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October 9, 2000

Lou Piniella


Q. How do you explain traditionally why you play the Yankees so tough?

LOU PINIELLA: Well, when you play a great team you usually rise up to the occasion. And certainly, the Yankees have been just that. In this series, we hope to do more of the same.

Q. Would you give a probable lineup?

LOU PINIELLA: We're going to go in Game 1 with Henderson leading off, Cameron hitting second, Rodriguez, Martinez, Olerud, Buhner, Oliver, and McLemore and the pitcher will be Garcia.

Q. In all of the times that you've been around baseball, currently can you recall the relationship like the one that exists between A-Rod and Derek? Is it good for both of them? Is it good for baseball?

LOU PINIELLA: It's good for both of them. They are both class guys and they are great players that maintain a very friendly and professional relationship on and off the field. I know that Derek lives, during the off-season, in Tampa, where I live, and I see Alex there quite a bit. I know that they are both friendly. For baseball, the rivalry certainly is intriguing.

Q. Could you talk about the decision to go with Freddie in Game 1, and also, just what he brings as your ace?

LOU PINIELLA: Well, Freddie has not pitched against New York this year. But last year, he threw the ball very well against this team. Freddie has got a really good, live fastball, a good curveball and a good changeup and a good feel for pitching. You know, it's amazing about this series, our Game 1 and Game 2 starters are both second-year pitchers. So, you know, we need for them to settle down and throw strikes and get ahead of the hitters. But they both have the equipment. Both Freddie and John will pitch good ballgames if they are pitching their games.

Q. The rest of your rotation, Freddie, Halama --?

LOU PINIELLA: We've got Sele pitching on Friday and then we'll go with Abbott on Saturday. Our plans originally were to pitch Moyer on Saturday and we were going to use Abbott as our swing guy, more or less where we could utilize him a few times in the middle. But Moyer had that freak thing that happened to him on Saturday in Seattle, and we've had to alter it. If it goes to seven games, we're going to be set up with Freddie, Halama, Sele, Abbott, Garcia, Halama and Sele. Now you have it, that's if we go all seven.

Q. Have you decided on 10 or 11 pitchers?

LOU PINIELLA: I think we're going to go with 10. We're more rested than we were in the White Sox series. We can utilize one more position player. And that position player will be Charles Gibson, gives us a lot of versatility and speed. And then the only other thing we're going to do differently is replace Pineiro with Ramsay so we have one more pitcher in our bullpen.

Q. Without Griffey, you're a better team. Why is that?

LOU PINIELLA: Nobody said that we were a better team without Junior. I think that what we've been able to do is add a few more pieces that have made a big difference for us, and one of them is Sele, he won 18 ballgames. Cameron has played very well in center, and Tomko, when we lost our two top starters for about, what, two months or so early in the season, stepped in and did a nice job. But Junior was a heck of a player here. We were just able, with the dollars that we saved, we could add some pieces here.

Q. Adding Sasaki?

LOU PINIELLA: Yeah. Also our closer. No question.

Q. Along those lines, how much has Sasaki meant, the way he has come along. You've said he's gotten better as the year has gone on. How much has he meant to you?

LOU PINIELLA: He has done exceedingly well. When we brought him into camp, we felt we had to get him acclimated to the American League, so he could learn the hitters, umpires to see him, etc., Etc., That he would pitch in the set-up type roles. But he pitched so well in the spring that he earned the closer's role. And as the season has progressed, he's gotten better and better. I think the last three save opportunities, he's had, he's pitched an inning and two thirds, and earlier in the year we were only using him in one-inning saves. But he's very professional. He's very prepared. He's unflappable on the mound. One of the big reasons that we're here is because of the job he's done.

Q. Do you guys consider yourselves the underdogs?

LOU PINIELLA: Oh, any time you play the defending World Champions, and especially starting the playoffs in their home ballpark, sure, you have to consider yourselves the underdogs. We respect them. They are a great team. The things that they have done over the past three or four years, you've really got to tip your hats to them and admire them. But at the same time, we are not intimidated by the situation. We are going to come in here and play hard and do the best we can, and if we can get through this obstacle, certainly we belong in the World Series.

Q. Joe talked about it earlier, about the camaraderie between opponents. When you were coming up, with a friendship like Alex and Derek have, would that have been frowned upon?

LOU PINIELLA: That's a good question. I don't think players probably got as close when I was playing as they do now. I think free agency has changed a lot of that. There's more movement. By I've got a tremendous amount of respect for Joe and his staff. I've played with most of the guys there; so there's a good friendship there. He was kind enough to ask me to coach with him during the All-Star Game. Zimmer I've known forever. I've played with Willy, and Chris, and with Mel, so there's a lot of friendship there, also. Now we're going to try to beat their brains in the same way they are ours. But at the same time, it's great. It's great that Alex and Derek get along so well, but at the same time, they are going to be competing very hard for their respective teams.

End of FastScripts....

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