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October 14, 2006

Willie Randolph


Q. What went into your decision to start Oliver tomorrow, and what were your other options that you mulled over as you made that decision?
WILLIE RANDOLPH: Well, it wasn't a long decision. We needed a fourth starter, and he pitched well for us this year. We like his stuff. It was down to either him or Dave Williams and we felt like he was the guy that would give us a quality start.
So it wasn't any big decision or anything we thought about long and hard. It was just he was on our staff and he's pitched well and we have confidence in him.

Q. Trachsel talked a little bit yesterday about how much his relationship with you evolved from your first year to your second year. Can you talk a little about that, if you felt like you communicated with him better this year, if you guys understood each other a little bit better? That's what he was saying yesterday.
WILLIE RANDOLPH: I've always felt like it was good. I think it was -- I don't want to mention any names, but I thought people tried to make a big deal about our relationship, but I know what they were talking about. I think it had to do with the fact that he was out most of the year and when he came back, I think everyone assumed that he was going to be right back in the rotation. And because I had other things to think about and a team to run, I didn't throw him right back in there and people came up with this idea that I didn't like him. But I've always felt like we got along well. I have a lot of respect for him. I always have.
He wasn't around much last year so I didn't have a chance to really know him. But since he's been around and in Spring Training, I've gotten a chance to really know him well and he's a great guy, and like I said, quality ballplayer.
Yeah, we've gotten closer in that we know each other a lot better and we understand each other and we always try to communicate directly with him and he understands that I'm going to be straight with him. I think we've come a long way, but from the beginning, I've always felt like we've got along well.
If it's about injuries, get Mark. Dr. Hale. Everybody healthy? Everybody good? (Laughter.)
Cliff, he's ready to pinch-hit for us tonight. He's not starting and hopefully when he comes in and gives me a thumbs up, he'll be in the lineup.

Q. I don't even need to be here.
WILLIE RANDOLPH: You know. It's already typed in anyways.

Q. So with a kid like Perez, who is largely inexperienced particularly in roles like this, what are the dynamics within the clubhouse, particularly with some veterans to make things easier for him moving into tomorrow, is there anything that goes on between them and Oliver to just try and help him along before he pitches?
WILLIE RANDOLPH: Well, since he's been here, he's worked real hard, I mean, not just with Rick Peterson, but I think with our staff, with a guy like Tommy Glavine, Pedro. Those guys have been very instrumental in his coming together, making some adjustments.
He's done a nice job of repeating his delivery, throwing strikes. Every once in a while he'll get a little bit erratic, like most pitchers will but he's really been very consistent throwing strikes and since he's been here that's been a big improvement for him.

Q. More from a standpoint, he's a kid that has every right to be nervous tomorrow, butterflies --
WILLIE RANDOLPH: He's a very excitable kid and you can see that he's kind of high-strung, if you will. On the field he's very animated and enthusiastic. I don't see any scared -- he seems like when he competes, when he gets the ball, he goes after you.
I think he understands where he is and wants the opportunity to show what he can do. Even though we can see him as a little bit excited I think that once he's on the mound, it's just a matter of him harnessing a lot of that energy and I think he's pretty focused when he's on the mound. I'm sure guys have helped him a little bit to settle in but he's been around long enough to go out and just let his talents go and hopefully he can just harness that energy.

Q. Last night you said that your team has been in tough spots before and that they have been resilient and that this didn't worry you, but what specifically during regular season can you point to that's comparable to the spot that you're in now?
WILLIE RANDOLPH: Oh, geez, we've had many, many times where we've turned the page and we've stepped up to challenges, tough pitchers, tough ballclubs. There's many instances where we've done that. I can't really think of one because we've been very consistent with that. We've won a lot of games this year. We were the best in the National League.
What makes me say that is we lost, what, four in a row one time this year maybe, something like that. So that's all that needs to be said. We play hard every day, we turn the page, we don't panic or overreact to the day-to-day things that we go through.
So that makes me feel like, you know, we've won one now, four-out-of-seven and can't wait to get back out there. The fact that we're playing five in a row is really good for us right now, everyone is rested. We came into the series, everyone was more than rested really. So four or five days in a row is really what we've done all year, so ready to go at it.

