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October 19, 1997
MIAMI, FLORIDA: Game Two
Q. I know that you haven't changed your approach to the game or anything like that, but
are you concerned about getting right into your aggressive style right away because of
having struggled a little bit the last few times. The question is, I was wondering what
your approach was going to be.
AL LEITER: To get the hitters out and hopefully score more runs. I know what you're
saying. Basically, my style of pitching is being aggressive. And there's a fine line with
being too aggressive and too hyper and not under control. And there's a lot of great
left-handed pitchers out there that seem so under control and really don't get after it as
far as effort, but I find myself, if I get falling back into trying to be a pitcher, so to
speak, and hitting spots all the time, I don't feel like I'm letting the ball go. And
sometimes this year with the inconsistency that I had, I was resorting back and forth to
try and be hitting spots and trying to be a control pitcher. Everybody knows basically I
throw a lot of fast balls, I come after the hitters, I like the inside part of the plate.
I'm mainly a fastball, slider, and you have to do certain things to get Major League
hitters out. This year I didn't resort to enough pitching, using both sides of the plate
and feeling your way through. You start doing that, you aim the ball, you walk batters and
you get yourself in trouble. So hopefully it will be one of my better games on Tuesday. I
had some good moments this year, even though it wasn't the most consistent and best season
I would have liked, but there were also a lot of good times that I can remember that I'll
work off of. I feel good. Physically it's been frustrating for me, because I feel my stuff
has been very good this year, as it was last year, which was a good season for me. And
hopefully, I'll have my game on Tuesday.
Q. When you've been struggling for a while, does it prey on your mind, and how do you
deal with the negative thoughts coming in?
AL LEITER: You try not to think about it. Then like I said, almost like you start
trying to search and reach, and I've been working with Larry Rothschild, the pitching
coach, off and on all year, and early in the season I had some problems physically with my
knee and then my groin, and when you start thinking about other things, other than making
pitches and getting hitters out, you're going to find you're going to be ineffective. My
best way for me to try and not think of those negative thoughts is to keep it out of your
mind. I bring back good videotapes of games I've thrown. Even though numerous times this
year I pulled out the no-hitter I had, it's an internal feeling. It's not how fast the
ball is going and the slider is going, it's the feeling internally that really makes the
pitcher great, good and mediocre.
Q. When was the last time you pulled that no-hitter tape out?
AL LEITER: It's been a while. I would say not too long ago, probably some time in
September. I've probably watched it a few times.
Q. Do you feel like last year you and Kevin were arguably -- you could argue that
either one of you was the ace of the staff. You think about the attention paid to Kevin
and Alex and now Livan, is it hard to go, hey, don't forget about me, after what you did
AL LEITER: It is. I hate to say I jinxed myself, I did have a career year for me, and I
got on the All-Star Team, I've lived down here as a Yankee in Spring Training, and
everything that made this move so wonderful. At times it did. I was hoping that -- what I
did with Kevin and I -- for whatever reason it hasn't been consistent. Alex comes in and
18 wins and he does terrific. And Livan is certainly a great pitcher. So what -- I did say
something, and I hope it wasn't a taboo, I said I would trade a good season for a World
Championship. And I think it's happening. But I really don't mind, especially this time of
the year, it's great for Livan, it's great for baseball, and Kevin is his usual self. And
I'll play second fiddle for a little while, but not too long.
Q. During the season we heard so much about the Atlanta Braves and the pitching staff
and how good it was, have we just overlooked your staff? How is your staff? What is your
AL LEITER: My view, especially after we got Alex Fernandez, I remembered Alex with the
White Sox. I like hard throwing, aggressive, snarling, we're coming-at-you type of staff.
And we're not a finesse staff. I guess you could say I'm getting to a point where I think
Atlanta's staff with Glavine and Maddox and Neagle, they're always under control, and
they're not overpowering, and they pitch. Kevin tonight, you're going to see a guy who
turns and fires it and has great stuff on it. Yeah, I thought our staff stuff-wise easily
could compare to any staff in the League or baseball. But I didn't do my part.
Q. Getting back to that no-hitter a little bit. You were talking about the inner
feeling, what was that feeling or that groove you got into mentally and physically that
you've tried to match ever since then?
AL LEITER: I think the best thing that I can remember from that night was about the 6th
or 7th inning. I didn't even realize where I was or that I was facing the Rockies line-up,
and I was looking in. My concentration was focused on Charles Johnson, his glove and the
fingers he was putting down. I didn't think about who was up. I think the last three
innings I couldn't even tell you who the batters were, I was that focused. And it's really
a terrific way to pitch. Because a lot of times when a pitcher struggles you start
thinking about what the hitter can do and their strength, and you forget about your
strength. You're so tuned in to trying to find the weakness of the hitter and you're not
being on the offensive. That night I felt like I was totally clear of all negative
thoughts and I was focused on what Al Leiter was able to do, and it was a no-hitter, which
is a lot of luck.
Q. Looking back on it, did that propel you to that year you had?
AL LEITER: I do. The next start, the first batter Lance Johnson with the Mets, rolls
one down to first baseline and gets a base hit. I'm sure Lance wasn't trying to do that.
It's lucky, a no-hitter.
