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October 10, 2009

Ron Gardenhire


THE MODERATOR: Questions, first question, right over here.

Q. Ron, a couple of guys were talking about the fact that just getting out of New York sort of puts guys in a better mood. Do you buy into this at all, that things can turn around quickly just by getting out of this place?
RON GARDENHIRE: They must have their wives there and shopping, that's the only thing I can think of. New York is a blast when you are there, it's a great baseball atmosphere. It's tough to win. It's because they have a great baseball team there, and I think we have seen it all year long.
They come back as well as any team in the game, and yesterday we had our chance, plenty of them. I think we left 17 on base, we had a lead, a lot of things, but that's what they have done all year, so you really have to bury them, and it's really hard to do with that team.
We like playing at home a lot better than we like playing there, of course.

Q. It would be easy for Carl to say that this game is no different facing the Yankees, the team that he was with for four years, but do you get the sense that this is a more important game for him, not just because of the playoffs but because of who he is?
RON GARDENHIRE: He has faced them in Cleveland so it's not like the first time against them, and he has pitched against the Marlins and a couple -- but it's big because it's the playoffs, it's the playoffs, and it's the Yankees, and I would say it's a must-win game now from here on out, so yeah, it's a big baseball game.

Q. Gardy, can you give you update on Tolbert, roster move, and then Joe Mauer also mentioned last night in the tiebreaker he has been banged up. Any concern about him being able to catch the rest of the postseason?
RON GARDENHIRE: No, I think for all you guys that were just in the clubhouse waiting for Joey, he has got a little sore -- I think it's a hip flexor. I think when he spun out around first base, tweaked it a little bit, but as he told me before I left the clubhouse just now, I am a catcher, no matter what you say. He said I played with it for this many days and I will continue to play with it, but he is a little sore, yeah, from just general -- a lot of 12-inning games, a lot of stress, a lot of playoff baseball, and he is one guy that's on the bases all the time because he gets us hits.

Q. Tolbert?
RON GARDENHIRE: Oh, Matt Tolbert, I am sorry, Matt Tolbert definitely we're going to DL him and do the switch with Buscher, activate Buscher. Tolbert pulled the oblique, I think that's what it's called, and he will have to miss the next series, but really there is not much chance that he would be back anymore. He got it pretty good, he is in a lot of pain, it really got sore. I think he did it on a check swing, the second at-bat, the at-bat before he got the base hit. And he said it continuously got worse. He got a hit the next at-bat, but then he told me after the fact he really couldn't do much.

Q. I know it's only been a few hours but have you heard anything from baseball or the umpires about the fair foul call last night?
RON GARDENHIRE: No. I mean, we were on the plane. I only hear what you guys write -- or read what you write, not hear it, and I don't watch a lot of TV so -- other than the golf, the President's Cup, so no, I haven't really paid much attention to it, and I won't. We can't do anything about it. It's not going to come back. I think we all know it's fair. The guy made a mistake, you do the best you can, we move on.

Q. I think it was back in July you said you were an advocate of the throw-the-red-flag-for-a-replay challenge. Is that -- do you still feel that way?
RON GARDENHIRE: I couldn't see the play so, I mean, I would have had to have coaches up in the booth calling into my ear on my headset. Give me a headset and give me a red flag and we can fix this stuff, but I would have to have somebody up calling me saying throw your flag, let's question this call.

Q. In that vein is there any pragmatic way it do this through a replay?
RON GARDENHIRE: No, the great thing about baseball is the human elements involved, and we always want to keep it that way, not easy when you are in New York. The lines are short and it's not easy, so there you have it. You are going to have a few. We made enough mistakes ourselves and we missed opportunities to win the game ourselves, too. It just goes that way sometimes. I think if you saw the last game against Detroit, the ball looked like it might have hit Brendan's jersey, that was a run, that game could have went that way, so breaks are part of it and it went against us this time.

Q. Gardy, is it frustrating that you match up so well against New York and lost by just maybe one run?
RON GARDENHIRE: I don't know if the match-up against them is right, but they are a very talented and loaded team full of really good players but, you know, when you start measuring our heart and our competitiveness, we match up with anybody. We always feel we can play that way. If you like position-by-position and all those things, they have an advantage, more experience in these situations, but, you know, like I said, there is always the human part of it where our guys are playing with a lot of confidence and a big heart, and we have competed with a lot of teams, and we have had to battle for the last three, four weeks now just to get into the playoffs, and we are still continuing to battle, so -- it's frustrating to lose, absolutely.
Last night was really, really tough. We will do what we have had to do for a long time here, and that's bounce back tomorrow in front of our fans in our ballpark and see if we can get after these guys.

Q. Gardy, how much is it weighing on you and the staff, this -- I think the postseason streak now is like seven, and you look at what you guys have accomplished in the regular season but, you know, '06, and then this year now to lose the first two, I mean, we all know that there have been some, you know, heartbreakers in there, starting with the last game in '04, but just as a staff, how are you guys doing with that losing streak?
RON GARDENHIRE: We don't -- we can't think about it. All we can do is think about the next game. You know, you guys, the press, you guys love streaks and numbers and all those kinds of things. We just have to go day-by-day, game-by-game, we can't worry about our record over the last two years, three years. This that doesn't mean anything to us. It's all different players.
We have had different players in '06 to now, different pitchers. You know, this is this year, and we have lost two games, and one really tough one in New York, and we played very well and had an opportunity to win it. We can't worry about the past. That's like going back, you know, in '91. You can't do it. It doesn't do anything for you. Different players, different era. We are just living for the day, and we are going to try to play tomorrow.

