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October 5, 1999

Kenny Rogers


Q. What are your thoughts on the challenge of coming to the team?

KENNY ROGERS: When they first got me over I knew what was expected: To come in and pitch up to your capabilities and basically give the team a little bit of a lift. I think when I first got there, they were playing great when I got there but I think they felt they were short in some areas and being left-handed was the biggest key for getting me over in the first place, along with the relationship with Bobby, and I think Omar, were probably the biggest reasons they got me in the first place; because they had knowledge of who I was and I played for them before. I think they knew that I could help them.

Q. Were you more confident --?

KENNY ROGERS: I heard before I came to play with them how good they were, but you still -- I don't think everybody knows just how good they are until you see it day-in, day-out. Since I've been here, it's just been play after play that you're just, it's remarkable. As consistent as these guys could be, all of them in the infield I think they feed off each other. I think Rey has just been above everybody else because he's been out there day-in and day-out playing one of the toughest spots to play in the defense, and spectacular. For me, a ground-ball pitcher, it was a good fit. It gives me a mind set of trying to do what's best for us to win a ballgame. Not trying to do more than I should like trying to get strikeouts here and there, which for me is a good mental approach going into the game. Once I saw a few games, it's really relaxed me and maybe let me, you know, make some pitches in certain situations that knowing these guys are going to making the plays.

Q. Can you talk about how it feels coming back to the playoffs?

KENNY ROGERS: I wouldn't really classify it as redemption. I just feel like this time around I'm better prepared in a lot of different ways to being out there and compete. I think before, I was always as a disadvantage when I went out there. I knew that basically myself when I went out there. I didn't know from each day what I would have when I towed the rubber. Now I kind of know what to expect when I go out there. Even if the weapons are different, curveball or sinker or whatever, I know I can find something to work this time around, hopefully.

Q. Changed that for you, Kenny?

KENNY ROGERS: I think when I was with the Yankees it was a struggle in a lot of ways because partially of my own doing I think, but not all the way. When I went to Oakland after having surgery the last year with the Yankees, I think I got healthy. I got the ability to get the ball every 5th day with Art. When they gave me the ball, it didn't, you know -- didn't have any outings where if I didn't go out there and do well, I wouldn't have the ball the next 5th day. That's a good feeling for a pitcher of my ability level. I need consistent work and they gave that to me. They let me get my feet back on the ground with Oakland. I told Art that in spring training when I went there. I said: "I'm a mess right now but give me the ball every 5th day and I'll produce for you." And it worked out for all of us. I think in that point getting the ball and getting my confidence back to where I felt like I was capable of going out there and competing. That's a big thing from a starting pitcher to go out there and feel like you have the ability and the confidence to go out there and succeed, no matter what the challenges put in front of you.

Q. Can you talk about if the players have put behind them what's happened the last 24 hours?

KENNY ROGERS: I think the last four or five days, we've been on a game-to-game basis. If we won or lost a game we knew we were going to go home because we dug a hole that was just too deep to crawl out of. Knowing that we went out and played well with our backs up against the wall to win. Hopefully for us, our approach is going to be the same way. Since we've been through it the last four days it's not going to get any harder from here. We already felt like we were at the bottom, and I think it prepared us for the playoffs. We were basically in a playoff atmosphere for the last four days.

Q. Any hard feelings for Oakland?

KENNY ROGERS: I don't know of any hard feelings. If there are, that's something I haven't heard, but I don't have any hard feelings, and I think if there are any for them, I don't really know where they are coming from because they basically upgraded their team when they got rid of me. And I was fortunate to get out of there and get closer to home, and people know that. They knew that from day one when I went there and if anybody had a problem with that, for me want to go get closer to my home, I really couldn't care less.

Q. Can you talk about -- Todd has a torn rotator cuff. Can you talk about that a little bit, Kenny?

KENNY ROGERS: Yeah, I think that's a tough thing to do as a pitcher, because when something is bothering you, the first thing to go is your location. Todd is more of a power pitcher than I was. I don't know the injuries he had or what's wrong but after I went under and got surgery in '97 or '96, whatever it was, I had a partial tear in the labrum and a partial tear in the rotator. It's not so much you're throwing while you're hurting, but things are a little off and getting quality work between starts is tough. Every day after you've thrown a certain amount of pitches, it's hard to pick up the ball the next day. I'm sure for him to get consistent, you need quality work on the side so you can prepare yourself for going into the game, and I'm sure that's been a little bit of a struggle. It's tough thing it keep going out there every day knowing that you're limited in some areas, but I know -- I don't know a lot about Todd, but I've heard through the grapevine that he's a guy go out there and battle you. A guy like this, you he'll try to find a way to beat you.

Q. (Inaudible)?

KENNY ROGERS: I didn't judge anything he was doing, but from my history, it didn't bear any fruit for me when I was with the Yankees. It's a hard thing to do physically, but mentally, getting over it with the stuff you're going to being out there, I think it's an adjustment. But I think as long as a pitcher is never scared to go out there, even if he knows he's not going to have a whole lot of stuff, to go out there and try, he's going to have a chance to beat you. I know that's my approach, and I'm sure that's his. He'll go out there and try to find a way to beat you with whatever he's got.

Q. Any hard feelings after the last outing?

KENNY ROGERS: I'm notorious for not saying a whole lot to my managers and coaches, but I've tried to be a little smarter from past experienced. When I was in Oakland, I let Art know one time, but it didn't help matters that day. It's something with the game that I was pitching in the other day. Like I said, it was basically the season's over if we don't win it was a 2-0 ballgame. There wasn't room for error. Once you get to the 8th inning -- you get to the part where our bullpen has been so strong. It wasn't just me going out there where I didn't feel like I had a whole lot left. Those change-ups, those are harder on you than just throwing fastballs or sinkers, but I just felt like it was: Keep an eye on me and don't let me lose the strike zone. When I walked the batter, I think they kind of knew. It doesn't come easy to any pitcher, but I think with the magnitude of the game that day, hopefully I'm a little bit smarter.

Q. What are your thoughts on starting Game 2 and the lateness of the game for your friends and family and Florida and New York?

KENNY ROGERS: I know Mets fans, none of them are going to sleep. They will be up to two or three in the morning just to see the game. Same with my family. They will all be staying up late, probably playing hookie from work if they have to. I think the start time is a disadvantage for fans and family back home, but they will deal with it. We get to sleep most of the day.

End of FastScripts….

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