October 10, 2002
ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI: Game Two
Q. Is there such a thing as momentum, or do we make that up?
TONY LaRUSSA: I think it's more of a thing of momentum during the game. As far as game-to-game, starting pitcher really dictates a lot of how it starts and whether you have it or don't have it.
Q. Would you comment on being fined, and the non-active players not being allowed on the bench?
TONY LaRUSSA: Well, I think the decision to keep the guys that were not eligible -- they were told they could not participate. They can't yell and scream in the dugout at the umpire. Everybody broke the rules and it's a good -- it makes sense. They went out there, they did something wrong and they got punished. I think Lofton should pay the fines for both Dusty and myself.
Q. Could you tell us how much the fines are?
TONY LaRUSSA: It's not even important. He can afford it. (Laughter.)
Q. Would you discuss why Chuck Finley in Game 3 and your impressions of Ortiz?
TONY LaRUSSA: We just felt like our rotation was better balanced if we would split up Matt and Chuck with Woody and Andy. Chuck is really -- he's had a lot of tremendous experience in these situations and he's pitched well at home, pitched well on the road in Arizona and other places. We just thought it balanced us out better. Ortiz, watched him ever since he came in the League, what, three or four years ago. He's really a talented young pitcher who has gotten experience quickly. They gave him a couple of really big assignments and he handled them terrific. This guy, he will be a handful on Saturday.
Q. Bob Watson said the same rules apply during the post-season as during the regular season. Is there any concern on the part of the managers that some of the players get suspended?
TONY LaRUSSA: I think Bob is right, you play each other during the season, sparks fly -- you play games now, what's the difference? Clubs are trying to beat each other. It's always the same. The other club sees inside pitches with a purpose, and we know they are not and when they throw the ball inside at us, we think they are doing it on purpose and they know they are not. You just take your own perspective. I think, you know, play the games, and you get a lot more attention, there are a lot more people watching now and everything is magnified. Hopefully, what usually happens when you have a difference of opinion like yesterday, you play the game the next day and turn the page. That's what I think is going to happen the rest of this series.
Q. Would you talk about Steve Kline's transformation as a lefty specialist and the workload he has been doing for you?
TONY LaRUSSA: That really happened with Felipe in Montreal. Just watched how they used him and he used him however they needed him at times, I think when Ugueth Urbina was hurt as a closer and he had great experience when we got him. He has pitches that he can work against a right-hander and he's obviously a little funky against left-handers. He's got that kind of arm where he can work a lot and he has that attitude where he comes to the park, he wants to compete that day. He has got a lot of things going for him, whenever you try to win a game.
Q. There seemed to be a suggestion that maybe Lofton had irritated you in the past. Is that true?
TONY LaRUSSA: No, not personally. We went against him for years. I'm a fan of baseball and I watch games. There's a category of guys, not that big a category of guys, but he's one of those guys that makes a big to-do about the ball inside and you will never find a better example than yesterday. The ball was not that far inside and wasn't that far up, and to do what he did and spark that kind of controversy or incident on the field, is absolutely inexcusable. I mean, I had three calls today from guys in baseball that I know that said, it happened to us and what you said was right. It's just a shame. Normally, I tell you, you can check my record. I bet you rarely ever hear me talk about the opponent's players. Never. Hardly ever. I concentrate on the team that I'm with. But this was pretty flagrant and he's done it before. It's irritating, even if nothing happened on the field, it's irritating when a guy tries to take the inside pitch and make it something that works against him. You know what usually happens, guys that make it that obvious get pitched inside more than the guys that deal with it.
Q. You obviously are playing short-handed right now on the bench because of the way you kind of handled that and the pitching staff and you have to go to the bullpen early, do you handle it differently down 0-1 knowing you're short-handed or do you play it the same than if you are 1-0?
TONY LaRUSSA: Well, our attitude is -- yesterday was the seventh game of the World Series. That's how we were going to play it. We have an off-day and we have Woody going out there and we'll watch him closely. The short bench is a short bench. I think you just have to play it and you have to try to use good sense about where you use your four players, and the best thing that can happen is that Woody would get us into the second half of the game, because like yesterday when Matt goes out early and you have a chance to maybe hit for him in the fourth inning, that's probably the worst scenario.
