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October 18, 2006

Willie Randolph


Q. I'd like to ask you about the great performance that John Maine gave you tonight and what was the determination that you led you to pull him at 98 pitches?
WILLIE RANDOLPH: I've got a good bullpen, that's for sure. Always know how I feel, John pitched a great ballgame. Didn't lose his cool, he stayed poised and made some pitches when he had to. His M.O. has been pretty consistent, keeps you in the game and every once in a while, he'll make a mistake like most pitchers do.
The thing I love about him is that he didn't really waver too much, and as he's pitched for us and been here, he's gotten stronger and stronger to execute his pitches and stay in his rhythm. So he did a great job for us, did what he wanted to do and just keep us in the ballgame and gives us a chance to go to our bullpen.

Q. As it turns out that seventh inning was huge. Can you talk about the aggressive play and the base hits with Reyes and Tucker, and Lo Duca brings those two guys home.
WILLIE RANDOLPH: Well, Tucker, a great at-bat by him. He's been a guy that's helped us since he's been here, getting on base. If he had a walk or just a tough at-bat, he went the other way real well. I thought our whole approach tonight was really good. We're using what they gave us, we weren't trying to be big. I think we had maybe three or four hits going the opposite way, so that's a good sign for us.
Tucker got us going and then Jose to get us going a little bit and Lo Duca has been one of our most clutch hitters all year. He's been great and been able to put the ball in play in a tough spot. It's clutch knowing that he's out there and great knowing he's up to the challenge, and got that two-run RBI for us.

Q. Who is pitching Game 7, and why?
WILLIE RANDOLPH: Oliver Perez is pitching, and because I like him. (Laughter.)
He's done a nice job for us since he's been here, very similar to Johnny Maine in a lot of ways. He's throwing the ball well. Last time he threw the ball real well. Like I said earlier, he needs to give us another quality start and just go with everything we've got tomorrow. Seventh game is exciting, and we're looking forward to that challenge.

Q. Prior to tonight's game, was there anything in particular that you spoke to John Maine about, obviously considering it's Game 6?
WILLIE RANDOLPH: No. I just tell him all the time, go out and have fun. It's a great opportunity for him. Since he's been here, he's stepped up to the challenge many times. I've challenged him many times and he's just coming more and more into his own.
Again, I always say Omar did a great job of getting him from Baltimore. I watched him pitch for years over there and he's just kind of finding his way and trying to refine some of his stuff. Rick Peterson has done a great job working with him and to his credit, he's putting in the time. Just a great pick-up for us. Since he's been here, he's been golden for us.

Q. We've heard you say throughout the post-season, not if we get to the World Series, when we get to the World Series. And we also heard that you gave the team the travel itinerary to Detroit. How much do you sense they have fed off of your confidence?
WILLIE RANDOLPH: Well, I hope they have. I mean, from day one, I've always been that way. I try not to hide what I feel and what I believe in. I think if you're going to play the game and you want to be a winner, you have to believe that you can, and go out and play for each other and execute and just play team-winning baseball.
It's the way I've always been. I've been this way all my life. I don't mean to brag or gloat, but it's a fact. What I bring to the table is my attitude and my positive approach and I hope it rubs off. That's part of my job, I guess, I don't know.

Q. Of all the Game 7's you've been around as a player and coach, can you drag up one from your mind where you saw the manager manage and the pitchers get through, the whole pitching staff in a Game 7?
WILLIE RANDOLPH: Oh, I can't -- right now, I've been in a lot of that stuff but I don't remember anyone who jumps out at me right now. They are all very unique in their own way and exciting. I just want to be part of my own and get a victory tomorrow and move on.
But you know, when you think about the playoffs and World Series, those situations, playoffs right now, you just hope that it's something that's significant and something that you look back on, maybe 20 or 30 years from now and be really proud of. We're trying to find our own little niche and make our own little piece of history.
Everyone's going to be ready to go tomorrow. Fans were great tonight, outstanding atmosphere. I didn't expect anything differently. I knew they would give us a nice jolt tonight and they did, and the players responded.

Q. Two outs in the seventh inning, Tucker gets a single for you and starts the inning, talk about the way the role players have really come up in the series.
WILLIE RANDOLPH: We've had our share of injuries. We don't complain much about it or talk much about it, but Jose and Chavy have played well after a slow start, Tucker was a nice pick-up for us before Castro got hurt, he did a nice job. You don't win divisions or championships without having a real strong supporting cast, and our guys are ready to play every day. I try to get them as much work as I can and they just feel part of the ownership of this ballclub. Everybody feels that they have been a part of it. They have been huge. You can't say enough of the job they have done and the bullpen has been the best in baseball, or the best in the National League, anyway. Just proud of the guys that come to play for me every day, and they just love to win.

Q. You had Trachsel warming up in the ninth inning, was there a reason for that?
WILLIE RANDOLPH: I heard Rick say he was getting some side work done, throwing a little bit just in case.

Q. Is there anything you learned about John Maine's makeup during the course of the season that you may not have known before?
WILLIE RANDOLPH: Well, I didn't really know him at all. The time that I've known him, he's shown me that he's tough. He's shown he can make adjustments. He's a real quiet kind of guy. Every time I've challenged him, like I said earlier, he's stepped up. Tonight especially, he didn't really waver at all. You can see where he's starting to feel more and more confident and really secure in his abilities and trusting his stuff. I just told him to go out and just let it go. Don't try to hold anything back. Just empty the tank for me and give me what you've got and we'll pick you up, and we did.

Q. What was the bench like after you got out of the top of the first inning, and then Reyes opens the bottom of the first inning with a home run?
WILLIE RANDOLPH: Our bench is always lively. It's always upbeat. We start feeding off the energy we create, and you know, we have a nice mix where guys are on top step. You've got to be on the top step in this series. It's exciting, we pull for each other, it's a nice mix. We talk a lot of trash and keep each other going. It's a nice dugout because everyone's involved and pulling for each other.

Q. How important was it to get that leadoff spark from Reyes, not just the leadoff home run, but really everything he did the whole game?
WILLIE RANDOLPH: I've said it many, many times. He's our catalyst, he's our igniter. Do you know what igniter means, Jose? That means he gets us going and kick starts us and as Jose goes, we go. His energy is infectious and we love him for that. Nice going, kid, nice job, have a seat.

Q. I thought one of your key decisions of the game early was walking Pujols in that situation. It was a little bit out of character for the way you've handled those situations, what went into your decision to do it, and it's not -- okay, whatever.
WILLIE RANDOLPH: Best hitter in the game, man. When you get the opportunity to do that, it's a little bit smart to do it if you can. It's not out of character. It's being conscious of him and obviously everyone is.

Q. Are you familiar at all with Oliver, does he have any history on short rest?
WILLIE RANDOLPH: I'm not sure. It doesn't matter, really. Time to go. One game. He'll have plenty of time to rest after that, I'm sure. Ready to go.

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