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October 13, 2007

Eric Wedge


Q. Westbrook's, Game 3 starter, had a tough time in New York. Any concerns about that, especially since this could be a big game for you?
ERIC WEDGE: Well, Jake does a pretty good job of making adjustments, whether it be from pitch to pitch, inning to inning or start to start. He just needs to continue to pitch to his strengths, be aggressive, work ahead, stay ahead and put the ball on the ground.
I think he was just running the ball off the plate a little bit too much with his last outing. So hopefully he can make some adjustments off that. But I think he'll be fine.

Q. Last night aside, your ballclub basically has played its best ball since mid-August. Everybody tries to do that, you did it. How does it happen?
ERIC WEDGE: Well, I've said this before, it's easier to understand if you're in the trenches with your guys and you're privy to everything that's going on, as managers and coaches are every day, and you can see your ballclub pushing in the right directions, different areas of your club, different individuals on your club and obviously collectively. We played pretty good baseball earlier in the year and we had to really grind out a couple of months, but there weren't any breakdowns. I mean, they were still consistent as a ballclub. You had to feel like your best ball was ahead of you. I know I did, and I think everybody else in there did, too.
So it was just a matter of staying with it, keep pushing from day to day, and eventually you'll get into that slot, and I think that's what we did.

Q. Last night as far as Sizemore is concerned, is that kind of an example of when Grady goes, the team offense goes, and when he struggles it --
ERIC WEDGE: I wouldn't say it's that black and white, but Grady definitely provides a tremendous amount of energy for us at the top of the lineup. I think he's one of the most exciting players in the game. Last night he was a little bit long and he was a little bit off. I think it's fair to say we were a little bit off as a ballclub.
You know, it's not that we played bad; we just didn't do anything. We didn't hit, we didn't pitch, we just didn't put ourselves in position to do any damage. And they did a pretty good job.
Hopefully we'll give ourselves a better chance to compete tonight.

Q. Could you tell us about Matsuzaka, what he brings to the game, what you've seen over the year from him?
ERIC WEDGE: Seen him a few times. Gives you different looks, a lot of different variety of pitches, works to command the ball, works to keep the ball out of the middle of the plate. Secondary phase of the game he's pretty good at. You know, I think he's a good example of where you really have to grind out at-bats against him. You've really got to be disciplined and to have the discipline to stick with your game plan, not just the first time around but particularly the second and third time around in the order because it may not come to you right away. Hopefully we'll be able to do that.

Q. Last night Ramirez and Ortiz obviously hurt you guys, but can you talk about the difficulty in pitching around them?
ERIC WEDGE: You know, it's tough because what they're doing right now is pretty incredible. You've got a guy behind them that only knocked in 120. So it's not just about those two guys, but obviously they're the backbone of what they do here offensively.
We've got to be a little bit more aggressive with our approach. We've got to put ourselves in a better position to work ahead and stay ahead and get outs. There are points in time I think you've got to maybe be a little bit more careful, but I think last night maybe we were too much so.
So we'll see what happens tonight. They're seeing the ball good and they're laying off pitches that more times than not people swing at, and they're hitting them when they get a chance to hit them. So we'll see what we can do about that.

Q. Last year when Carmona was your closer for a bit, were you afraid from a mental standpoint that you may lose him forever, and how hard did you have to work to get him back mentally, where, incredibly, he is this season?
ERIC WEDGE: Mentally we knew he was tough just from all the managers and coaches that were with him in the minor leagues and all the conversations we had. I think it's tough for anybody to go through what he went through, albeit it was a short period of time, about two weeks. He had had a tremendous amount of success as our set-up guy before that. For six weeks before that he was dominant, and dominant in big-time settings. I think that helped him.
But I think he'll tell you, too, that he acquired more mental toughness than maybe most young players do in a short period of time. You could tell by looking in his eyes that he was going to be okay, not that it was any fun or not that it was easier because of his toughness, but he did a great job of learning from those experiences. And mentally he's tougher. He's a great competitor, and I think he understands exactly who he is today. Everything you go through is basically who you are today, and I think he understands that and he's done a great job of that.

Q. Back to Sizemore for a moment, besides his physical talent, which is obvious, what makes him an elite player and a lead-off hitter?
ERIC WEDGE: Very consistent mentally. He is tough. He is a get-after-it type of player. I mean, you know that he is going to bring it each and every day, each and every pitch, at-bat, inning. There's going to be nothing but consistency with that.
As a manager there's nothing more you like than to know what you're going to get from your players day in and day out, or different areas of your club. And with Grady you know exactly what you're going to get. He's tough, he's very talented, very athletic. He's a winner. You couple the ability, the attitude with the intangibles, and I think you've got one of the best all-around players in the game.

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