Q. First two rounds the way Jim sets rotation, you were in a secondary role, and that
obviously has changed in this series, you have a chance to pitch in Game 7, how does that
make you feel?
AL LEITER: Makes me feel good. It makes me feel like I have a shot at doing something
here. And I have an opportunity to help this team in the World Series, to win a World
Championship. I'm not thinking about the negative aspect that I was overlooked in the
previous series, because that's the way it was. And quite frankly, I've been inconsistent
enough not to deserve it. But I know what I'm capable of doing, and I feel very confident
and comfortable against the Indian line-up and I'm going to go out and do what I know best
and hopefully it's good enough to pitch a good ballgame.
Q. Is the start or the possibility of two starts in the World Series, do you look at it
as a chance to make up for the bad parts of this year?
AL LEITER: No, because I feel like if I'm focused on that, and if it's not a good
outing, then what, so it was a flop year? No. I'm really looking at this is a great
opportunity. My last World Series in '93, I came out of the bullpen and pitched in three
games. Winning Game 1 against the Phillies was terrific, but it was out of the bullpen.
And here I'm getting a start. So I'm really treasuring this. There have been better
players than me that have come down the pike and never made it to the World Series, and
this will be my second and I'm really enjoying it.
Q. Al, can you describe what it's like throwing to Charles Johnson and how is it to
have such a great defensive presence behind the plate?
AL LEITER: It's very important. Charles, obviously -- everybody knows he's a great
catcher and every aspect of his game as a catcher is wonderful. A few things I like -- I
like the fact he's a big target. He's a big man back there and covers a lot of plate. You
don't just see this little glove and nothing behind it, other than a mask. So you get a
big target. And obviously a fast runner or any runner at first base -- as a pitcher you
take away from your concentration because of the hitter, because you think he's going to
run, especially a fast guy, and not in the least do I, or I'm sure other pitchers, don't
think about the guy at first, because he's amazing, he throws the ball -- he's got me and
a lot of others out of trouble by throwing people out.
Q. You've had a lot of success in your career against Cleveland. Was that long ago
enough now that it doesn't have meaning to you or does it have meaning?
AL LEITER: Yeah, it has meaning. In '95 when they went onto the World Series I threw a
couple of my best games as a Toronto Blue Jay against a great line-up. I have a confident
feeling against that team, and I've pitched in Jacob's Field, so I'm comfortable with
that, but the full meaning of it, it's not complete because the line-up isn't the same.
They had Belle and Baergo and Lofton and Sorrento and now Justice and Williams and Grissom
Q. How do you view that line-up and what will be some of your gameplan against the
AL LEITER: The gameplan is to get them out. The gameplan is to get ahead and throw
strikes and be able to use all my pitches. But really it's not that scientific. Every
hitter has got some sort of weakness. Hitters know our strengths, hitters know what Al
Leiter is going to do to get them out, just like Kevin Brown tonight. It's a matter of us
executing pitches. They have a great scouting department and they give us information. If
you can't execute to exploit a hitter's weakness, you're not going to do it. But I have a
gameplan and it's just a matter of doing it.
Q. Does Robb Nen ever astound you with his power?
AL LEITER: I'm jealous. I wish I could throw 102. I think I wouldn't give up any hits,
but Justice hits a 100-mile fastball and turns on it. So it shows the importance of
location and change of speeds. The best arm strength I've ever been around, and I've been
around some pretty good arms. And I don't know how he does it, I think it's just a gift
from God and he's got it. It's great to see it. It's actually fun to sit there and watch
that radar gun, here in the stands.
Q. Do you believe that reading, 102?
AL LEITER: Absolutely. I've never hit 102 on it. If you look all last night, Livan
Hernandez was throwing 89 to 92 on the very same gun. Hershiser was 86 to 88. A few other
guys, including Plunk, hit 94. You saw five or six Major League arms, and they didn't hit
100. With a slow gun, a fast gun, I don't care, it's fast, 102 is fast.
Q. The weather is supposed to turn pretty nasty in Cleveland, do you have any feeling
about pitching in colder weather?
AL LEITER: Well, I haven't done it in a while. And in Toronto we had the dome, when it
got chilly they closed it. But I grew up in New Jersey and on the shore in March and April
it was cold, and I remember pitching many games in the snow. The biggest problem with the
cold is the slick feeling on the ball. The ball become like cue balls. It's a matter of
getting a grip. Obviously you're not sweating, so you can't get any moisture to get a good
grip. And that is probably the only problem that I foresee. But as far as your muscles and
whether you're going to be loose. Once you're warmed up, you're hot, it's not a problem.
Q. Your lack of success on the road this year, does that prey on your mind at all as
you face this start?
AL LEITER: No, until you mentioned it (laughter.) I can't explain that, either, because
I feel just as good. There is some comfort knowing you're on a comfortable mound and
different mounds are all different shapes and sizes and angles and slopes. And your
perception between looking at your catcher behind the plate, you get a feeling. And
there's some places you feel better. Obviously I felt great here the last two years. But
I'm not going to let that bother me. I've thrown -- I don't know -- how many games, I know
one for sure at Jacob's that I did well. So I'm not going to think about that.
End of FastScripts