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October 13, 2008

Rocco Baldelli

Matt Garza


Q. Matt, yesterday you talked about that you'd had a pretty good season and people seemed to be talking about Lester a lot. Did you take that as kind of a personal challenge?
MATT GARZA: No, not really. He's had a great season. Numbers don't lie. He's pitched extremely well in the postseason. I just said he's had a great season. I never took it as a personal challenge. My job wasn't to pitch against Lester. My job was to face nine hitters in that lineup, and that was it.

Q. Rocco, did that one for you mean anything special because of where you come from or anything along those lines?
ROCCO BALDELLI: Well, I mean, to be able to do it in front of my friends and all my family here was really nice.
You know, everything I do so far this year is pretty special to me coming from the condition that I was in in spring training. So everything that I get I feel is pretty rewarding. Especially to do it here in front of everyone was very nice.

Q. Matt, can you talk about pitching against the Red Sox, and what were you trying to do against them?
MATT GARZA: My job was to get as many outs as possible, and I came up with a game plan, and it was what I did tonight. Stay hard and make them hit my fastball. Make them beat my best pitch. Maybe I might see them again in a week, you never know. So my job tonight was to get as many outs as possible.

Q. Rocco, when you were trying to get through what you had to get through, how much motivation did you draw from the way the team was playing, that you kind of had a chance to join in something special if you did get back?
ROCCO BALDELLI: Yeah, I watched a lot of the season from the bench, the first half of the season. You know, it was a kind of excitement and atmosphere that I hadn't seen down in Tampa since I've been there, and it did kind of fuel me to want to get back on the field.
I mean, I wanted to get back anyways, just because I love playing the game, but there was kind of an extra added sense of if I get back there, I can be a part of this, and it seemed like we were going in a very nice, very positive direction, and I got to watch that.
Once I got in my rehab assignment, I had a sense that I did have a chance to get back and actually play and contribute. But my goal was to just get back with the team and contribute any way I could.
I never could have imagined that I'd be back here playing in the postseason and playing here at Fenway and having a chance to play to go to the World Series. I mean, that part is just an extra added -- that's just kind of icing on the cake, because I was just trying to get back in playing shape.

Q. Question for Matt: First two innings I think Pedroia hits the double, you have two more hits in the second. What was your mindset during those first two innings on how to get out of it, and how did you stay cool when they were starting to put on heat on early?
MATT GARZA: I told myself, let them keep knocking on that door, keep knocking on that wall, but they ain't coming home. I told myself that's what I'm going to do. I had to make big pitches.
Against the White Sox last week I made those pitches in that situation. I told myself execute. I gotta execute this series. I've got to execute tonight.
I took it pitch by pitch, hitter by hitter. That's all I did tonight. I knew coming in there was going to be two situations in a game that kind of define whether you win or lose, and I got this from my pitching coach, Jim Hickey.
He said those two situations are going to determine if you win or lose a game, and the situation of the second was the first of the two situations. I just told myself I'm not going to give in here. I'm going to keep battling, keep fighting and get my way out of this.

Q. You had two big strikeouts in the first two innings. Can you take us through those? The one to Ortiz and what you threw to those two guys?
MATT GARZA: Ortiz, that was a little payback. He got me twice in Tampa my last start against him. I just told myself, attack this guy. Don't give him anything that I would want to hit. I just kept going away, going away, and made him kind of expand his strike zone.
He sure enough did. Then Varitek in the second, I said I'm going to challenge this guy. I'll make him beat my fastball, and he did it, so I just kept going at it.

Q. On Ortiz for a second, because he came into the series struggling a bit. He got one RBI in 27 at-bats. Did you come in seeing him maybe struggling a little bit and maybe playing off of his struggles as well as you pitching well?
MATT GARZA: Oh, never. You can never doubt that guy. You know, he's such a great hitter. He's proven himself year in, year out. No matter how much he struggles, it can always be that night that he comes out of that slump, and I didn't want to be that guy to let him come out of that slump.

