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October 5, 2010

Michael Cuddyear

Joe Mauer


Q. Michael, you started out in right field. You had to move over to first base and I think you played some second and third, also, this year. I mean, you played other positions in your career. Do you have a favorite position at this point in your career?
MICHAEL CUDDYER: Wherever I am in the lineup.
No, I am all about winning. And whatever position Gardy feels like he puts me at that day is going to help us win, I am all about it. And, you know, right now obviously first base is where I prefer just because I played there the last 80 or so games. It would be a little difficult moving over to third or something like that right now. But yeah, it doesn't matter to me, as long as Gardy believes that putting me there gives us a chance to win, I am all for it.

Q. Michael, you have been here a long time and you have seen this organization kind of progress, and now you have a new stadium, spending a lot more money than you have in the past. A lot of new teammates around you and stuff. Do you think the gap has closed between this organization and the Yankees from where it was in say 2000, 2001, 2002?
MICHAEL CUDDYER: I think obviously payroll-wise facts are facts, obviously it's a little closed a little bit. But at the same time we still have the same philosophy. We still go about the game the same way. I think what that's allowed us to do is, one, keep our home-grown players here, but also add depth to our line-up and to our team and to our bullpen. And I think that's what's different this year compared to the years in the past is we have a lot more depth. You know, we've got basically three closers out in the bullpen that you bring in, the seventh, eighth, ninth, possibly sixth, whenever Gardy feels the need and guys that have playoff experience, with the exception of Capps. But he is a closer and saved 40-some games for us. So I think that's the difference for this year is the depth that we have.

Q. Michael, you've grown up in the Central with CC Sabathia. Looking back, can you compare the 2010 Sabathia in terms of approach, stuff to the Sabathia through the years that you've grown up seeing?
MICHAEL CUDDYER: Well I mean the first couple of years he was 98, 99, you know, with a devastating slider. But basically just went at you with 98 or 99. Still, unbelievable stuff. Still a great pitcher. But I think he is a better pitcher now. Obviously, one of the best pitchers in the game. Perennial Cy Young contender and possibly the Cy Young Award winner this year, and he knows what he's doing this year. He knows where to pitch. He is more efficient with his pitches. He doesn't care if he strikes you out, as long as you get out. I think that is the biggest difference between him back in '01 and '02 compared to the way he is now.

Q. Joe, Gardy said that Delmon will be hitting clean-up behind you tomorrow. How have you seen him evolve this year to kind of get to that point, you know, batting clean-up in the ALDS?
JOE MAUER: Well, I think Delmon has been having a great year. I think everybody knows that with the numbers that he's been putting up. But for me, I think he's been a lot more patient at the plate. I think that just comes along with playing the game and, you know, just seeing more pitchers, understanding what they are trying to do to him. And, you know, he's working himself into great counts and definitely capitalizing on it. So it's been really fun for me to see him our last couple of years, you know, become the player that he is today. And I am sure he's going to get a lot better, too.

Q. Two questions for Joe: First one is, have you given any thought to what it's going to be like tomorrow night catching the first pitch in a playoff game at Target Field, having grown up here and everything? And the second question, with your status in the game do you feel responsible for leading this team?
JOE MAUER: Okay, first question. It's going to be an unbelievable atmosphere, I think. You know, any time you are in the playoffs, you know, it's a great atmosphere. Especially here in Minnesota. I think we've seen that at the Metrodome. You know, I think our fans have created a great atmosphere here at Target Field all year long. And, you know, I don't see anything different. I think it's probably going to be a little bit more intense, you know, but it's going to be a great place to play. And it's going to be a lot of fun tomorrow night.
As far as doing anything more, you know, we have a lot of great players on here. And I think when I get into trouble, that's when I try to do more than what I need to do. We got great players on this team, and all around. And you know, I'm confident in those guys and I'm confident in myself. And just looking forward to getting out there and getting out there in the playoffs.

