that obviously wouldn't have been a good situation and I wouldn't be as healthy as I am right now. So, we kind of try to take some positive out of it. I just try and, you know, work with the rehab and get back as soon as I could so I could be ready for this time of the year right now. You know, that's about it.

Q. What was the biggest adjustment? What took the longest, what part of your game took the longest to get back?

ERIC MILTON: It was just a matter of it feeling well. You know, with the whipping action, so to say, with that leg, coming around and whipping it, you know, it didn't feel all that good after the surgery. But, you know, it took probably six weeks for it to finally feel better, and to get where I'm at right now.

Q. Did you learn anything new or different about the Angels the last two nights sitting in the dugout, watching their hitters?

ERIC MILTON: I just got to go out there and pitch my game. That's what I'm all about. I learned that a long time ago from Terry Steinbach, that's one thing he always used to tell me is, "Pitch your game." That's what I'm going to try to do.

Q. Just curious, this has to have emerged into a fun game more so recently than ever before. In the course of what you've gone through these last few games, what's been the most unique part of the experience for you?

ERIC MILTON: Well, it's just the intensity of every game, of every pitch. The 55,000 fans in the Metrodome hanging on every pitch from the first inning on. It's just intensity. It's adrenaline. That's what it's all about.

End of FastScripts...

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