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September 30, 2002

Mike Scioscia


Q. Mike, can you describe what Eckstein means to your club at the top of the order, then his counterpart, Soriano, what your approach is to him?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: I if you look at what David Eckstein has meant to our club, being the absolute catalyst of our club, his presence is going to be very important in this series. I think he does things a little differently than maybe the Yankees ace lead-off man with Soriano. But they're both extremely productive, scored a tremendous amount of runs. He's knocked in a lot of big runs for us. Set the tone for the club. Soriano's a special player. For him to be leading off in this club I think speaks volumes for the talent of the Yankees because he could easily be hitting third, fourth, or hit in a lot of clubs around the league. So with his talent at the top of the line-up, it's a force to be reckoned with, no doubt about it.

Q. Can you talk about starting the season 6-14, what turned it around?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: If you look at our club through the first 20 games of the season, you look at some of the guys that were banged up, out of the line-up, some of the guys that weren't as productive as we thought would be, it would be easy to exercise the patience that was the course of action you could take. We had guys serving suspensions from a spring training brawl, guys on the disabled list that were big parts of our bullpen. We had Shaun Wooten, Benji Gil, that were out. Darren had a concussion, out for eight days during that stretch. Tim Salmon struggling out of the gate. The problems were tangible. I think the patience to see this line-up get together and play was what was needed. They certainly did after that 6-14 start, they'd been incredible. I think it's a credit to these players keeping it together and believing in themselves. They had a terrific season.

Q. Line-up, what would be your projected line-up?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: Our line-up will be Eckstein, Darin Erstad. You need positions too, or can you guess? Eckstein, Darin Erstad, Salmon, Anderson, Fullmer, Glaus, Spiezio, Bengie Molina and Adam Kennedy.

Q. Do you see any similarities between this team and the team you played in '88?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: I think there are some parallels and some similarities that you can, you know, you can put together. I hope there are going to be a lot more as we move on. I think the one thing about our club this year is it's much more talented than the club we had in 1988. I think it has the same heart. I think it has the same focus. Hopefully, as we move through these playoffs, that part of the club will manifest itself because it's going to be important in us meeting the challenges we're going to have.

Q. Do you talk to your team about the Game 1 jitters, if you will? About the different feeling that is expected in a postseason game?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: I think once you get out there and, you know, whether you're an infielder taking those first ground balls during practice throws or you're a catcher catching warm-up pitches, that stuff will start to evaporate and you'll get into playing the game. I think what it comes down to, it's about executing on the field. I think our club has been good about keeping distractions off the field all year. I think when they get out there, I think they're going to be fine. We're going to play baseball, our type of game, we know the challenge of facing an incredibly talented club as the Yankees. We feel we match them up. Playing our game is going to put us in the best light to win. That's what we're going to focus on.

Q. You talk about your admiration for Joe Torre. Even though your team has no postseason experience, you've had it as a player. Any way to translate that to your team and make them understand?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: I was hoping Joe would give me a couple pointers on that. I was going to ask him what he did when he was here for the last five or six years doing it. To be honest with you, I think experience that we have as a staff is not something you can just inject into a team. I think, as a player, you have to experience it. I think we can maybe set the atmosphere, set the environment, keep the distractions to a minimum, keep guys focused on playing the game on the field. But that, you know, I think that playoff experience has to come from playing in playoff games. I think our club will respond to it well, because I think they're excited to be here. They understand how hard it was to get here, the work involved to get here. They're absolutely not intimidated by any situation. I think they're going to keep it at a positive light, go out and play their game. I feel very confident with that.

Q. David was telling us about the thing you do in spring training, about meeting the new guys. What's the genesis of that? How did you start doing it?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: Yeah, I've -- I don't know, we were doing it -- I remember being a rookie in Dodger camps and we would do that. I think it's important to have a club understand their teammates, understand their club. I think it's a, you know, it's a great way to communicate with players. We've been doing it every year, and I think David had a couple interesting anecdotes I'm sure he shared with you on that.

Q. Have you felt, over the last 14 years, especially when you come back here, that people talk to you or remind you about the home run you hit in '88 against the Mets?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: I think people remember it. I think, you know, they probably make more about it, more to do about it than I do. I think we were fortunate in '88 to have a, you know, a special group of guys that met some incredible challenges. I don't think there was any doubt that the Mets and Oakland were two incredible ballclubs. For us to, you know, meet that challenge and win those series, I think was a great accomplishment. That home run was one small part of it, nothing more; nothing less. We had a total team effort. It was fun to be a part of.

Q. Has it bothered you or your team at all that this team has had a great year, won 99 games, but a lot of people outside of California have no idea who you are?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: I don't think it's bothered us. By the same token, if we were ever favored to win something, that wouldn't affect us either. I think the team knows what the challenge is, the challenge is in house, our club, not who we're playing or what we're playing, what our talent level is thought of. I think the team's got great focus, has great tunnel vision. Whether they were on the cover of a magazine every week or they were, you know, the poster kids for a certain position, it wouldn't make any difference to this club. This club's all about keeping it on the field, winning. I really know they're not affected one way or the other by any accolades they might get out of the media or any, maybe, hiding in the shadows that might take place. They're fine with it, either way.

