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October 11, 2000

Lou Piniella


Q. What have you enjoyed about managing this particular group, as compared to others, and also, why did you put off the decision on your own future from the last off-season to this off-season?

LOU PINIELLA: This team here plays hard. There is great chemistry in the clubhouse. We've got a lot of veteran professional players that have come from winning situations, and they play to win. Plus, it's really -- we've had no problems. Everybody has been united for a common goal, and that's to go out and play nine hard innings of baseball, and that's a nice situation for a manager. And my situation, in fairness to the new GM that came in, I felt it best that we work together for a year. See if he was satisfied with the job that I was doing. See how we worked together. It's been enjoyable. Pat is very professional and we've had a very good relationship.

Q. Do you think you'll be back in Seattle?

LOU PINIELLA: I don't know that. And the reason that I say that is, first of all, it's not my decision; it's ownership's decision. Second of all, I'm basically in the same position that our young shortstop is in. I'm just going to weigh my options at the end of the year and see what happens. Remember, there has been a lot of speculation and rumor and there's been no fact to any of it, truthfully. We left it in our meeting last winter that we would sit down at the end of this year and talk and that's exactly what this organization is prepared to do and I'm prepared to do and we'll just have to wait and see what happens after the season is over.

Q. Did Ricky do something to his ankle or foot last night?

LOU PINIELLA: He bruised it, and it stiffened up on him in the first inning when he dove back to first. Around the fifth inning the trainer told me that he was starting to feel it; so we got him out of there. But if I need him today, he'll be available.

Q. You mentioned Rodriguez and his situation. I know the franchise has survived Johnson leaving and Griffey leaving, what kind of hit would it be if A-Rod left, as well?

LOU PINIELLA: It would be a worse blow, and because of the fact that he's a great player. But remember, we were able to get Garcia and Halama and Guillen for Johnson. We were able to get Cameron and Tomko and a couple prospects for Junior. In this case here, all you're getting is a draft pick. It's a more serious situation, believe me. Plus, you've got a great shortstop that swings the bat, one of the leaders of our baseball team. Seattle is going to do everything that they can to bring him back.

Q. What do you reasonably hope to get from Halama today?

LOU PINIELLA: Three times around the lineup would be very good goal. Six innings or so.

Q. What is your read on Pettitte, as far as with his toughness and pitching big games?

LOU PINIELLA: Listen, all of the Yankee pitchers over there are pitching big games. You don't win World Championships unless you can perform in big games, and the guy that is pitching today has had a lot of success in post-season. Pettitte, Roger, they have got a veteran staff over there, Cone. But Pettitte has always risen to the occasion. But that is what it takes. You need good pitching in the post-season, especially from your starters to give you an opportunity to get into your shorter people in the bullpen to win ball games.

Q. Can you talk about Sele rising to the occasion?

LOU PINIELLA: Well, Sele was our best pitcher the whole month of September. I think he went 6-0 for us and we really needed it. He pitched about 7 innings in the game where we beat the White Sox to clinch this next go-around in the playoffs. He is a veteran guy that knows how to pitch. He has been pitching very, very well. He has got a good curveball and he's got a fastball that he uses to both sides of the plate. And he is experienced. We are starting him in Seattle. He is the only pitcher in September that we never skipped in the rotation; so he always pitched on his fifth day, and we just gave him a little breather. That's why he's pitching Game 3 in Seattle.

Q. On the ball Justice hit to centerfield last night, for a while you could not tell whether it was going out or not. When the game is hanging like that, do you have a lucky thing that you do; do you pray?

LOU PINIELLA: Well, prayer is good, believe me. I'll tell you this: Not really. You just hope that the pitcher makes the pitches that he wants to make and puts the ball in the location that he wants. In that instance, he got the ball up to Justice a little bit, but it was out over the plate and he made him hit it to the big part of the ballpark, and it stayed in.

Q. '60s and '70s, people talked about shortstops, guys like Eddie Brinkman, as a defense-oriented position. What is it like managing now when you have A-Rod, Nomar, where the shortstop is now an offensive position?

LOU PINIELLA: I'll tell you this, it is still a defensive position. It is the most demanding position on the field. And certainly, the players that you mentioned would not be playing shortstop if we could not play defense. They would be moved somewhere. In Alex's case, he is just an excellent, excellent shortstop defensively. He positions himself well, he's got a great throwing arm, he has great hands, turns the double play. And when you look at their offensive capabilities, that's what separates it from the rest of the bunch. Alex can swing the bat like a first baseman, like a third baseman, like a corner outfielder. He's got power, he's got speed, he drives in runs, he hits for average. But you still have to play defense. Shortstop is a defensive position, and you talk about what makes teams win, and there are a lot of different things, but certainly you've got to be strong up the middle defensively, and that's one of the reasons that our ballclub has been able to get to the point where we are now.

End of FastScripts…

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