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October 6, 2000

Garret Stephenson


Q. Can you talk about how much more prepared you feel for a game like this tomorrow than a year ago?

GARRETT STEPHENSON: You know, most of the time, when I go into a game, regardless of the teams, if it is in first place, last place or right in the middle, I try to treat every game the same. You go out there, if you prepare yourself, you get to know the hitters, you psych yourself up, however you psych yourself up, and you go out there and throw strikes. If you go out there and you throw quality strikes, for the most part, you will have a lot more success than you have failure. So, tomorrow's game is basically going to be me preparing myself the way I normally do and go out there and throw strikes and have fun.

Q. The year of pitching you have had, is there a confidence that tells you, you are that much more ready to take this one?

GARRETT STEPHENSON: I think this year helped a lot. Last year coming off an ankle injury and coming up and not having the control that I would have liked to have had for the 12 starts last year, I think knowing that I belong in the Big Leagues rather than thinking that I belong in the Big Leagues helps a lot. So, I mean I am more prepared than I would have been a year ago, yes.

Q. Does it help psych yourself up going against excellent teams like the Braves, whom you have had great success with?

GARRETT STEPHENSON: I don't really know if it helps psych me up. I just -- I just try to concentrate trait on the little things: Throwing strikes, not walking too many people, going right after people. If you go out there and control the things that you can control, like I have tried to do all year, then that is where I feel like you are going to have more success. So, tomorrow is going to be, I mean, basically there is a lot more media attention, but it is the same game. And I am going to try to pitch the same game that I have used all year to have -- to win 16 games.

Q. How is your health? How do you feel right now?

GARRETT STEPHENSON: I actually feel good. I think my last month has been a little bit of a struggle, or a lot of a struggle, whichever way you guys want to see it. But, you know, you pitch through it. You get treatment. You do the things you do to get back to where you were for the first five months and I think I am there. I feel real good. I feel very confident about tomorrow.

Q. Following up on that: What was the struggle, what were you struggling back from?

GARRETT STEPHENSON: I kind of had a little bit of tendonitis in my pitching elbow. It was, for about half the year, it was a little, you know, where you could feel it, while you are out there pitching; but, actually, it was the game I -- last game against Atlanta, the end of August, it somehow just took off where I could not pick up my kids, I could not pick up boxes, I could not really do a while lot of anything. So, I kind of had to walk in on my own and ask for some antiinflammatories and some treatment. I have gone out and battled through it. I end up missing a start in September, but it wasn't because I needed to, it was because I was asked to. And we had -- we were very close to clinching when they asked me to do it. I did not think and they did not think it would be a big deal. So, that was the reason I ended up missing a start in the first place.

Q. Can you talk about how smoothly the new guys, not only the new guys that came in Spring Training, but the ones who came July 31 blended in?

GARRETT STEPHENSON: I think the reason that they blended in so well was because they are outside of baseball, they are a bunch of great guys. The whole team is a bunch of great guys. There isn't any jerks or guys like that in the clubhouse, and that is what -- I think that is what made us a wining team right off the bat. When they came in, they were just like everybody else. They had fun, they liked to talk and BS a little bit. When guys come in and they do not, you know, stir up things, I think that is when you blend in. And they did a very good job.

Q. Talking about the elbow tendonitis given the kind of year you personally had and the team had, then you get into that, as a pitcher, how scary is that?

GARRETT STEPHENSON: It is -- I mean, it gets to you. You are sitting there. And you cannot pick stuff up, you are going through all this treatment. Basically, I wanted to finish the year and be healthy because I wanted to be on this Playoff roster, that is the reason why you pitch for six months, is so that you can go out there and help the team try to make it to the next round. But, three weeks, three weeks into treatment and everything, it -- I could feel it starting to get a little bit better, but it takes more than treatment that you need for tendonitis, you really need rest, I really think that that two-week period, where I, you know, in between starts, where I took the one start off, got moved back a couple of days, I think that helped a lot.

Q. What do you think the attitude of the team is now, sitting on the threshold of sweeping the Braves?

GARRETT STEPHENSON: I mean, I hope it is good. It is -- we are having a lot of fun. Tomorrow is another game. You cannot look any further than tomorrow. So, basically, our goal is to go out there and win tomorrow's game and, whatever happens, happens. We will go out there and put everything we have on to that field, to try to end it. If we do, we do; if we don't, we don't. We will play Sunday if we don't.

Q. What kind of doubt did you have that you might not start tomorrow; and what was your reaction when you found out that you were?

GARRETT STEPHENSON: I don't think I had a whole lot of doubt. I mean, I did not know I was pitching until pretty much today. So, I mean basically I went out there and I -- my thoughts were, I was going to start. But, if Pat happened to be the guy in the starting job tomorrow, then I would have just backed him up. I think, especially during the Playoffs, your job is to go out there when they hand you the ball, and give it everything you have. Do not give up and go right after them.

Q. You guys successfully neutralized Galarraga and Lopez so far in the series, is that the game plan going in? Can you describe what else you guys need to do to accomplish this?

GARRETT STEPHENSON: I want to go out there, I do not want to give up a hit. That is -- you try to -- you go out there, you are aggressive, throw strikes and it happen. But, the whole goal tomorrow is to go out there and do the best you can and keep the team in the game. If you can keep the team in the game every start during the whole year, including the Playoffs, then you

are -- most likely you will have a winning record and your team will benefit from your starts.

Q. You had so many distractions as a team it would seem, players having babies, getting hurt, players coming and going, what is the biggest key to keeping things together?

GARRETT STEPHENSON: I think it is, it is everybody's attitude. Everybody just is always, the whole year, had a great attitude, regardless of losing Big Mac at the All-Star break, or guys having babies or having injuries, Matheny hurting himself with the knife. I think as long as you, as a team, have a positive attitude, then you can overcome anything.

End of FastScripts....

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