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July 9, 2007
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA
JOSE MOTA: Good morning, everybody, my name is Jose Mota and it is just a great pleasure to introduce to you and to be part of this great celebration, Major League Baseball's 78th All-Star Game, and welcome to the City of San Francisco. Just a reminder, we will have some player availability starting with the National League players next door, and they will be available from 11:00 to 11:50. The American League players will follow from 12:30 to 1:20. Now, in between that, we will have the players that are going to be competing in the State Farm Home Run Derby tonight, and that will be here in this press room.
We are glad to have all of you here and more than anything, it promises to be a great celebration as it always is in a City of great tradition. At this point, it is my pleasure and honor to introduce to you the National League honorary president, Mr. Bill Giles.
BILL GILES: Giles family started in 1920 in baseball and I myself have worked in it for 60 years and it amazes me the popularity of the game today. When I was working with the Reds way back, we could only draw a million people and now people are drawing over 4 million a year and baseball is on pace to have a fourth consecutive record-breading year in attendance, and I'm also very proud to introduce the manager of the National League All-Stars a gentleman who has taken his team to the post-season 12 years, he's won more games than any manager in baseball history, except for Connie Mack and John McGraw and this is his fifth year as All-Star manager, Tony La Russa.
TONY LaRUSSA: We are excited to be here and I've been wrong a lot but I'm right in saying that the coaches and I really like this team. Talked to some of the managers, especially the ones who have been playing lately and the coaches on our staff, real good mix of some veterans who have been outstanding through the years and understand what All-Star Game is all about, and we have these young guys, really dynamic, and they are stars now and getting better and better.
With that, I'm supposed to announce the starting pitchers. He's sitting to my right and it's Jake Peavy. You're all baseball fans so you know that Jake is having a wonderful first half and matches his career, and you look at his stats, it would be an easy choice but when you look at the rest of the starting pitchers on our squad, there are a lot of guys having really good years. So it just -- I think Dave Duncan and I got together and Marty Mason, and we thought Jake was the guy to give the ball and we're anxious to give it to him.
JAKE PEAVY: It's an honor to be here and a huge honor for Tony and these guys to take a there's a lot of deserving guys and I like this team a lot and I'm going to go as long and hard as I can until Tony shakes my hand. It's an honor to be here.
TONY LaRUSSA: One p.s. to that, I told Bill, we started in Philadelphia on Friday and Cole Hamels was on the team and I said, "You're going to pitch five innings tomorrow and make him available on Monday." I know we have a good team when you look at our 8th place hitter and that's all you want to know.
Going to lead off with Jose Reyes with shortstop and we like to get the pitchers attention right away. Dave Duncan gave me that clue years ago, so ` is going to hit second, Carlos Beltrán will play centerfield and hit third, Ken Griffey will play right field, hit fourth. And we've got David Wright playing third base, batting fifth; then Prince Fielder batting sixth, playing first base; Russell Martin catching and batting seventh; Chase Utley batting eighth and playing second base, and Jake Peavy pitching and batting ninth.
JOSE MOTA: We would also like to take a specialty moment to recognize one of greatest in the game, Mr. Al Kaline joining us today.
Now it is an honor to introduce the American League Honorary president, Jackie Autry.
JACKIE AUTRY: Thank you, Jose, it's nice to be here also and I would like to concur with what Bill Giles said this morning. I wish my husband had lived long enough so see what's happening in baseball in the last six or seven years because it's been extraordinary. In any case I'm here to introduce the American League manager and I have to say that I'm very pleased that this man decided at some point in his career to leave the National League, which is of course is the lesser league and move over to the American League. (Laughter.)
So we have no intention of letting you go, Jim, if at all possible, and in any case, this will be Jim's second time to manage an All-Star Game and he's been a Manager of the Year three times, twice in the National League and once in the American League having won it last year. And the American League is looking forward to winning this year as always. Jim?
JIM LEYLAND: Thank you very much. Great to be here. As Tony said, we think we have a pretty good team, too. The starting pitcher on my left is Danny Haren and it was a tough choice. I think that really makes everybody understand how good this guy really is and how good those other guys were that were on that list; there was a list of five.
When I look at the numbers, and I weighed everything, I had our PR guy going through all kinds of different statistical numbers over the past three or four weeks and I felt that Danny's numbers certainly should give him the right to start this game. And I would be lying if I said, if I felt that it wasn't a nice extra touch since he pitches right across the Bay here in this area.
