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October 1, 2011

Chris Carpenter


Q. What does it take in terms of pitching on short rest? It doesn't look like your career has a long history of that. How do you approach it? Is it different for you in terms of getting ready?
CHRIS CARPENTER: No, not really. I'm excited about it to be honest with you. I don't know if I've ever done it. Somebody brought it to my attention that I hadn't, but I would assume that I have at some point in time. But any ways, not at all. I feel good. I feel like the day in Houston the other day I didn't work too hard, didn't throw too many pitches and I've come out of it nicely.
I'm excited about tomorrow. My body is healthy, I feel good, and I'm strong. So I'm excited about it.

Q. By that answer you may not remember this, but I seem to recall the last time you were all in the playoffs, there was at least a consideration to have you start on short rest. Do you recall at all how you prepared for that?
CHRIS CARPENTER: No, sorry. I don't remember.

Q. When you come out of Houston then and they approach you about doing this on short rest, is it how your stuff felt, or is it how your arm felt, body felt the next day that kind of dictated your answer?
CHRIS CARPENTER: I think it's on how I recover, not about my stuff. My stuff is fine. It's about how you recover. I've been recovering great all year in between starts.
So again, they came to me the day before we left. I went down to the ballpark and grabbed my stuff and had to get my luggage and stuff and Tony (La Russa) mentioned it to me, he said be alert and be aware just in case, we'll let you know the final decision tomorrow, which was yesterday when we got here.
I told him, I said, I feel good. I'm fine with it. If you guys want me to do it, we'll do it, but if not, we won't, and it's your call. Yesterday before we got here, he told me he was going to have me do it.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about the prospect of facing this lineup? You've had success here, success against these guys in this ballpark. Does it make fastball command down even more important than, say, anywhere else?
CHRIS CARPENTER: No. And I'm a big believer, and you can talk about ballparks, you can talk about whatever you want; if you don't get the ball down in the strike zone at any ballpark, these guys are going to get you. If you don't control the counts, these guys are going to get you no matter who you're facing and what you're doing. They can hit it out in St. Louis just as well as they can hit it out of here. That's just a distraction for me. I eliminate those. I don't concern myself with the ballpark, with the umpire, what the wind is doing, the weather, anything. My goal is to go out and execute pitches, and if I do that, I'm going to be successful.
You're facing a team that obviously from top to bottom are tough at-bats against you. That's why they're here. That's why they've won 100-something games and have been on top of their division for a while. These guys grind out professional at-bats. It's a great competition for a pitcher to go against a lineup like this, because if you make any mistakes they're going to make you pay for it, like I said, no matter what ballpark. So it makes it a lot of fun. That's what the game is all about. You go out there, it's a competition between me and them, and it's me trying to execute one pitch against whatever hitter it is, one pitch at a time, and hopefully the results are good.

Q. I know you go back with Halladay back to your days in Toronto. I'm wondering what you respect the most about him and maybe what similarities you guys have and why you've maybe stayed close friends and stuff.
CHRIS CARPENTER: Yeah, we do. Actually I talk to him a lot, and his wife and my wife are still close friends, also. You know, people have asked me these questions over the years, and now more even now that these playoffs we're going to be facing each other and all these things.
Me and Doc went through a lot of the same things at the same time. Even though I was a few years older than him and had a few more years in the Big Leagues than him at the time or a year or whatever, we kind of had similar struggles at the same time, and it was not about stuff, it was about being able to control our minds, and that's what I was saying about the distractions.
When I was a young kid, it was all about oh, man, I've got Joe Schmo behind the plate that doesn't call a strike and doesn't like young guys or whatever it was, wind is blowing out here in Baltimore, what am I going to do, these guys are going to crush me, I've got no chance, it was all about confidence and having to eliminate distractions. We went through a lot those times together and learned together, so those are similarities between us.
What I respect the most about him is he's an unbelievable professional, and where he's come from. You look back on his career, and I mean, I was in Toronto when he got sent back down to the Minors and all these other things, and he's just worked himself to become the best, and that's determination from him, that's his attitude, that's his professionalism, and I think that we learned a lot about it together.

