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October 3, 2006

Grady Little


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Grady Little, please.

Q. Grady, you said Saturday after the clincher that this was the best this team's been all year, even better than when they were 17-1. What did you mean by that? What makes you think about that?
GRADY LITTLE: Well, we got a little bit different personnel than we did at that point in the season. Right now we like the way we're playing. We've been a streaky club all season long. And we're on another one of those good streaks right now. Everything's clicking. We're just ready to get this thing started.

Q. You guys have been so hot getting into the first round of the postseason. Some days off and all that, do you wish you could have just played right away?
GRADY LITTLE: No, because the health of our ballclub is of great concern to us, and we had some people that needed this time off, especially our first baseman Nomar.

Q. Does Orlando Hernandez's injury affect your lineup at all or what you may have planned for the game is?
GRADY LITTLE: I haven't heard a lot about that. I don't even know if he's not pitching yet. We'll adjust accordingly. Our lineup, we have a little bit of flexibility in it but mostly we're gonna be pretty well set except maybe at third base.

Q. Is Derek Lowe the same Derek Lowe you saw in Boston?
GRADY LITTLE: I think he's better to tell you the truth. He had his ups and downs this season. At a point coming out of the All-Star break we weren't playing that well. I think we lost 13 out of 14. At that time we needed someone to step up and everyone knows Derek Lowe. This is his time of the year - the playoff season is his time of the year. For us, our playoff season started on August the 1st after we played that way coming out of the break. He stepped it up. He's been outstanding for us since that point. We don't know where we'd be without him.

Q. Is that why he's starting Game 1?
GRADY LITTLE: He started Opening Day for us. He'll start Game 1 of this. I can't tell you when he'll be pitching after that. Pretty regularly.

Q. What is Nomar's status for tomorrow and the rest of the series?
GRADY LITTLE: Nomar is good to start the games. He's not nearly a hundred percent. He's got a quad that's giving him problems. He's got this side that hit him again last week, and he's battling that pretty seriously. But he's taking a lot of treatment. These few days off, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, will be good for him.

Q. How personally satisfying is it for you to be back on this stage in the postseason?
GRADY LITTLE: I'm proud to be here, but I'm proud to have gotten the opportunity with the Los Angeles Dodgers. It's a great organization. Working for some great people. We've had some good players that have gotten me back up here on this stage.

Q. Derek was in here, he was saying those same things. He said the players really endorsed you coming here. Did you ever think that this was gonna come, this opportunity, after the way things ended in Boston?
GRADY LITTLE: You know, I don't think when there's only 30 of these jobs in the world that you can assume you're gonna be able to get another one. I'm just a very fortunate individual to be able to get this opportunity with such a great organization.

Q. You mentioned the players, how they got you here. Do you take any added pride in the fact that a lot of guys got you here in the very literal sense, kept campaigning and going for you?
GRADY LITTLE: Well, I'm sure that those kind of things don't hurt you, but I know Ned Colletti and I've grown to know him more throughout the course of the season this year, and I don't think any individual is gonna sway his decision. He made the call.

Q. When Derek was up here, he was talking about the way the second half of the 2004 season in Boston unfolded. He said there was a feeling among the players that the organization didn't want to keep you around and that maybe even if they had won the World Series that they weren't gonna keep you around. What was it like to be in that position?
GRADY LITTLE: Well, you know, the position I was in during 2003 was a position of a guy who didn't have a contract for the following year throughout the course of the season. I didn't know what was going on, what was gonna happen. If you don't have a contract, you got a good idea regardless of how things turn out (laughing).
Things happen for reasons. So now we're ready to talk about what we're looking at going forward.

Q. Could you run down your batting order, if you know it at this point. Also, how much do you think when you get to this point, postseason experience is a factor since the Mets have several guys where this is their first experience?
GRADY LITTLE: I think only time will tell. We certainly have a lot of experience throughout our batting order and our pitching staff, and at this time of the year it's gonna depend on whoever plays the best during the short five-game series. You can throw a lot of things out the window. It's gonna be done on the field. We've got a catcher out there that's played 120 games in the Major Leagues and he's getting his first opportunity. I've realized that Carlos Delgado has played about 10,000 games in the Major Leagues, and this is his first opportunity.
So our kid is very -- he's very fortunate to get an opportunity this soon in his career.
But our lineup is gonna remain pretty much consistent to what we have been doing recently. That would be for Furcal, he'd lead off, Lofton will hit second, Nomar will hit third, Kent will be hitting fourth and playing second base, and then J.D. Drew, then Russell Martin is gonna hit after Drew, then Anderson will play leftfield for us and the third baseman will be determined by who's the starting pitcher. If it's El Duque, if he's fine to pitch, what we've done to get us here, we've played Julio Lugo at third base against lefties, and Wilson Betemit at third base against righties. That's what we'll continue to do.

Q. And they'll bat eighth?
GRADY LITTLE: Don't lock me in on that. That's the way it's gonna be the opening game. After that, I'm subject to change.

Q. But if it's Lugo against a left-hander tomorrow...
GRADY LITTLE: If there's a left-hander pitching tomorrow, that's who it will be.

Q. Batting eighth?
GRADY LITTLE: Batting eighth. Betemit will bat eighth against a right-hander.

Q. You said Derek Lowe, this is his time of year. What in your mind makes a pitcher or player excel in October, for him at least?
GRADY LITTLE: I think for him, the confidence he's been able to build up through his experience is gonna be the big factor there. I have a lot of faith in what Derek can do. I know he's gonna compete when he goes out there on the mound, just as I do anyone I put out there to start a game in a series. He likes it.
What makes him do that? I don't know. You got to talk to someone smarter than me.

Q. I watched Saito pitch Friday night in that first-and-third situation against the Giants. For those of us who haven't seen him much this year, what can you tell us about him and the job he's done for you?
GRADY LITTLE: This guy brings a lot of experience to that part of the game for us which we were lacking after some unfortunate injuries early in the season. He's a rookie in the United States, but this guy's 36 or 37 years old - we think.
To know that you just were able to watch him last Saturday in a game, I feel kind of bad for you because this guy's been a pleasure to watch for us for a long time this season. There's nothing extraordinary about the guy's stuff. What is extraordinary about the guy is that he's not scared of anyone, and he throws strikes, it's an oddity to see him walk a hitter, and he does this with three or four pitches.

Q. Over the past couple years, what sort of contact have you had with Pedro? On a personal level, what do you feel for him right now having to watch this series?
GRADY LITTLE: Well, I certainly sympathize with him because I know that this is also Pedro Martinez's stage at this time of the year. That's what he's tried to get himself ready for the last part of the season. I love the kid like a brother. We stay in close contact. We wish he was here pitching against us.

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