And truthfully, if this game was in Cleveland, it would probably be Sabathia and it was in Detroit it would be Verlander. So there was a little added incentive for me; when I picked Danny, I thought that would really create a nice touch for it.
So we're going to compete, we're going to have a good time with it. It's a show for the fans. We're going to try to put on a good show and we're going to try to compete.
Our lineup is Ichiro Suzuki is leading off and he'll play center field. Derek Jeter is our shortstop batting second. Big Papi, David Ortiz who I just walked twice over the weekend in one game is batting third. Alex Rodriguez, obviously leading majors in home runs, our third baseman. Vladimir Guerrero will play right field which will move my own right fielder, Magglio Ordonez to left field. And Ivan Rodriguez, a 14-time All-Star, will be batting seventh and Pacido Polanco, in his first All-Star Game, will bat eighth, and of course Danny is our pitcher and he's going to bat ninth.
So I put all of the Tigers down at the bottom of the order so nobody could say that I wasn't favoring the Tigers. I actually wanted to hit them one, two, three, but I didn't think I could get away with it. (Laughter.)
We're going to have a lot of fun with it, and like I say, I'm very proud to be here and I'm very proud with our own Hall of Famer resident, Al Kaline came with us and we're looking forward to it.
DAN HAREN: It's obviously an honor and I know there were a lot of deserving candidates and I'm really excited. My first thought is hoping I don't have to hit. That wouldn't be very fun. You know, it's been a good year for me. I could never imagine sitting up here, obviously being selected to the All-Star Team is enough, and then getting started so close to Oakland where I resided is going to be awesome. You know, I just want to have as much fun as I could possibly have, and I'll be in awe, that's for sure, of the team playing behind me. And once I get that ball for the first pitch, it's going to be pretty amazing.
It's really a culmination of a lot of hard work and I'm just excited to go out and do my best, and it's going to be a really fun time.
JOSE MOTA: At this point we'll open up the floor.
Q. Dan, you said in the past that you kind of like playing a little bit under the radar. Obviously you're not going to be under the radar being the All-Star starter. How does that feel, knowing that you've lost whatever anonymity you had before this?
DAN HAREN: Yeah, I had been always kind of under the radar, and even when I was in St. Louis with Tony, I was always kind of the sixth starter. I never could really establish myself.
You know, the last couple of years, I've done that. I've thrown the innings and put up 34 starts a year which I'm really proud of. But as far as the pressure that comes along with losing the anonymity, I'm ready to deal with it. I'm 26. I'm not necessarily young, so you know, I'm pretty certain I can handle it. I grew up, strong background, I'm sure I can deal with everything that comes my way.
You know, now that I'm in the limelight so to speak, at least for the next couple of days, I'm just going to try to have as much fun as I can rather than putting so much pressure on myself and have this be a rough couple of days.
Q. Dan, Tony mentioned batting Bonds second to get pitchers attention; what's your thought about that, and how much have you faced Barry?
DAN HAREN: Well, my thought on that is try to keep Reyes off first base.
I've faced him quite a bit. He got me one time, he got me for number 720. I remember the whole thing. It was a 3-0 pitch and I made a mistake and laid one in there and he got me. I'll never do that again. I learned from those mistakes.
He's obviously a tough out, and I think I'm just going to try to keep the ball down and away probably, but, you know, I'm sure my adrenaline will be pumping and just got to try to keep the ball down, I guess.
Q. Wonder if you could describe the deliberations you had before you picked Jake, and did Brad Penny starting last year weigh in at all?
TONY LaRUSSA: Well, you know, through most of the first half, both Brad and Jake were neck-and-neck as far as pitching, that stuff.
But just putting it all to go, I do think that it's an honor to be the All-Star Game starter, and you know, we've gone against Jake in the post-season and know what kind of competitor he is. He's experienced that pressure and Brad did last year. I think Jake, this is going to be really good for him as he goes forward. He'll use the his post-season experience to handle tomorrow night's assignment.
Q. How much have you spoken with A-Rod and the Yankees about his health the past weekend, and how do you think he'll play?
JIM LEYLAND: Well, I'm going to speak to all of the players. There's a lot of responsibility obviously that is crammed into a short period of time for Tony and myself. Obviously I'm not going to do anything foolish. But I'll speak with A-Rod, and every other player. Placido Polanco is a little banged up.
I'll play it by ear and pretty much get a feel from A-Rod. You know, I know that he wants to play and I certainly appreciate that, but I'll be careful with everybody's players and everybody's pitchers and I certainly will not do anything foolish. I'll play is by ear with these guys.
