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October 4, 2006

Willie Randolph


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Willie.

Q. First of all, congratulations on your first managerial postseason victory. Can you talk about John Maine's performance, first of all, then your decision to take him out when you did.
WILLIE RANDOLPH: Well, you know, Johnny pitched a good ballgame for us. In a situation like that, you want to reward him with a victory but, you know, was one of those for me a tough call, you know, in the middle there. You want to get him through the inning, but I felt like he was starting to, you know, make some mistakes with the ball pretty hard, but I still felt like he was pitching well enough. But, you know, our bullpen's rested and ready, and I saw strength. I told the guys before the game they ought to be ready, could be early at times, just get your mind right and make sure you're ready to go into the game. I thought that was the right thing to do at the time.

Q. Can you talk about how good you must feel for Delgado, who waited a long time to have a day like this.
WILLIE RANDOLPH: Yeah, yeah, that feels good. I've known the kid a long time. He's been a tremendous performer and hitter his whole career. Nice to see him try to get an opportunity to be in this type of stage and come through in his first game. Really happy for him.
He looked good tonight. You could see he had a nice posture about him, a nice focus. You know, took what they gave him. He's an excellent hitter, and it's not about hitting home runs. He hit the ball the other way three times I think, sharp line drives and the other way. He's the kind of guy he's tough to pitch to when his approach is that way. I'm sure he understands that in this environment with everyone being crucial, home runs are not always the way to go. He did a great job of swinging the bat.

Q. How nice was it seeing David Wright get a big hit after the second half he had?
WILLIE RANDOLPH: He has been doing that all year. All my guys, I'm happy if anyone can get a hit and contribute, whether it's David or Beltran or anybody for that matter. Just good to see the guys keep coming back. That was a nice win for us because we kept coming back, and that's been our trademark all year. We've been very resilient and we've not, you know, stopped competing. So this is one of the games that is really the way we play, and, you know, we kept coming back nicely and giving ourselves a chance to stay in the game.

Q. Do you recall another instance of that play at the plate?
WILLIE RANDOLPH: Yeah, it came right back. Flashback. I remember very vividly. Gene Michaels throwing his hands up like, "What the hell's going on?" Then you see Dale Berra and Bobby Meacham, or Bobby Meacham, Dale Berra, I think was the sequence. It was a total flashback.
Greeny got to the ball real quick, got it in, Jose one of his strengths is his arm. He made a perfect throw to Duca. I'm screaming to Duca. He didn't notice the second guy was coming around. I was screaming, "Tag him, tag him, tag him." He saw from the corner of his eye. It was just kind of like a serious flashback. I remember how funny that play was when I first heard it. This was even more humorous to me (laughing).

Q. Do you recall yourself being thrown out in Montreal as a Met?
WILLIE RANDOLPH: No, I wasn't. You come up with all kind of stuff, man, get out of here (smiling). Was not. Never involved in a play like that.

Q. It was a run-down.
WILLIE RANDOLPH: Okay, okay. Close enough.

Q. You guys used six pitchers tonight. For the most part they threw effectively. Going forward with the injuries to Martinez and Hernandez, is this the formula you anticipate that will get the Mets not only through this series but going forward?
WILLIE RANDOLPH: Well, you know, it's three out of five. To me, everyone has got to be ready to go. You know, every game is at a premium and you have to get it done. Yeah, I mean, we're deep out there and we have guys who can give you multiple innings. We'll ride it. Everyone's up to the challenge. This is important to get through these games, and obviously getting through the first round.
So, yeah, everyone's ready.

Q. Starting with Maine, it seems like you had to overcome a lot tonight and you were able to do that.
WILLIE RANDOLPH: Well, yeah, Johnny has gotten better and better. He's starting to learn more and more about himself and how he digs down, gets a little bit extra. He's coming on real nicely. I'm real proud of him. I challenged him all year, "Step up," and every time I've challenged him, he's come through for me.
So, you know, he's got a nice make-up, but then again he needs to make sure he repeats his delivery over and over and over, and that's what most pitchers have to do. Tonight he got a little out of whack at times, got some balls up in the zone. But he's shown a lot of guts coming back and making pitches when he had to.
Like I said, I wanted to stick with him through, but I just kind of had a gut feeling that it was time to go to the bullpen.

