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October 9, 2002

Tony La Russa


Q. Why did you put Scott Rolen on your roster? I don't think you would have put him on if you didn't think he was ready to play until a week from now.

TONY LA RUSSA: Well, as late as Saturday, Sunday, I was telling Wilson Delgado to get ready. But there's a couple, three things that happened. One, Monday -- I was here Sunday when he got treatment and he could not raise his arm. Monday he could raise it to here; yesterday he got it up to here. So the fact that he was improving that much, got us optimistic that over a seven-game series, there's a chance he would be ready. More importantly, Dr. George Paletta, assured us it's the kind of injury that you deal with the pain, but you don't run the risk of it becoming something permanent or chronic or injuring it worse than it is. So that means as he gets better and better, at some point, I'm sure he'll go out there before the soreness is 100% gone. Last but not least, since there's a chance that he could play sometime in the middle of this series -- I mean, he's part of how our club, became special. Those first two things were there; after that, it was pretty easy to put him on -- or keep him on, actually.

Q. How will it be playing with four guys on your bench for a few games impact your strategy?

TONY LA RUSSA: A lot of it depends on the game. I mean, the key is -- the most important thing; if your starting pitcher gets you into the last third of the game, four is probably enough and you don't go extra innings. Who knows how the game is going to go. I think it happens to managers, especially in the National League, a lot during the season, where a guy could be sore and he's not available. But when you play a short series like this, we hope it doesn't get -- four is four. We have four moves to make. Actually, if we're careful, I could use one of our pitchers to hit. We obviously feel that it's worth what we're -- we're definitely going to play with four the next two days. And maybe over the weekend, Scott will be available to do something.

Q. Since Woody was so sharp the two times he came off the DL, are you more confident with him coming back after not pitching for a while?

TONY LA RUSSA: Well, that's absolutely the reason that he's getting the ball tomorrow. I mean, we were -- I would not say shocked because we have so much confidence in him. The first time he came back, we talked about a rehab start and he was open to it and we saw him throw a simulated game and he was just painting. What more does he have to do? So we brought him right in there against the Cubs and he pitched great. Next time, he did the same thing after being off for a while, came back and pitched great. So with those two experiences and what we saw Sunday, we think he'll come out and pitch tomorrow. Believe me, it's not that he's not pitched in three weeks, but when you have that history, it's up to us to have that shot to take.

Q. Did the versatility of Marrero and Pujols figure into going with just four guys?

TONY LA RUSSA: It's a factor. We have Cairo's versatility, Perez's versatility, Kerry Robinson can play three outfield positions. So it's a factor. The most important thing is that I think we all would have had a bigger regret if sometime this weekend Scott Rolen is ready to go and he's off the list. We didn't think it would be worth the risk.

Q. Could you discuss your lineup positions today with Cairo at third?

TONY LA RUSSA: Well, left-handed starter, even though Kirk Rueter is tough on our lefties and righties both. I think Eli should play right field and he and J.D. have been alternating there a little bit. The last couple days, I think he should play third. The other way would be maybe to play Eddie in the outfield and play Pujols at third, which I thought about, because Miguel Cairo, I mean, I think he'll do a good job for us today. But he's really been a factor off our bench and that's something that we lose when he starts the game.

Q. Would you talk about the choice of Garrett over Luther in your bullpen?

TONY LA RUSSA: Well, I just talked to Luther about it, and it's purely -- even though we have -- obviously, have confidence that Woody can come out there tomorrow and pitch well, be healthy, pitch effectively, all that stuff. There is a chance that he could warm up and not go very far, or even get scratched. So we just thought we should protect ourselves with another starter like Simontacchi. I told him if it comes down to it, it's Woody at the end of the series and we're going on to the next one, we would revisit it. If we didn't have the issues with Woody, we would probably stay with Luther.

Q. Will you take any precautions with Woody as far as limiting pitch counts?

TONY LA RUSSA: I think we'll just watch him carefully. With Woody, you watch how he's throwing early, and when he's nice and strong -- when he starts to change, I'm sure we won't push him very far. If he got fatigued, that might be the start of getting sore again. We'll just be watching him to see where he changes.

Q. How about limiting his swings?

TONY LA RUSSA: Well, he's taken a few swings and feels all right. I remember one time he had that -- shortened up a little bit, choked up and almost got a hit. He puts the bat on the ball, he can shorten his swing and I still think he will be very effective. Not that Woody hits doubles in the gap, but I think he would be a problem for the other side. I think he is going to go out there, backing off his normal swing.

End of FastScripts...

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