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October 6, 2007

Eric Wedge


Q. Coming off the two big wins in Cleveland now the series changes here. How hard is it for you to get the guys to know it's still the same game and all?
ERIC WEDGE: They've been doing a pretty good job with it all year. We talked about separating from day to day or game to game, you know, understanding just how to slow everything down. I think the guys have done a good job of taking the regular season right into the postseason. It's nice for us to have a break today. Come out here, relax a little bit and work out. They'll be ready to go tomorrow.
They've got a routine about them, and they've got pace to them that we want to see them continue to have.

Q. With Lofton, can you say what's his impact been on the team since you picked him up? And also can you summarize Westbrook's kind of peaks and valleys in the season.
ERIC WEDGE: Kenny's been a great addition to our ballclub. We thought he would be a tremendous compliment to everybody that we have, even prior to getting him. And that's the way it's played out. We've had to tweak some things and mix and match a little bit with our lineup, but with the way it's worked out, you know, we're a better lineup with him in that seven hole because of what he offers for us, and the way he lengthens our lineup out.
And he could most definitely hit anywhere you wanted him to hit in the lineup. He's obviously shown himself to be a big-game player over the years. He's done it already for us this year. Obviously, the experience that he brings to our ballclub is something that you just can't create. Either you have it or you don't. With some of the additions we brought in the off-season, plus bringing Kenny in halfway through, that's really helped.
In regard to Jake, Jake had to battle some injuries early on. But once he worked his way beyond that, he's really settled in. I mean, he really has. He's a guy that prides himself on being someone that you can count on. And you know what you're going to get from him. Very intelligent, tough competitor. He has a quiet intensity about him that he channels in the right direction, and I'm hoping we'll see that tomorrow.

Q. Can you just talk about the mentality of you have the Yankees on the ropes now. Obviously, very key tomorrow to get them while they're down and not let them get back up again.
ERIC WEDGE: Our focus is always going to be on ourselves. It's never on who we play or where we're at or what any of the other's situation is. The focus is on us and going out and playing our game and playing good baseball and just doing it the way we do it. We work hard to try to keep our minds in the moment and not get ahead of ourselves. And that's where we're going to be tomorrow.

Q. How do you feel about pitchers going on three days' rest in the postseason, and would you consider it in Game 4?
ERIC WEDGE: No, I wouldn't consider that in Game 4. I've never been a big fan. I think there is a time and a place for it depending on that particular individual, depending on a situation a team may be in. But that's not something I'm considering here in this series.

Q. Is there a reason?
ERIC WEDGE: Well, I mean, we're going with our guys. We've got four guys here that are scheduled to start, that have done a tremendous job for us all year long. You're talking about taking a viable risk if you're bringing somebody back on three days' rest. You know, particularly after how hard he worked in that first game.
I believe in all of our guys, I've got a tremendous amount of confidence in what they do. I respect the game too much to try to short change any of that. I respect who we play. I respect what this thing is all about, and I believe in our guys. You know, that's the way we play it out.

Q. The Yankees have had some success with Jake, is that him, or is that them? Does he have to do anything different than he's done in the past?
ERIC WEDGE: Well, I think it's probably a combination. When Jake pitches the way he's capable of pitching, he can beat anybody. You know, one thing that New York will do is they'll wait you out. They're going to be tremendously patient. They're going to slow the game down. They're going to make you come to them. It's a mentality that allows them to wear down teams. And I think that when you talk about what we have to do, whether it be us as a ballclub or our particular starting pitcher, is just make sure that, again, we pitch to our strengths and trust that that's good enough. If we do that, then I think we'll give ourselves a chance to win a ballgame.

