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October 16, 2011

Ron Roenicke


Q. Your Angels teams were in this situation on a number of occasions facing elimination. I'm wondering if you mentioned it to any of the guys at all? Have you talked to anybody about it?
RON ROENICKE: I haven't mentioned it. You know, we talk about a lot of things over the course of the season and Spring Training. You know, we're in the situation we were with that 5th game against Arizona.
So these guys know what's at stake. I think the more that we all stay -- when I say we, the staff and myself, stay the same, I think the better off it is for everybody.

Q. Will you manage this game any differently than the previous -- it's 172 now.
RON ROENICKE: I think the difference will be maybe with the starting pitching. I expect Shaun to have a good game, but if he's a little bit off, probably do things different there.

Q. When you think about the Marcum decision, do you think at all about his future and what the impact of any decision there would mean or do you think just about tonight?
RON ROENICKE: No, I think the future is important. I think the past, what he's done until this point is important. Believe me, you guys aren't the only ones that are wondering about Marcum starting. I've had questions from everybody, it seems like.
I feel really good about this decision. Whether he pitches well tonight or whether he gets hit a little bit, this is the right decision. For this ballclub it's the right decision. And I've had many conversations with a lot of people in this organization that have been with us all year. This is definitely the right decision.
It doesn't mean that he's going to go out and have a great game. I expect him to. I think he's definitely capable of doing it. He has not liked the way he's pitched the last couple of games. And I think he's going to have a good game today.

Q. The Cardinal lineup, how does it compare to other top lineups in the National League and how tough has it been for your pitchers? Holliday struggling now, he's getting a little healthier, playing well. They move Freese and Berkman in the cleanup spot. How tough has it been?
RON ROENICKE: These guys -- I talk about it. These guys are good. They're the best offense in our League. Numbers show it. There's just not a whole lot of easy outs there. You get past the three big boys and you still have trouble. With Freese, wherever he is, Molina, his at-bats are incredible in this series.
But they're tough. They don't give you much. They're not up there first pitch you throw a slider down in the zone, they don't hit a ground ball out to let you breathe a little bit. It's always a tough at-bat. And that's why when you're pitching against them you have to stay aggressive, but you know you better make good pitches when you're going after these guys. It can't be aggressive down the good part of the plate. You've got to still hit corners. And whenever you're trying to do that invariably you will get behind in the count because you're trying to pick on a corner. And then it makes it really tough because now what do you do when you're behind in the count?
They're good. They are. Can we get them out and get through the lineups? Yes. But we're going to have to make our pitches.

Q. Because Hairston has been so blistering hot in the postseason, did you tinker with the idea at all to moving him up to the 5th spot or do you just not want to mess with how successful he's been where he's at?
RON ROENICKE: That's kind of what I'm thinking is keeping him there. He's not obviously a typical 5th hitter. He's done such a great job, I feel like I could put him anywhere in this lineup and he would hit. But I also know that the way it's structured, if everybody is swinging right the way it's structured is really good. I know I'm counting on guys to swing it. But I think with Corey getting the three hits the other day, I think that should lift him. If he continues to get on base, Nyjer, moving him around or getting on base, and then going through Ryan and Prince, that's been a nice combo for us this year. And hopefully we'll see that a lot today.

Q. You have been very complimentary of the Cardinals offense. Can you pick up any of the influence that their hitting coach might have and how good that offense has been. And also just from, I'm sure you're a fan of baseball, from that perspective, what having Mark back in the game or around the game, what do you think that means?
RON ROENICKE: Talking about McGwire? It's nice to see him back in the game. Certainly with a huge part of this game when some things were kind of struggling a little bit. As far as his influence, it's hard to say. These are veteran hitters. His influence probably more mentally probably means more. But certainly his presence there, they all know what he's been through.
But they've got some pretty good guys in the three big boys to draw from on the other guys on the team. And a lot of times that's more important sometimes than what a hitting coach does. A hitting coach is with you every day working, but sometimes when you have a player that will sit down and talk to you, for instance, we had Mark Texeira for half a year in Anaheim. I couldn't believe the influence he brought to some of the other players, with just sitting down and talking to them about hitting. Bobby Abreu was the same way. I think with Pujols, Berkman and Holliday, you certainly have some great experience there. And guys that are as good as there is. So to draw from them as well as having Mark there with them every day, it's got to be nice to have.

Q. I know it's not over yet. But how do you feel about the fact that this series has been all about baseball, none of the extracurricular stuff has really gone on?
RON ROENICKE: That's been great. And I haven't thought about it and that's because it hasn't been going on. When you asked that question, it's kind of like, yeah, there hasn't been anything going on. That's nice. I enjoy playing baseball, I don't enjoy all the little stuff that goes on outside.
For me to have to address those things, it takes away from what I enjoy doing, which is talking baseball and trying to help our guys to get the most out of them, and without the distractions it's very nice.

Q. Nyjer has struggled offensively in this series. Do you notice him pressing any? I was wondering because of the attention he got at the start, good or bad, if that made him press or get out of whack, just where you see him?
RON ROENICKE: The attention from him doing well or the attention from what goes on with St. Louis?

Q. One led into the other, sort of.
RON ROENICKE: Yeah. I think some of the games here Nyjer has pressed because of where we are. I think when you go into the playoffs everybody understands what it is. Everybody understands that you have to try to elevate your game. The hard thing is to elevate your game, if you try to press it usually doesn't work. These guys that elevate their games are more relaxed than everybody else. They're certainly confident.
So Nyjer, I talked to him a little bit, and he's been pressing a little bit. He's trying to do too much. And I try to remind him that what he's done for us all year is what we need. We don't need him to be more than what he's been. We need him to be what he's done for us.

