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October 13, 2006

Kenny Rogers


Q. I know there are different performances at different levels, but was this one as good, if not better, than what you did against New York in the ALDS, do you think?
KENNY ROGERS: I don't think I can top the last one because it meant so much being the first time to have that kind of success, but against that quality of a team. This isn't much short of that because everything is magnified here.
Oakland, as good a year as they've had, I know what they're capable of. I was just trying to do what I had normally done and make good pitches with them because I know if I don't, they're going to hurt me a little bit.

Q. Can you please talk about having so many first pitch strikes? I think it was like 18 and 21 overall and 13 straight in 42 degrees.
KENNY ROGERS: I had no idea it was that many. I really wasn't thinking about first-pitch strikes. I was really thinking of making good pitches as many times as possible. You try to get a feel -- the first thing, it was a little tough because it was colder and trying to get a grip on that baseball is more difficult than normal.
But that's key with Oakland. These guys, if you let them be too patient, it makes it a lot harder on you because they can wait for a much easier pitch to hit. So for me, getting ahead, it's imperative against a team like that.

Q. Even though it was an 0-2 count, Frank Thomas said he thought you meant to hit him, that that was a purpose pitch, that you have pinpoint control. What do you say?
KENNY ROGERS: I would think if I'm going to hit Frank I'm going to do it 0 and 0, not 0-2. The reason it was in -- I tried to throw it as hard as I could, which isn't that hard, but I was making sure I got it in. I overcooked it in there, but I never would try to hit him.
I surely am not going to hit anybody 0-2, because I'm not putting anybody on base if I have to. I'm sorry he feels that way, but it's not going to be the last one I miss inside. But it's because he's a good hitter, and if you miss over the plate he can hurt you as much as any player in the game.
I knew that whether I'm 0-2 or not, and I pulled it a little too much. But I was trying to throw it pretty hard.

Q. I know it's different than last week, but it looked again tonight like you pitched with a tremendous amount of emotion on the mound, and then after when you were talking to Fox. Did you get a little choked up at the crowd cheering for you?
KENNY ROGERS: I think as players we're fortunate enough to have something happen like that. But Detroit, like I said before, they've been unbelievable for me, welcoming me when I first came here, made it easy for me to fit in, and I appreciate that. That's not always the case.
But those things mean as much to players as I think going out there and having some success. This franchise, this city, has just welcomed me, and I'm just trying to reward the faith they had in me by going out there and trying to do my best.

Q. It appears that you've found a whole new postseason level at age 41. How does that occur?
KENNY ROGERS: I think the success is just from the past experiences. I try to learn from them as much as possible and make me better in whatever ways I can. But I feel like using my emotions instead of trying to control them and be, not passive but calm out there, it wasn't beneficial in the postseason.
I'm really trying to use that emotion and use that aggressiveness and feed off of it, and it's making me a better pitcher. But it's given me that added incentive, I guess, to stay focused through the whole game and not pitch -- to make too many pitches on the corners, just going after hitters a little bit. But I think the emotions is what I've learned to use instead of suppress.

Q. Can you talk about fastball, slider, change-up, and how all three were working?
KENNY ROGERS: I don't have a slider. I have a curve ball. My slider, I threw it once again the Yankees last start, and George hit it for a double, so I put it in the closet.
But today I don't feel like I was better. I don't feel like I was maybe as good as I felt like I was in New York, or against New York. I really felt like I had a much better fastball against New York for whatever reason. But I did locate in and out pretty well with change-ups to both sides.
Today having a sinker that wasn't great because it's very difficult to get a good feel with the baseball being cold. I don't feel like it was a plus one today, but I was really trying to work both zones.
Curve ball was adequate. It wasn't great, but I think in the latter couple of innings it got a little bit better and I got a few strikes out of it.

Q. All season long you've told us about your stuff, quote-unquote, stuff, and how you don't have that kind of stuff. Why do you down-play that?
KENNY ROGERS: That's my game plan (laughter). My stuff is all right, but I really -- if somebody is going to take me for granted or not respect the stuff I have, I feel like it's a benefit. It really doesn't matter the stuff I have because I went out there with some games where there was no chance in the world to win.
I believe in myself. I believe I can make pitches, and I'll find a way. It's the mentality I have, because I went out there and I couldn't miss the middle of a bat sometimes, and I just tried to make adjustments. So I'm not scared to have nothing out there, but when I do feel like I'm comfortable and I have some good stuff, it makes it more enjoyable.
That's just for my mindset to know that when the game starts, I've got a lot of work to do, and I'm prepared to have some failures in the game. If you're prepared just for success, I think when you get out there and you have a few runners on and give up a run or two, it kind of takes you out of your game plan and you kind of get nervous and let the situation take control of you. I'm prepared to work my way through a game.

Q. What was it specifically, if there was anything specifically, that told you coming into this postseason, you know what, I need to be more emotional?
KENNY ROGERS: Probably the benefit was that even though it wasn't a benefit at the time, not winning our Division and facing the Yankees, because I may not have made that kind of adjustment unless I knew I was facing a team that had serious success against me the way I normally pitch.
So that just put it right in front of me, that I needed to change a little bit to make sure that I exhausted every avenue to try and have success against them, and I think that's probably benefitted me and for us as a team hopefully. So there's some good things that happened, even though we didn't win the division.

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