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October 13, 1999

John Franco

John Olerud


Q. John (Franco), Al, when he was talking earlier, used the word "cock shot," what was the origin of that, is that a baseball word?

JOHN FRANCO: No comment.

Q. John Olerud, will you talk about Rocker a little bit? That he specifically -- Bobby Cox was talking about bringing him on because he thought he had a better chance of getting you out than Remlinger, even though you both are left-handed?

JOHN OLERUD: Well, I think both those guys are good tough left-handed pitchers. Rocker, he's got a great fastball and a real good slider, and you've got to be ready for the fastball, but then he can also throw the slider for a strike. So I think having two real tough pitches like that makes him effective, and he can throw both of them for strikes.

Q. In the past he seems to set up using his slider against you with his fastball. Last night, he threw three straight fastballs, what was your mindset in going into that at bat?

JOHN OLERUD: Yeah, in the past he has thrown me quite a few breaking pitches. And last night, he just came at me with fastballs, and threw the fastballs in good spots, the first one up and in, and the last two fastballs were on the outside part of the plate. So, yeah, he definitely pitched to me different. I'm not used to seeing all fastballs like that from him.

Q. John Olerud, do you have a preference hitting inside, outside? Today you'll be hitting inside the cage, or is it a matter of just getting enough hits in?

JOHN OLERUD: I think most hitters would like to hit outside, but hitting in the cage is fine. You just want to get some swings, get loose, that sort of thing.

Q. John Franco, Yoshii the other day mentioned that the weirdness, abnormal guys on the pitching rotation is what makes your pitching so good. And Al Leiter has -- he mentioned Al Leiter as the weirdest, and Al Leiter was kind of laughing at that because he says that's the -- that's what he uses to relieve some of the pressure. Can you talk a little bit about Al Leiter's demeanor?

JOHN FRANCO: Al just takes it real easy. He's very emotional. He's been in big games before in Toronto, Florida and here; so he knows what it takes to prepare himself for these type of games. He's been around a long time. He's been around a lot of great pitchers; so just the way he prepares himself I would say gives him a little bit of edge amongst most of the guys in the locker room because he's been there before.

Q. Why would Masato consider him weird?

JOHN FRANCO: Because he's left-handed.

Q. How did the Braves fans treat you last night?

JOHN FRANCO: Me, personally? I had no problems with them last night. Last time we were here, it was a handful of people in the bullpen that were nasty to myself and Dennis Cook. Well, all the guys down there. They start drinking and get sauced up, and that's what happens. But most of it was all in fun last night. But the last series we were here, in the 16 years coming here, that was probably the worst I've seen.

Q. Of either one of you, with all the great plays that Ordonez made, is there any one that stands out for you this season?

JOHN FRANCO: All of them were great to me. I'm a pitcher; so I love every play he makes. He's a highlight. You can't really pick one out. I remember when I first got here in 1990 when he threw a pitch and a ground ball was hit, you were afraid to look back, you would just go by crowd reaction. Now, when you throw a ground ball, you want to see the plays the guys make. John, being on all other end of the great plays from Rey, you can't just pick one out. He's the highlight film, and time and again, you don't know how he gets to the ball or makes the plays, but he makes them.

JOHN OLERUD: I would have to agree with John. You can't single out any one play. He's made great plays going to third base, made great plays going up the middle, charging balls, balls where he's -- seems like he's rolling on his back and makes a throw. And I would say probably the thing I appreciate most about Rey is that with all the off-balance plays he makes, he hits me in the chest more often than not with the throws; so as first baseman, that's what you like. He makes my job real easy over there.

Q. John Franco, you just mentioned this, but there was a time where the Mets infield was described as anything from a disaster to very, very bad. Was there a singular turning point, an acquisition, a philosophy, where you saw it change, maybe the beginning of genesis?

JOHN FRANCO: Yeah, when Alfonzo came up and they got Ordonez and they signed Johnny and they signed Robin. Before that, it was average, but now these guys are in a class of their own.

