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October 12, 1999

Kenny Rogers


Q. Kenny, can you talk about what you remember about pitching against Atlanta in the World Series, and how you approached it?

KENNY ROGERS: I don't remember a whole lot, because I wasn't in the game that long. But I remember getting the hit and giving up a few. So there was some good things about that and some bad things. But I don't really think about '96 at all because I don't think that that was a good barometer on the way I'm capable of pitching.

Q. Kenny, the fact that these guys haven't seen you that often, some people say it's an advantage to the pitcher the first time around, and some are kind of noncommittal, what are your views on it?

KENNY ROGERS: I hope it's a distinct advantage. I'll take any advantage I can get. But good hitters are going to hit good pitches sometimes; so you have to just keep continually making good pitches against their hitters. I know Chipper is a great hitter and Brian; they've got a good quality line-up. I think ours is capable, also. The key thing is making continuous, quality pitches, and not making mistakes to the guys that can hurt you.

Q. Kenny, a lot of people make a big deal with your postseason record. When you see Roger Clemens has been 2-8, and Greg Maddux is 3-6 in NLCS competition, do you make anything out of that?

KENNY ROGERS: Well, it's nice to know. It's nice to know that guys of that caliber can go out there and struggle once in a while. I knew that after '96 that the first taste is always probably the toughest because you're trying to get acclimated to all the feelings you're feeling, and just the situation, how you can go out there and perform and control and everything. But the other day in Arizona, I felt fine. I felt comfortable and I treated it just like it was another start. And that's probably the key to going out there and pitching well is knowing that what you do during the season prepares you for that, and just take it basically the same as a regular-season game.

Q. Regarding the scrutiny that you'll face in New York, right away after Tuesday, after Game 2 loss, they started comparing you to Randy Johnson, and that's the first thing is that he has a history, too. Is there more pressure in New York?

KENNY ROGERS: I hope they always compare me to Randy Johnson because that's nice, but there's not much comparison there. Randy is aboveboard on most of his stuff. He's a guy that can dominate you. I'm not that way. My thoughts going into the games are different than his, because he's a totally different pitcher. I expect -- I go out when I'm trying to pitch, and I don't expect to throw a shutout, and that's not what I try to do, either. If I go out in the first couple of innings not wanting to get the ball hit and trying to strike guys out and maybe throwing a shutout in the first three or four innings, that will take me out of the gameplan. I want contact, ground balls and want to get hitters out early in the count. I'm totally opposite of Randy in a lot of ways. That's my focus because that's what's successful for me and my approach to pitching. When you get out that first runner or two, it doesn't take me out of my gameplan.

Q. You've pitched for both New York teams. What is the major difference, and I'm not talking about records and all that type of stuff, but just what is the biggest difference between being a Yankee and a Met?

KENNY ROGERS: Well, there's a lot of differences, I would think. But for the most part since I've been here with the Mets it was that I've been comfortable. Steve, Bobby, all the guys here have I've basically fit in with, and I've gotten a chance to go out every 5th, 6th day and pitch. With the Yankees, the situation was different at the time, basically because I wasn't capable of going out and pitching like I would like to, but also because there's other distractions there. Here, it's been basically consistent feelings for myself from everybody else, and I think that just basically let me get my feet grounded and compete. With the Yankees, it was different from day one.

Q. The growth of Kevin Millwood in the last few years has largely been attributed to picking the brain of his teammates, his rotation mates. Can Major League pitchers learn from their contemporaries just by watching them? Have you ever learned things from the Braves staff, and if so, what?

KENNY ROGERS: I don't think there's a pitcher in the Big Leagues or the Minor Leagues that hasn't watched the Braves pitchers or any other Big League pitcher that they feel they're comparable to or they see them doing something that they'd like to try to do. I always refer to Maddux, I'm sure everybody -- every Big Leaguer or Minor Leaguer has watched him meticulously at times just to try to find out what he does that makes him so good. I think he was probably one of the first few guys that started throwing that two-seamer. And I think he's gotten a lot of other pitchers to start pitching that way, because you can't pitch over the middle plate and be successful here unless you have dominating stuff. And Greg has dominating stuff, but it's in a different way. He does it with movement and location, and that's a sign for all the other pitchers that when you get to a certain level you don't have to throw 95 or 100 to get people out. And I think there's a lot of people that have taken a lot of stuff from Greg, more than most of the other pitchers, I think, in the League, because he's been so successful.

