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October 12, 2002

Andy Benes


Q. Do you have some good memories of your last start in the NLCS?

ANDY BENES: I do. I wish the circumstance were a little different. We were down 2-0 to the Mets and we were going to Shea Stadium. I pitched real well, and we won. So, yeah, it was a neat opportunity for me. I didn't pitch in the first series against the Braves that year, but I went out and pitched well against the Mets, and unfortunately, we didn't win the series, but it was fun for me.

Q. How much is Darryl Kile in your thoughts as a team? Do you ever vocalize it or is it just something that you know deep in your heart?

ANDY BENES: I think when I joined the team about mid-season, his name wasn't really brought up a whole lot. It was almost like if was somebody thinking, DK would have done that or DK would have said that or that's something that DK did. You would look at the person and they know what you're talking about. But now guys -- now it's like, "That's something DK would say." His name is brought up all the time. Guys are a lot more comfortable talking about him. The legacy that he left is an unbelievable teammate, a good person, and that's with us every day. He was unbelievable in the clubhouse. Guys think about him every day. I know there's not a day that goes by that his name is not mentioned in the clubhouse or he's thought about. We have his jersey in the dugout when we play. He's an important part of this team and organization, and we think about him every day.

Q. Do you have a favorite Benito Santiago story from earlier in your history?

ANDY BENES: My very first Major League start, Benny was catching, and I had never been around him. I had thrown to Sandy Alomar, Jr. in AAA, and he was an up-and-coming superstar. I'd watch him catch and throw and he was unbelievable. Then my first Major League start was against the Braves in San Diego, and I had a guy on first with two outs -- or with one out and I struck Lonnie Smith out, and all of the sudden, I had to duck because the ball was coming right at my forehead. He caught the ball, made his turn, and made a bee-bee to second base. The guy stealing was out. It was almost to the point where it was like a line drive back at me. So I go into the dugout and he said, "You know, if you don't want to get hit, you'd better get out of the way." (Laughter.) He was just unbelievable. He is just a phenomenal athlete. He was a neat teammate. I enjoyed pitching to him and to be able to watch him go from being the Rookie of the Year and then going through a few years where he was kind on the outskirts, and then to be in a position where he is, I'm excited for him. He's had a great year, and he's done a wonderful job behind the plate for them. I'll never forget that throw from his knees. That was something that I had not seen growing up in southern Indiana, that's for sure.

Q. How close did you come to retiring and what convinced you to come back?

ANDY BENES: Well, when things were not going well for me, I was put on the disabled list, and I really thought that I was done playing. The actual word "retirement" was kind of out of the picture because I didn't want to close the door for any future opportunity or potential opportunity. But I really didn't think I was going to be playing. I was at home for a month or so, and really enjoyed that. That was kind of a preview to my time when I'm done playing and I liked that a lot. Being with my kids and my wife, just being a dad. But I talked to Walt Jocketty, I was on a trip down to Cape Girardau watch my 13-year-old son's select team play and I called Walt and I said, "You guys are paying me, if you want me to go to rehab, let me know. I feel bad, you're under obligation to pay me, let me know what you want and I feel like I could still help the team. Let me know." So he called back. Actually when he called back, I was at my youngest son's -- I was throwing to the six-year-olds, the kindergarten team and he said, "What are you doing right now?" I said, "Well, I'm on the mound, I'm pitching." He said, "Good." "It's kindergartners. It's underhand." He said that we want you to rehab. I said I'd like to be with the team and go there and be a part of it. So I was with the Memphis team for 35 to 40 days. It was a good opportunity for me to get back into pitching shape. But I had no idea what was in store for me or if there was going to be an opportunity. There was a call from Walt, me calling him and then me calling him back, and some of the options that they had earlier in the season did not look as good as maybe they would have liked, and, you know, I think from their standpoint there was not much of a risk in me rehabing. I was not playing at the time, anyway and if it didn't work out, then it didn't work out. I knew when I went down there, I got my delivery back together and got people out and had confidence. I believed -- if nobody else believes that you can get people out, if you believe it and you get the opportunity, then that's what's important. Whether or not I'm throwing 95 or not, I believe going out there with what I have, that I can get people out, compete and give our team a chance. So I got that opportunity and kind of ran with it.

Q. Did you get the kindergartners out?

ANDY BENES: Actually, those kindergartners, some of those kids are pretty good. My son can hit the ball pretty good. (Laughter.) Problem is they don't know what base to stop at. There's a lot of passing the runner in front of you.

Q. How old is your son and what is his name?

ANDY BENES: My youngest, Shane is six, six-and-a-half. My oldest, Drew is 13-and-a-half.

Q. When you say you went home, where is that?

ANDY BENES: I live in St. Louis. When all of that happened, really, with being on the disabled list, I didn't want to leave with bad feelings, because I live in St. Louis, I'm part of the community and I'm going it continue to live there and take my kids to the games. So it's been a neat opportunity for me to be a part of what's going on.