The nice thing about this is when you can take A-Rod out and put Lowell in, this is not like your so-called extra players or utility players. We're putting in some pretty quality players behind these guys, so I'll play that by ear.
Q. What did you see from Dan when you had him in St. Louis, and did you envision the way he's progressed and gotten to the point he's at?
TONY LaRUSSA: Well, Dave Duncan and I have been together a long time and been friends for a long time and it's probably the closest we've ever come to having a disruptive relationship, because he was very adamant that Dan be a part of St. Louis's future.
You know, you try and create a fair challenge for players, for pitchers, especially when they are young. And sometimes because of the game and your situation, it doesn't allow that and I think it was 2003 when we really put it on Dan. He was young, and we asked more than we really should have. We were all just impressed with his competitiveness, his toughness; obviously his stuff. So we had, you know, big plans for his future. But, you know, make no apologize, we got Mark Mulder and he had a big year for us, he came over and he's still with us.
But we really liked him. Dave loved him and so we're really happy to see him have success and we're not surprised at all by it.
Q. Tony, your right fielder (Griffey), and including your other outfielders, have not had a lot of experience playing right field in this park. Now, is it a tricky right field, is it difficult, and what do you tell the Cardinals about right field when you come in here? Is there anything to look out for, any nuances out there?
TONY LaRUSSA: Yeah, it's a challenge, there's no doubt about it. But the one thing that you notice right away is all of that room in right center. You look at how many triples are hit in this ballpark. So you kind of want to shade right-center some, and that right field corner is close.
But there's a lot of room and you go over left-center all the way to right-center, there's a lot of range. That's why I like the park so much, you can hit the ball down in the foul line and hit it out. It's a real fair park for pitchers and hitters. So we probably shade right-center a little bit more.
I watch Ken now, he's such a great outfielder, he's a great centerfielder, but he's taking right field and he's making all of the plays. I think we'll have right field covered.
Q. I wonder if you could elaborate a little bit more on hitting Barry Bonds second, probably not a spot he's hit very much in, and how long do you see him playing in the game?
TONY LaRUSSA: Well, Jim had it right. That's the way you do it. I think you talk to every player. Each guy comes in a little differently. Some guys, may be fresher and some guys got something "barking." Your obligation to the players and their teams is to return them to the best of your ability where they are ready for the second half and continue their great season.
In Barry's case, I had the good fortune yesterday, they were playing in St. Louis, and I was really worried about not having a chance to talk to him and he would find out from somebody that he's hitting second. I wanted to tell him myself. I usually don't talk to the visiting guys too much but I was talking to Bruce during BP and I saw Barry and so I had a conversation with him. I let him know, as I mentioned, you know, damage in that second spot is something that I've always thought made sense and a lot of it comes from conversations with David. Dave tells me about what he thinks are trouble spots for pitchers and I was telling Barry, going back to Carlton Fisk, Dave Parker, Dave Henderson, we've had a lot of guys, Ray Lankford, Brian Jordan, guys that are really dangerous in that second spot. And if you look at our lineup and try and mix it up left and right, and Ken was hitting fourth a lot with Cincinnati and doing well, so I just like the idea of him hitting second and hopefully creates some problems for Dan and the American League. I did want to explain it to him and I was fortunate to speak with him yesterday.
Q. Dan, you've always been pretty open and honest about occasionally losing confidence, even this year when you've been pitching well. What does this honor of starting the All-Star Game do for that; is this the kind of thing where you will never doubt yourself again or will it pop up once in a while?
DAN HAREN: Once I heard I was starting, I was already thinking how I would feel during my next start, which is going to be against the Twins.
You know, it is a real honor and it definitely does something for my confidence. I haven't really been around that long and it's my third year as starting pitcher, third full year as a starting pitcher.
You know, I've had my ups and downs and you know, my first year with Oakland, I started 1-7. I really didn't believe in myself then, and you know, I've come a long way. I really credit the people that that have been around me, guys like Barry Zito obviously was there for me two years, and even going back to St. Louis, guys like Woody Williams and Matt Morris were a real big part of me developing as a pitcher.
My confidence has grown definitely, and I don't want to -- I like to pitch, there's a certain way I want to pitch. I don't want to pitch too confident and challenge too much maybe. But, you know, it's definitely an honor and I can't wait.
You know, this is really going to be a big part and I think a big help for me this year and just maybe give me that little extra confidence boost for the rest of the year. I'm just so honored to be starting; it's just unbelievable.