Q. Kenny, if I read correctly, you've said that returning to the Mets is something you would strongly consider next year as a free agent. Does it surprise you, yourself, that you have that attitude now?

KENNY ROGERS: I don't think surprised would be the word. I think when I was traded here, I wanted to get a feeling of how things would work now that I felt I was capable of going out there and pitching. And basically from day one since I've been here, I've been accepted. I've gotten the chance to go out there and pitch and show that I could pitch. And I've told people before, it wasn't ever where I was pitching; it was how I was pitching. If I wasn't pitching well, you're going to struggle sometimes. I understood that when I was with the Yankees, but not everybody else did. The hard times I went through with the Yankees, I think, made me better in a lot of ways. Made me able to deal with a lot of stuff, distractions. You name it, I probably went through it the first time with the Yankees. And by no means did I forget it because I think I still learn every day. And even if I'm not on the mound pitching, I can learn a lot about the other things that happened in New York that don't happen anywhere else. So I think I've benefitted from those two years, even though I wasn't as successful as I wanted to be with the Yankees, but the second time coming here, I knew what to expect and wanted to go out and pitch. I think this worked out well. I think everyone has been happy that I got here at the All-Star break and I contributed. And that makes a big difference for a pitcher when you go out there and you know you're going to do your job. I think there will be bad days, but I think they've shown a lot of support for the pitchers and other players.

Q. What are the differences between the Mets fans and the Yankees fans?

KENNY ROGERS: Trying to get me in trouble, aren't you? Fans are going to like you if you're doing well, just point blank. If you're doing well, everybody is going to be happy with the way you're pitching or playing or whatever, and you can probably get away with some little things here and there. If you're not, you're going to take a lot of abuse. Since I've been with the Mets, fortunately I got off to a pretty good start and was pitching well and did some things, and that, from day one, I think carried me over. Every time you go out and pitch well, people feel better about the decisions made. And with the Yankees, it was just trying to fit a square peg in a round hole from day one, and it was something that I don't know if everybody wanted to work, and it didn't work.

Q. Kenny, have you ever watched a video of that Game 4 in the World Series, and if so, what goes through your mind when you do watch it?

KENNY ROGERS: Well, I remember it. Like I said, I don't try to forget anything, good or bad, but the way I was capable of pitching back then, it wasn't a lack of effort, ever. I went to field it and went to throw it at first, and there was nobody there. That really caused a flood. That inning, I think, cost us two or three runs. I think it would only be like one or two in the second inning. That's what I remember. If someone had been there, I might have gotten out and been out of the inning. But that's something I didn't have at that time.

Q. Could you just talk about your preparations for the game tomorrow and what you have to do to try to beat Atlanta?

KENNY ROGERS: Well, I'm going to prepare the same way. Like I said, I'm going to take this game just like it's a regular-season game, because that's the way I think I'll be most successful. If you try to get caught up in all the other distractions and the magnitude of it, it will take your focus away from what you want to do out there. But I don't take any team for granted ever, no matter what I feel, if I'm in control or not, I still know every time I go out there, every inning changes and I have to be at my best. So I know they've been the best team of the 90's, I think, for 8, 9 years now. And our work is cut out for us because we haven't played I don't think well enough to beat them through the regular season. But I think we also know that the regular season is over, and we need to start fresh and just play with some intensity.

Q. Kenny, following up on something you said, you said when you were in New York, you didn't think everybody wanted to see you succeed with the Yankees, is that talking about other players on the team or who?

KENNY ROGERS: No. I never thought it was players or managers or coaches. I just think that when you're down in New York, a lot of people like to get on top and keep you down. But when you're up, it's smooth sailing. But I'm the type of guy that I'll go through whatever it takes. And then when you go through the hard part and you find out who stuck with you through that, that's the people I respect the most. And the ones that don't, I know that I probably won't be associating myself with them.

End of FastScripts…

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