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October 18, 2001

Craig Counsell

Mark Grace

Damian Miller

Matt Williams


THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. Mark, we'll start with you. How much does Burkett remind you of Maddux when it comes to stuff, approach, things like that?

MARK GRACE: A lot of similarities. I think probably the last couple years he's probably watched Greg a lot and learned a lot from Greg. They're equally tough. They change speeds very well. They use both sides of the plate real well. They'll give you any pitch any time. One of the differences is that John throws a few more breaking balls, sliders and curveballs than Greg. But they're both equally tough.

Q. How concerned are you about the lack of run production? Especially when you go against a guy who's had some success against you in the past?

MARK GRACE: Oh, Matthew?

MATT WILLIAMS: Well, I think that once you get in the playoffs, it's a little more magnified, of course. But there's a reason they're here. The reason is they can pitch. So what we have to do is, again, take advantage of a mistake that he makes. If he leaves one out over the plate, take advantage of that. If we get guys in scoring position, take advantage of that and go from there and see where we go with it. But I know that we don't go into tomorrow and think about that. Once the game starts, we're all about getting hits and scoring runs. That's something to be said or discussed after the fact, I think. We'll see if we can get John tomorrow.

Q. For any of you guys, Smoltz said last night Game 3 is the most pivotal in a five- or seven-game series. Do you agree with that?

CRAIG COUNSELL: Well, be honest with you, I think every game is the same. I mean, they come up to you after every game with that question, "Do you think this was the most important game? Do you think the next game's the most important game?" They all count the same. Your approach is the same in every game, I think. If you treat every game like it's a do-or-die situation. No game's any more or less important in my mind. To me, the only game that becomes the most important game is the seventh game, because that's the game that ends it. So I think every game's going to be played in the same way. The first game is going to be played the same as the third game as the same as the fifth game as the same as the seventh game. We all want to win every game, each team.

Q. What Schilling has meant to the club, coming off losses this year he's been virtually unhittable. How important is Schilling to the club? He's been incredible.

DAMIAN MILLER: What more can you say about the guy? He's 15-1 after our losses, I read the stat today. It just shows you what kind of character he has on that mound. He's the kind of pitcher that wants the ball. I mean, that makes -- it makes a guy like that so important on a ballclub, just because after a tough loss last night, for him to take the ball tomorrow, I mean, it's just -- would be a huge boost of confidence for us. Hopefully we can come out and swing the bats.

Q. Craig, how well did Burkett throw against you guys this year?

CRAIG COUNSELL: Oh, he pitched a great game against us, from what I remember. I think he might have shut us out, or one run. But he pitched a real good game against us. I think, you know, early May or something like that. So I think he's -- he pitched as well as he could in that game. It's a challenge for us to learn from that maybe a little bit, and maybe see some things he's tried to do lately. But like Matty said, we have to -- he's going to make mistakes and we have to hit those mistakes. I think with all these Braves pitchers, you have to also take what they give you, you know? They feed off your aggression, and then you have to be smart enough to just take things that they're going to give you. And as a line-up, string together good at-bats.

Q. This is for anybody. Was workout optional? If it was, what does it say about the team that so many guys were here?

MARK GRACE: Yes, it was optional. Yeah, we had a good turnout. It's good to see. I think it was pretty much, other than The Great One, I think everybody was here. No. 99 didn't show up today, Luis Gonzalez. But he doesn't need any help. He gets out of bed and hits. But it was a good turnout. I think there was a lot of fun had out there today. Is that good grammar?

THE MODERATOR: It's all right.

MARK GRACE: A lot of fun had out there today. I know I was having fun. We were all having a good time. I personally think it's important to work out. I don't think anybody really, as far as the guys here, didn't want the day off. We need to go out there, especially offense, we need as many swings as we can get.

Q. Is it something you all talked about? Or did you show up and see that everybody was here?

MARK GRACE: Well, we got in at five in the morning, so we didn't talk about it at the hotel. But we pretty much, "Who's going to show? Who's not?" It was a good turnout. Real good turnout. It's good to see.

Q. Craig, last night those two line drives you hit to leftfield, would those normally be base hits? Could you talk a little bit about Atlanta and how they position their defense?

CRAIG COUNSELL: Well, I'm not sure if they would have been hits. I think maybe the second one. But, you know, they do and they always have positioned their defense according to the way their guys are going to pitch. Obviously, with Glavine throwing 90 percent fastballs away, they're going to play their outfielders to hit the other way, and their infield as well. To be honest with you, if they're going to throw it out there, I'm going to try to hit it over there. As a hitter, all you can do is hit it hard. If you hit it to them, then tip your cap to them. That's the strength of those pitchers, is that they put their balls in the spots where their defense is going to be playing you. That's how they get outs also.

Q. For any of you, Craig said that you have to take what their pitchers give you. Do you feel in the first two games you've done a pretty good job of that?

MATT WILLIAMS: Well, to be honest, I think that -- I think last night we stringed together some pretty good at-bats. There were some balls hit well. But there's no secret here. The reason that they've been here for ten straight years is because they can position their defense and the pitchers throw the ball where they want to. That's one of the reasons that they're here for so many years in a row. So what Counsell means, I think, is that you have to give what's given to you. If you have to hit the ball up the middle or whatever you choose to do. There would be no reason to take Tom Glavine's changeup, believe me, I did it many times, on the outside part of the plate and hit it to leftfield. No reason to do that. You get yourself out. That's what he's banking on you doing. They position their defense according to their pitchers and where they throw the ball. They have great confidence that Tom can put the ball where he wants to, that Greg can put the ball where he wants to, that Burkett can put the ball where he wants to and they position their defense accordingly and that's the reason they come back here so often. Yeah, last night was a prime example of taking what Tom gave us. However, they defensed perfectly. There's nothing you can do about that as a hitter except hit it hard. If it's at somebody, it's at somebody. But if you put enough of those good at-bats together, you've got a good chance to score some runs.

Q. How does this bullpen compare with some of the ones they've had in past years?

MARK GRACE: Compared to Braves bullpens? These guys all throw hard. Every one of them throw hard. They've got a nice little, for lack of a better word, mix. Their starters are relatively finesse guys that throw in the 80s, mid to high 80s, fastballs. And then after six or seven innings, now you get to the bullpen and every one of those throws mid to high 90s. Seanez throws real hard, Karsay, Smoltz, Remlinger, all these guys are throwing hard. So that's kind of a nice change of pace that they have for six innings you're seeing fastballs with a lot of movement and not as much velocity. All of a sudden now, if they have a lead, now you're going to have to hit something mid 90s, high 90s, and that's a tough adjustment as a hitter to go up there and make that adjustment that quickly. So that's a good advantage for them.

Q. Matt, can you talk about Burkett, how he's evolved into the pitcher he is right now from the time you broke in with him?

MATT WILLIAMS: Well, Burkett won 20 games for us with the Giants with sinker slider. He threw an occasional changeup but not a whole lot of them. He threw harder back then. His fastball isn't as hard now, but he's developed a fantastic changeup, oddly enough. He got over here and developed that changeup. They seem to do that here. So he throws the ball in the corners, changes speeds, he works quickly. The thing about Burkett, he'll throw any pitch at any time. If you get in a good hitter's count, you're not necessarily going to get a fastball. What you need to do is just try to be patient with him and get a good one to hit and hit it hard somewhere. But he won 20 games with us with the Giants. But I think he's a better pitcher now.

End of FastScripts....

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