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October 1, 2008

C.C. Sabathia


THE MODERATOR: Questions for C.C.

Q. You grew up in the Cleveland organization, went to the post-season with them last year. Basically the team you grew up with. Can you compare the differences between being with the Indians in the post-season and now being with the Brewers and being a hired gun?
C.C. SABATHIA: I think as far as the team goes, a lot of similarities. It's a team that gets along. We have a lot of fun. We all care for one another. And it's more sort of like a family than it is a team.
So in that regard I think it's a lot the same. I think the city is more excited, Milwaukee, than in Cleveland. I think they expected us to go to the playoffs every year in Cleveland, just because of what the guys did in the '90s. Milwaukee, this is the first time we've been in 26 years. I think it's a lot more excitement around the city.

Q. How about for you?
C.C. SABATHIA: For me, it's pretty much all the same. It definitely feels good to be able to get in the playoffs in Milwaukee but there's still a lot of work left to be done. I don't think this team will be happy just getting to the playoffs. I won't be just happy getting to just the playoffs. I think the ultimate goal is to win a championship.

Q. What did you learn from your playoff experience last year? I know it wasn't exactly as dominating as your last couple of outings have been, what will be different this time around?
C.C. SABATHIA: I think you'll see a more calmer version of me. I think last year I went into the playoffs thinking that I had to throw no-hitters and shutouts every game. I think that's why you saw me pressing a lot and throwing a lot of pitches and not throwing a lot of strikes.
I think I'll go into this playoffs just trying to go out and keep the team in the game, go out and do whatever it takes to keep the team in it and let these guys take it over. Like on Sunday.
I just was going out and trying to keep us close and Braun came out with a big homer and we ended up winning.

Q. You alluded to the 26 years, what feedback do you get from the fans both as a group in the ballpark and in the individual fans you meet; what's it like to be in a town that hasn't been in in 26 years?
C.C. SABATHIA: I think everybody is excited. Like I said, the city is real excited, and, you know, like Mike Cameron said a couple days ago, this is going to be one of those teams that 15, 20 years from now we're going to have a reunion and it's going to be like a family, come back into Milwaukee and have a reunion and be a lot of fun.

Q. To follow-up, what do you get from individual fans? You run into anybody, parking your car, going somewhere, what do people tell you?
C.C. SABATHIA: Just good luck and thanks for getting us into the playoffs. I think that goes for everybody. I think everybody has been getting the feeling that the fans are wanting to say thank you to us for getting back into the playoffs.

Q. How hard is it to do what you've done from a physical standpoint? You've come back on short rest now; I think this is your fourth time. Do you feel a physical toll? Is it something you feel you can keep going? Is it adrenalin? How do you explain it?
C.C. SABATHIA: I think I definitely feel like it's something I keep doing. I don't feel -- my arm feels fine. My body feels fine. I think last year I went every fifth day, no matter how many off days we had that week, no matter what, I was pitching on that fifth day.
I think coming over here and getting the days off and I went a couple times I had a week in between starts and I had six days in between starts. So I think that definitely helped like in August and early September for me to be able to come back and pitch on three days' rest and feel fresh.

Q. When the Brewers made the trade for you there, there was a little mild surprise they gave up their top prospect and some other guys and apparently another good prospect to be named soon. But now they say they have no regret and you did exactly what they wanted you to do. Could you just say how you feel about how that trade worked and that you did bring them to the playoffs?
C.C. SABATHIA: I don't want to say I brought them to the playoffs. This team was a good team before I got here. And I just was trying to do whatever I could to add to that.
As far as it goes with the trade working out, we'll have to see still, I think. I want to win the championship. And I think that's what everybody's ultimate goal is. So, like I said, we'll see. We're going to work hard, have fun and have no regrets and leave it all on the field.

Q. In regards to going on short rest, is there a mental process that's a little bit different than preparation as well?
C.C. SABATHIA: It's actually a little easier because I don't get to throw bullpen. So it's just the day after my bullpen day. So I go out with the same mentality. I don't have a lot of days in between to think about what's coming up. So I just go out and relax, do my routine, work out the day before and then take the next two days off. And work out the day after I pitch and then take the next two days off.
And, like I said, I've been feeling fresh. My body feels fine. I don't think there's any reason why I couldn't keep doing it.

Q. Do you feel any added responsibility knowing that Ben Sheets is injured and unable to play in the divisional series as far as you being the ace of the staff?
C.C. SABATHIA: No, I mean, I think we got some good pitching on the staff. And we know that we're going to be probably be without Sheeter. And so everybody has to step up. I don't feel any added pressure or anything. I think just as a pitching staff as a whole, without missing a guy like that, I think we all feel like we need to step up.

Q. Could you give me your impressions on the Phillies lineup?
C.C. SABATHIA: It's a good lineup. They've got some speed at the top. They've got some big thumpers in Burrell and Ryan Howard.
So it's one of the best probably in the National League. It's probably like the American League lineup, to be honest with you. So they're going to make you work, throw some pitches, and we'll just to see what happens tomorrow.

Q. The last two weeks for you guys were kind of a little bit frantic after the managerial change and trying to fight to keep in and get it. Have things settled down a little bit or is that frantic nature still a good thing to have going into a playoff series?
C.C. SABATHIA: I think it was frantic for everybody else. I think if you ever watched us in the clubhouse or been around us, I don't think it was frantic for us. I think it was more relaxing, if anything.
So, like I said, the clubhouse is it's a great clubhouse. It's real relaxed, and I just think that we've been playing in big games here for the last two or three weeks. So coming up here in the playoffs, you know, it should be nothing new.

