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December 6, 2006
Q. Where you've been, Grady?
GRADY LITTLE: We had a late lunch.
Q. Anything on the signing of Jason Schmidt, what it means to the ballclub and how big a deal that is to your rotation?
GRADY LITTLE: I just came from a meeting with Ned Colletti upstairs and there is not a deal with Jason Schmidt yet.
Q. There isn't any?
GRADY LITTLE: No.
Q. What is lacking in there being a deal? Is it just a physical or more?
GRADY LITTLE: Let him know.
Q. What does it mean to have somebody like that considering he averages over 200 innings every year and a good anchor to almost any pitching staff?
GRADY LITTLE: He's a good pitcher. But there is no deal out.
Q. Could you comment on both Julio Lugo and J.D. Drew and how you think they will fit in with Boston?
GRADY LITTLE: Yeah, I think that the year that J.D. Drew had last year in L.A. speaks for itself. It was an outstanding year that he had there for us. He's a very talented player. He's got the ability to hit the ball out of the park. He plays good defense. He runs well. He is a good person.
Julio Lugo played very well for us when he first joined our club last year. He was put into a situation where he arrived on the scene at the time when Nomar Garciaparra and Jeff Kent were both placed on the DL. He played every day for us for two weeks or so, was a very good player for us during that time and then was placed in a situation when they came back off the DL where he didn't play every day and that was totally out of position for Julio, and it in a way was unfair for him, but that's the way the situation was on our ballclub at that time. And it's unfair for me to sit here and judge his play from that point on because he had never been a part-time player before in his career.
Q. Do you find him to be a very good shortstop, everyday shortstop?
GRADY LITTLE: He is a very talented player. I think he showed that when he played every day at Tampa Bay. He plays with a lot of excitement. He can make a lot of things happen and with that porch in left field in Fenway, I'm sure he will hit a few balls over that thing.
Q. You are obviously very aware of the high-pressure environment of the Red Sox.
GRADY LITTLE: No, I'm not aware of that.
Q. Do you think they will react well to that? How do you think they will handle that?
GRADY LITTLE: They are just like fans everywhere else, they want to win the games and they need players to perform, be productive to do that and their reaction will be based on that.
Q. Are you starting to lose hope on acquiring Manny Ramirez?
GRADY LITTLE: Lose hope? You know, that conversation takes place every winter, doesn't it, around these meetings. I think it is usually the topic of conversation and what makes you think this one is any different?
Q. Grady, you were reuniting with some of your players, the Dodgers with Nomar and Derek Lowe, what if you are reunited with Manny and obviously this is "what if" speculation kind of situation.
GRADY LITTLE: Manny's a good player. Manny's a good player and I like to be surrounded by good players. It takes those to make me look good. But Nomar, these kind of guys are good players and we like to surround ourselves with as many players like that as we can.
Q. You got Lieberthal today. Do you see him catching with the confidence last year and how many starts can you get out of him?
GRADY LITTLE: I think if he catches as much as last year -- something before September gets here but he's gonna need a little bit more time off than I gave him last year and I talked to Mike, he knows the situation that we're in there in L.A. He knows what we think about Russell Martin and he is ready to do whatever we need him to do, whether it's catch one day a week, one day over ten days, whatever it is. But Mike Lieberthal is a local kid, a local man there from L.A. and we are glad to have him on the club.
Q. What kind of bounce-back do you think that Eric Gagne could have for whatever team he pitches for this year?
GRADY LITTLE: Eric Gagne has had an outstanding career there in L.A. and that's all speculation whatever I said about what I thought could bounce back and go would just be speculation. He's gone through some difficult injury situations lately but he is out there ready to go right now.
Q. Are you sort of going forward with plans right now that he is not going to be with the club?
GRADY LITTLE: At this point in time, he is a free agent and we're talking to a lot of free agents and about a lot of free agents.
Q. Can you afford to go into next season with two outfielders? Do you need to add someone?
GRADY LITTLE: We like our players. We like our team. And any way that we can figure out that we could do something to make it better we will do it but I like our players, I like the team that we have right now as we speak. Anything we can do to help it, we will.
Q. Who would start in left and right, right now, if these are your options?
GRADY LITTLE: We're not playing today.
Q. No, but soon.
GRADY LITTLE: Well, I tell you what, we went into the playoffs last year with seven rookies on a 25-man roster and we played Marlon Anderson in left field every day. Still have him on our team. Still have Andre there. We have got a little fellow we just signed to play center field, which he is going to be in there for a lot of games as far as this year. We like our ballclub.
Who is going to play left field? Still haven't answered your question.
Q. Or right field. Do you have an answer to either one?
GRADY LITTLE: I can't tell you that. I can't tell you that.
Q. Were you able to forge a pretty good relationship with Gagne last year considering he was hurt and missed most of the entire year?
GRADY LITTLE: You know, throughout the course of the season, it's hard to forge much of a relationship with a player when he's not playing and he was trying to get himself back ready to pitch last year. We thought we had him to that point at one time and then it didn't happen, but through the course of the season, it's hard to have very much time to forge any kind of relationships like that. You've got your hands full with 25 active players.
