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October 7, 2009

Ron Gardenhire


THE MODERATOR: We're going to get started again. First question for Ron Gardenhire.

Q. Congratulations on your great win. Exactly. But can I in just a note of reality. You guys had to fly all night. Your pitching staff, I'm just guessing, is a bit chewed up. Is this any way to run a post-season to arrive less fresh than the Yankees?
RON GARDENHIRE: Well, there's nothing we can do about it. We've done what we have to do. We kind of got ourselves into that 163rd game, the Metrodome. We had to let the Vikings and Packers play. We couldn't do anything about that. It is what it is.
And no sense in -- no crying in baseball. I don't think anybody feels sorry for us. We're just going to come out and I think the boys will be ready tonight. We'll see what happens.

Q. Can you tell us about your pitching rotation for the series particularly your game two pitcher?
RON GARDENHIRE: Duensing tonight and Blackburn for Game 2. And then my pitching coach just informed me we're going TBA for the Game 3. I originally thought maybe Pavano for 3. But he wants to go TBA and we'll see where we're at. We have Baker, Pavano for Game 3 and see would feels the best.

Q. Blackburn, can you give the thumbnail on him for those of us who haven't seen him a lot?
RON GARDENHIRE: He's a sinker/slider guy with a nice change-up. Been really good, he's pitched in a lot of big games for us. Balls coming out of his hand really good. Last outing was on short rest, three days. He's a gamer. He gets out there and gets after it. Went through a little bit of a stretch, a little rough time. But found his sinker again. When he has his sinker diving, he's pretty good. Relies on location. He's not a power guy. Like I said, he's been really good for us.
THE MODERATOR: Do you want to give us your lineup?
RON GARDENHIRE: I have to remember that? Span, Cabrera, Mauer, Cuddyer, then Kubel, Delmon Young, Brendan Harris, Matt Tolbert and Nick Punto, with Duensing pitching.

Q. You've been involved now in two of these sudden-death situations to get into the post-season. Would you agree, though, that for the good of the game anyway, these things they make for high intensity, a whole different element to the way baseball has been decided for the most part since the Wild Card came in?
RON GARDENHIRE: Well, let me tell, last year I didn't really particularly like it because of a coin toss. I thought that really sucked. This year, you went on head-to-head and we got the ballgame at home which kind of helped us out. I don't recommend everybody playing 163 games every year. It would be a lot easier to go the different route and do what the Yankees did or some of the other guys. Just play 162 and then you're in the playoffs.
But, you know what, it's character -- I mean it's kind of mind-boggling. It shows a lot of character. I was so proud of both teams last night for the way both teams never quit and kept getting after it. I told Jim Leyland after the game that was one of the best games I've ever been involved in. Just watching two teams butting heads and going after it and never giving up and all the ups and downs, it was just fantastic baseball.

Q. Do you think the sudden-death element was the major factor in that?
RON GARDENHIRE: The sudden-death factor, no doubt. One of us were going home. I think we were both throwing about everything we possibly could out there. Pitching-wise, we both had guys up in the second and third inning with our starter. You just -- the finality is you lose, you go home. And we didn't want that.
So I think Jim and I both knew that going in. So that's how you have to play.

Q. When Joe Girardi was asked about the season series with you guys, he always talks about how close all the games were. It's not really indicative of the fact that they won all seven. When you think of the season series, what comes to your mind? What do you think of?
RON GARDENHIRE: I think I got walked off three times in a row here at Yankee Stadium. Never had that happen. I think they were great baseball games. I think we played really good. I'm trying to remember the numbers. I think we were like 5 for 30 something with runners in scoring position here at Yankee Stadium. We've been doing a little bit better than that lately. But getting walked off three times, that tells you you actually played some really good baseball against these guys. We had opportunities. We had Nathan in the game in the first one, I believe. And he ended up giving up a single out there to Melky that beat us. And I think that guy A-Rod, he got us once. And then I think Johnny Damon got us one once. Then the last game we got behind 6-0 and came back and tied it up 6-6 and then got beat again. So pretty good baseball games, and the same with the Metrodome. I think they waxed us once, beat us 10-2. But the other games were pretty good. We had chances.
So we'll take our chance. I know we're not supposed to win. But we weren't supposed to be here either. So we'll do the best we can.

Q. Can you talk a little about what Orlando Cabrera has meant for your team? Not just on the field, kind of off the field what he's done for the team?
RON GARDENHIRE: We were scuffling along having a little trouble in the middle infield. Made a few moves, picking up him was something that -- we actually were playing in Oakland and kept telling our GM, get this guy before he beats us four games in Oakland. He's been here. He's been in the playoffs. He's not afraid. We've got some young players that I want him to be able to help out too. And he's done that. He's been leading by example, actually, with his bat. He's been swinging really good. Playing really good baseball. But he's really positive influence on our baseball team. He's been really, really good for our baseball team.

