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October 19, 2006

Willie Randolph


Q. For Saturday in Detroit, what are the chances your starting pitcher might be somebody who is not on your roster for this series?
WILLIE RANDOLPH: There's always that possibility. Dave Williams is down in a taxi squad working out, if we want to put him in our rotation. You never know. We have guys ready to go. Who knows, could be El Duque, the way he's working, coming around, bouncing around pretty good. So it could be him.

Q. What is it like to be part of this Game 7, winner moves on?
WILLIE RANDOLPH: Been here many times, man. Feels good to me. This is nothing new to me. I feel like this is where I should be.
So I'm excited. Been floating around all day long, been looking forward to getting to the ballpark and ready to be out there with my boys, so this feels very comfortable to me, very good.

Q. What's the difference in your body chemistry, say, today, as opposed to what it was fifth game against Kansas City, your rookie year in the first game, a sudden-death-type game you played in, and with all of these types of games you've been in, can you compare how you felt as a kid in your first one as to a manager tonight?
WILLIE RANDOLPH: It's really different. The feeling deep down in your soul about being in there and the excitement of it is still there. It's always more fun playing, as opposed to coaching, and now managing.
You know, the first couple of rounds, you get the feeling of accomplishment, excitement you feel for your players. It's a little bit different. It's tough to describe. But it still feels really good. Very similar to when I played, because you have guys that you watch work hard all season long. You try to teach him how to play winning baseball, and you see the fruits of that. It's just like, yeah, I mentioned this before, it's like a father/son kind of thing, a teacher/pupil kind of relationship. But it still feels really great. There's no way to really just kind of put it into words, but ultimately when you compete and you have been in the situation, it's what you come back and fight for every year to get back to this point.

Q. But is the level of nervousness comparable?
WILLIE RANDOLPH: I don't feel nerves. I don't really feel that at all. Again, I've always said this and again it's part of the reason why I have been successful in the game from a player to a coach to my first round as a manager, that I feel real comfortable in this environment. I feel that this is where I should be. I love the competition. I love the pressure. Nerves is not something that I really feel. I actually feel better when there's more pressure on me. I seem to focus more and feel like this is where I should be.
I'm anxious, I'm excited more than anything. Like I said, I got up this morning and I've been floating around all day just getting ready. I don't feel nervous. I feel really like I have to kind of calm down a little bit and I feel excited, and I don't feel that's nerves at all.

Q. The improvement in Oliver Perez, how much of it do you think was mechanical adjustments and something he might have worked on with your pitching coach; how much of it do you think is just a confidence factor, being given a chance in a winning atmosphere?
WILLIE RANDOLPH: Yeah, it's a little bit of both. It's the fact that he's worked real hard with Rick Peterson from day one, trying to work on his mechanics a little bit. We saw him coming in obviously with a great arm. We needed to harness some of that energy and his stuff, and to his credit he's done a great job of working hard on the side. You see him in the bullpen working on his delivery and his rhythm. And again, Rick has done a tremendous job with all of our pitchers.
Same thing with John Maine, Mota, all of these guys really bought into what we're trying to do. Oliver, you can just see that he's always got that confidence in his ability, but I think you can see that he's feeling it now. Very, very confident individuals. He's always had good stuff, but now he's in a nice rhythm and nice groove and you can see it even more. That's why I feel very confident giving him the ball, because he shows no scare. He just feels very, very much like he belongs and wants this opportunity. So he'll get the ball tonight and looking forward to it.

Q. Do you think there is something to pitching better in a winning environment?
WILLIE RANDOLPH: Yeah, it's nice to be around a good ballclub and the support that we give a pitcher.
Yeah, I think it kind of rubs off a little bit. It could be somewhat contagious, but it's how you channel all that energy and how you put it to use on the field. Just because you're on a good ballclub doesn't mean you're going to go out there and do the job. We have a great defensive club and we swing the bats a little bit and we play for each other. That helps to kind of bring guys who might come in from the outside into the mix, because they see the attitude and they really buy into it right away.

