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October 18, 2011

Chris Carpenter


Q. When you left Toronto and were looking for another club, some people at the Rangers really wanted you. How seriously did you consider them? And at any point did you actually consider going there?
CHRIS CARPENTER: Well, the Rangers and St. Louis were the only two places I visited. I actually went to Texas and met with their staff and doctors and all that stuff and also came here and met with St. Louis. Fortunately it worked out here, and I've been able to reestablish my career here.

Q. Just wondering what you can recall from that meeting that you guys, I guess, had hereafter that Dodgers series, just wondering why you felt it was important to have a team meeting then, what the general message was and how you think it helped you guys, if at all.
CHRIS CARPENTER: I definitely think it was important. I think it was more than just me thinking that we needed to at least say something, and I'll keep it very short because what happens in there and some of the things that are said in there is between us and our family, and it was basically just that we needed to play a little better. We needed to -- everybody understood where we were at and what was going on, what the expectation level was of our ballclub, and we weren't meeting it.
Even if we don't win or go to the playoffs or don't win another game the rest of the year, which obviously probably wouldn't happen, that we were going to go out and make an effort and at least show people that we're going to make that effort and not embarrass ourselves because we worked really hard all year to put ourselves in that position, and I don't think anybody liked the way that we looked or the way we were playing the last week or so before we had that meeting. That was it. Did it help? I don't know. You can ask all the other guys, too.
I know that we started playing better after that.

Q. How you're feeling has been discussed a lot here as of late. Tony, I guess, kind of jokingly said you had your hand on a stack of bibles the other day and said you're good to go. Can you share how your arm is feeling?
CHRIS CARPENTER: It's interesting how everything came out, but I'll speak about it one time, and that's it. Coming out of that start in Milwaukee, I had 200-something innings, 4,000 pitches or whatever and it's the middle of October. Everybody has got soreness and everybody has got aches. I got some treatment on my elbow. My elbow is fine. Tony and Dunc would not throw me out there if it wasn't, and neither would the trainers or doctors. I would have been fine to pitch two days ago or yesterday, whatever day Game 7 would have been, and I'm fine to go Wednesday. I wouldn't go out there if I wasn't. That wouldn't help my team anyway.

Q. How did you think Albert Pujols dealt this season with his impending free agency? And I'm wondering if you can picture him in another uniform with his free agency coming up.
CHRIS CARPENTER: I don't want to picture him in another uniform. Can you? Of course, because that's the name of the game nowadays. You never know what could happen. How he dealt with it was like he deals with everything else, and that's with amazing professionalism. He knows what his tasks are, he knows what he wants to do, and that's come and play baseball and help our team win. He dealt with that all year and did a phenomenal job, had a great year again.

Q. How much does it stand out for you guys in the clubhouse what the front office and what Mo have done over the past really 12 months? They had some issues with the offense last year, so they go and add some bats, issues within the bullpen so they go and make the trade. Within the clubhouse what do you notice when they do things like that?
CHRIS CARPENTER: Well, I think any ballclub takes notice of that, takes notice that they're doing whatever they can to give you a chance to win, no matter if it's off-season or mid-season, they try to do everything they can to give us a shot, and they did that.
I said this after the game in Milwaukee when we won, that this has just got -- everybody has got to give a lot of credit to this organization top to bottom, with moves that were made, free agent signings that were made, and don't forget some of the young players that are playing key roles that have come up through the organization. It shows what the Minor League people are doing down there, and it shows what the top guys up here making moves and bringing in some key veterans. It just shows that this organization is doing things the right way.

Q. What's your take on this Texas lineup, and what's the best way to go about shutting them down?
CHRIS CARPENTER: Well, obviously they've got talent from top to bottom. They're dangerous. I watched a little bit of their games against Detroit here and there, caught some highlights. Obviously there's a lot of homers going up in Texas and in Detroit. They've got a powerful lineup. Just like any other lineup, the key is to get them out, getting ahead in counts, controlling counts, keeping the ball down in the strike zone and keeping the ball out of the middle of the plate. I'll deal with all the other things after that, but I mean, that's how you get good lineups out. They're going to do the same thing to us. If you keep the ball down and keep them off balance and move the ball in and out, you're going to get outs, and if you don't, you're going to get beat.
I'll do all my scouting and my video stuff tonight and tomorrow and go ahead and put a game plan together. But ultimately you've got to keep the ball out of the strike zone and keep it down.