Q. How much do you spend -- how much time do you spend thinking about personally what awaits you after this month is over in terms of free agency and where you're going to be next year?

Q. How do you avoid that?
C.C. SABATHIA: Because I'm in the middle of a playoff race and trying to win a championship. It's something I think I'd be taking away from my team and the organization if I was to be selfish and think about what's coming up for me next.
I think the thing right now for me to worry about is the team and trying to help us win.

Q. Is there a discernible change in the way that Dale Sveum has managed this team as opposed to the way that the Ned Yost managed this team, both from a pitching standpoint and as well with the everyday players?
C.C. SABATHIA: I think from the everyday player standpoint, I think that everybody knows their role. It wasn't coming to the park and wondering if guys were going to be playing or be in the lineup today or not. I think that helped everybody relax.
From a pitching standpoint, I think that he's pretty much done the same thing. He's run the bullpen real well and let the starters go deep in the games, work out a situation.
So I just think from an everyday player standpoint, some of the position players, they don't have to worry about if they're going to be in the lineup or not today. They kind of know that before.

Q. Do you believe that what you're doing by pitching every fourth day instead of every fifth is a sacrifice on your part or a gamble on your future in any way, and is there any part of you that has any hesitation? Are you hearing stuff from your agent or your family about, hey, this might not be the best thing for your future?
C.C. SABATHIA: I think everybody who knows me and that's close to me knows how competitive I am. And if I'm healthy enough and I feel fine enough to pitch that they're not going to tell me not to. Because I'm not going to listen to it. We're going to end up getting into an argument.
Because my wife and my agent were talking to me the other day. And they're both fine with it, just because they know how competitive I am and they know I would be honest. If I couldn't do it, I wouldn't do it. So I think it would just be hurting the team to go out there and not be 100 percent.
So I don't think of it as a sacrifice. I think if anybody was healthy enough to do it, I think they would do it. If they had a chance to get in the playoffs and win the championship.

Q. Turning the question around. In you pitching as often as you are, are you proving anything to yourself or learning anything about how often a pitcher can go the way pitchers did back in the, quote, old days?
C.C. SABATHIA: This is my first time -- I didn't really know how it was going to go. This is my first time throwing on three days' rest was the first time I did it, last week or whatever. So I didn't really know what to expect and know what to do or kind of what a routine I should have.
But I have proven to myself that I could do it. Before, a couple years ago, maybe if you asked me maybe I wouldn't have said, maybe I need the four days' rest. But being able to do it and be pretty good has given me a lot of confidence that I can keep going it.

Q. Could pitchers go on less rest?
C.C. SABATHIA: I don't know. I know I can. I can't speak for anybody else.

Q. The guy you're going to pitch against tomorrow Brett Myers. He went from a starter to being the closer to being a starter again. How difficult do you think something like that would be?
C.C. SABATHIA: I guess it would be hard. Being a starter and going to closing, throwing every day as opposed to throwing a fifth day as a starter, I guess it would be hard and take a toll on you. Just a tribute to how good he is and how good a pitcher he is to be versatile like that to go back and forth.

Q. Do you think you could go on three days' rest for an entire season?
C.C. SABATHIA: I don't know (smiling). I think I'm feeling fine now because it's so late in the season. I think earlier in the season it would have taken a toll on you because you haven't thrown as much, coming out of spring training and things like that.
But, I don't know, I'm doing it now to win.

Q. Everyone wants to talk about three days' rest, but let me ask you this: Is too much being made out of three days' rest? Because it seems like it's no big deal.
C.C. SABATHIA: I think it's being way overblown. I think if anybody was in the position we were in nine days or ten days ago and they asked them to do it, anybody would do the same thing, healthy enough. So I think it's people making a lot of something that isn't that big a deal to me, because I feel fine and I'm healthy.

Q. One last thing on that same notion. What do you think it is about -- like a lot of pitchers couldn't do it, whether it's a strength issue or health issue. What is it about you do you think that enables you to? Is it strength, is it something you do between starts that helps you, is it a natural thing? How can you explain it to bounce back?
C.C. SABATHIA: I guess it would be a natural thing. I think I pretty much do kind of the same routines that a lot of guys do between starts with the shoulder programs and the lifting and things like that. I guess it would just be being blessed with a healthy arm, I guess.

Q. You spoke a few minutes ago about last year. You felt the need to go out there and pitch no-hits and all this. Why do you think your mind-set was that way a year ago?
C.C. SABATHIA: I don't know. It's just I felt like I had to step up and be the guy last year. Just for some reason I just felt all this pressure that we're not going to win if I don't pitch well and we can't win the World Series if I don't pitch well.
I don't feel like that at all this year. I feel like if I can keep this team in games and keep them close, I think that we have enough time in that clubhouse to do it. I know we did it last year in Cleveland, too, but I felt I needed to shoulder all the pressure of being the guy to go out there and throw shutouts and no-hitters and be this great pitcher in the post-season. And I think I put too much pressure on myself.
And I definitely learned from it. I thought about it all winter. And I'm just glad to be back in the position where I can try to correct that.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks very much.

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