Q. You said after last year at this time how much you learned as a manager in your first year. These ten playoff games and this experience, do you feel like it's been even another big step through all this stuff?
WILLIE RANDOLPH: The experience of it, you mean?

Q. Yeah, for you.
WILLIE RANDOLPH: To tell you the truth, it feels like a regular game. It means more intensity and more as far as what's riding on it. The games we played in L.A. and to this point feels like a regular-season game as far as the in-game stuff or whatever.
You learn things, you see things. Obviously there's a lot more excitement going on and then the atmosphere is just unbelievable like last night. But I don't feel that it's really any different, the game itself, from the regular season. That's the way it feels to me.

Q. Can you just talk a little bit more about the crowd, you just mentioned it right there, it seemed they have been great all year.
WILLIE RANDOLPH: About the crowd?

Q. Yeah, the crowd, last night, the energy, especially when Jose hit the home run in the first inning. The rest of the game was just amazing.
WILLIE RANDOLPH: That's just New York. I've been here a lot of years. When you've been across town, I don't think there's a big difference in the octaves of sound that you hear. Yankee Stadium is just as loud as Shea Stadium. It makes a big difference. It's subtle things. Players get up and players feed off that type of energy.
I think that's something that our club really feeds off. I remember when I first came, one of the first meetings I had with the team we talked a little bit about -- because I've been here in this town and I understand that. I remember telling the players how important it was to have these people, these fans feel who you are and if they do, go out and play hard and give them everything you've got, you will feed off their energy and they will give you more. I say that because I've experienced that and I know what that's like being here. They responded to it. We've played aggressively from day one, and I think the fans appreciate and enjoy the way we play the game, and they kind of feed off -- we kind of feed off each other in a way, and that's kind of the way I envisioned it.

Q. A couple minutes ago you mentioned floating around the house. I was just curious what you did to burn off some of that energy? Did you get here earlier than usual or same time as always?
WILLIE RANDOLPH: About the same time. I just couldn't wait to get here. I'm always pretty energetic anyway. Had a quick workout early just to calm down a little bit. Couldn't stop moving around and just wanted to get here. I just feel this is going to be a special day for us, and I just feel like this is what I'm accustomed to doing. I've been doing it for a long, long time. I've been blessed to be involved in some Game 7s in the post-season for a lot of years.
It's what you live for, it's what you expect, and I wish I could put a glove on and a bat, but my knees won't work anymore.

Q. I know it's probably hard to ask you to do this from a personal standpoint, obviously you waited a long time to get a job, you went through many interview processes. Can you try and reflect, as you're on the cusp of a World Series, what it means to you to be in this position to have done this well and maybe what people have learned about you by watching you?
WILLIE RANDOLPH: I don't know if we have enough time, really. It's been a lot of, I don't know, I wouldn't say frustration, but just a lot of years of trying to convince an organization that I'm the right guy for the job. You know, you go into those interviews and you kind of spill your heart and soul to these people that you really don't know, and maybe that was part of the reason. They didn't know me and where I've come from, where I've been and what I've been a part of. That was probably the most frustrating part of it.
It's been a long journey, but I really feel like it's the right time. This is where I deserve to be and should be. It's my hometown, and a special part of being here is being able to look up in the stands and see your family and friends and your old high school teachers and all that kind of stuff, which is kind of weird.
But, you know, to me, there's no redemption or anything like that. There's nothing -- I don't have a feeling of, you know, I told you so or I knew this would happen. It's just that I've been a part of a long legacy of winning and I'm just happy the Met organization gave me the opportunity to come here and give it up to these players, and we're on the cusp of a Game 7, National League championship, and it feels real good.

