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October 10, 2011

Ron Roenicke


Q. Casey McGehee had three homers in one game and not much success otherwise. Was he a strong candidate to play tonight?
RON ROENICKE: Yeah, I wish we could put one more player in that lineup. If we were in the American League he'd be in there.
It's tough. The first game he faced him this year, he had the three homers and then didn't get any hits off of his next two games.
But, yeah, it would have been real tempting to get him in there. I just don't know how to do it with Hairston, the way he's playing defensively and offensively. It's hard to take him out.

Q. What is Axford's status today?
A. He's okay. He went out and threw earlier, threw different pitches. So he's available tonight.

Q. Can you talk about the numbers of such a drastic difference when a team is tied and two games to nothing?
RON ROENICKE: I don't know, you know, it's hard for me to look ahead and see how far we are and where we need to be going into St. Louis. But I think it's just more important to just worry about that game that day and the end of the series, hopefully it works out for your team.
But we go up two games in the last series and next two we're back to even again. So it's hard to say what you try to do.

Q. The Axford thing happened so quick at the end of the game. Did you see it? Were you aware that he might be hurt and were you worried overnight that he might not be available today?
RON ROENICKE: I was concerned overnight that thing was going to swell up more and not be able to throw. Last night I was encouraged, though, when I left here by what Roger [Caplinger] had to say about it. And Ax was feeling pretty good, too.
I knew it was hit hard. And it looked like it hit him somewhere around the arm. And then when I saw it right away, it got him pretty good. Very happy to see that he's okay today.

Q. Hairston's play has kind of dictated his presence in the lineup, he's been good on all fronts?
RON ROENICKE: Absolutely. He's in there because of what he's done for quite a while. His numbers are also very good against Jackson. So to put him in over Casey, it wasn't like I was -- if he was 0-for-10, then Casey may have had a good chance to get in there.
But I think when both of them have good numbers and Jerry's been playing so well, I'm going to stick with Jerry.

Q. Just another general question about Hairston, what role did you envision for him when you got him? Is there anything you learned about him since he's been here that you didn't know?
RON ROENICKE: Nothing that really I didn't know. We made some phone calls before we acquired him. And I got some real good reports on both defense and offense. And they said when the game's on the line, he'll give you a good at-bat and he'll get some big hits for you. And that's what we've seen. Certainly in the playoffs we've seen them. We saw them in the regular season, also.
When you get in the playoffs you don't know what the young players are going to do. I know what Jerry Hairston is going to do. He's been in the playoffs a lot. And he's not going to freak out. He's a very confident guy. He's a gamer. He's pushing these guys during the games in the dugout and he wants to be up there when it's on the line, he wants to be up there.

Q. Going back to last night's game for just a second, the three-run lead, 2-1, nobody out, Pujols is at the plate. What are you thinking at that point?
RON ROENICKE: I'm hoping we get a punch-out, but that's maybe not realistic all the time certainly with him. But once we get the ground ball and we turn it, it's huge to give up just the one run there. You give up a couple of runs, now we're tight in that ballgame.
I really like a two-run lead with our bullpen. So that was a huge out -- outs, I should say, for us. And he's -- no matter where you pitch the guy, he can do some damage. So he's a little scary to pitch to.

Q. When you look at your job, a lot of it is maybe strategy, lineups, some of it's handling the personalities. How do you separate that and how important are each of those things to your job?
RON ROENICKE: Well, I think they're all important. I think the good managers are well-rounded. Everybody always asks me about Mike Scioscia and what I learned from him. But Mike's probably the most well-rounded manager that I've ever been around. And he handles all those things that you talked about. He handles those really well.
The communication's huge with the players. It's easy when I ask a player to do something when he knows that I'm really looking out for his best interests. And I think that's important when you're asking a player to do something.
There's team at-bats that the offensive guys, that you're going to ask them to do, and when they know that you care about them, you know that they have to get these at-bats to have success as a team. When they understand all that and you ask them to do it, they're willing to give themselves up. Sometimes they're going to have a 0-for-1. But they may get the runner over, you may get that next hit, maybe drive in a run.
So I think the communication with them is important. But that whole thing is important. The whole pitcher and trying to get the most out of the players. And that's what our jobs are, is to get them, whatever abilities that they're blessed with, that I need to try to get that out of them.

Q. Marcum's splits are interesting to look at, how he started home versus road. You call him a spot pitcher, but he's run into trouble of late. Have you seen something that he is doing that you tried to correct of late or is it something that kind of happens to more of a spot control pitcher?
RON ROENICKE: Like you said, he really relies on his command. He has to have command to be successful. He throws a lot of different pitches. So when that command is off a little bit and he's trying to throw five, six different pitches, they're not overpowering, so he has to locate well. And when he doesn't, he gets hit.
Now recently, if you look at all the hits that he's given up, and he's made some mistakes, but he's given up a lot of seeing-eye ground balls that go through people. He's given up jam shots that bloop over somebody's head. Then the next thing you know he makes a bad pitch and they make a home run.
If they were solo home runs, people would still say, hey, he's thrown the ball pretty good. But he's giving up these hits. Once in a while he'll walk a guy. But he's not pitching as bad as what people say he's pitching.
Early in the season he was not giving up any cheap hits. Everything was located well. I don't care if we were home or on the road, he pitched great. He was our best pitcher for whatever that time period was at the beginning of the season.
And I don't know if it's just command. I don't know if it's just a tick off his stuff because of the innings he's pitched. I don't know what has changed a little bit. But they don't miss the mistake now, whereas before when he did make mistakes, maybe they just miss it. Maybe they hit a bullet at somebody. But I still think he's throwing the ball well.