Q. Has Rafi Perez surprised you at all in the first two games?
ERIC WEDGE: No, he hasn't surprised me. I mean, if you asked me three months ago, I would say he's surprised me. With the way he came up here and really established himself as a back-end guy for us. But you don't know what you're going to get with young players or with first-time postseason players until they get out there and actually perform. I think we've seen a lot of that over the first couple of games with some of our players. I've been very proud of the way they've handled everything. And again, that's a tribute to our veteran guys. It's a tribute to our young people who just keep the status quo moving forward. And it can be difficult to do sometimes in the postseason.
But it's important to understand that it's still, you know, baseball. And you've just got to go out and play your game and control, and he's done a good job at that.

Q. The fact that Perez went two innings two days in a row and seemed to do it pretty easily. Does his history as a starter, even earlier this year, is his arm being built up more than the other guys in the pen?
ERIC WEDGE: Yeah, that's a good question. Yeah, he is. He's conditioned more as a reliever now, but he still has that history. Relatively current history of starting. I think last year a little bit we bounced him back and forth. That kind of led him into this year where it's been a firm transition from starting to the bullpen, and then to the back end where he's more frequent. We've kept a close eye on him. He's strong, he did a good job both days. We had the day off today and he'll be ready to go tomorrow.

Q. Asdrubal Cabrera has been so cool since you guys have brought him up. He hasn't looked rattled at all, but last night you could see he was a rookie almost for the first time. Any concerns there?
ERIC WEDGE: No, it's no concern. I think it's going to show itself to you from time to time with all young players. And not necessarily just young players, but players who maybe don't have a great deal of postseason experience.
But one thing about Asdrubal is because of the way he's shown the ability to slow the game down, you know, have the heartbeat you like to see him have, when he does go through those situations, he's going to be better for it the next time. And that is another thing he's shown to us over the last couple of months. In one sense it's good to see that happen, because he's probably going to be in that situation again sooner than later, and I think you'll see him in much better shape.

Q. Since you've been in Cleveland one of the criticisms is you don't bunt. Yesterday you bunted like four or five times. Is this team better at that, or is it more a flexible team in these situations now?
ERIC WEDGE: You know what, we've been doing it. If you look at the numbers people speak out of their you know what because they don't know what they're talking about more times than not. The fact of the matter is we've bunted as much, if not more, than any American League team, and we've been successful, if not more, than any American League team. The irony is for those people that get caught up in it, they must have loved yesterday's game, because we bunted about 25 times and still scored only two runs or whatever it was. But you know, there's a time and a place for it.
In regard to the flexibility of our squad, yeah, we are probably a more versatile team, if you will, if you look at the different types of players that we have, and how he we can do things in different places in our lineup. I like that ability, because I feel that the game's coming to us and where we are at that particular inning and that point in time in the game, we have that as an option. And we'll pick and choose that depending on what we're seeing.

Q. Speaking of bunting, you had a couple chances yesterday to squeeze, what is your philosophy on that play in general?
ERIC WEDGE: I've never been a big squeeze guy. I think there's a place for it, but you're really putting them up against it in that situation. There is a point in time to squeeze, but what people don't understand is when everybody's yelling squeeze, like people that haven't played since little league, then probably everybody on the other team knows that you're probably looking to squeeze and they're ready for it. So the squeeze play needs to be just that, a squeeze play which is something of a surprise and a time that you can utilize it to score runs.
In yesterday's regard, we just had multiple opportunities to get that two-out hit or to separate, and we just didn't do it until the end. But I was happy the way we created opportunities for ourselves.

Q. Because Clemens has pitched so little recently, is it difficult to compile an accurate game plan against him? Or do you just work off what he's done in the last 20 years?
ERIC WEDGE: I don't know about the last 20 years, but I think we've got enough information to have an idea of where he's at. It's Roger Clemens. You know what type of competitor he is. But I think we've got enough history, even this year, just what type of pitcher he is. He's always somebody that's look to go surprise you and mix and match. We understand that, too.
So we'll be ready for anything. But, again, the focus is going to be on our guys going up there and having the discipline and doing what they need to do with regard to their game plan and sticking with it.

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