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October 14, 2002

Tony La Russa


Q. What are doing with your lineup today?

TONY LARUSSA: Cairo is in the second spot, playing third base. Pujols is playing first base, hitting fourth. Eddie is playing right field, five. Edgar, six. Marrero, left field, seven. Matheny.

Q. Scott Rolen, is he available tonight as a pinch-hitter; did he work out at all today?

TONY LARUSSA: I haven't checked yet. Usually I wait until we get finished with BP. I'm not ready to answer that. But I doubt that he would be available.

Q. Is Perez basically in for Martinez because of his success against Rueter?

TONY LARUSSA: I just think Tino's had a tough time getting hits, even though a lot of time he hits the ball hard enough to get some. Eddie has had a couple of good at-bats against Rueter, so it just seems like it gives us a better lineup today.

Q. Can you just talk about what Matheny has brought to the offense all through this post-season?

TONY LARUSSA: Well, it's good to see him have success because he has never shorted the offense, as far as, you know, his preparation and the practice and he really wants to hit more than he does at times, sometimes he really presses. As he has had more success, he's had more confident.

Q. There was some reports that Garrett was involved in some incident with the fans last night. Have you talked to him and is he okay?

TONY LARUSSA: I've talked to him. I've talked to other people that were on the bus in the Cardinal family. I've talked to a security officer who was nearby. I mean, these are exceptional situations. It definitely is not typical of the way Giants fans have treated us, but there have been some real brutal cases in the stands. We've had a couple of our wives actually leave the ballpark and go back to the hotel because of the insults and the profanity. It's been rough at times, but it's just the exception. This was a guy who had really, really gone over the edge as far as the vulgarity and the things he was saying. So, I'm very pleased that Garrett told him to give it a rest to the ladies on this bus and he should shut his mouth.

Q. Have there been instances in this series where having a short bench with Rolen being out has come into play or played into your thinking?

TONY LARUSSA: I'm superstitious; I hate to answer that until today is over. Because if you answer no, there has not been anything critical; maybe a little something here or there, nothing major that would have changed the way we played the game and definitely would not have changed the outcome, just the way the games have been played. So it has not made a difference, him not playing. Who knows, but other guys get hurt -- that's not a big thing. Let's just hope I'm not regretting my words tonight. We are still holding out that maybe he could be available Wednesday.

Q. Could you talk just a little bit about Shawon Dunston's approach when he was playing for you, and any surprise that two years later he is still kind of in the same role, doing the same things?

TONY LARUSSA: Well, it's no surprise. I think ten years from now he could still being doing it. He's got a marvelous athletic body that he takes good care of. A lot of his skills are really intact as far as how quick he runs, how he throws. He's got good bat speed. I think when you see a guy play this long, his enthusiasm for the game is really top-notch. He's terrific in the clubhouse. I think he had a long career as an everyday guy, and he reminds me a little bit of Willie McGee. As you get older, it's really demanding, even mentally, as much as physically to go out there every day. It's a nice role when you are a little bit worn out from grinding every day to being ready here or there and being a good teammate. He was excellent for us. I'm saying that, it could be tonight he comes up there to beat us. I don't think there's any secret he's so good at it. Mentally he's got a lot of tools and he's a terrific teammate and I think a winning player.

Q. You've been blessed in the past with durable rotations, but this year, circumstances were beyond your control; what has that taught you and have you been a little envious of Dusty that he's only had to use six starters?

TONY LARUSSA: Well, I'm sure Dusty's first ten years, there's a couple of times where he's been beat up and his next ten years he's going to have to go through it. That's something you learn, even though we had a tough year this year, I can look back at -- well, I tell you, I'll give you a good answer to that. Came over here in the winter of '95 for the '96 season and tried to look at what Joe Torre had gone through and a couple things really stood out. One of them was how that rotation kept getting beat up. If you remember that winter, Walt went out and got Todd Stottlemyre and Andy Benes, just to get some reliability and it worked out real well for us. Next year we had a tough year and Andy had that rib cage and we had some injuries. What was unique about this year -- '99, we had some problems. The couple of bad years we've had, we've had problems pitching in our rotation. Usually when you have a rotation like ours that's been so disruptive and so many key guys missed, you usually don't overcome it. For us to get into the 90-win category just shows you how guys have stepped up, Simontacchi, Andy Benes coming back, Smith getting us some wins and also what our bullpen has done, for six months they have worked hard and worked well.

Q. Talking about Dunston being so physically fit and well-prepared, talk about Santiago. Do you see him in the same light?

TONY LARUSSA: I have to be a little more careful with Santiago because he's mostly in another league, National League players, I was American League. I didn't know him a lot. As a young player, he had tremendous physical gifts, I think he was Rookie of the Year, and then had a couple ups and downs. I don't know why, but I think here is a guy that as he's gotten into the teens of his experience, he's understanding how special the opportunity is, and he's still physically sharp and he's got this appreciation for doing it and he's got this great experience. He goes into that situation last night and home run or make an out, he's not afraid of it, and I think a lot of credit goes to renewing his interest in appreciating what the opportunity is. You see that, sometimes, with veterans who maybe in their first few years don't crank out great year after great year and they are still around later on. They appreciate coming to the park.

Q. Given what happened in '96 when you or on the other side of 3-1 in the NLCS; anything that you can apply from there?

TONY LARUSSA: Well, I mean, it's the same situation. Busch Stadium was wired for Game 5, and I'm sure Pac Bell will be tonight. I think there's two sides to it. The way Bobby had arranged it, we had Smoltz, Maddux and Glavine which are three legitimate pitchers to have to win a game from and we think Matt, Woody and Finley are three real tests for the Giants. But the point that I made to the fellows was, if you look at Game 5 and Game 7, it was not just the Atlanta pitchers getting our hitters out. It was the Atlanta hitters in Games 5 and 7 that jumped us, they scored six or seven the first couple of innings. The only close game was Maddux versus Benes in Game 6. We think this is definitely a game to win, we think we have got the right guy on the mound and if we get home, we would have two shots. But our offense has to do something with Rueter and Schmidt and Ortiz. It's not just about stopping them; we have to score.

Q. Has Benito's success in this series made you think twice about pitching around Barry Bonds?

TONY LARUSSA: Not really. I mean, what we try to do, we don't go out there every at-bat just to take Barry out of the game. I think we try to play the game. When it's real obvious that this is not the time we should even try to be nasty with him, then you play around him to get to somebody else. That's part of having an asset like Barry Bonds. We went through it with Mark. We won a lot of games because Ray Lankford, after they walked Mark, Ray would do something big. It does give an opportunity. They are approaching it right. I've read and heard what J.T. Snow is saying, Santiago, they are doing it right. They know they are going to have chances and they are getting ready for them. But right now, if we had to win tonight's game, and you had to choose between Barry and somebody else in that lineup, you've got to take the other guy.

End of FastScripts...

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