Q. What has been the biggest difference this year compared to last year?
JAKE PEAVY: The biggest thing for me is I've been healthy. I had trouble last year, I know a lot of people credit my participation in the World Baseball Classic, we had some shoulder tendonitis that set in early and some of the local guys -- I didn't throw a baseball in the first half, just throwing every fifth day getting loose and trying to throw people out and that is not easy to do. What we do is hard enough, and not healthy; not making excuses. I wanted the ball and I didn't want to take any time off. And that's probably stubbornness on my part. But I felt like I could compete and they let me take the ball, and the second half, I did take the All-Star Break off and get a few, get some cortisone in my shoulder that helped out tremendously, it helped out a little bit, just getting healthy and working in between starts and working what you need to do to get better. For the most part I've stayed decently sharp and made a lot more quality pitches in the first half than I did last year.
Q. You've got Dan and Jake, two really great pitchers and they also happen to be young. Just your thoughts on all of the young pitchers in the game and quite a few of them look like they will be doing this for quite a few years down the road?
JIM LEYLAND: Detroit Tigers, we can attest to the fact that we believe in young pitchers we took a chance on Zumaya last year and Verlander and we have the No. 1 pitcher in our starting rotation. There's a lot of outstanding pitching in the big leagues and I believe that in my opinion -- I'm not so crazy about the experiences of a lot of people, I think the way these kids pitch in college now and the competition in the NCAA, it's so good now, these College World Series and things, there's a lot of players, pitchers, that can come out and compete at the Major League level. You still have to be careful with them and everything, but the young pitching is tremendous and like I said, I'm willing to give young pitchers a chance. Because if they have got talent, they have got a chance to be successful.
TONY LaRUSSA: Same thing. It's really hard to get in the big leagues and probably think there's definitely room for experience, too, because you can learn a lot and you can still deal with getting guys out even when your stuff backs up a little bit. But you look at the National League squad, you have guys except for Trevor who has experience, still in great shape. Billy Wagner has been around. Most of the guys there are just right at their prime or in the middle of their prime. I think what Jim said is correct. College programs to, especially when they take care of their pitchers, they provide a real training ground and they get to the big leagues, they are ready to get guys out a lot sooner than the old days.
Q. As much as you might look forward to the start, when you look at that lineup, there's probably four or five Hall of Famers in it; does it take you back a step?
JAKE PEAVY: Obviously these guys are very good. I mean, they are All-Stars. They are the best in the League. But I look forward to the challenge. I enjoy, you know, being out there, competing. I love to compete and I only get a chance every fifth day and you know, you've got to make pitches to get them out. I'm going to do that to the best of my ability.
Like Dan said, you're going to be in awe of the situation, but come 5:05 tomorrow, I have to concentrate on throwing the ball down and away and getting these guys out and when you look up and down that lineup, there are a lot of great players in there. Hope they make some outs tomorrow might.
Q. You've been very definitive in the past when asked about Barry. Tomorrow will be a very celebratory atmosphere for him in his home park. What is your emotion about the chance where he'll have a chance to celebrate and how the atmosphere wouldn't be the same anywhere else?
JIM LEYLAND: I'm so happy for Barry. I said the other day, what's so wonderful to me, it appears to me that a lot of parts of the country evidently voted for him. I don't think San Francisco could swing that much to get him in the starting lineup.
It's a great tribute to a great career. I do talk to him from time to time but I'm looking forward to having chance to spend a little time with him -- he'll probably blow me off, but I'm looking forward to it anyways. (Laughter.) I'm looking forward to it and we have a great relationship, we really do, and I just hope I get that chance to spend some time together.
And I'm going to answer this question even though it hasn't been asked: I will not intentionally walk Barry Bonds in the All-Star Game.
Q. For Tony and Jim, you both have talked in the past about your great respect for the history of the game; yet in this game we have a guy who just got his 500th homer, Frank Thomas who is not here and Craig Biggio with his 3,000th hit; do you think there should be a place on the roster every year for people who maybe are current legends of the game?
JIM LEYLAND: Well, it's funny you say that, because that's just something that I thought -- but I got myself in a Catch 22. I mentioned something and I thought, geez, it would be really nice for Frank Thomas to be added to the American League, the year he hit his 500th year and Craig Biggio to be added to the National League the year he got his 3,000th hit. I thought it had a great wonderful touch for it and I was going to push for it but obviously I don't have much influence. But two weeks ago, Sammie Sosa hit his 600th home run so where do you draw the line.
