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October 9, 2000

Denny Neagle


Q. You have not pitched in a while. What effect does that have, if any?

DENNY NEAGLE: Nothing, really, I don't think, because I've been through this before. It seems like every post-season when I was with Atlanta I went through the same scenario. I was going to be the Game 4 starter in the Division Series and it never happened. We swept the three years I was there. And so every time it was a while before I pitched and usually -- if anything, it is a bonus at this time of the year because sometimes you're a little sore at the end of the season, going through a little dead-arm period, so I feel like it gives you a shot in the arm to get refreshed a little bit. Thing for me is, get through the first couple hitters, get the juices flowing, and once I get through that, I'll just treat it like any other game.

Q. At the end of the year, you were not pitching the way you would have liked to. What have you done since that time to correct it?

DENNY NEAGLE: Basically I just worked in the bullpen and ironed out what I thought I was doing wrong mechanically, especially out of the stretch. Billy Connors and myself got down there and it was just a couple basic things, really and for me it is always the same thing, getting too quick in my motion and flying open and getting out of rhythm a little bit. Obviously I am a rhythm guy. I've heard Joe mention it, and I am the type of guy who needs to work the ball in and out and keep the ball down. When I was getting into trouble, it was because I was too quick, especially out of the stretch. That's the key for me, as long as I tell myself to relax, just stay within myself and let my ability take over, I think I'll be fine.

Q. Did you feel snubbed at all that Joe left you out of the Division Series rotation?

DENNY NEAGLE: Not at all. As I mentioned a minute ago, it is the same thing I went through with Atlanta. In '97 I won 20 games, almost won the Cy Young, and still was the fourth starter with those guys. Just like the situation there, I told everybody the same thing there, they asked me the same question and I said it's hard to argue with Maddux, Glavine and Smoltz, who are you going to bump from those three? Andy Pettitte has always been Mr. Clutch, and when you have Mr. Five-time Cy Young winner in Roger Clemens, it's the same scenario. And I didn't finish the way I wanted to, so that probably left a little impression in Joe's head, too. I knew hopefully if we could just go on in this series, I would get my chance and now I've got it and hopefully I can make the most of it.

Q. It wasn't quite the same scenario, because there was a fourth game here, and you were the fourth starter, and yet he went with the others.

DENNY NEAGLE: Well, actually the first year I got traded over to Atlanta, also in '96, I was strictly in the bullpen with them, too. So it was more or less the same scenario that I went through one year with those guys and finished the same way that year with Atlanta when I was traded over. I had one rough start to finish off the season that year and I had similar stats going into that post-season. At the time I remember saying to myself, gosh, I hope Bobby Cox has not lost any confidence in me because of the last start that I had in the regular season. I told myself the same thing, if I can just be patient and continue on, I'll have a chance to contribute and lo and behold I did, and I had a couple post-season starts with the Braves in '96. That's the thing, I've been through almost this exact same scenario, almost like dejavu all over again, like Yogi Berra would say. I just need to reflect on that and have the same attitude. My attitude is always the same, a little bit nervous and excited and everything, sure, but that's normal and my philosophy on this is you've got nothing to lose, the worst thing that can happen is you lose the ballgame. I've heard Pedro Martinez make that quote a few times, I've done that a few times. Nothing new for me. I think you need to go out there and make the best of the situation and have fun. As long as you can look yourself in the mirror and say you gave it your best shot.

Q. They are going with Garcia, a power pitcher; hitters, that's hard for them in the cold weather. You need the touch of the ball in your fingers, could you talk about that?

DENNY NEAGLE: I grew up in Maryland, real cold weather -- went to college many winters and played some pretty cool games up there, I think we almost used snowballs instead of baseballs sometimes. I've said a few times in my career, if you gave me one extreme or the other, I would prefer to pitch in cold weather just because I think pitchers do have the advantage as far as pitchers getting jammed, the vibration of the bat and everything. I don't think it matters a whole lot, whether you're a power pitcher or control pitcher, as long as you throw your game, which is what I intend to do, go up there and throw my own game. I don't think it matters whether it is Garcia or myself.

Q. You talked about pitchers late in the season sometimes going through a little soreness or dead-arm syndrome. Does that explain what happened to you?

DENNY NEAGLE: No, not at all. Just a situation where I think I just got in a bad rut and it snowballed. I think probably if I was being honest with myself I put a little bit of pressure on myself because I was telling myself, let's go, let's finish strong, let's give it that good push. Let's leave that good impression on the manager and all of those things you do when you wrap up your season, you always want to finish on a high note, whether you are heading into the post-season or not. I don't care who you are, whether you've been playing for one year or ten years, there's a tendency to push yourself and whether you play in New York or wherever, you always want to finish with good numbers. Physically that's not something I'm going to worry about. Last season when I went through my shoulder problems, it has been a blessing in disguise because I've been able to retrain my shoulder in ways I never knew how to before. Knock on wood, this year I've been strong as a horse, and even though it is great and it is a shot in the arm, I feel like I didn't even need it because I feel great at this point.

Q. Is there a piece of you that wants to recapture the start that you had with the Yankees and really get the fans, you know, get back on your side and have a great start?

DENNY NEAGLE: Absolutely. This is obviously the perfect stage in baseball. I think a lot of people say that. There's no better theater stage than New York and Yankee Stadium. Hopefully, getting out there and having the juices flowing and feeling all the energy that the crowd is going to have tomorrow night in my first post-season start this year, I'm hoping I can feed off of all that adrenaline, all that emotion with the crowd. I think I can obviously -- I feel like my first couple of starts with these guys, there was a lot of hype, build up with the trade and everything and that was fun also. I think if I would have been nervous at all, that would have been the night, too, and I think I came out pretty good on those nights. If I can just reflect on that, reflect on some of my other post-season games, I'll go out and have the type of game that I know that I can have.

