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October 6, 1999

Buck Showalter


BUCK SHOWALTER: Fortunate enough to get in there and certainly, Randy, is a little different guy from pitch counts. I think we've seen that over the course of the season, and we'll continue to keep that in consideration. But we'll talk about that when Game 4 comes around. You could make a case for Brian pitching, as well as anybody on our club right now. Hopefully we'll get an opportunity to make that decision.

Q. Buck, can we get your analysis on the Mets bullpen, your thoughts on that?

BUCK SHOWALTER: I think every club that's playing this time of year, that's one of the things you have to be able to do in your game, is not only pitch the 9th inning, so many games nowadays are decided in the 7th, 8th inning. That's where the depth of clubs shows up. Now they have got Franco back, and John is a guy who can get right- and left-handed hitters out for them. Cook has been there for them. Wendell has done the job. Muhomes may be pitching as well as anybody they have got right now. It's a formidable task when you get into late innings. But any team you face with Rocker, or whether it be with Wagner -- and not just a closer. I think a lot of guys -- just about all the teams this time of the year have someone that they feel comfortable that they can get to that guy at the end. The Mets are no different.

Q. How remarkable is it to have Todd pitching the second game of the playoffs, considering the season he went through with the injury?

BUCK SHOWALTER: I think if you know Todd, it's not something that catches you by surprise. I think when the doctor in my office said to Todd, "Through hard work there's a possibility you could pitch again this year and pitch effectively," that's all he needed to hear. It's just a matter of hard work, and he and we really liked his chances. Through it, and I know you guys have been there this year, it's well-documented, he's put on some good weight; strengthened a lot of the other things, his shoulder caps, everything around there. I don't think the Mets really care about it, could care less what he's done to get to this point. And once you get between those lines, there's no sympathy or anything out there. But I think it's a real testament to Todd. I've said many times this year, he took off and met us in Colorado and got the diagnosis. We only had three days left in the trip, and it set a tone for a lot of things, a lot of the players, through injuries over the course of the long season, having Todd set the tone for that, that you can make contributions to the club. Todd can make a lot of contributions to the club through his injury by the way he handled it and the example he set.

Q. Looking ahead to Game 3, can you talk about Omar Daal since being --?

BUCK SHOWALTER: I don't think if we can look ahead to Game 4, but we can look ahead to Game 3. We were very lucky in the expansion draft to draft someone like him. I know he was viewed as a relief pitcher mostly, and being able to see the success he had over in winter ball in Venezuela where he's able to use all his pitches, his change-up -- he's got great command. When he retires, he can do anything he wants, he could be a GM, could be a manager, could be a pitching coach; anything that Omar wants to do. He's that type of young man. Very articulate, very intelligent, very competitive, and I think a lot of -- we have a lot of confidence when he's out there. He holds his position; holds runners; he's cognizant of where he is on the bag. He's one of the guys that can control the running game without a lot of help from the dugout. We're very proud of him. A lot of people didn't know if he would hold up physically. We were cautious with him last year and this career year, and will continue to be. But we're lucky to have him. I know he's made a great impression on a lot of people in the National League.

Q. There was some apparent second-guessing regarding the move of Chouinard over Manty, and for those who don't cover the club regularly, why was that move made?

BUCK SHOWALTER: That's part of the game. Our game is talked about because I think we've played so many games. That's why the off-season is so intriguing and fun for a lot of fans. That's part of it. I'm glad they are talking about baseball and the Diamondbacks. But as far as why, Matt had not been brought in that situation all year. If we had had a base open, we could have considered it. That's why we had both of them up there. I think Bobby -- I know Bobby is pitching as well as anybody in our bullpen, and I think he's done a great job with inherited runners this year. Made a great pitch to Rickey. If we can get that ball to one side or the other, we've got a shot at a double-play. I think with Matt coming in and facing Rickey, who is so selective at the plate, and the other thing I had to keep in consideration, too, is what it might do to Matt for the rest of the series. It's uncharted territory for a lot of guys, but there's a lot of factors there. Bobby has been our best guy in that situation this year. You try to put players in a position -- that no one wants to be in the position Bobby was in. We created that. If we bring in Bobby around Mora's spot, we're going to get into the Hamilton, Franco, Bonilla situation as opposed to Randy Johnson versus Moore, but no knock on Melvin, he could have done the same thing if we had thrown a strike. Those are some of the factors, a few more, but it didn't work out. But we wouldn't be here today without Bobby. Of course, we wouldn't be here without Matt or Randy, either.

Q. You managed in New York City where baseball has been forever, and Phoenix where it's been for two years. Can you describe what the playoffs are like for the fans here in the valley?