Q. Michael, even if you guys try not to look at years past, what is your message to the fans who obviously are looking at the history that these two teams have had in the playoffs?
MICHAEL CUDDYER: Sure, it is hard not to look at the past that is pretty obvious. But if you look at '03 and '04, obviously Joe didn't play in that series and Justin is not playing in this series, I might be the only guy who had played in those two series. So it's a totally different team than those first two times we played the Yankees. Obviously last year, basically the same team with a few different additions here and there. But that's the main thing we can say, is number one, it's a different team. Number two, we get to open up here rather than in New York. And it wasn't after a game 163. Not saying that's the reason we lost last year by any means, but at the same time, you know, we've got a little more going for us going into this series.

Q. Michael, do the two wins during the regular season at all give you guys any more confidence going against the Yankees in these playoffs?
MICHAEL CUDDYER: I think to a certain extent obviously. I think being able to win that game in Yankee Stadium against Rivera was big for us. But at the same time, playoffs is a totally different animal. It is a totally different game. A totally different pace. And you can't really look back and rely on your two wins, as they can't look back and rely on their four wins against us. It is a different game and you have to go out there and play the game and that's what makes it so fun, is you go out there and you can speculate all you want, but until you get between those white lines and the nine innings are over, anything can happen.

Q. Joe, how do you feel physically right now? And after missing a little bit of time, is your swing where you want it at this point?
JOE MAUER: I guess it doesn't matter now (laughter) but I am feeling good. I will be behind the plate and, you know, like I said, I am looking forward to it.

Q. Michael, I think Nick Punto said that this is the kind of perfect match-up for you guys. You guys look forward to this after how last year went. Is that kind of the prevailing feeling?
MICHAEL CUDDYER: You know, we didn't really go into these last 10 games, the last week of the season trying to pick who we were going to play, because it really didn't matter. Now that this match-up is what it is and we're playing against the Yankees, of course we're excited, but we would have been excited to play the Rays as well. So I didn't really -- you know, we are not going to take satisfaction over one or the other if we are able to advance. It is just being able to advance regardless of the opponent.

Q. Joe, can you talk a little bit about the determination of your teammates this year. All the way since spring training there has been a lot of talk of the World Series, of winning this division and the motivation this year. Does it seem a little bit more emphasized this year in your mind?
JOE MAUER: Yeah, I think it started real early in spring training. You know, I always say you look good on paper, but you still have to go out there and play the games. And, you know, the things that we've overcome this year, you know, right at spring training, Joe Nathan going down, that was a big blow. But Jon Rauch held it down for quite some time. And acquiring guys like Matt Capps and Brian Fuentes definitely helped. And obviously Justin Morneau going down, you know, Cuddy stepping in was huge. And it allows Jim Thome to get some more at-bats. We had to overcome a lot of adversity this year. And I think I am most proud of that.
But we put ourselves in this position that we are right now, and this was one of the goals that we had in spring training. And, you know, we're trying to achieve some of those other goals.

Q. Michael, can you talk a little bit about the last couple of weeks of the regular season, how things didn't go the way you wanted to, you guys only won a couple of games down the stretch. Do you feel that will have any effect? Is there any carryover? Do you feel you wish that wouldn't have happened? Is there any momentum one way or another?
MICHAEL CUDDYER: It is funny, we have done this every year, we clinch and then stink. Unfortunately or fortunately it was game 163 that we clinched and then we stunk in the playoffs. Hopefully that can reverse a little bit. We didn't play very well after we clinched, but we were also giving guys breaks and everything. It is hard to keep that intensity up at the same level. Come Wednesday night, first pitch, you're gonna have the intensity back. I am not going to say it is flipping the switch, I don't think it is possible. But that intensity will definitely go up a little bit. With the players we have in this clubhouse and on this team, when that intensity goes up, you will see a different product and we are going to play really well.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Michael. Thank you, Joe.

End of FastScripts

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