Q. Usually you have a pretty good time shaking off some of the tougher losses. Was last night, based on the fact that it's a quick turnaround and it was a tough loss last night, was last night a little more difficult for you getting over that?
WILLIE RANDOLPH: Well, we could taste it, we feel like we gave one away. If you look at it that way, yeah, it was tough.
But in the playoffs you don't have time to think about that kind of thing. It was a long night. I slept real well. Glad we're back at it again. In my mind, it was already gone. Initially when the game was over, I felt like, yeah, we let one slip away and couldn't wait to get back out there today and redeem ourselves.
It's easy this time of year to turn the page because you know that you have to and you're still in a pretty good position.

Q. Is there a difference between the series being 1-1 and 2-0 in your favor and things that you could not do and cannot do, like for example in your bullpen, if you were up 2-0 you might do this, but because it's 1-1 you're not going to do that?
WILLIE RANDOLPH: Nobody saves anything. You try to look at the long term or big picture, but I think you really have to stay short term in the playoffs and look at for what it is. There's no trying to save anything. You know your staff, you know who is rested, who is ready.
But no, it's just one game at a time really. The old cliche, but that's really what it all boils down to for me. We've kept it simple all year long and no reason to change that right now. Whether we're 0-2, 1-1, 2-0, doesn't matter, we're going to go out and play the game today.

Q. In the times that you've called on him in the post-season to pinch-hit, Franco is a guy that's struggled so far, a lot of strikeouts, could you conceivably start to look at other guys more for that prime pinch-hitting spot, whether it's Woodward or somebody you might want to give a shot to?
WILLIE RANDOLPH: No, he's my pinch-hitter and he's experienced at it of course. We're going to keep going to him like we would a closer or anything like that. No, Franco is going to be fine. He's been kind of getting himself out a little bit and that's just typical sometimes when you swing at bad pitches and I think that's what we've done for the most part. He knows how to handle himself in that way and he's one of the best at it, and best of all time, so I'm not going to give up on him now.

Q. Is there anyone in the bullpen tonight who you may be more reluctant to call upon, or do you expect to have everyone available? Bradford pitched an inning and two-thirds last night.
WILLIE RANDOLPH: Well, Bradford has pitched one and two-thirds in the last week and a half or something like that. Man, everyone's ready to go. You don't save anybody for this. You have a guy like Bert, Bert was up two or three times last night and I asked him how he feels today, he said he's ready to go again.
No use saving everybody. Everybody is good. I keep emphasizing that going into the series, everyone was very well rested. It was not like we were being taxed or anything like that. Pete and I are very conscious of how many pitches are thrown and how guys are used and where they are in day-to-day stuff. So I was just chomping at the bit to get the guys in the game. No, you save nothing, got to go, got to play, got to win a ballgame.

Q. Is there anything with Valentin that you see mechanically that he has to adjust to as he's been struggling in the post-season, or is it just that he might be getting himself out much like Julio?
WILLIE RANDOLPH: I was going to say, very similar to Julio. Valentin, he wants to compete and he wants to do well. He's a veteran guy that's been in this position and sometimes he gets overanxious and I think he's been coming out on his own a little bit. He knows that. He's played great defense for us and he's been solid up the middle and, yeah, I would say that he's a little bit out of his zone I think at times and he needs to just kind of narrow it down a little bit and I think he'll get going.
It was so weird, we were here in St. Louis the last time when I challenged him to step up and that's really how he got going. He looked at me and said, "I'm going to get ready the next couple of days." I didn't tell him exactly when he would be in there but I put him in two or three days later and he had one of his biggest years for us this year, so it's ironic that this is where it started for him. It would be a good time for him to get it going again and hopefully he will.

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