Q. Any lingering effects from his injury at all earlier in the year?
RON ROENICKE: No. No, he seems to be fine.

Q. With the way things have gone, especially the last start, would you be quicker with the hook if things start to escalate to avoid the big hit?
RON ROENICKE: Some of those things happen so fast that you don't have time to really get a guy up and get him ready. A guy gets jammed, it bloops it in, the next guy first pitch base hit. And now you're scrambling to get somebody loose, and makes a bad pitch and home run, three runs.
So it's easy to say that -- to have somebody loose all the time, but you can't do that to your bullpen guys. You can't keep them ready and do this for innings, because it's just like them going out and throwing different innings. So it's hard to be ready for all that.
If we have time to do it, yeah, we've got a couple of guys down there I feel comfortable with Estrada and Narveson to get them in long. But I don't want to jump to anything.
I still think Shaun -- we're going to need Shaun to do well. He's going to pitch again in this series. And I need him to get out there and figure it out and get back to where he is and then we'll see what happens.

Q. Have you gotten the right balance of rest and work for your relievers during the postseason?
RON ROENICKE: I think we have. I think the days off are real nice in the postseason, because you don't have to force a guy to go three days in a row. You probably have an off day in there. So it's not too bad. I feel good about rest and I feel good enough that they have enough work that they're staying on top of their game.

Q. LaTroy Hawkins hasn't been pitching much lately. Is it just situational?
RON ROENICKE: When he took that ball off his hand, last game of the season, wasn't it? Remember the line drive that was hit back to him? It hit his pitching fingers. So we've been trying to stay away from him.
Last night he was fine to pitch. So he's back on track now where we don't need to try to stay away from him anymore.

Q. He'd be available tonight?
RON ROENICKE: He's available tonight. He was available last night, also. He was available the last game against Arizona, but he still had some issues with a finger a little bit.

Q. Were they just bruised?
RON ROENICKE: Bruised on both fingers on his pitching hand and then it ended up just his index finger. He was having trouble with a couple of pitches. So we tried to stay away from him.

Q. Would you in a perfect world like to have one left-handed reliever late, but is it easier because the Cards don't have a lot of left-handed pop on their bench?
RON ROENICKE: If that left-handed reliever was a lights-out lefty, it's nice to have him. There's not too many lights-out lefties.
I like all our right-handers. It makes it a lot easier for me to manage when I don't have a lefty and I like my right-handers, because I don't care really who's up in the inning. If we've got two out of three lefties, Hawkins' numbers against lefties have been outstanding. We like to put him in there. If it's Kameron Loe, we're looking at right-handers more.
But this way I don't have to bring in -- if you have that left-handed specialist, say you're starting with a right-hander, you've got the lefty that comes up, like everybody does against Prince. You bring in that lefty, you get out Prince, now all of a sudden you've got to go to a righty again. You're using three pitchers in an inning. It's hard to manage that way a lot.
Your left-hander, if he can get through right-handers, that guy is really valuable. If he's a specialist but he can also get through right-handers, I'd love to have one like that.

Q. Everybody likes to talk about one game at a time. But how much more confident is a team coming in after scoring six runs in the 5th and coming from behind like your team did last night?
RON ROENICKE: It's always better to be ahead, no question. We'll go one game, but we know we won yesterday. I think it helps you relax a little bit.
Some teams are really good when they've had pressure put on them and they're down. Some teams are really good on picking it up a little bit and having that great game. I think it's more often you see a team that has more confidence when they're ahead in the series than behind.
Like I said in that last series, we get ahead two quick, everybody thinks we're going to win this thing, then 3 and 4 and we're back to Game 5. It's not always simple, even when you have leads. Especially in the playoffs, these are all great teams. To be able to win three or four games is pretty hard.

Q. It's obviously only been one game, and you're hoping that your starters don't allow six runs in a game. But given the way things went last night, how great of a role do you anticipate for your bullpen the rest of the series?
RON ROENICKE: The bullpen is going to be huge. I've talked about their offense. Their offense is outstanding. It's the three big boys in the middle, but it's not just them.
Furcal, he kills us. He's always on base. He drives the ball against us, Freese had the big homer yesterday. They can do a lot of damage through their lineup. And that's why when you're thinking about it, you're thinking about your bullpen better be good, and it's probably going to be used.
So, hey, if we get great starts from our pitchers, we can get six innings out of them, whatever the case is, feel really good about going to our bullpen to try and stop this good offense.

Q. You were talking about that lefty situation, and part of that is how well Saito has done. That's kind of alleviated that situation a little bit for you because he's been so good in the 7th inning. Are you surprised, I guess, that he's just been so rock solid? He's been as solid as those guys in the 8th and the 9th.
RON ROENICKE: He has been. He was solid last year with Atlanta. At the beginning of the season we felt like he'd be our 8th inning guy. We were able to pick up Frankie about the same time he came back for us.
He and Hawk, I don't care if they're lefties or righties, it doesn't seem to matter, they've been so good.
Kameron Loe, early in the season I was using him because we didn't have everybody back. And Kameron was lights out against righties, but he was also throwing well against lefties, and then the lefties started getting him a little bit.
But those three guys, to cover the 6th and 7th inning, I don't think you could ask for much more out of what they've done for us.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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