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October 6, 2010

Dusty Baker


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Dusty Baker.

Q. In your postseason experience both as a player and a manager, can you recall any game day injuries such as the one to Polanco that the Phillies are dealing with? And can you recall just the reaction, emotionally dealing with it?
DUSTY BAKER: I'm not exactly sure what you're talking about exactly.

Q. Well, Polanco apparently is out with some back stiffness, he's not playing.
DUSTY BAKER: Yeah, you're always afraid of that at the end. Yeah, I've seen that a couple of times. Actually, it happened to me one time in the 1981 World Series. I got in an altercation after we won the pennant in Canada. No, it was some Canadian guys were hassling some of the wives, and I couldn't swing for the whole World Series in '81.
Yeah, if you look up the record, you'll see I had a poor World Series swinging one handed. So I hurt a lot for my dad, I think. He's been telling you this all your life, that speech. So that's unfortunate. That's very unfortunate.
Are they going to replace him, do you know?

Q. Valdez is in the lineup.
DUSTY BAKER: No, but I mean --

Q. I think he's staying on the roster. Because he might play in a couple of days.
DUSTY BAKER: I figured that, okay. And if they take him off, he's not eligible for the next one, right? Correct, okay.

Q. I mean, is that like a tough emotional blow for a team to get over?
DUSTY BAKER: I mean, Valdez has been playing well. Valdez has been playing very well. All depends on who you have to replace that person with.
I mean, Polanco, this guy's an All-Star player. But in our experience versus the Phillies, Valdez played very well against us, in Jimmy Rollins' absence early in the year.

Q. Briefly, could you tell us a little bit about what Walt Jocketty has done, some of the guys he's brought in like Gomes and others, and Cabrera that other teams had given up on. You brought some young kids up. How have you guys made this all work?
DUSTY BAKER: You try to figure out what your team needs. If you need some speed, need some power, need some defense. You know, Jonny was here last year. We brought him back. Cabrera was new. We figured we'd need some sock especially at the shortstop position. Even though Paul Janish was about ready to play every day, and he still might in the future. But you get a guy like Cabrera that's out there and a former Golden Glove, former Silver Bat, and with his experience, plus he's gone to the playoffs the last five out of seven years, you're looking for any edges you can get.
And our young players came up through our system. We weren't afraid to use them. We are, in my eyes, kind of where the Phillies were a couple years ago, when you're knocking on the door right there and you feel you're going to be ready here soon. And we got some better years out of some young men than we anticipate, even.
We're just hoping that we can continue to be in this position for many years, especially consecutive years.

Q. How close was the call on activating or not activating Edmonds?
DUSTY BAKER: Well, it came down to yesterday. Then we were trying to wait until the last minute, but yesterday it became apparent to us that he wasn't going to be ready because we were willing to carry him as a pinch hitter only, as you've seen teams do. But the fact is he still wasn't able to run yet, so that made the decision very easy because you kind of have too many guys that are hobbling where you have to use too many players to pinch-run for this guy or that guy or can't play the outfield. But hopefully he'll be a lot better come the next series.

Q. Obviously, Brandon Phillips in that last homestand last week started to swing the bat a lot better. What was it other than the pain in his hand going down over that last several weeks that allowed him to get his stroke back, and is he where he needs to be for this series?
DUSTY BAKER: Certainly, I think he's where he needs to be. Part of it was the pain in the hand, and part of it is when you're anticipating pain sometimes, you start to swing a little too early. Because in your mind you don't feel that you're quick or strong. Therefore, what happens is you're vulnerable to swing at bad pitches and pitches out of the zone because you start your swing early.
Anybody that starts their swing early, you know, your pitch selection is going to be at question. So we think we got that straight. Brandon says he feels great. He's ready to go. We certainly need him at the top of the lineup to get on base and be the Brandon Phillips that we know.

Q. Can you talk about playoff experience and how much value you place on that?
DUSTY BAKER: I place some value on it. I mean, everybody says, Hey, I know I can do this, I know I can do that, but you don't know if you can do it until you get there. Once you're there, then you have an idea on what the whole thing's all about, what the pressure is or how to alleviate pressure.
Being in situations where you can win the game, bases loaded, two outs or how to get a runner in from third or waiting for a pitcher how to get out of trouble or even how not to get in trouble sometimes. So, it's invaluable experience. But everybody had to go through it the first time before they get experience.
So, I think some of our guys here are ready for it. It's a little bit different now, I think, in modern baseball than how it used to be. Because a lot of these guys, it's not the same, but it's similar. There are a number of college players here, a number of college players that are used to being on TV, a number of college players that -- we have some that have been in the College World Series, which is sort of a tune-up for what we're going into now. Where before there was no tune-up, basically, other than maybe a minor league playoff or something, but that's about as close to this scenario as you can get.
So I don't think our guys will be intimidated or worried about this because they've been in something similar, but not quite of this magnitude.

End of FastScripts

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