Q. Gardy, anything surprise you about Pavano since he got here? What did you learn about him?
RON GARDENHIRE: Well, didn't know a whole heck of a lot about him other than a veteran, very good competitor, likes to get after it, and he has done that for us. He showed a lot of guys how to pitch, he has a good knowledge of the game. When he has been healthy he has done very well in this game, and this is a big game tomorrow, and you want a guy that's been out there and been on the mound before, and he has done it.
We have got Baker lined up for the next game and a Blackie lined up for the next game, so we got them set up with three pretty good pitchers going, and we will see what happens.

Q. Are you at all interested in the kind of story with Carl going against the Yankees and all the drama around his tenure in New York? Is that something that you know anything about or, you know, it's a big game for him and, also, this is a team that he had a lot of -- I don't know, there was a lot of drama, I guess is the best way to put it, with him in New York.
RON GARDENHIRE: Yeah, that's your tabloids. I can't deal with that. I mean, we are just a Minnesota-nice group and we like the hell out of the guy, and we can't wait to see him on the mound tomorrow night, and hopefully it works out for us.
And, you know, all the stuff that's gone on in the past with Carl, I just know one thing, what he has meant to us and what he has helped us achieve here has been fantastic. He has come on and been a steady force for our baseball team, when he is pitching and when he is not pitching. And that's all we really give a flip about.
I played in New York, I have been a part of that drama, I made one error and it was Gardenhire does it again in headlines. Hell, I didn't play that much to say that.

Q. With Joe Nathan last night, he set the franchise record with saves, and he has been so tremendous since you have had him. Is it almost stung when something like that happens when you watch it unfold as quickly as it did?
RON GARDENHIRE: It is. Anytime your closer is in the game, it stung. We scored a run off Mariano last night, that stung because not too many people do that. So when Joe is in the game, that's normally Katie, bar the door, as they say, and we have always said, when it doesn't work out, that's one of those really tough ones because he is so good and sets the table so high, so you are facing a good lineup and if you make mistakes, it's proven again, he got behind Alex and threw one in there, and they do what they do best, they put it in the seats, and it didn't work out for us, but when we put Joe in the ball game, I feel pretty doggone good.

Q. Gardy, you talked about all this building can sometimes allow you guys to bounce back. How specifically, and how do you reconcile that with the fact that you guys haven't won a post-season game here since '02?
RON GARDENHIRE: You have to go out and get it done on the field no matter what the noise, no matter what is behind you, you still have to go out and produce on the field, and the game is all about getting the big hits and all those things, and the mystique about losing in New York and everything, again, as we talked about, the first four games when we went there and got walked off three times, we talked about our record with our runners in scoring position and our numbers, 5 for 35 or whatever, it was the same yesterday.
We had plenty of opportunities to win a game by getting some more big base hits, and we didn't do it. That's kind of been the playoff run for us even here at home, we are missing too many opportunities and we have to take advantage of those, when you get them out there, you got to knock them in.
We have done pretty good up to this point, getting here, getting to the playoffs. We just have to come up with that big base hit again and get that run. We had a couple yesterday and it was huge, and we got ourselves in a position to win it and it didn't work out.

Q. Gardy, you had to throw Brendan in with Tolbert getting hurt last night. For him this year, he has been thrown in when he didn't know if he was going to be played, especially with Creedy and all his injuries. Has he proven that he could adapt to any situation, and also, do you have plans for tomorrow? Do you know how you are going to use him?
RON GARDENHIRE: Yeah, he is going to play third base against Pettitte. I don't know if throw in. I don't think thrown in is the right word. I think he has about 400 at-bats, I don't believe that's a throw-in guy. He came into the season as a platoon guy, roll-guy, off-the-bench utility, and as a utility guy, I think you could ask any utility guy, a roll guy on your team if you got close to 400 at-bats, you would feel pretty good about it, and that's what Brendan has got. He hits, he can move around the field, he has done a very good job for us.
And last night, guy gets hurt, he goes in and puts together some real good at-bats, so that's what we expect of him and he has been very good at that for us.

Q. A moment ago you talked about Pavano contributing on the field and off, and I am just wondering if you can give examples of what he brings to this club.
RON GARDENHIRE: I mean, in a situation, if you watch him on the bench, we have a young catcher, Morales, who actually -- I put him out there, asked him one day, you don't mind if Morales catches you here, Joe needs a break? And they didn't really click that day, so for the next couple of days he sat with Morales and was showing him about situations, what would you do here, and was asking him, and I thought that was fantastic that a veteran pitcher would take an opportunity with a young guy sitting on the bench during a game and talk to him about situational pitching, what you would do here, or what do you think he is looking for?
And those are the types of things you just can't replace. I mean, that's needed. Our coaching staff, we can do that, but when a veteran that's been out there on the mound is taking the time with a young catcher, that's pretty impressive.

Q. Do you take a more aggressive approach now that it's potentially the last game or do you --
RON GARDENHIRE: Yeah, I think so, we have to, I think, a lot of people in our ballpark, I think Duensing will be out there. You try to be aggressive, try to be as aggressive as you can.
Yesterday we tried to run some bases and those types of things, and we ran a few bases and got ourselves in position, and got a couple in, and got a lead, but the team that you are playing against has a little bit to do with that.
So Pettitte is not easy, he is not easy to run on. He has got a great move, you kind have to guess at times, you know, and we will see if we can do that. First you have to get on the base and we will go from there.

Q. Thank you very much.
RON GARDENHIRE: My pleasure.

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