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October 10, 2002

Tony La Russa


Q. What you expected from Schmidt and what he showed, did he surpass your expectations?

TONY LaRUSSA: I don't think so. Just because, you know, we saw him in Pittsburgh, we saw him twice this year. He's a huge talent and he's been pitching better and better. We really expected him to throw well. Let me ask you, which is better, excellent or outstanding?

Q. I would think excellent.

TONY LaRUSSA: Okay. He was excellent. Somebody is going to ask me about Woody and I thought Woody was outstanding, but Schmidt was excellent. We talked about it before the game. We knew we were in for a guy that has an exceptional arm; that has been making a lot of quality starts.

Q. Was Woody okay physically after his outing?

TONY LaRUSSA: Yeah, I think he was fine. It's incredible to me. I've been around a while, how a guy could pitch that well, having the routine that he's had, and it's the third time he's done it. Just a couple bullpens to come out there -- first home run, I thought Aurilia got on a really good pitch and then he hits a curveball for two runs. Woody was just outstanding. I can't figure out how he can be so good when he's pitching solidly. He's a huge competitor.

Q. From where you sat, was it a decent gamble with Drew on Lofton's arm?

TONY LaRUSSA: Oh, absolutely. We were all yelling, including myself, "Send him, send him." The way Schmidt is pitching, you have a chance to make a dent and tie the game. You had a great runner, he had to make a perfect throw. Vina is a good RBI guy. They just made the pitch, they made the play. But absolutely, that was the play, from our side.

Q. I think there were nine walks in 12 innings by Schmidt the last two outings. Was his control that much better or were your hitters too aggressive in some cases?

TONY LaRUSSA: He was excellent. Control was excellent. Stuff was excellent. And a couple of times that he got behind the count, the pitch that he made, 2-0 or 3-1, 2-1, was not backing off his good stuff and throwing the ball down the middle. He made -- he really, really pitched well.

Q. Your team has faced so many challenges this year, and here lies another one. Does the way they have handled all of these challenges this year give you confidence that they will rise to the occasion again?

TONY LaRUSSA: Well, in one sense, it's a perfect setup for us. I mean, it's been a really hard year. This is a hard start. But I know that -- I know how ready we'll be when we go to San Francisco.

Q. What's your read with Tino Martinez right now? It seems he's struggling; is there anything different from the end of the season?

TONY LaRUSSA: See, I don't see it the same way. I think -- I'm trying to think of anybody that had the birds and the bat that didn't look like they were struggling at the plate today, except for Perez. Schmidt was just working us over. In fact, one of the clutch at-bats, Tino walked, which is always a really good sign when he's showing some patience, because he gets a little aggressive. And we talked about it before in the Arizona series, next to Vina, he hit the ball harder than anybody. So, I think he's got a lot of production coming because he's doing a lot of things right.

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