Q. I know for a long time now you guys have done a phenomenal job of developing players, role players, young players so that they're ready to contribute when they get up to the big leagues. But did you honestly ever think your team could go on a tear the way it did after losing Morneau?
RON GARDENHIRE: Well, you just never know. You always say injuries give somebody else an opportunity to step up and get it done. But then when you lose an MVP, you have to take a step back and try to figure it out. We've been fortunate enough a couple of guys have gotten hot. Michael Cuddyer stepped in at first base and really, really played well and got hot swinging the bat. Delmon Young has come on really strong which has been huge. Kubes had a great year. Joe Mauer, what can you say about him.
The role guys really started playing and picked up the pace. To say, yeah, when Morneau went down, we knew we could -- no, you just don't know that. But there's a lot of charisma in our dugout and clubhouse. And these guys really get after it. They root for each other really good. They play together. They try to play the game. If it's executing, they try to get it done. They think about it. And they take pride in it. So when you have all that and you get out there and root for each other and play like they have, you have a chance. We've had a lot of confidence going here. It's been a lot of fun to watch.

Q. During the season, of course, you're prone to give Mauer a chance to DH and save him from behind the plate. Is there any chance that will happen in the post-season or will he be catching each game?
RON GARDENHIRE: I doubt it. I think he'll probably be playing. I do have three catchers on my roster. So -- and I can do that if it's needed. But I think as we went along towards the end of the season, Joe was every day saying, "I got this." So I have to believe that Joe will probably catch every game.

Q. Can you separate the satisfaction of making it to the post-season with now the desire to win in advance?
RON GARDENHIRE: Well, that's what we'll have to find out here. You know, we're not satisfied with just getting here. But it's been a big accomplishment from where we were to get here. So I don't want to take anything away from my guys for that. I believe they believe we have a chance. Our guys are excited. We haven't backed away from too many things this year, especially the last three or four weeks. They haven't backed away from anything. They're not satisfied with just getting in the playoffs now. They want a piece of this thing. They are a pretty confident group. Whether we can or not, that's why we have to go out on the field and play. But you know what, there's a lot, a lot of giddy up and go in that clubhouse and these guys are excited for this and I don't think it's just "happy to be here." I think it's "we want a piece of this." We'll give you a good show, I hope.

Q. Joe Girardi described your club as scrappy. Particularly the walk-off wins. But also these recent games here now, do you think your players relish this role? They come and see this 1.5 billion palace, the $2 million Yankees. Is there a certain role they want to play here, David versus Goliath?
RON GARDENHIRE: I think once you get out on the field, no one plays with a bill fold in their pocket. It's all baseball players. We have a bunch of baseball players. I think the best way to describe our team is there's a bunch of baseball players. They believe in each other. They're getting after it.
You know what, the Yankees are the most professional team you'll ever see. They do their work. They play the game the right way. They don't get enough credit for that. They get always talked about high payroll and everything. But that's professional baseball players over there. Those guys are really good. And they take pride in everything they do. So we know that we've got a big battle here. Because these guys are a great baseball team. They've proved it all year long.
So that being said, we have some pretty good baseball players in our dugout too. Once we get out on the field, it's going to be who gets it done, who executes and doesn't make the mistakes. Mistakes kill you. Walks kill you, especially against a team like this with so much offense. We know what we have to do. It just whether we can execute. And scrappy, yes, we are that. That's the way we like to play the game.

Q. Ron, after the game last night, Orlando Cabrera said that he told you that he was your lucky charm and that you guys were going to be beat the Tigers. I wonder what you thought about when he said that, and, secondly, did he say whether or not that power carries through this series too?
RON GARDENHIRE: You would have to ask Orlando. I didn't understand a word he said he was talking so fast.

Q. Ron, talking about Yankee tradition and coming here and playing, do you think -- can you compare these two ballparks? Is it possible this ballpark could be less intimidating than the other one?
RON GARDENHIRE: I know when you walk out of the dugout, you look -- it kind of looks just like old Yankee Stadium. It's not -- doesn't feel as tight. The old Yankee Stadium definitely had its thing like the Metrodome has its thing. It's tough to play. But this one, from what we saw, we're 0-4 here. I guess it's still pretty tough to win here.
I think it's a beautiful ballpark. And I like the fact that it still reminds you of the ballpark across the street. Whether it has that same whatever you want to call it, I don't know, but I know it's got the same guys with those stripes on them that are pretty good.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Ron.

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