Q. What are you going to do with your leadoff man?
GRADY LITTLE: You know, we'll try some things in spring training, we have some ideas going into spring training with the Juan and Rafael Furcal, but I can't sit here and tell you right now how we will end up on opening day. It could be one way, we will try some things and if something's not working, we'll change it. If it's working, we'll leave it the same, but we got the luxury of two big leadoff hitters there and whatever we do, I'm sure both guys will be hitting in the first inning. In what order, I don't know.
Q. Not necessarily 1-2?
GRADY LITTLE: Not necessarily.
Q. I know you said you had not reached a deal yet with Schmidt but you played against him last year in the same division. What kind of skills make him such a dominant pitcher?
GRADY LITTLE: Well, it seemed like every time we picked up the paper and saw that he was going to be pitching in our series, it wasn't really a pitcher we were looking forward to facing. You know that when you took the field against a guy like that, that he's going to be out there for a long time and you go into it in the frame of mind you want to try to keep the games close until he gets tired, try to get the next guy.
Q. Those are the kind of qualities you'd want in one of your own pitchers?
GRADY LITTLE: The situation we were in last year in L.A., we liked starting pitchers any time they went beyond the fifth inning.
Q. Excited about the young guys you've got coming up, the Loneys, Kemp, Billingsleys, guys like that just on the cusp of something good?
GRADY LITTLE: I think that goes without saying. We've got some good young players over there, right there a couple of them have an opportunity last year, some due to injuries, some for other reasons, when they got the opportunity, they made the best of it, and I think they showed the world that all -- everything we've been hearing about them is true.
These guys are close to being really good players in the major leagues for a long time.
Q. Anybody you saw that you particularly liked, just liked the way they played or liked something about them, those young guys?
GRADY LITTLE: I like them all, I like them all and I think that the way we utilized them throughout the course of the season showed that.
Q. You had a new contract with Saito and are you happy to have him back to the Dodgers?
GRADY LITTLE: I would say so. You know, he got an opportunity last year to come in. He joined our club I think in May and I don't know the exact numbers but I do know the exact number of saves that he had -- he blew a save and that was one out of all of his opportunities. He has good control. He has good stuff and we're certainly glad he's back.
But I still haven't been able to figure out why I see the catcher go to the mound or my pitching coach go to the mound or I go to the mound and he puts his glove over his mouth so no one can read his lips. I haven't really figured out why he does that yet. I think he's been watching too much TV.
Q. Do you think Broxton's got the potential to be a closer too, that he can fulfill that role someday?
GRADY LITTLE: I think he certainly could. He certainly has the stuff and the makeup and the resiliency that it takes to be a good closer. Going into the season this year, we expect to use him in the same role we used him in last year, with the comfort of knowing that if something happened to Saito, we'll have him to fall back on and that's not that bad.
Q. Disappointed about Maddux going down the coast?
GRADY LITTLE: Yeah, but that guy means so much to a ballclub, anyone would certainly love to have him on their staff. But I know they're proud they got him down there. He means a lot to everyone else in the clubhouse and not just what he does on the field that accounts around there. He meant a lot to our club last year and this year probably about six different series, he meant a lot to our club again when we face him.
Q. You are on a team that has the resources to participate in a pretty free market. Do you have worries about what happens when you sign a guy to a big contract, you overpay him and maybe he doesn't work out or do what you expect him, what kind of effect that has on your club?
GRADY LITTLE: I think any time that a manager has some players that aren't performing up to their capability that they are underachieving, maybe some times you better start looking in the mirror because he might not be out there worrying about it that long but those thing does happen. You deal with them the best that you can and try to keep them from happening.
Q. Does it get more complicated when, you know, big money's at stake also?
GRADY LITTLE: We never think about money, when your in that clubhouse and on that field, you're trying to win games and age and money is never a factor, in my eyes.
Q. It might be among the players, you know, like if you're a guy who's making a tenth of what somebody else is and, you know, feel like your skills are superior, your production is superior, that seems like that's where it could become a problem.
GRADY LITTLE: If that is something that creates friction within a clubhouse, then you've got the wrong players.
Q. You talk to Joe Beimel?
GRADY LITTLE: Yes I have.
GRADY LITTLE: He meant a lot to our club last year, an unfortunate circumstance that he got into there going into the playoffs but and it's something I think he learned a lot from. It is unfortunate but we are looking forward to having him back on our club.
Q. Who's your opening day starters?
GRADY LITTLE: Call me.
Q. Back to Beimel for a minute you say you've talked to him and Ned's talked to him, there's some comments made during the playoffs, how sure are you that that's not going to be an issue inside that room?
GRADY LITTLE: We'll deal with that, if there's something that needs to be dealt with, we don't shy away from anything like that we will face it.
Q. Can you talk about the addition of Mike Lieberthal, a veteran, and what he provides the team.
GRADY LITTLE: Mike, we have a lot of respect for what Mike could bring to our ballclub. He's been around for a long time. He's been a very productive player and for the role he will take on our ballclub, we think he's perfect. We look forward to having him. I've talked to him a couple of times. He is excited about being there in that role at this point in his career and we are certainly glad to have him.
End of FastScripts