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October 4, 2008

Casey Blake



Q. There's been some talk about Manny as an MVP candidate. Just in general, how do you feel about the idea of somebody as a candidate as a half-season player in the league?
CASEY BLAKE: I don't know how many at-bats you need to have to be considered a serious candidate for MVP, most valuable player, and certainly from the time he's been here he's been the most valuable players for this team and probably as one of the -- probably the biggest reason we're in the post-season right now.

Q. You were right on the brink of the World Series last year, fell just a little bit short. Do you sort of look at this as a continuation of that and maybe a chance for redemption and from a personal level?
CASEY BLAKE: Not necessarily. I mean, this is a whole new situation. And just different team, different circumstances, and that was pretty tough to swallow last year. And everybody had a hard time with that. And I'll probably have a hard time with that for the rest of my life.
But this is a new team. And even though our goal is still the same, it's not like anything personal for me to overcome that just so I can live with myself.

Q. Kind of a follow-up on the '07 Cleveland, I think the expectations were that that team would come back and have a real good shot in '08. How surprising was it for you, and how was that to deal with when things didn't work out the first part of this year?
CASEY BLAKE: Yeah, those expectations are tough. I think guys tend to put quite a bit of pressure on themselves. And to have a good season, you have to obviously have great players. You have to have a lot of things go your way.
You need to just start the season off playing well, playing well as a team. And we got off to a terrible start and then ran into some injuries, and those injuries just basically just downed any hopes that we had of getting -- we just felt so far out of the race and you take your two and three starters out of the rotation and your three and four hitters out of the lineup, and that's a recipe for disaster.

Q. Since that eight-game losing streak and starting when you came back to beat Webb and Haren in Arizona, what have you seen happen to the young guys on this team? What changes have you seen that have made some of this occur?
CASEY BLAKE: I'm glad we went through that. Made our job a little tougher. But I think you get an idea of what your team's made of, what kind of character you have on the team. And things are looking pretty bleak during that stretch. And everyone was scratching our heads wondering what the heck was going on.
But I think you come a little closer as a team during those times. And, like I said, you see what you're made of. And I've seen these younger guys kind of step up. I mean Andre Ethier was absolutely amazing and led the way. Obviously Manny was there. But Andre kind of led the way of that whole stretch that we turned it around and I think everyone just kind of followed suit.

Q. Were you seeing like smarter at-bats, smarter at-bats, more fundamental stuff, more attention to that, was there anything specific like that that you were seeing?
CASEY BLAKE: No, not really. I think it was more of a confidence thing. I think once we took two out of three down there in Arizona and then came back here and beat them here, it was more just the opposite of that eight-game losing streak, is the opposite feelings we had in the clubhouse. It's almost like this was the type of team that everyone expected out of the Dodgers, especially after the trades and stuff like that. And we were finally doing it.
I don't necessarily see any more better fundamentals or better at-bats, it's just obviously when you have confidence you're going to have better at-bats, throw the ball better.

Q. Now that you're closer to Joe Torre than you were before, obviously, you have a better appreciation for the way he handles things?
CASEY BLAKE: Of course I do. He's been great. He's been great to play for. I didn't really have an idea of what he was all about over with the Yankees. I just see him sitting in the dugout. That's all I ever saw of him. And you just kind of wonder what kind of personality goes with a big name, one of the great managers like that.
And this game will take you funny places. I never thought in a million years I'd be playing for Joe or playing with Manny. And I've got them both here in the same season. So I've really enjoyed my time with him. He's a lot more down to earth than I thought he'd be.

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