BUCK SHOWALTER: I was so proud of our fans last night, and that's why it was really kind of a kick in the stomach to not be able to repay the help they gave us, last night, and the way they responded. I thought that -- thought it was a great night for Phoenix and the State of Arizona and the organization. I know in New York, when we would play a day game and it was beautiful weather and a full house, you always want to play well, but you hope everybody didn't have a problem parking; the concession stands weren't too long; that everybody says, "It's something I want to be a part of, I want to go back again." I hope everybody had a great time last night, except for the dagger that Alfonzo threw at us. We did a lot of things to get to that point, too, last night. We did not create any margin for error. But as far as last night and what it meant, I don't think anybody is going to really grasp it until we get away from it after the season is over and unfortunately, a lot of times you don't really appreciate it until you haven't done it in a season. I think those of us that went through last year, I look at Andy Benes and Brian Anderson and Omar and Kelly and all the guys, of course Matty and Jay who were here last year, and there's a little different tug when you see him run out on the field in San Francisco to celebrate a divisional title. I think until we're away from it a little bit, unfortunately you're not -- in the playoffs, after you've been there, that's when it hits you. It doesn't happen every year and how many things have to happen for it to get to this point. That's why you want to seize the opportunity we have here in this series.

Q. Regarding last night's 9th inning, were Wendell or Holmes thought about?

BUCK SHOWALTER: They are all a possibility, obviously, but the way they are off the bench and the options we have, Bobby has been the guy that's done the best job in that situation with inherited runners and throwing strikes and being able -- if he gets in the count feel a little better. We'd be haling him as a hero, I think, if he can get ahead of Alfonzo. It will go unnoticed if he gets a ground ball off Rickey in that situation, and Matt makes as good a play as you ever want to see a third baseman make. But that's the nature of the beast.

Q. Talk about Alfonzo and his pinch-hitting?

BUCK SHOWALTER: We shouldn't feel singled out by him doing that last night. We've been doing against everybody in the league this year and I'm sure interleague play, too. But there's so many -- so many tough spots in their lineup. That's why they are here. You pick your poison you've got John Olerud and Rickey and Piazza and Ventura, meant a lot to their club this year. Just when you think you can take a sigh, someone you don't expect to hurt you will if you let up. It's a tough lineup, but so is ours. We're looking forward to getting an opportunity to feel a little bit better about our situation tonight.

Q. How would you compare with your experience the demeanor of the fans here in Phoenix compared to the fans in New York?

BUCK SHOWALTER: Demeanor? I think every place is different. Our fans are very passionate, and it's very obvious they have taken a real liking to this team, and I think they are proud -- they feel comfortable with giving themselves emotionally to this team, with the way they have played the game, and the way they have represented them as fans and we're very proud of them. I chuckled the other day when someone was talking about the attendance. We had -- we averaged over 37,000; 37,000 people decided the best thing they had to do on that day was come out and watch this baseball team play, and that's pretty impressive. I think a lot of people in the game would love to have it. I think as we establish resolvases more it's only going to grow. We have a great facility and a place for them to come out and watch the games. But comparing them and the fans in New York, I think they are both very supportive. And certainly, you can't take it for granted you have to put a product on the field they want to be a part of. I think that's what Jerry had in mind in the off-season. You can't take things for granted; that the novelty of a new stadium and new franchise will wear off. They will eventually come to the game -- I used to say in New York a lot they come to watch you win a game. They don't come to see a baseball game. They come to see the Yankees or the Mets win. If you can't deliver that and they have a corner on that approach, I think, is making a mistake.

Q. Will you have a pitch count on Todd tonight?

BUCK SHOWALTER: I think going into it, a lot of his longevity in the game is going to depend on how the Mets treat him.

Q. What have what have you thought of Kenny Rogers through the years, and what might he do to give your lineup trouble?

BUCK SHOWALTER: One thing that jumps out at you he's a very good athlete. He's as good-fielding pitcher as there is in baseball today. He's changed his approach to pitching over the years when he first came up in Texas when I saw him over in the American League he was a relief pitcher. Well above-average fastball overpowering, breaking ball and the change-up has developed very well over the year. More of a finesse guy and will pitch inside and jump up at you when he goes inside, but mostly a sinker ground ball pitcher, which is good for their club the way, the way they play defense in the infield. He's perfect for their club. I think this is a great situation for him tonight. It's going to be a tough matchup for us. There's not many things that he allows you to do that gives you an advantage, the running game is a real challenge, fielding his position, bunting on him whether it be a hit or sac bunt, is a challenge. He's not going to beat himself with walks. We've got our work cut out for us.

Q. If you lose the five-game series, should this be division series be 4 out of 7?

BUCK SHOWALTER: I'll tell you after it's over. If we win I think 5 is a good idea. 7 -- I have thought about it a good deal. I know we talk about it in the locker room. You would like to see it 7. I mean, I go back to my mind or league days where you have a one-game playoff to get to the finals and you'd think you'd want to have as many opportunities to have it decided, maybe in a longer format. But I understand some of the limits we're placing on ourselves as far as ending the season otherwise we'd go right from the end of the season to the winter meetings and spring training. But I'd welcome that. I don't think -- certainly 100 wins doesn't go away, but I don't think anybody would sit here and tell you it wouldn't put a damper on the season. It certainly wouldn't mean as much if we don't advance in the playoffs.

Q. Do you have your lineup for tonight?

BUCK SHOWALTER: Yes, Bernie will be in right field. He's going to hit 7th. Colby is at first base. He'll hit 5th. Mac will be at short. Kelly is going to catch tonight. Damian has had his best day yet today as far as he feels, and that's encouraging.

End of FastScripts….

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