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October 11, 1999

Masato Yoshii


Q. Do you hate the Braves, and if so, why? A lot of the Braves hate the Mets, it seems?

MASATO YOSHII: It's not a matter of hatred or anything. The pure fact is we have to beat them to advance to the next stage. So I don't necessarily dislike them, but we just have to beat them.

Q. What goes through your mind when you hear that they hate you?

MASATO YOSHII: Well, when I was in Japan, I was a big fan of Major League Baseball, and Braves were always dominating. And compared to that Mets were -- they never won, they weren't that popular. So now that I'm part of the Mets, I just can't believe that the mighty Braves would feel anything like that against us.

Q. Were you frustrated about not being able to pitch against the Braves in either of the series in September?

MASATO YOSHII: I faced them in Shea, but not down here.

Q. When you were in Japan watching the Braves play, did you like them, and if so, what did you like about the team?

MASATO YOSHII: I was a big fan because -- since I'm a pitcher, and when you look at their starting rotation, each of the pitchers in the starting rotation were truly amazing, their ability, the way they were able to compose themselves and everything. So those are the reasons.

Q. You faced Randy Johnson last time. This time it's Greg Maddux. What do you think about going up against these guys, and who might you like to go up against next?

MASATO YOSHII: I don't particularly have any preferences or anything, of course. The basic fact is that up on this level in the pro season, all the pitchers you're going to face against are truly amazing; so it's not necessarily the Madduxes or the Johnsons, but anyone that I meet or face against will be great.

Q. When people look at these two teams, they give the Braves an overwhelming advantage in regards to the starting rotation. How do you think the Mets match up?

MASATO YOSHII: If you compare these two teams objectively, of course, Braves have got the veterans and the pitchers who have done things in the past in the postseasons. And, of course, they might have more of the experiences, and, of course, they have the records behind them. But when you look at our pitchers, as you know, we have a lot of weird, abnormal players, especially now with the starting rotation. The only way we can probably go against them is to show our, quote, unquote, very unique characteristics and somehow fight against them.

Q. If you had to rank the abnormal, weird players in your rotation, who's the most and who's the least abnormal, weird pitcher?

MASATO YOSHII: There is no least or lesser abnormal guys within us. But when you -- if I could just pick up one, then Al's got to be the one.

Q. Why?

MASATO YOSHII: Of course, I have the privilege to be with him off the field, as well, too. And I can't, of course, describe or tell you of any of the legends of Al Leiter, but he's just unique. But even if you look at him on the mound, the little things that he does up there, the way he talks to himself, and also, of course, his will to win, his desire to constantly win is way above that of the norm.

Q. The game against Maddux here in June was one of the best-pitched games of the year by two pitchers, and the back at Shea, the rematch, didn't go so well for you. What was different?

MASATO YOSHII: Back then, I was going through a lot of ups and downs, and I wasn't really consistent with my performance. And you might remember this, but I had a bit of a problem with my knee back then. If I look back on it, then those two might have been the reasons.

Q. Looking at the Braves line-up that you're going to be facing tomorrow, what are the challenges that you see either with each batter, or with that line-up as a whole, that are the challenges you see tomorrow?

MASATO YOSHII: One of the most important points would be about how to go about facing Chipper Jones, Klesko and Brian Jordan. So in order to be able to face them, I can't allow any of the runners to get on base. Those are points that I really have to focus on.

Q. When you came here last year, Bobby Valentine was saying he didn't know one or two American pitchers that use that Shuto pitch, is Maddux one of them, and what is the impression of the way that pitch is used there?

MASATO YOSHII: The Shuto, the two-seamer, is way above mine. The only thing I can do is pitch inside on the left-handed hitters, but with Maddux, he can throw anywhere he wants to. He has great control on those pitches. His Shuto is way above and better than mine.

Q. How many other Major League pitchers have you seen use it, and why isn't it more common in the United States?

MASATO YOSHII: I think it's getting more popular now. Rick Reed, for instance, he throws it. Hershiser, of course, he has one, too. I can't come up with any of the names with the other clubs, but I think it's getting popular.

Q. What do you think about pitching against the Braves after the Braves have dominated the Mets for the last two years, all the time you've been here?

MASATO YOSHII: At this point, we're at the verge of the opener for the League Championship. There's nothing we can come up with now, nothing new that we can come up with; so we just have to do our best and go face them.

Q. Is there an emotional level as well as a physical level of playing a team like that?

MASATO YOSHII: Not only with the Braves, but up in this level every team we face against, you have to have the physical points and also the mental aspects. These two points have to be completely up a hundred percent.

End of FastScripts….

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