Q. What you've done this year, does that encourage you that you would like to play next year?

ANDY BENES: Well, I've really taken the approach that I didn't know when my next start was going to be. You know, whether or not we were going to need somebody. I really looked at myself as a guy who is going to fill the gap when guys were hurt. I kept getting opportunities. I just looked at my next start, and my next start is tomorrow. Anything that's going to take away from that, I've tried to eliminate from the equation. So as far as next year goes, when we're done playing, hopefully in a couple of weeks, that's something I'll think about. But for right now, just focus my attention on the game tomorrow.

Q. From what you've seen the first two games, can you assess the Giants lineup?

ANDY BENES: Well, from our perspective, everybody in the Cardinal clubhouse knew that we were facing a very good team, a very good lineup. I think maybe the people in St. Louis didn't realize how good they were. We were playing the World Champions to start with, and so I think they thought; well, the next round will be easier than that. But the Giants have a really good lineup. I think the reason they are so good is because they have guys that get on base. They have a guy at the top of the lineup in Lofton that's on base and creates a lot of havoc, just like our lead-off guy does. But then after that, you go through a whole slew of guys that are good contact hitters. They make you throw the ball in the strike zone. They are disciplined. And they can hit the ball out of the ballpark. David Bell is hitting eighth and he's hit 20 home runs. I think they have six or seven guys that have driven in more than 60 runs, so they are well balanced from top to bottom. You know, all of the attention is on Barry, and he's had a phenomenal year. Obviously, one of the best years ever in baseball. But I think by watching them play and what he does, even when he doesn't get hits, when he walks as much as he does, it's a lot like when McGwire was in St. Louis; it turns the lineup over. When you have guys that can really hit, and they are hitting every other inning because you have a couple guys in there that will walk, it puts a lot of pressure on the pitcher for the other team because you're facing those guys every other inning, and you might see them four times instead of maybe three. So those guys, it seems like they are a lot like us. They scrap and fight and they don't give at-bats away. They are just good professional hitters, and any one of them -- any one of them can beat you at any time. I think they have hit, what, five home runs. They have got Lofton, Aurilia, Santiago and Bell are the guys that have hit them. So their three and four guys have not hit home runs, but they are just a very good lineup.

Q. You were more or less retired, home for a month, now you are back and about to pitch the fourth game in this series. Have you found that your approach to starts is any different since you've been back?

ANDY BENES: I really think my approach is different. I really have an appreciation for what I do and for the opportunity. This is just another opportunity for me. I've been looking at each start as a tremendous opportunity to go out and do what I love to do, and I want to say this in the right way. I don't take it as serious. Before, I think it was -- I really care about what I do, but I know that it's not a life-or-death situation. I think I put so much emotional -- I was trying to make a perfect pitch every pitch, and I wasn't relaxed and wasn't out there using everything that I had. And so, you know, it's just a matter of, if I go out there relaxed now and with a clear mind, just excited about the opportunity to go out and compete, and I really believe when I go out there that our team is going to win. So, yeah, I do take a -- I take a little looser approach to it, but I think it's really been a benefit to me because I haven't placed so much emphasis on it and gotten so wound up with it. So I'm a lot more comfortable with going out there and the results have been a lot better.

Q. Going back what you just said, why wasn't it a life-or-death situation? What was different?

ANDY BENES: Well, I think everybody that plays the game, they put so much emphasis on it. But we have a tendency to place more emphasis on it than we really ought to. Being away from the game, being at home and being at pee-wee games and going to help my kids' classes, second grade class, you realize there's so much more to life than just our job. I have a strong faith and I love my family. I think in a lot of ways, I had such a tough time for a year and a half that I wanted the results so bad that it really worked against me. All of the energy that I was putting into it kind of worked against me. I feel privileged that I've kind of had a preview to what's after baseball, and I really liked it. So when I came back, I vowed that, you know what, I'm not afraid of what's after my career. What's after my career is wonderful and it's a good thing, and I'm looking forward to it. But I can also -- I guess with the way the world has been in the last year or so, especially there's been more -- there's so many things that are more important than throwing a baseball. I want to enjoy what I do, and do it for all of the right reasons and put my heart and soul into it when I'm out there, but be able to let it go and enjoy what's important to me. And so that was a great break for me. Probably better mentally than physically. I enjoy the game for what it is, and just be able to go out on a sunny Sunday afternoon, in a great stadium and play in a playoff game is exciting to me.

Q. Have your kids, especially the older ones, been taken aback by how good you've been since you've returned?

ANDY BENES: My oldest, you know Drew, I guess for a while, I was dropping him off at school and he wanted me to pull a little bit further down. (Laughter.) I'm just kidding. Kids, when they are in seventh and eighth grade, they are like, "Man, what's going on with your dad?" He took kind of a hit to be my PR guy at the school, to tell them what was going on. But my other three are seven, eight and nine, and two of them are girls, and I'm not even sure that -- they know that I've played baseball and think it's pretty cool, but they are not real involved in the result. My youngest boy, Shane, I'm glad that I've been able to play long enough that he's been able to enjoy what I do. I think they are excited. It's good to -- I think it's good for them because my oldest plays baseball; maybe to see that maybe I don't have the physical skills that a lot of guys have, but I can go out and compete by using my mind and my experience. And so I think from that standpoint, it's good for them. Now I get to drop them off at the front of the school and not down the street.

End of FastScripts...

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