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October 17, 2001

Paul O'Neill


Q. Could you just talk about the at-bat and what you saw from Sele on the home run?

PAUL O'NEILL: Jorge leads off the inning with a double, so obviously as a hitter, your job is to get a pitch to pull. There's no secret what the pitcher is trying to do and what the hitter is trying to do. You know I'm sure if you asked Sele, he made a mistake; he got a pitch up. That's an easier pitch to pull, obviously. We scored a couple early, and our pitching has been phenomenal. So that's -- in these playoff games, to score early has been so big. Obviously when Andy is throwing the way he was, we score some runs; then we've got a good shot.

Q. What is it about this ballclub that in years past, you just seem to dial it up at this time of year?

PAUL O'NEILL: Well, I don't think it is that we do anything different. I think that we're used to winning big games. I don't know if that's doing anything different than the season, but it doesn't mean that you can just show up and expect these things to happen. I mean, we have got jitters and nerves, just like everybody else, but when we take the field, we've been successful with what we do because of, obviously, our great pitching and once in awhile, getting a big hit. For example, Soriano makes a huge play today. Our defense was solid. When you add those things up, and then you've got Mariano in the ninth, then you are going to be successful. And so far, for the past four or five years, that's what we have done.

Q. With the way Joe has platooned in the playoffs, you talked about waiting for your opportunity and then just trying to help the team. Is it satisfying to do something like today when you get your shot?

PAUL O'NEILL: Everybody wants to come out and play well every game in the playoffs but it just doesn't happen. It's such a short series. Throughout the course of a year, you go through a bad week, well, the next week you get them. But you do that in the playoffs and they write about how bad you are. Joe was going to put Spence in at defense, because obviously I have not been out there a lot lately. It just so happens that Norm was pitching and it's a better match up for him there. If the inning before or something like that, I'm going to hit. We're in this thing together. If he's going to tell me he's going to hit for me or put somebody in for defense, that's the way it's going to be. We've had so many people help us over the course of the year; it just hasn't been eight or nine guys.

Q. You've seen Andy do it so many times over the years. Can you talk about what he does to opposing hitters, specifically right-handed hitters?

PAUL O'NEILL: He pitches so many huge games for us. It all seems like he's Game 5, Game 7. He's been great and doesn't get enough credit. Everybody knows the intensity of Rocket and guys like that, but he doesn't get the credit of going out there and just battling people. He's got great movement. Went out to dinner with him last night, and he was ready to go. He threw a lot, the nights we clinched against Oakland he was possibly going to pitch that night. You just knew from the first pitch, the shadows the way they are here, if he makes his pitches, a few runs is going to win this game. And all of a sudden they were back in it and he made some quality pitches to get out of it, against Edgar and Booney and guys like that. He steps off the mounds and makes great pitches. That's what he has done in the past and that's what he did today.

Q. You said you went out to dinner with him last night and you could see he was ready to go. What did you see? What did you sense?

PAUL O'NEILL: He's confident in what he does. He knows that if he makes his pitches, he's going to get people out, and that's -- that's good to see. He doesn't second guess himself, if he didn't get this or he didn't get that. If he makes his pitches, or if a guy gets on he believes that he can get a double play. He's got a way to get out right-handers. He's got a way to get out left-handers. He kept Ichiro off the bases early in the game with this crowd, really gets them into the game. Those are the things that won't be written about that he did today that made the game.

Q. An outing like Pettitte had today and then Mussina tomorrow, does that maybe allow the batter to relax more at the plate?

PAUL O'NEILL: No, I don't think you can ever relax in the playoffs. You play every day; you win for today. You don't try to split here and go home here. You try to win every single game. They have got Garcia going. He's put numbers up; he's been as good as anybody in the game this year. Again, tomorrow is -- you come out, you scratch and claw and try to get some runs for our pitching and they are going to try to do the same thing. These teams are very similar in the way we win, you try to score runs and sit back and play good defense and make it to your bullpen. It's no secret how these teams win. It's just whoever gets to their bullpen first.

Q. Has it taken time for you to get comfortable after the foot injury?

PAUL O'NEILL: It's good to be back in the lineup and back in the field. I enjoy playing the game. DH is such a different thing for me, and the first couple of games in the Oakland series were, you know, you're trying to do something you are not really used to doing. Sometimes that can get your mind in other places. But when you play the game, my whole career, I've played right field. So David, I've talked to David and he's more comfortable with the DH role. So it's good to be able to get back out on the field and get through the whole game instead of trying to stay loose between at-bats instead of doing something that you are really not comfortable in doing.

End of FastScripts....

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