Q. This relates to both Marcum, but also when or if you face Carpenter tomorrow. When you have pitchers like this that have faced them that many times in the season, I'm wondering when you talk to the advance scouts or when you prepare your lineup to face them, do you rely on the body of work or the season as a whole or do you focus on what they've done recently?
RON ROENICKE: I think recently is more important. But the thing is you need to know what that body is. If recently hasn't worked, these guys may do something different. So you've got to know what in the past that he's gone to when he's been really good.
I think if we probably look at his -- the last game that he had against Atlanta, probably a good thing that that's how I'm sure he would like to pitch. He was lights-out in that game. So we may have to go back to that one and watch that.
Guys change. You look at our guys. They're not happy with some of the way they've been pitching and they're talking about, hey, I better do something a little different against these guys or they're going to continue to hit me hard.

Q. Did you get to see any of the American League game last night, and do you have any comment about Rangers moving on?
RON ROENICKE: They're a fantastic offensive team, incredible. When they got the good pitching, I can see why they're doing what they're doing. There's not too many offenses as good as them.
I watched when they had that big one inning, and that's all I probably needed to see. Amazing.

Q. Jumping back to Nyjer for a second. He has been this whole series Tony "Hush," as he calls it. Was it his conscious decision to say I'm going to not really talk during the series and keep the focus on baseball, or did you tell him to keep it low key during the series?
RON ROENICKE: I didn't tell him that. We talked about it after we got into the series just a little bit. He needs to stay focused on what he is doing and not worry about all the outside stuff that goes on once in a while with him. But, no, I didn't have to have that conversation.

Q. Have the Cardinals changed the way they're approaching Prince in the last few years?
RON ROENICKE: No, I don't think they've changed the approach. I think Prince is getting a little bit big on his strike zone. Prince is a guy that can carry a team. Prince feels like he needs to carry this team. He can. But what happens sometimes with that is you start to expand. And when you expand your zone, usually things don't go well when you do that.
He's been a guy, he walked 100 whatever he walked this year, 105 or whatever he walked. That's when Prince is good. When Prince is up there and he's taking a pitch that's an inch off the plate, that's when he's really good. And I expect him to be doing that again. He may have a game or two that's off. But I expect him to be right back on it again, and like I said, he can carry us.

Q. Can you talk about how the acquisition of Rodriguez in July impacted your staff, how you manage the game, if it's reduced it to a seven-inning game. And if it had a good impact on Axford, who already was having a good season, I'm just curious if it changed things for him, as well.
RON ROENICKE: I don't think it changed anything for Ax. I think what it did is it allowed us to, if we had a lead in the seventh inning, automatically get to Ax, because Frankie was going to put up a zero.
But as far as influencing him, Frankie is really good down in the bullpen as far as how he prepares and mentally about how he goes about his job. That probably helped Ax a little bit. But Ax was really good, like you said, before we got him.
But what Frankie did for our bullpen, you talk about reducing the game. It did reduce it. They know they can't get to the 8th, 9th I think. And because of that all of a sudden -- and not all of a sudden, I shouldn't say that, but we had those other guys in different roles in the 6th, 7th inning, between Loe and Hawk and Saito. And then those guys were lights-out. So it became a five-inning game. If we were leading after the fifth inning, I felt like we were going to win every game.
So he was huge for -- when we got him, he was huge. Kameron Loe was trying to fill that eighth-inning role, and he did a great job early and then he had a few hiccups along the way. When he got back into that role of 5th, 6th, 7th inning, I think it helped him.
Saito came back healthy about the time Frankie -- we got Frankie. But that combination, when Frankie came over, yeah, it made our bullpen great. We went from a good bullpen to a great bullpen when we got Frankie.

Q. You keep a pretty good pulse on your players, and you talk to almost every one of them every day. Have you noticed Prince different in any way the last few days, reflective or --
RON ROENICKE: No. He's really focused. He's focused on what we need to do.
The last game of the season I think there was some emotion there. I think he felt some things. We had already -- even though it was an important game to get home-field advantage, we knew we were in the playoffs. He's so focused right now I don't think it allows him to really reflect on what's going on. But he's been the same.
There's nothing I like more when I come to the field and I'm sitting in my office and I hear him laugh. It is. It's contagious. I know the clubhouse is going well when he's laughing. And I know we're ready to play.

Q. You've heard that every day?

Q. Your players sometimes speak about playing at home in almost mystical terms. At this point Carpenter has his fan support, familiarity. Is the belief in your ability to win here anything else?
RON ROENICKE: I think it is. I'm hoping a couple more games it's mystical, to get us to that next round.
Yeah, the confidence you have when you're at a place -- I bring up, offensively, I bring up Albuquerque, I played there for a couple of years. When we went to the park every single day, you knew you were going to get at least two hits. On your bad days you were going to get two hits. What a great way to go to the field. You didn't care who was pitching. You knew you were going to get a couple of hits and on a good day you were going to get three or four hits. On a day when you know that there's no doubt about it that you play better. And I think these guys here, I think they have that feeling, that when they come here, they know good things are going to happen. And when you feel that way you play better. I wish there was an answer for it, that you could get that same feeling everywhere. It's impossible to. But I think that's the feeling we have in this ballpark.

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