Q. You talked about working things out in the bullpen. Was there a point where you said that you were ready to take the ball, and what brought you to that point?

DENNY NEAGLE: I really felt like, sometimes, numbers don't always say exactly how you pitched or whatever. I really felt like even the last appearance I had out of the bullpen on the last game of the season I felt great felt like I had good stuff. Just a matter of sometimes as a pitcher, you say that you have to take it on the chin; even when you have good stuff, they are still going to hit you. I felt good about the last outing in the regular season. I felt that was something to build on because I threw the ball where I wanted to and just gave up a couple runs. I feel like at any point if Joe would have brought me in the Division Series, I was ready to go. I felt like I had my stuff ironed out. Talked to Billy after the outing, we both agreed I looked out of control in the stretch. I felt like that was my biggest nemesis at that point, was my control problems out of the stretch and my mechanical problems. So all along I felt like I was ready to go the other night in Game 4 here in New York when Roger was getting jammed early. I felt like it was a good sign that Joe got me up early, thinking that he might bring me in the game to keep the game close at that point. At this point I'm just looking forward to getting out there. I heard Barry Zito make the same comments for the Oakland As the other day, you get tired of being a cheerleader and want to help your team produce and win. That's why they called on me is to get another post-season win. I'm just looking forward to getting out there and doing my job.

Q. The Mariners are a very patient lineup. They draw a lot of walks. Can you talk about the strategy of facing that lineup?

DENNY NEAGLE: I think basically my strategy is going to be aggressive and go after them and hopefully take advantage of the fact that they are very patient and hopefully maybe work that to my advantage if they end up taking a lot of pitches early and I can get ahead and establish the strike zone early, let them know that they are going to have to come out swinging the bats, hopefully that can work in my favor. These guys are here for a reason. They have one of the better offensive lineups in the League and they were able to piece together some good pitching in the first round against Chicago, they had good pitching contests, too. We know we have our hands full with two of the best hitters in the game in A-Rod and Edgar. Usually you tell yourself there's one guy you don't want to let beat you in this lineup, there are a couple of them, but you want to try to keep the table setters off the base paths, especially Henderson. Last thing you want to do is get him on the base and let him cause havoc on the base paths. If I can just stay within myself, get them to swing at my pitches, hopefully I can be successful out there.

Q. The start that you had against them here must have been one of the most frustrating of your year. Are you looking forward to another chance at them?

DENNY NEAGLE: I'm just looking forward to getting out there, period. But I think as pitchers, we always tend to remember every loss you have or every home run that you give up during the season or something. Yeah, I am definitely looking forward to getting out there and facing these guys again, but for anything else, it is a great challenge, as I said a minute ago, they have a great lineup, one of the best in baseball. Definitely that outing is -- I think that particular outing, too, was a turning point for me, too. That was an outing that I think started a string of three or four bad starts that got me originally out of whack mechanically, and it took me a good three or four starts to get myself back on track. So, as I said, it's one of the things that you have to deal with as a pitcher, is you tend to remember a lot of outings like that. As I said, I'm just really looking forward to getting out there period and pitching, because it has been a while and I want to contribute.

Q. Can you talk about Alex Rodriguez, how difficult he is to pitch, and whether it is possible to pitch around him?

DENNY NEAGLE: Well, you know, if he's not the best player in baseball, he's definitely up there with -- it's hard to say he's not, obviously you are going to get an argument from a lot of people. The thing that makes him so tough is he protects both sides of the plate. I saw that last time I faced him. I think one at-bat he hit a sac fly off me as I recall, I think it was a pretty good pitch, changeup and that one almost hit me out of the ballpark. Next one, a little cutter inside that I thought got in there enough and he pulled it and took me deep down the left field line. That's what makes him tough is he blocks those inside pitches if he has to and if you leave something out over the plate, he has got so much power the opposite way, that's what makes him so devastating too, is he can take you deep to the other side of the ballpark. As far as being able to pitch around him, that's a testament to their lineup, Jay Buhner, a lefty, and he has done some damage in the post-season and Olerud didn't slack off against left-handers and Edgar Martinez is just a freak, he's right up there with A-Rod so that's what makes it tough to pitch around him is he's got so much protection around him and when you have that many good hitters in the lineup, it really is tough to pitch around that one guy. Usually you pick out one guy in the lineup that you're not going to let beat you, it's tough to do in this lineup because you have to pick your poison almost.

Q. Did you anticipate your role here, you are here now with a very tired pitching staff?

DENNY NEAGLE: I would like to think when I first came over, this is what the Yankees kind of had in mind for me was to be able to pitch some big games for them especially in the post-season. Obviously, it just set up because of that tough first round that we had that I had to go in Game 1. I look forward to that. I relish that. Like I said, this is why they got me. They obviously got me to help them get to the post-season because when I first came over it was still a tight race with Boston and Toronto, but we were able to do that and build a big lead. But now, more importantly, this was the biggest reason why they got me to pitch in big games in the post-season. I think that I had in mind that I was hopefully going to get a chance to pitch in a game like this and now I've got the opportunity and that's what I asked for. I was disappointed in the way I finished regular season, but that's history and post-season can makeup for any bad starts or seasons that you had. I'm just looking forward to getting out there and making the most of it. And as I said, I'm going to treat it like I always do. I'm going to make the most of it and have as much fun as I can tomorrow night.

End of FastScripts....

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