Q. I'm wondering, did he give you the Dorfman book?
CHRIS CARPENTER: No, we started that together actually. Doc started it and then Harvey (Dorfman) came over in Toronto that year and we started talking about it. Me and Doc would go up to our room, sit up and have a couple beers and talk about different ways to control our minds and how we're going to be able to execute. Until you do it, until you go out and you compete at this level and all the distractions and the things that go on around you, there's so much going on in your mind that if you don't figure out how to get rid of those, you can't stop them from happening. You've got distractions from your family, from the media, from your players, from your coaches, fans. If you can't figure out how to get rid of them, it's pretty tough to execute what you're trying to do. And we went through it trying to figure out how to do it, and obviously it's worked for both of us.

Q. I know early in the season you had some bad luck from a won-lost standpoint, but it looks like your performance has gotten better in the second half. Anything you're doing lately that's better now than it was early?
CHRIS CARPENTER: Yeah. Early on in the season, it was not just bad luck, there was some bad pitching, there was a lot of things that were going on, and I wasn't pitching as well as I should have been. So you're always looking to try to find a way to get better.
One thing that I'm doing is I'm getting ahead in the counts and controlling the counts better than I did early on, which makes it easier to get the ball out of the strike zone when you're ahead in the count and get guys swinging and those sort of things.
I'm just being more consistent with command, keeping the ball down. And those big innings, a lot of the trouble early on, I had a lot of big innings, and I couldn't figure out why I was -- I couldn't get out of those big innings. I kept giving up four, five runs an inning, and unfortunately it was happening, and now fortunately it's not. I've found a way to continue to make pitches and control the counts.

Q. Question about preparation: How much of what goes into your preparation is about your history with a player, maybe 20 or 30 at-bats, or 50, compared to maybe how they've done the last month as a hitter, and in the heat of the moment or during the game does some of that stuff go out the window based upon what you're feeling confident with, with a certain pitch, and it doesn't matter what your history is with the player?
CHRIS CARPENTER: Yeah, you look at -- for me personally, I know what my stuff is and I know what I'm going to do. I've got a fastball, a curveball, a cutter and a change-up, and I know I'm going to use all four of them and I'm going to attack the strike zone. I don't specifically look at the history that I've gone -- Ryan Howard or Chase Utley or whoever it is, I don't really look at what they've done against me. I just know what I am going to do.
I prepare, I have this little plan of what I'm going to do, and then the game dictates -- the at-bat dictates what's going on. That's what makes it fun about pitching, and that's what makes it hard. The guys were talking about Houston game the other day. When you're facing guys you haven't faced and you're not quite sure what they're going to do, that in between at-bat or, okay, if you can throw the ball inside here or not, you don't know really because you don't know what they do or what their tendencies are. I've faced these guys, I know what their tendencies are. They know what I'm going to do. So now it's an in-game battle, pitch by pitch, what they're reactions are to certain pitches and those things, and that's what makes pitching fun.

Q. I think the description we've heard from Tony and Dunc is you physically appeared to have gotten stronger. I wonder what you attribute that to and if there's been any kind of change between your starts, fewer side sessions or less intensive side sessions here recently?
CHRIS CARPENTER: No. Well, first of all, I don't even recall the last time I threw a side this year. Unless there's something going on with my pitches or my mechanics or something that I don't feel comfortable with, I'm not an enormous fan of having to get up on the mound because you have to throw a side. I don't have to throw a side. You don't have to do that. I keep my arm in shape and keep my body in shape. And if my stuff is good and I have nothing to work on, there's no reason to waste my bullets up on the side just because you're supposed to do that. So no, I haven't thrown a side for months.
That being said, throughout the season I continue to work all year long, and I don't allow myself to stop. I stay strong, I continue my workouts, I continue running, I continue to do all those things to not fade and to be strong because this is the most important time, and for me I think that you can take a lot -- you can take a big advantage of yourself being stronger at the end, especially like if you're facing guys or other teams the last month that are looking forward to going home and they're packing their stuff or guys that aren't working and they're a little tired and I'm not, you can take advantage of that, and it also helps you mentally because I know that I'm prepared.

Q. I was just wondering, you've had one post-season start since '06. Back then it was like an every year occurrence going deep. At this point in your career with this opportunity, do you look at it differently now than you may have four, five, six years ago, what's in front of you here?
A. Meaning an opportunity to pitch in the post-season?

Q. Yeah.
CHRIS CARPENTER: Well, I mean, that's the fun about it. Do I look at it any differently? No. I'm looking forward to going out and competing against a quality club. Are you talking about like if it's not going to happen again, or --

Q. Well, it's been a while since you had a sustained opportunity in the post-season.
CHRIS CARPENTER: I look at it as a fun opportunity any time. I don't take it any differently, no.

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