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October 3, 2006

Boof Bonser

Ron Gardenhire


RON GARDENHIRE: Lineup is Castillo leading off, second base; Punto playing third base; Mauer catching and third; Michael Cuddyer, right field; Justin Morneau, first base; Torii Hunter, centerfield; Rondell White, left field; Phil Nevin, DH; Jason Bartlett playing shortstop; and Johan Santana pitching.

Q. Gardy, why didn't you guys hit on the field today?
RON GARDENHIRE: We had a 9 o'clock stretch, and our guys have a hard time with 9 o'clock stretches. It's just all year long, when we have played these 12 o'clock games at home, on travel days, our guys seem to like that, keeps them refreshed. We'll probably hit on field tomorrow, but today after all the whirlwind stuff going, I talked to every one of the hitters, they indicated that would be better than getting up at 7 or 8 in the morning for a 9 o'clock hittings.

Q. Can you just talk about what you expect from Boof, starting tomorrow, in Game 2.
RON GARDENHIRE: Well, I think one thing I have seen Boof do since he has come back, attack the strike zone, use all the pitches, and even though he has got a name like Boof, he is still a bulldog, he attacks pretty good. He has a lot of heart, but he hasn't backed away from a lot of lineups. That's what impresses me. You tip your hat.
He is a young man that wasn't expected to do this level this year, but we had a pretty good pitching staff, he has come up, he has been fantastic, we knew he was going to start this level, he has been asked to do it a little earlier than another, and I think starting in the playoffs is an indication of what he has done for this team.

Q. Did that approach change from earlier in the year?
RON GARDENHIRE: I think when he was up here earlier we kind of picked a little bit. He had a real good start in Milwaukee where he attacked the hitters and everything, and it's hard to maintain, it's a learning experience, and if you get hit a little bit, you start backing up. The one thing we talked to Boof about is keeping the ball in the ballpark, he had some issues giving up a homerun, and you still keep it in the ballpark, pitching to contact, not trying to blow people away all the time, and he thinks he has really learned that over the course of being up here the second time around, he has used all of his pitches a lot better and attacked them and kept the ball down, and we have seen success. Wow, talking about you right here.

Q. I am just wondering, what's the most challenging thing about their lineup?
BOOF BONSER: This is a tough lineup here. I faced them there the last time in Oakland, but I am going to go at these guys, I have been doing it since I have been up here and, like I say, I am not going to back down. I am just going to go right at them.

Q. Was there a break-through game where you did exactly what Gardy was talking about, attacking hitters and continuing that throughout your start where all of a sudden a light bulb went on and you realized, this is how I am going to pitch game in and game out?
BOOF BONSER: I think the last time that I came back up is when actually everything was starting to go through. Because I know when I came up for that one game, it was tough. I went down and worked on some stuff, and my first game back it was like, here I go, I am just going to go after these guys, and that's what I have been doing ever since I have been up here.

Q. Have you talked to any of the batters just about the playoff atmosphere, how that differs from the regular season?
BOOF BONSER: Yeah, I talk to all the starters, and they say it's going to be crazy, but you got to keep pitching your game and don't back down, and just go out there and pretend it's another game, don't worry about the playoffs, just pitch your game and go after these guys.

Q. What have the older guys told you about the noise, about the noise index in here? Are you anticipating anything about that?
BOOF BONSER: I can't wait to hear the noise. They say this place will make your ears bleed. When I go out there tomorrow, I can't wait. I can't wait to hear it. They say it's going to be pretty loud in here.

Q. You think this would be an advantage for you just to have one game here to sit and watch and take in the environment, see how Johan goes about his business before you get out there so you can kind of know what to expect?
BOOF BONSER: Oh, yeah, that's going to be a big advantage for me. I am going to be out there watching Santana pitch. I will get a chance to see how loud it is because I am going to be down there watching and I will be upstairs watching, too, but it will be an advantage to me to get that one game under our belt and go out there tomorrow.

Q. Boof, you are close with Matt Garza, and they told him today he is not on the roster. How did he take it? What did he say to you?
BOOF BONSER: He told me that today, you know. I said, "I am sorry to hear that." And he goes "I am not worried about it." He goes, "You know what, I am happy to be here." He goes, "It's better than being at home." So he is taking it well. He will be on the lineup soon. They will let him know. But he is all right. He is okay.

Q. Is it almost, kind of, surreal for you to think about where you started the season and now you are starting Game 2 in the American League pitching series?
BOOF BONSER: I am just trying to take it all in, from going to Rochester in the beginning of the year, and up and down, and now Game 2 starter, it's unbelievable to me. I am trying to take it all in at the same time.

Q. A few questions. You just said the last time you went back to Rochester you had to work on some stuff. What specifically, when you went down, did you work on?
BOOF BONSER: I think the biggest thing for me when I went down was just making sure I could throw all my off-speed pitches for strikes, anytime, any count, it didn't matter, as long as I could throw the first strike I was okay. And I brought it up here and it's been a big advantage for me.

End of FastScripts...

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