Q. Rocco, I'm just wondering, on your way back from where you were in spring training, was there a time or multiple times that you thought this wasn't going to happen, that you were never going to get the chance to play in these situations?
ROCCO BALDELLI: Well, I probably hit my lowest point during spring training when I would go out there, and I would have trouble even hitting batting practice and going out there and jogging and playing catch. That was tough to take coming from a year ago when I felt pretty good when I finished off the 2006 season, to going into 2007, I struggled again with injuries, and to start up again struggling, it was very difficult to take.
But you know, I just continued thinking in my head that eventually I'd get back, something would happen. And I've done a lot of work with Ron Porterfield, our head trainer. He spent thousands of hours -- I don't even know how much time he's spent, but he's a friend of mine, and he's done a lot of work for me. And we went to see a lot of doctors and did a lot of work flying around the country. I take some medication now, which does help me, and that's probably what's gotten me back on the field.

Q. When you got traded over here in the winter, and there's not a lot of history of success with this franchise, would you have dreamed at the time that you would be in this position where you would be pitching Game 3 of the American League Championship Series and beating the Red Sox in Fenway Park?
MATT GARZA: You know, when I got traded, obviously no, knowing the history of this franchise. But when I walked into spring training, I knew there was a possibility, just the excitement and the energy that flew through that clubhouse. Everybody was on that one mission, and that was to win.
We want to win now. We don't want to be the team that waits for later, we want to win now. With the acquisition of Cliff Floyd, Percival, Wheeler, Trever Miller, Hinske, guys that have had the experience of being here, they kind of lead the way and paved the road for us saying, guys, just keep fighting, keep believing. Don't ever give up, and with Joe's mantra, 9 = 8, we all fell into it. Play hard for nine and see what happens.
After June and we were sitting in first place, we were like, this thing works. Let's keep doing it. Let's keep winning it out.
When I first got traded, yes, there was a doubt. But walking into the clubhouse in spring training, it was like, we could actually pull this thing off.

Q. Rocco, you told us the other day a lot of your buddies are die-hard Red Sox fan. Do you expect to catch a lot of grief from them tomorrow, tonight?
ROCCO BALDELLI: I think most of my friends root for me and the Red Sox, if that's possible, so I don't think I'm going to catch much grief. I think pretty much most of them will say "congratulations" and "nice job" but still be disappointed that the Red Sox lost. That's kind of how it goes.

Q. I was just wondering how gratifying, can you put into words, is this for you to be here right now and to be having success?
ROCCO BALDELLI: Well, that's something that I get asked a lot, but I do have trouble putting it into words. The way I try to describe it is if you get an unexpected gift that you're not really -- that you're not expecting, if I may repeat myself.
It's like you've got something that's very special, and it's not something that -- it's something that just kind of worked out. Playing with this team, we struggled for a long time, and those days were tough, because we would come in and play hard, and we just weren't very good.
We played as hard as we could; that wasn't the issue. It just didn't work out. But to start at the bottom and say that you were there those years and work your way all the way back up to where we're at now, I mean, that's about as rewarding a feeling, I think, as you can get.

Q. Rocco, conditions like yours are not always well understood. How important is it to you to, A, give hope to people who are going through it, and also to bring an awareness and understanding of it to the public?
ROCCO BALDELLI: Well, it's tough, because I've been trying to just worry about getting back and playing. You know, I probably am not as read up as I should be on what I actually am dealing with. I just understand the feelings and what it feels like to go out there and try to play with it.
You know, if I can give hope to anyone that is struggling with the same problem as me, then I'm all for helping out anyone that I can.
You know, it is a difficult thing, and it's not very well understood, and before I was dealing with it, I probably had never heard of it, to be honest with you; and I'm sure most people haven't. I'm not upset that most people haven't, that's just the way it is.
Most people still -- they say mitochondrial disease, what is that? Then I try to get into explaining it, and it's not something that is very easy to explain.
It was a tough road. I mean, I didn't know what I had, to be honest with you, when I first was going through these sensations and feelings. And it was very scary. But like I said, I never gave up hope that I'd be able to come back.
MATT GARZA: I just want you guys for understanding that I don't like talking to the media the day before I pitch, and I want to thank everybody for being understanding about that.

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