Q. What's your assessment of what's going on with Wagner? He got hit pretty hard again last night.
WILLIE RANDOLPH: Billy, that's a closer's life. That's the way closers are. Billy gets real excited. Sometimes he gets a little bit too amped up. Just a high energy guy.
He's shown signs of that during the course of the year. I think most closers do. You're in a real tight spot and he's a power pitcher, and he has to come in with a lot of energy and every once in a while he's just a little too hyped up. That's what makes him really good, too, one of the best. Just hope that when he comes in, he's on an even keel there and not try to do too much.
Yes, Billy has been magnificent all year for us. He's had his up-and-downs, like most closers, but I'll give him the ball again right away.

Q. If the problem is that he's too hyped, tonight is Game 7, are you worried about him tonight?
WILLIE RANDOLPH: Sometimes that works for you, too. Every once in a while you can overthrow the ball. I'm sure with the Yankee series, he was like that. There was a time during the regular season where he was like that. You just hope that, again, he's at a point where he can regroup, throw a few pitches out of the zone, you might get a hit every once in a while.
Billy is good because he has a tendency to regroup and get back in the rhythm of things just like he did last night and next time he might come in there and just blow lights out. I have a lot of faith in him. He'll get the ball right away, and that's the faith I have in him. He's my guy.

Q. Various managers have different characteristics. Joe Torre describes Jim Leyland, for instance, as a feel manager; he feels it. You managed against La Russa now for a week, what is characteristic about him? I know you observed him in both leagues. What is the signature style or thing that makes him so successful for so long?
WILLIE RANDOLPH: Tony is a winner. I don't particularly observe or dictate -- or observe styles. He's shown he can do that. He's in control of his ballclub and the game. He has a feel for his people, which I think is very important for any good manager to understand your personnel and how to put them in the right place at the right time. Tony has been doing this for a long, long time. He communicates well with his people and he's always in control. I admired him. I was his teammate years ago. I played for him in 1990 when we went to the World Series and lost to the Reds. A tremendous amount of respect for Tony La Russa. He's one of the best in the game.
I don't always get into trying to emulate styles of different managers. I just respect what they do.

Q. Was he good to play for?
WILLIE RANDOLPH: Yeah, he was awesome. Very similar to the way he is right now. I'm sure he does things a little bit differently than he did at that time. That was back in 1990. But Tony is still on top of his game.

Q. The Tigers, what do you particularly admire or like about that team?
WILLIE RANDOLPH: Well, I've seen them play a little bit. I don't really know a whole lot about their club. They play very much like Jimmy, dictates they play with the fire and passion that Jimmy brings to the table.
They obviously have some great arms, great young arms that they feed off of, picking up Pudge and I thought Sean Casey was a big pickup for them. They have some solid players, also. They are very balanced in a lot of ways. The bullpen is solid. They throw everything at you and with a lot of flare. So I'm looking forward to hopefully getting a chance to see them up close and in person, up close and personal.

Q. Could you elaborate a little bit on the taxi squad that you mentioned at the beginning. Who is down there?
WILLIE RANDOLPH: Milledge is down there, we have Dave Williams, Heath Bell, a few guys we can just tap into in case, God forbid, we have any injuries.

Q. Have you been in discussions as of right now of what might happen roster-wise?
WILLIE RANDOLPH: No, we have to take care of business first, today.

Q. What you said before, you got here at your normal time, all of your experience in this, how much comfort do managers and coaches and players take in going through their normal routine in this excitement?
WILLIE RANDOLPH: The first part of your question I'm not following.

Q. You got here at the normal time today.
WILLIE RANDOLPH: At the ballpark, okay.

Q. How much comfort do you take in the normal routine?
WILLIE RANDOLPH: Well, you try to stay on your routine. Get here a little earlier of course, but you try not to deviate too much. Make sure everyone is ready to play, do all our scouting report stuff and try to get a little workout in and be ready to go. My schedule is very similar to what happens for me and we want it to stay that way.

Q. How about the players?
WILLIE RANDOLPH: Don't change anything. All the guys do the same things every day. Ballplayers are creatures of habit. They get out there and do their routine, they are down in the cage and clubhouse having a good time before the game. We focus at certain times before the game, so there's no reason to change that.

End of FastScripts...

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