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October 11, 2002

Mike Scioscia


THE MODERATOR: First question for Mike Scioscia.

Q. I notice in the line-up Tim Salmon is batting third. Can you talk about the progress he's made?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: Well, Tim is at a point now that it's very encouraging from where he was a couple days ago. His leg is a full go. He feels very strong on it. He ran in pregame. He's such an important piece to our offensive continuity that it's good to have him in there. Especially if he can play the field, that allows us to get the right-handed bats that we want to get lined up against a very tough left-handed pitcher.

Q. Was there any thought to DHing him at all?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: We gave it a lot of thought about what would be better for Tim and the club. I think a hamstring is a different animal. It's not like a twisted ankle or a ball you fall off your foot. If you can't run, you're not risking probably any further injury by DHing. I think if he can go and feels good, and Tim feels good about playing in the outfield to keep it loose and going that route, I think that's the right way to go.

Q. There was some talk earlier in the week about possibly starting Appier in Game 4. I see you're going to go with Lackey. Can you talk about your decision to stick with Lackey?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: All along we knew we were going to have four starters going. I think as we move forward, John Lackey's been a big part of our rotation all year. Hopefully, he's going to step up -- I shouldn't say "step up," he's going to go out and give us the game that he's given us all year long. So, we're very, very comfortable and confident that John can do that. Then moving past John, having Appier and Ortiz and Washburn, being able to fold back in, we're going to have the pitching out there that we're confident is going to give us a chance to win.

Q. There's been a lot of talk about the crowds, both here and in Minnesota. Does that really have any real impact on the game or any influence on it?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: I think the atmosphere definitely, you can sense that it's different from any time you play maybe during the season or even if it's in a pennant race. The atmosphere is different. As far as the Xs and Os on the field and executing, the crowd will have minimal impact. I think if you're in a situation where crowd noise is hindering verbal communication, which it does, obviously, in the Metrodome and it will here if it's very, very loud, it's going to take some more for players to use their instincts more, especially on the defensive side. The crowd is great. It's a great atmosphere. When you're up there at the plate, or you're on the mound, you have to execute like any other time, whether no one is in the stands or 50,000 people are in the stands.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about how much Weber and Donnelly have meant to you this year, and also how their role is different now that Rodriguez has come on like he has?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: Yeah, we wouldn't be here without guys like Web and Brendan Donnelly stepping up. Early in the season, Web had met our club -- he had a tough spring training, met our club more in the middle to earlier innings, started throwing the ball the way he was capable, and moved back to the deeper part of our bullpen and just had a terrific year for us. Brendan Donnelly, when he first came up, struggled a little bit. He went back down. I think he regained his velocity, regained his confidence and came back up and has been incredible. Those guys have given us the depth we've needed in the setup role to get through a long season. They had an incredible year. Their roles haven't changed that much. All that depth helps us, especially with Francisco Rodriguez coming aboard, you mix in Scott Schoeneweis, it helps us to shorten games the way you have to in a Championship Series. That's going to be a big key to our success.

Q. Stepping outside the series for a minute, I just want to get your thoughts on Buck Showalter rejoining the league and becoming a new manager in your division?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: I think Buc's got -- he's got a track record for success. He definitely put the Diamondbacks in a position to do what they can do. I know the Yankees, he had a big input in getting a lot of those guys, that core unit, together. He's an incredibly diligent worker. This guy pays attention to detail. I think if he has the resources, I think he'll show that he'll put a winner together. That's going to obviously factor into the future of the American League West, the fact that Texas has a -- the talent over there is incredible. You put their team stepping up with the other three teams in the division, you can see what a challenge it will be.

Q. How unusual is it for a guy like Spiezio in the middle of his career to completely kind of change his identity and become a regular player?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: He's become a regular player because he's earned it through playing great baseball, and his production. He's worked as hard as anybody to reach this level of being an everyday player. I think what's unusual about Spiez is not so much him stepping up and earning a job and winning a job, is the fact that he did it from improving what was maybe a softer part of his game and hitting from the right side, about 180 degrees than you would maybe expect a player to do. Especially a guy that's played for so long and to be able to change his swing and become as productive as he is right-handed, it's been incredible. So, I think that's a surprising thing about Spiez, is really swinging the bat from the right side of the plate. And he went from a guy that it was a weaker side to a guy that's really, against left-handed pitching, is one of the most productive hitters in our league.

Q. The official score made a change from Game 2, now Spiezio has been credited with stealing home. Does that mean he gets the green light at all times now?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: We're not going to go that far (laughing). I think if you look at Spiez's record, obviously, there are times when we've put him in motion to try to create some stuff. I thought he did a great job reading that play, obviously. Although A.J. dropped the ball at the plate, Spiez's timing forced the action a little bit and made it a tough play. He's an aggressive base runner, although he's not the fastest of foot, his instincts and his desire, he produced a lot of runs for us by being aggressive. He went first to third well this year. He did a lot of things on the base pads that our whole line-up executed and that was an important part of our consistent offense we had this year. No, he doesn't have a green light, to answer your question.

Q. What is it about John that got him to not only stick but excel at this level, and was there anything that kind of pleasantly surprised you?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: When you're 6'5 and bigger than me and stronger than me, he kind of wrote his own ticket. I think John demonstrated throughout his Minor League career the make-up necessary for a pitcher to come up here and have the success that his talent might dictate he could have. He's going to go after guys, he's going to make his pitches. He understands it's not always going to fall in for him the way you draw it up, but it doesn't back him up from what he knows he needs to do out there on the mound. That's why he's been successful, pitched a lot of big games for us down the stretch. He's going to go out and pitch his game for us tomorrow and that's why we have the confidence he's going to go out and do a job for us.

End of FastScripts�.

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