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October 12, 2006

Rich Harden


Q. Ken said he was hoping to get five strong innings out of you. Do you have any sort of personal goal? Is five enough, or are you thinking six, seven?
RICH HARDEN: As a starting pitcher you'd like to get more than five innings. I mean, that's kind of a minimum. It all depends on pitch count and what's going on in the game. It's a big game and we'll see what happens.

Q. How does the weather affect you, if at all?
RICH HARDEN: Yeah, I mean, it doesn't really affect me too much. I think the same with a lot of these guys. We're professionals. I mean, that's something you've got to play in any condition, whether it's 110 degrees or whether it's 30 degrees. It's just something you do. Growing up in Canada, I mean, I played hockey outdoors and played baseball in this weather, so I'm used to it.

Q. You and Jeremy Bonderman were teammates together, rookie ball. What do you remember most about that time together and your friendship to this day with Jeremy?
RICH HARDEN: Yeah, Jeremy is a good friend of mine. When we were in short A ball in Vancouver. He came in and we became friends, lived with each other in Spring Training. It's always fun watching him pitch. I see a little bit of myself in him, too. We're both really competitive out there, and it's always fun watching him pitch.

Q. Is there any concern about your elbow when you're throwing? Is it all the way behind you, or do you think about it in the back of your mind?
RICH HARDEN: My elbow feels good right now. I had a lot of time to build up strength and get some confidence back in it. A lot of people are concerned about the weather, and that really has nothing to do with it. As long as I get a good warm-up in and stay warm between innings, that's all that really matters.

Q. Can you tell us about your pitching the last time you pitched and how you felt? Your manager said you went strong for three innings, maybe the fourth inning you were fatigued. Just tell us what happened.
RICH HARDEN: I felt good. I threw down in Arizona on Monday, and the purpose was just to get some work in and get a good feel coming into this start. The first three innings threw pretty much all my pitches and cruised along, and then the last inning we wanted to go mostly fastballs and locate that. It felt good.
It's one of those things, gave up a few runs, but I came away with a good feeling and I feel confident.

Q. Would you say that tomorrow's start is the biggest start of your life, and if not, what start was?
RICH HARDEN: Yeah, I'd say it's a big start. You know, I'm going to treat it just like any other start. I've got to go through and get prepared and not try and do too much, and that's kind of the attitude I'm taking towards it.

Q. What kinds of things can you do to keep your arm warm during the game? You don't often have to do that during the season to the extreme you will tomorrow night?
RICH HARDEN: Yeah, I mean, I think to keep loose, just keep on moving. We've got like some heat sleeves and a warm jacket, and keep the Gore-Tex on, keep the blood flowing, and that's about it; just keep moving.

Q. What have you seen in the two games from the Tigers based on scouting reports or based on your feelings that you can kind of use and digest to apply to your game plan?
RICH HARDEN: I mean, they've always been a tough lineup to face. They've always played us really tough. I mean, all through that lineup you've got guys that can hurt you at any time. They're pretty well-rounded. They've got guys with speed and they've got guys that can hit homeruns.
Yeah, it's something we'll talk about today and tomorrow with Curt Young and Jason Kendall and we'll come up with a plan. But just pretty much stick with my game and not try and get out of it.

Q. You talked about the Canada thing. Do you remember any unusual experiences? Did you pitch with snow on the ground or anything like that, not feeling your fingers?
RICH HARDEN: Oh, yeah. Back then actually I was a center fielder, so it was more standing in the outfield not moving. I think the worst was probably sleet and freezing rain and you get the wind coming.
But, I mean, yeah, it's something I've played in. I grew up also in Calgary, too, and at school we'd be playing hockey outdoors. Free time we'd be skating around. That's a lot colder, minus 30 celsius. I couldn't say -- I don't know what that is Fahrenheit, but it's freezing.

Q. You've had some success pitching here in the times you've pitched. What do you like about this park and what don't you like about it?
RICH HARDEN: I like the way this park plays. It's a good place to pitch. I don't know, I think it's just good atmosphere, too. It's always been one of my favorite places to pitch.

Q. As far as preparing to face the Tigers, are you a guy who likes to find weaknesses and pitch to the weaknesses, or do you find your strength and just worry about your game?
RICH HARDEN: I'd say there's a little bit of both going on. You don't kind of want to get away from what you've always done and start getting outside yourself, but you also want to find some weaknesses and attack those. It's something that we'll talk about with the pitching coach and figure out how we want to attack these hitters.

Q. When your team goes out and gets you a lead, how important is that very next half inning? Esteban had problems with it twice last night. Is it a mental thing to try to hold them down? Do you have to change your approach?
RICH HARDEN: That's one thing -- for any starting pitcher that's one thing you don't want to do is give up runs after your team gains some, not only for yourself, but also for the team.
Mentally it's nice for them to come back and have a quick inning and get right back at bat. As a pitcher you definitely want to shut them down the next inning.

Q. What do you think in terms of pitch count tomorrow night?
RICH HARDEN: Yeah, I mean, I'm not sure what my pitch count will be, but I'm sure -- I'm not really too concerned about that, just see how long I can go and we'll see where the game is at and see what happens.

Q. You mentioned Calgary. Can you elaborate on the time you spent there? I mean, you grew up in Victoria, right?
RICH HARDEN: Yeah, I spent probably seven years in Calgary before that, before Victoria. That's where I started playing hockey and started playing baseball.

Q. That's where you got the cold weather?
RICH HARDEN: Oh, yeah, much colder. Yeah, and then I moved over to Victoria. It's not as cold out there, but we still get weather like this all the time.

End of FastScripts...

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