Q. Mike, how important has Tim Salmon and Darin been to this team?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: They've been huge. If you look at why we're in this position, I would have to say it's our pitching staff that has given us the opportunity to get to the playoffs because they've been incredible. To support the pitching, we needed some key guys in our line-up to rebound. None were more key than what Darin Erstad and Tim Salmon have done for our club. I think especially guys that are hitting 2 and 3 in your line-up, to rebound and show the production that they would on a routine year, nothing more, nothing less, I think has been very important to our club.

Q. Given that both teams have dominant closers, how important are the 7th and 8th inning guys going to be?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: I think it's big. I think every component that we're going to look at is going to be big. Certainly, I think on the Yankees' side, Joe's going to look at it that way. Our side, absolutely. Every component is going to be very, very key. I think our bullpen has been incredible all year. We've had to use them a lot down the stretch. They've held up very well. You know, if you can't get to your ninth inning guy, then there's no sense in even having a ninth inning guy. It's going to be key for us, either our starters if they're throwing the ball well, obviously bridging that gap as far as they can. If you look at the guys that have been our set-up guys, Ben Weber, Brendan Donnelly, Scott Schoeneweis, these guys have been there and done a great job, not only down the stretch but for most of the season. It's going to be important for us to get those four or five outs we might need to get to Troy Percival. I think those guys will be key in this series.

Q. What do you respect most about Joe Torre?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: Well, we have about an hour? (Smiling). Joe's, you know, I think as far as what he's accomplished not only as a player, but what he's accomplished as a manager, and doing it in such a -- I think in a classy way, all the way through everything he's done, you know, it's something that I think we could -- we all could strive for. He's an incredible human being, and I think that, you know, his leadership has shown what it means to an organization over the last six years here. At times it's tough, it's more of a challenge to win with a talented team and keep a talented team together than it is with a team that maybe the expectations aren't as high. He comes in every year with the expectations to win. He's met those expectations. Professionally, what he's done on the field is incredible. As a person, you're not going to find, I think, a guy much higher standing, certainly in the baseball world, than Joe is. Any time I get a chance to talk to him, you know, you feel good and you feel good at whatever messages he is giving you. He's a genuine person. He's been incredible. I'm sure I'm not telling you guys anything you don't know here.

Q. Dennis Cook you left off the roster. How difficult was that decision? What were the final factors?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: Well, since our playoff roster doesn't have to be until ten in the morning tomorrow, you're jumping the gun a little bit. I don't think I'm letting the cat out of the bag to let you know Dennis won't be on the roster. We had some incredibly tough decisions. Dennis Cook was one of them. Dennis has a lot of playoff experience, he's pitched well in the playoffs. We had to make a determination at the time what we felt was going to be our best roster moving forward, looking for matchups against an incredibly talented offensive club. I think that where Dennis was, he had some arm injuries this year, the way he was throwing the ball towards the end of the season I don't think is quite at the level that he had been earlier in the year or in previous years. That factored a lot into our decision. As far as make-up and heart, you're not going to find any player who ever played the game with more than Dennis Cook. It came to a tough decision with Dennis Cook, Al Levine, where our pitching staff was. The components of our pitching staff were very comfortable with the decisions we made. They were tough decisions, but we have some guys who have been throwing the ball very, very well down there for most of the year. We feel good about where our bullpen is.

Q. Have you decided on a role for Frankie Rodriguez?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: He's one of our younger pitchers who's very interesting. The guys that I know that have followed our club, have seen him the last couple weeks, see the potential in his arm and the power arm he has. Roles in the playoffs are funny. You know, from my experience, it's sometimes redefined and defined on a daily basis as to how a guy is throwing the ball. Wouldn't surprise me if you see Frank Rodriguez having some kind of an impact role in this series. Right now, I couldn't tell you. Right now, we're going to obviously see how the flows of the game go, how matchups look. This kid will not scare off, we know that. He has the type of arm that could -- that's an impact arm; no doubt about that.

Q. Can you preview tomorrow night's matchup, what the keys are for Washburn and the keys against Clemens?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: Well, you know, Roger looks like, from our reports, that he's been, you know, he's throwing the ball very well his last couple times out as far as his command -- excuse me, his velocity is obviously where it should be. He's a tough competitor on a normal day and even a tougher competitor when it comes to playoff time. We know that. We have to get into our game against Roger. I think we have to get guys to obviously work counts. When they get a pitch to hit, you have to put it in play hard. A lot of times, if Roger gets into some deeper counts, he can be very, very tough. From our side with Washburn, I think Wash needs early strikes, not -- obviously not down the middle we're talking about. He needs to pitch ahead and be able to put hitters away. Wash's a guy, he moves his fastball around, changes speed very well. I think it's going to be who can settle into their game the earliest and get into the rhythm. We're confident that Wash can do that. If he can, he's going to be a factor, no doubt about it.

End of FastScripts�.

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