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October 9, 2001

Art Howe


Q. Your lineup?

ART HOWE: Let's see, it's pretty normal. We're going with Damon, Giambi -- that's Jason. Dye, Chavez, Giambi, Long, and we get down to our catcher, Hernandez and Menechino. The home field, this year the Yankees have won all three of their games against you, are you concerned about being away from home for the first game. No. We knew whoever we were going to play, we were going to be on the road and we have to find a way to win at least one on the road. Hopefully, tomorrow we can get that one under our belt. To win the series, we're going to have to win at least one in New York, so we're going to go hard tomorrow.

Q. Is there a time in the season you can look back and see when you actually turned a corner, and was there a meeting or a situation or a play or anything that stand out in your mind?

ART HOWE: We did have a meeting or two after our 8-18 start, just telling the guys to stay focused. It was a long way to go. Most teams have a rough month at some point in the season so we got ours out of the way early, so we're going to play good the rest of the way. I didn't know how good we were going to play, but I was very proud of them. It was probably mid-June when I made the move and moved Long to right field and Damon to center and we started playing much better baseball from that point forwards. And then, obviously the icing on the cake was Dye coming in after the All-Star Break. The three games in Arizona right before the break were huge for us. We swept Arizona in Arizona, and I think that's when we had three days to sit back at the All-Star Break and evaluate ourselves and say, "We still have a lot." We came out and continued to play great from there on.

Q. Why did you choose Mulder from Game 1 and why has he been so effective this year?

ART HOWE: He's a 21-game winner. He's our top winner. We have all the confidence in the world in him when he goes out to the mound. We thought it was important if this series goes five games, to have two times; that a lefty go the first and the last game. He's just added velocity from last year, and consistency. He's made his pitches on a consistent basis. That's probably the reason he's pitched so well.

Q. What do you bring or do you talk to your players about the experience from last year in the playoffs and then you take it into this year; is it just one year of experience having gone through the whole turmoil, if you can call it?

ART HOWE: The experience factor, we came very close to knocking the Yankees off last year. Probably the closest of any team that played them in the post-season. We were very close to doing it, and we feel we are a better team this year than we were a year ago. So, hopefully, the experience factor is going to be the difference this year; that we are going to play a little bit better.

Q. Do you have to have a good post-season showing here to validate all of the positive things you did in the second half of the season and the entire season?

ART HOWE: We expect to have a good post-season. That's the bottom line. We've played great the whole second half. We don't anticipate doing anything differently. It's going to take a great series from the Yankees to have a shot to beat us.

Q. It's a big challenge to come here to Yankee Stadium to play the three-time defending champs. Any thoughts on the nature or magnitude of that challenge?

ART HOWE: We feel that they are the team to beat. They have proven that the last few years. They are the defending champs. So to get to where we want to go, and that's the World Series, and to win a World Series, we know it's going to have to go through New York. It's our first stop. So, we have a tall order, but I think we are ready for it.

Q. How aware are you of the team of the Yankees, the last three or four years, grinding things out, keeping games close, winning the 3-2 games, particularly in the post-season and not letting the Yankees be close late in the game? Can you talk about that factor?

ART HOWE: I think that's the key to winning in post-season. The key to beating the Yankees is having the lead late, because Rivera has been so solid for them through the years. That's the reason we beat them at our players; six games, I don't think he set foot on the field. That's our goal, to keep him in the bullpen as long as possible.

Q. We hear about how hard it is to develop young pitching. What has been the key to your guys developing so quickly, aside from the great stuff?

ART HOWE: Probably me staying out of the way. (Laughter.) We have an outstanding pitching coach, Rick Peterson, who works very hard with preparing these guys and helping them with their mechanics. But they are special young men. We are very blessed to have them. They are mature beyond their years, and thank goodness they are. We are just pretty lucky.

Q. Obviously, security measures are different, your own team, unusual circumstances going through security. Have as many families made the trip as would normally, coming to New York?

ART HOWE: I think we do. You know, these are great times for our club and organization, and it's nice to be able to share it with your families. Last year, we realized the Yankee organization did a great job of taking care of our families, and that's something we considered. We realized they do a whale of a job here, so we had no hesitation in bringing them.

Q. Hitters and umpires seem touchier about pitchers who come inside, what role do you think an umpire should play in that?

ART HOWE: That's part of pitching. That's what we brief. We just want the umpires to call strikes, strikes and balls, balls, and we'll take care of the rest.

Q. Joe Torre is playing some lefties against Mulder. Is this an advantage for Mulder?

ART HOWE: First of all, the lefties, he is playing are veteran guys who have been there for him, have helped him win, and that's the reason he's got them in the lineup. Hopefully, Mark is going to find a way to get them out, and that's our job, to try to figure that out. But they are quality hitters. We have our work cut out for us, and we'll do the best we can.

Q. Can you amplify on Mulder against lefties?

ART HOWE: He gets lefties and righties out the same.

Q. Is one of your biggest assets maturity in your players this year versus last year?

ART HOWE: First of all we were not overconfident at any time last year. We came in with all of the respect that the Yankees deserve, and that's the same this year. Actually, I think those comments were made before the series even started. I think we are going to be better, because of the experience; that's important. When you get into the post-season, you have to realize that you have to -- I've told our players to enjoy it. Have fun, because this is what you've worked so hard for. At the same time, the concentration level has to be there and you can't let one at bat affect the next, etc., Etc. Maturity factor should help us. We'll see. We'll find out.

Q. Is there any reason you chose not to start your two left-handers here?

ART HOWE: Well, we kicked around a lot of things, but we thought maybe two lefties in a row, maybe the second day they would have a better approach after seeing a lefty the day before. When you have a guy like Hudson throwing Game 2, he's been our ace since I've been here. I don't think it would have been a compliment to him to wait until the third game. I thought he deserved to pitch a second game. He has pitched great in every big game we've had him pitch, so why not now.

Q. What's the toughest assignment for an American League manager in the playoffs and how will you do it?

ART HOWE: Really, keep your team focused and relaxed, to play the game. All the hoopla and everything that goes on around the team at this point in time, the media coverage is immense, just to try to weed that out and just go out and concentrate on playing the game. If the players start feeling pressure from the media or wherever, it might affect their play. So that's why I told them to try to enjoy this. Like I said, we experienced it last year, so I think they have a better grasp as what's going to take place as far as the media is concerned; so we'll play the game we always play.

Q. What about the strategy of setting rosters and stuff like that? How difficult is that?

ART HOWE: Very difficult. Both years that I've set the rosters, you've had to cut people that have helped you all year long. It's very difficult. We haven't finalized our roster, so I can't tell you about that just yet.

Q. Do you think pitching will dominate the series?

ART HOWE: I think pitching is the name of the game and in post-season it's the teach that pitches the best. I have confidence in our bullpen. That's the reason we're here. If they had not pitched well, we would not have gotten this far. Our starters have done a tremendous job all year. Later in the series, if it comes down to a do-or-die situation, maybe you don't stay with a starter as long as you normally would. Early on, you still have four more games to play after tomorrow, hopefully, and you don't want to pull the plug too soon because it might send a negative message to your pitching staff.

End of FastScripts....

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