TONY LaRUSSA: I just look at, especially our league, Craig Biggio, if there was anyway to have him here, he deserves to be here. The problem you have, and I don't know anybody that's on our squad who would just relinquish his spot. So the only way to make that happen is for MLB to say, look, we're going to have a distinguished career spot so r to add to the 32 you get because it's unfair to take somebody off for somebody who is deserving because of their lifetime achievements.
It disappoints me that Craig is not here. He's an unbelievable competitor and beats himself up a lot and regret that he's not here.
Q. How important is it to win this game? National League used to always dominate the game and in recent years the American League has and there's been talk that the game is not as competitive as what it was but yet there is something on the line with home-field advantage for the World Series?
BILL GILES: I'll start out by saying, in my case, it's not like father like son. My father's record as National League president, he won 19 and lost four. I am 0-6. So I am not doing very well. You know, I think it should be played a little bit more competitive and in the old days DiMaggio, Pete Rose, used to play sometimes all 9 innings, and sometimes 12 and 13 innings.
And I'm disappointed that there are so many substitutions now. But on the other hand there are so many players that deserve to be seen by the whole world, so it's a tough thing for these managers. I have always wanted to win as a National Leaguer all my life.
TONY LaRUSSA: Do you think we could work a little seance with your dad? (Laughter)
I remember the first All-Star Game I was coaching was in 1984 in San Francisco and the National League was beating up the American League, and I really felt the difference was they were competing and the American League was exhibiting and it kind of swung around where the American League was winning, now they are still winning.
It seems to me they are competing, and I mean, I like our league. Our league is very good and there's no reason that we haven't won our share, so I'm hoping that tomorrow the guys -- I mean, Jim and I talked about that. This is their game. Players choose to go out and play to make something happen or just go out there and show what they can do. There's a big difference in the two.
I think the American League can compete, I just that the National League is going to compete. But that home-field advantage, it's not a big thing with me. Just like Ms. Autry called us the lesser league, that's shouting rights. I just want our league to beat the other league so you can have shouting rights rest of the season.
JAKE PEAVY: I can't promise you I'll yell tomorrow night but I'll be competing. This is a ballgame, we're ballplayers, we strap it on, man, we're going to go hard tomorrow night.
Q. What are your thoughts on the success of the American League in the All-Star Game?
JIM LEYLAND: You've got to remember, last year, the National League really had the game won, and you know, a late base hit, and all of a sudden the American League snuck the game.
I don't think that's really anything to the National League, American League better. I don't buy that. As I said on the telephone the other day, we talked about dominating in the American League; we didn't dominate in the World Series last year, I can tell you that firsthand. (Laughter.)
I think it goes in cycles. I think our guys are going to compete. But, you know, I really believe this, no athlete wants to go out there on a stage like this and embarrass himself, and that's what Tony and I both have going for us. These guys are very proud. Nobody wants to go out there and look bad, in any game, let alone a game of this magnitude where it's going all over the world. That's the one edge that both of us have. There's not a lot of motivating for this game in my opinion, because these players are very proud.
You know, we are going to play it and we are going to try to win it. I'm not going to lose sight of the fact that this is the players' stage and I'm going to try to stay out of it a little bit, obviously, because this belongs to them, just like our game against Boston belonged to them yesterday. This game will belong to the players, too. That's just the way it is.
TONY LaRUSSA: Well, pitchers make pitches, hitters take at-bats and defenders make plays. And the American League for a while has gotten the edge in those things. That's why we play tomorrow, see if we can do it better than they do.
I agree with Jim. I think both clubs are going to go out and do their best. I'm a little sore, we talked about coming to this thing day, and I asked him what to wear and he said, "Oh, it's California, don't worry about a sport coat." (Laughter.) He got me already. (Looking at Jim Leyland wearing sport coat, and LaRussa in shirt without tie.)
JAKE PEAVY: We are the lesser league. (Laughter.)
Q. You've got four serious base-stealing threats in your lineup and they have a guy that does a pretty good job of neutralizing that. To what extent do you think you'll be able to push that and to what extent do you think you'll want to?
TONY LaRUSSA: That's a good question. I think like most stolen base things -- you're going to ask these guys, I have no idea whether Jose Reyes needs to back off his legs tomorrow and he's to the going to be the dynamic player he is and whether he needs to push it or give his legs a break.
Not only does Pudge throw well, but Dan Haren unloads to the plate as quickly as anybody. You have to get on base first and you have to have that combination of a pitcher and catcher that allow you to take the base.
If we get on base and the guys want to push it, they will get the green light. But I would be surprised if the game is won on a stolen base tomorrow.
JOSE MOTA: Thank you very much, gentlemen.
End of FastScripts