Q. Johnny, what do you remember about Remlinger, as far as were you able to project in your mind maybe some day this guy would be a good reliever?

JOHN FRANCO: When Mike was here, he didn't have a role, he was between starting and relieving. And I don't think felt comfortable. He's now a middle reliever, short reliever, set-up for Rocker. He's always had a great arm. Coming over here and watching the veteran guys over here, he's probably picked up a few things, how to pitch a little more. He's older, more mature now, and learned to pitch watching Glavine and Maddux. And those guys here that have a tendency, I'm sure, to pick up one or two things from them. And with Leo Mezzone, too.

Q. You mentioned how the crowd treated you the last time you were here. How do you think your crowd will treat these guys come Friday night, and does it depend at all on whether it's 1-1 or 0-2?

JOHN FRANCO: They'll probably treat them a little crazy, I'm sure, whether it's 1-1 or 2-0. The Met fans have been waiting a long time; so I don't think it will be anything out of the usual that we haven't seen in the last ten days or two weeks at Shea with the big crowds we have there.

Q. John Olerud, Al Leiter mentioned earlier that the New York crowd for the home team can pump you up and elevate everyone's concentration level. Would you agree with that? You seem like you can concentrate in solitary confinement?

JOHN OLERUD: Yeah, well, I think the New York crowd, especially the last few home games we played at, they've been great. They're standing on their feet from the first inning on, rooting on a strikeout or the guys to get a big hit. So I think it can be intimidating to the opposing team, and in the same way, pump up the home team.

Q. John Franco, I apologize if this has been asked, but what does it mean to you as a New Yorker to play in these games? And also have you been contacted by 700 people who claim they played ball with you in high school, that kind of thing?

JOHN FRANCO: It means a lot. Growing up as a Mets fan and being here probably the longest, of the players in the locker rooms, not being in the playoffs it meant a lot just to get in there. I'm getting tired of being the longest active player not in the playoffs. So finally that you're in the playoffs, you can wipe that slate clean, now. But I've had a lot of people contact me and said they played against me. "I hit a triple or double off of you," and so on, same old stuff. Just yes them to death, make them feel good, and just go on.

Q. Johnny, you had a sort of weird relationship with the Mets fans in that they'll boo you at the ballpark or cheer you. What's the most clever, memorable thing that a fan at Shea Stadium has ever yelled at you?

JOHN FRANCO: I don't even know. There's been so many things, I can't remember, to tell you the truth. Nothing really sticks out in my mind. I can't control how they feel or whatever. I've just got to worry about doing my job on the field. I can't control whether they say nice things or bad things. I just can't worry about that.

Q. Has anything ever been so clever that you just have to laugh?

JOHN FRANCO: I laugh every time I'm out there. I laugh inside to myself. But I can't really remember.

Q. John Olerud, could you talk about Glavine, and other than the obvious things, where he differs from the other three starters that you'll face in this series?

JOHN OLERUD: I don't know. I think the thing that makes this pitching staff good is they pitch. They throw the ball to the corners, they change speeds, and I think that's one of the things that he does real well is he hits his spots. He keeps the ball on the outside part of the plate, and he also changes speeds out there. He makes a lot of his pitches look the same, and they'll move differently late, and I think that's what makes him so tough.

Q. Is there a sentiment among the hitters on this team that knowing how good this pitching staff you're facing is, that when mistakes are made by them, you really have to jump on them much more so than any other team? Is there ever a time when you just feel like there's no room for error?

JOHN OLERUD: Well, I think that's the way it is. You want to play against everybody. Anytime a team makes a mistake, you want to capitalize on that. They're good pitchers; so they're not going to get rattled. When they have a mistake, they're going to still try to make good quality pitches. So the at-bats are tough, against any team. You're going to want to capitalize on them. Do you feel like you have to take advantage of every one? I don't know. You'd like to, but that's not always going to work out, and you know they're going to pitch you tough; so you have to try to

-- you want to make the most of every opportunity, definitely.

End of FastScripts…

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