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October 18, 2006

Willie Randolph


Q. Overall, how much of a learning experience do you think the post-season has been for Jose and David, just in terms of being in the atmosphere for the first time and all that sort of thing?
WILLIE RANDOLPH: I think it's been a great experience for them. I'm glad they are here to experience it obviously, our whole team in general.
Any time you're a young player like that, you're starting your career and get a chance to taste what winning feels like, this is an unbelievable and valuable experience.
So, you know, you go through your growing pains and you learn how to deal with the atmosphere and the anxieties of it sometimes. But this is what sets up champions and gives you the feel of what it means to be a champion. I remember Bernie and Derek and Posada and all those guys went through the same type of thing. It's going to be a positive experience for them win or lose, but we win it all, it's going to be even sweeter for them because it will lay the foundation of what they should be expecting every year, or most years, anyway.

Q. Just to follow up with Jose, I heard you on an interview earlier, you said that he's not scared of anything, a catch or anything, can you just describe what has held him back on the bases this series?
WILLIE RANDOLPH: Nothing's held him back. I said earlier that sometimes you have to give credit to the pitchers for changing their rhythm and their cadence and holding the ball and quick pitching, stepping off, all those things upset your rhythm of any base stealer.
I don't think anything's held them back. We saw it earlier, also. In the playoffs you can't just run wild and crazy, either. It's a little bit different than the regular season. I don't think anything has held them back. You have to give credit to the Cardinal pitchers for giving different looks, and he's probably ready to go on next the next pitch.

Q. Is the lineup the same, is Cliff still not ready?
WILLIE RANDOLPH: Same lineup, yes.

Q. Another shortstop question would be Eckstein of the Cardinals. Now that you've played him on a daily basis except when it rains, what problems does he pose for you as an opposing manager?
WILLIE RANDOLPH: Nothing in particular. I watched David play for a lot of years with the Angels. He's just one of those hard-nosed -- he's a player. That's the best way to describe him. His talent doesn't jump out at you, but he's a winner. He fights you, he battles, he puts the ball in play. He gets the most out of his abilities and his skills. So he's just one of those guys that loves to compete and is a winning-type ballplayer and that's why he's been on winning ballclubs. I think he's an exceptional team player, and that's why he's always in the mix when things happen.

Q. Have you definitively settled on your starting pitcher for tomorrow night?
WILLIE RANDOLPH: Not definitively, no. We're going to see how things play out today. Everyone is just about available except maybe Tom Glavine and we'll see what happens at the end of the game here and we'll make a choice tonight or tomorrow. Tonight probably.

Q. Given that both teams here are missing players with injuries and both teams are playing with a lot of stress, with a lot of pitching stress, do you think the Tigers no matter who wins will have any sort of advantage, at least in the opening games?
WILLIE RANDOLPH: You might think that going in, or you might think that, but I've seen situations where that really doesn't mean a whole lot, in a four-out-of-seven series, they might go cold and somebody might get hot. You can look at it just on the surface, you might think that, yeah, but it doesn't always play out that way.

Q. If you need a long man tonight, would you go to Oliver, or would you try to piece it together a different way?
WILLIE RANDOLPH: No, I'd probably -- well, it depends. I'd probably go with Oliver. It depends where we are in the game, second, third, fourth inning, whatever it might be. But if it's early -- I won't hold anybody back.

Q. How much of the burden falls on Lo Duca to navigate John Maine, a guy who has not lasted very long in the playoffs?
WILLIE RANDOLPH: It's no burden. He just has to take charge like he always does. Just keep him in the game and take charge like he does. He'll hopefully put the right fingers down and John will make the right pitch and we'll execute that and move on.
No, Paul is not going to change anything right now. Just another game and go out there and take charge and hopefully John will give us a quality start.

Q. Will you manage tonight as though it's the seventh game without thinking about anybody's availability for tomorrow and just let tomorrow --
WILLIE RANDOLPH: Yeah, we have to win the game. If we don't win the game, we won't be thinking about tomorrow. Just like a sudden death game for us and everyone will be ready to go and we'll try to do whatever it takes to win the ballgame and deal with tomorrow, tomorrow.

Q. Given that all ballplayers have slumps at one point or another, is David Wright having a, quote, normal slump that you have during the middle of the season or is the post-season a factor or the team that's pitching?
WILLIE RANDOLPH: I don't really subscribe to slumps, being in slumps per se. I think again sometimes you hit balls good at people and if you don't go 4 for 5 someone says you're in slump or whatever. I don't look at it that way.
David is obviously trying a little too hard I think, that's what I see, and that's natural. We were talking earlier about being in a situation for the first time. Until you go through the process, you need to learn how to channel some of that energy. And he's a big hitter, he's been big all year for us, he's been producing and wants to do well. That's a natural thing. You can't really put your finger on why that happens and why that is. But the bottom line is, right now, he's had some decent at-bats, but, you know, he seems like at times he's a little bit overanxious and that's for anybody. You see Carlos sometimes, as well as he's swung the bat, every once in a while he'll get anxious. You get your confidence going, and David he's fighting out there every day and I think he's going to come up big for us before too long, and hopefully tonight.

Q. With losing two important pitchers, do you suddenly start hoping that the team will do more consistent hitting as a way of making up for it?
WILLIE RANDOLPH: I said from the beginning when we first came into the series that we need to swing the bats collectively. Like in the fourth game, I believe, we scored a bunch of runs and that's going to be the key for us. Any time you're thin with your pitching, you have to put runs on the board. All year long we've been a team that's fed off our energy and our offense for the most part and that's a big key for us. We're the type of team that when we get up early, get out quick, you've seen us, we continue to roll.
With any situation like this pitching is always the key but if you have that extra offense, that added dimension, it makes your life a lot easier, believe me.

Q. So without getting the offense, how disappointed are you?
WILLIE RANDOLPH: I'm not disappointed at all. When you lose games, you're disappointed, but I'm not going to hang it on the offense. I'm never disappointed in my guys. We win tonight, we'll be okay for tomorrow. It's not over now. You're not giving in, you're not giving up are you?

Q. No.
WILLIE RANDOLPH: Well, the offense can turn around real quick, man. We've had two days to bang it around a little bit, and we'll see.
The offense is back, it's back. I'm not disappointed, man, that's the way the game goes sometimes, and even if you don't get offense, you have to pitch. It's a collective thing. I have a good feeling we're going to score some runs tonight, I really do, I really do.

Q. Considering that your team was generally considered the best team in the National League all season and favored to go to the World Series, I'll use the D word again, are you disappointed, dismayed, shocked, all of the above, at the turn of events and the position that you find yourself in now?
WILLIE RANDOLPH: No, it's not over yet. Why would I be disappointed or shocked? It's not over yet. We're still playing. We're playing tonight. It's not that it's over. We have to win tonight and we win tomorrow, we're going away to Detroit.
No, wow, this is -- what we've been doing every day since Spring Training. The reason why this team is good and the reason why my staff and I have, we stay positive and focused and we understand we were the best team in the National League. But at this point since it's not over with, there's no reason to be disappointed. As a matter of fact, we should feel pretty good about ourselves because we're still playing.

Q. Certainly the team knows what they are up against, but do you feel you need to give them any kind of special message, either collectively or individually to help them relax for the game tonight?
WILLIE RANDOLPH: No, our travel plans for Friday are what we are going to talk about.

End of FastScripts...

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