Q. Any progress on Rolen, did he swing today?
TONY LaRUSSA: He has improved. He's doing more every day. But until you see him out on the field taking ground balls and swinging, then he is not going to be close, and he didn't do that today.
Q. Red Shany said in the old days when a guy hit a home run, the next time up he expected to be buzzed. Are those days so long gone that nobody can understand it?
TONY LaRUSSA: Yeah, it's unfortunate. There's so much celebrating now, and it's hitters, pitchers, all sports. I just think -- you know, I'll give you an honest comment -- I'll always be honest. But I didn't even see what Lofton did when the ball left the park. I put my head down and started walking around. I never saw what he did. I watched the replay. I didn't think it was anything that was extraordinary for a hitter. So, I know that somebody from the Giants side said, "well, we expected it because of that. It's part of the game nowadays." If that bothers you, you would be doing stuff every day because the guys are celebrating more and more. I didn't even see it. I tell you, Crudale was moving the ball around. There was no reason for that stuff.
Q. Can you remember when it started, pitchers going inside? It almost became en vogue for players to start taunting a pitcher after a pitch or yelling at a catcher. For generations it was never anything; just part of the game.
TONY LaRUSSA: That's a great question. I bet you if you really did your research, you could really narrow it down to like a two- or three-year period where all of a sudden, it started to be seen, seeing more and more of it. Off the top of my head, I don't know when it happened. Just the game has changed that way. I don't even make a judgment as to whether that's good or bad. That's just the way it is. You deal with it. I just think that the reality is, what I said before, and this is going to be true today, it's going to be true every time a game is played. If a ball is thrown inside -- like yesterday I made the comment that Renteria is hitting .500 against them and got drilled the first time by Rueter, he's Mr. Control. When I saw that, the thought crossed, you know, was there a message there. Well, there's no doubt that Dusty saw that as a ball, was trying to throw inside and missed. When everything else that happened in that game, including Lofton, you see it perfect from your side, you see it from their side, you can never reconcile. I should not say never, but maybe one time one of your guys takes a cheap shot and you're not responsible. Rarely is a manager going to say, I agree with the other side. It's just not how you see it. You're too prejudiced for your own club. I think what happens nowadays is that you understand how the game is played, and you just keep trying to win the game without doing something that you would not be proud of.
Q. Has the philosophy changed in the old days, pitchers stayed on the inside of the plate and now hitters dispute that?
TONY LaRUSSA: I still see a lot of pitchers that protect against that inside plate. It's no day at the beach to hit nowadays, either. The biggest thing I see and Dave Duncan and I talk about this a lot, you used to have more guys that were looking middle/in and the outside part of the plate belonged to the pitcher. There has been an evolution and I think Charlie Lau, I think at least part of the increased offense, where guys are now looking out over the plate and they are taking that outside corner away. So you almost have to do something here more than you used to. I still see guys that are willing to keep hitters honest. I just think sometimes hitters are so ingrained into looking out over, looking out over, they misunderstand a ball that's inside. It's a real fine line. There's a guy pitching inside to make a point; is he pitching inside to take a shot? How can you read minds? Just, when in doubt, I decide in favor of our club.
Q. Would you talk about Pujols ; are you still amazed at how much he's done at such a young age?
TONY LaRUSSA: Well, he's past the point of amazingness. It was amazing last year, and about the last two months, this is not just amazing any more; this is just he is what he is. We were concerned he would sit around all winter, people would pat him on the back -- but he came into spring training and worked harder than last year. I think he's an upper echelon guy with anybody else in baseball as far as being a clutch producer.
Q. When they gave you guys the fine, did they give you guys instructions about pitching inside to the point that you are going to have to be careful that your pitcher does not accidently get tossed because a pitch gets away?
TONY LaRUSSA: No, there was no instructions. But I did have a conversation with Bob Watson to make the point. It would have been a shame after the game was played yesterday -- what we should have been talking about was how we didn't do enough and how the Giants outplayed us and it got overshadowed by this stupid incident. That's really where it belongs. Just a flare-up and the only thing I talked about was whether Lofton would pay it or not.
End of FastScripts...