Q. If he were less of a home run pitcher, would you have kept him in there, do you think?
WILLIE RANDOLPH: No, not necessarily. It's just that, you know, he was hit hard at times, you know. I look at that sometimes and see if they're squaring the ball up on him. I thought they were a little bit.
You know, I just felt like we're real rested. Our strength is our bullpen. Not to sound redundant. Our guys are ready to go. I was hoping to get him through that inning, but it worked out okay.

Q. Do you remember on that play I guess it was in '85, did Rickey Henderson hit the ball and Carlton Fisk make the tag? I'm trying to rib.
WILLIE RANDOLPH: Did he? Marty knows. Marty said he did, then he did.

Q. He looked it up.
WILLIE RANDOLPH: You looked it up, okay.

Q. Fisk making the tag?

Q. You weren't involved?
WILLIE RANDOLPH: No, no, no, I wasn't involved in that at all. I just had a ringside seat. Bizarre, bizarre play.

Q. With everything going bad for you guys with El Duque, did that feel like a break?
WILLIE RANDOLPH: Yes. When it first happened, I said, man, it's two runs, you know. We wanted to make sure we scored first and these guys can be very explosive. Yeah, it was one of those plays where you go damn, then, okay, nice, we got through it. Thank goodness Drew had his head down, didn't see. I don't know what happened on the play. It was a nice execution on the relay. We worked on that a little bit prior to the series, and I guess every once in a while it works out.

Q. Could you talk a little bit about what went into the decision to let Mota hit. Was it a tough decision?
WILLIE RANDOLPH: Well, yeah, another tough decision, you know. You know, if it was one out, I probably would have gone to the pinch-hitter. Mota actually is not a bad hitter. It's not why I left him in there, though. I felt like it was a game I had my best pitcher in there, one of the best pitchers, we're up by three runs, I would have left him in there anyway. I felt good about Mota. I thought the prior inning he threw the ball well. Thought if he can get me through that or maybe he and Aaron can share the next inning and go from there.
But, you know, I like to always get the runs, but in that situation I just felt like we had our best pitcher out there throwing at the time and I felt like we could hold a lead. Didn't work out that way, but, again, we came back as a team and got the win.

Q. You've obviously had a lot of moments like these in the postseason as a player and coach. What was different about it just experiencing it as a manager for the first time?
WILLIE RANDOLPH: It really felt very similar in a lot of ways really. I mean, you know, when I'm in the heat of the game and I'm managing the game, it just feels like you're just competing and, you know, it's fun and you feel like you're in your element, in your environment.
So I really didn't feel any different than I do in the regular season. When you look around at the crowd, you knew that it was a lot more going on because you just feel the electricity in the stands and all that. It was different in that way.
But as far as the game itself, it really just felt like a regular game to me as far as what I did during the game. But you knew you had a lot more riding on it, obviously. I felt comfortable, I felt good.

Q. With Billy coming in the ninth inning, did you sense he might have been overthrowing, more excited than normally?
WILLIE RANDOLPH: No, Billy, you know, he comes right at you. I give him credit, they put some good swings on him. You know, he's had some ups and downs when he's come in certain games.
No, he might have been pumped up. Obviously, he was. It's his first shot with us in the playoffs here, and with the crowd, we just got to -- they were playing the music so loud, I guess it was almost deafening. He gets really into it. He feeds off his adrenaline. He's always been that kind of guy who gets pumped up in those situations. The key for him is to just kind of channel it.
I thought he threw the ball really well. Just he made a couple pitches up in the zone where they drove the ball to right-centerfield. But, still, he was able to get through it. You know, that's the life of a closer. He's gonna live on the edge a lot of times, but he's had a phenomenal year for us. It's nice to see him get the save for us today.

Q. Reyes took a little time to settle down, get into his groove. Watching him in the dugout, whenever anybody else came in after a run scored, he looked like he had the greatest seat in the house, he was the happiest kid in the world.
WILLIE RANDOLPH: Yeah, yeah, I had the feeling he would be a little amped up. He plays that way anyway. I felt he would be like that. Players like Reyes, you don't even tell them how to handle this because, you know, they don't really feel it or hear it because that's the way they play. Then you add a few more amps to that and he's, like, swinging at everything.
But once he settled in a little bit, Jose is a winner, he's always enthusiastic in the dugout, so when guys get hits, he'll come in, like this guy right here (Delgado), they get excited. He and Carlos have a little dance they do. When Carlos had the good game, he was all hyped up to do that. He wants to win, so he's gonna be ready.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Willie.

End of FastScripts...

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