Q. Mark McGwire told me earlier this afternoon that this might be the best managing job that Tony has ever done. Would you agree with that assessment?
CHRIS CARPENTER: Well, I'm not a manager, and I try not to do that. I don't second-guess or question anything that any of my managers have ever done, because it's just not my place. If it was, I'd be a manager, not a player.
But that being said, with the things that have gone on this year, starting from Spring Training with the loss of Wain-O, to the way we played through mid-year to the way we played through the end of the year, to watching what he just did in that series against Milwaukee, using the bullpen the way he did, if I was going to give you my honest opinion, I'd say yeah, but again, I'm not a manager, so I'm not questioning him.

Q. You've been known to sweat through three or four jerseys in a hot summer game in Busch. Cold weather, hot weather, does it matter to you?
CHRIS CARPENTER: No, not really. You deal with weather like this in the beginning of the season. It's no different. Go out and pitch. I'm going to be nice and warm anyways because I'll be all warmed up doing my thing, and I'm not concerned about what the weather is doing, unless it's raining and we don't get to play. That's no fun. Hopefully it doesn't do that.

Q. You've played here a while. You've played with Albert for a while. His numbers are so steady year after year after year. Have you seen any change in him over the years? And if so, how has he changed, or is he just as steady as the numbers would seem?
CHRIS CARPENTER: I would say he's just as steady as the numbers seem. I think that's what makes him consistent. He prepares the same way, knows what's important to him, doesn't take anything for granted, and he's very professional. He knows what's expected of him. I've said this before, and I've said it in these interviews earlier in the post-season when they've asked me these questions about him: Unfortunately for him, the expectation level, not only in baseball, the fans of St. Louis, a lot of times the guys in the clubhouse take advantage of how great he's been and how consistent he's been. At times you feel like he can't do anything wrong, because if he does, what's wrong with Albert? It started this year at the beginning when he started with a slow start. He continued to play, continued to do what he needed to do, and all of a sudden at the end of the season his numbers are what they are, and he's a great professional.

Q. The LCS for both of these teams was a little unusual in that both starting staffs didn't click the way they had up until then. Do you think we'll see a return to normalcy and that the starters will do better in the series for both sides?
CHRIS CARPENTER: I mean, you hope so. I think we need to. I don't know much about the Rangers' pitching staff, but I did see some of the things that they didn't go deep in the games, a lot like we did. But for us, I think we can be more consistent pitching count-wise, getting quick outs, and I think against the Brewers' team, as many times as we faced them, as much as we know about them and they know about us, I think the deeper you got into a game, you could see that it was kind of running out of ideas. And that's what makes Tony so great. He can recognize that and make the moves that he did.

Q. How much better is Jon Jay now than he was maybe towards the end of last season or in April? And also, did that catch the other night remind you of anyone?
CHRIS CARPENTER: Yeah, actually it did. It was a great catch. He's been playing great all year. I'm happy for him to get the opportunity where he's at, what he's doing to show how talented he is, another guy that works his butt off every day, has his program, has his routine, sticks to it, listens, pays attention and works hard. I saw him playing years ago, I won't be able to recall which year it was, I don't know if it was '07 or '08 when I was rehabbing my elbow down in Florida, and he was with the Florida State League team, and he was the same there. He did the same things. He was prepared. I remember him asking me questions about how I pitched certain guys and why I would do that, and he's always wanting to learn, and he was just like that little -- just the quiet guy sitting in the back corner listening and paying attention and just waiting for his chance to shine. I really believe that he's going to be a really star player, really good player for a long time to come, just because of his passion for baseball.

Q. You talked about the familiarity you had with the Brewers team. You go from that to not having seen Texas in seven years. Does that favor the pitching in this series?
CHRIS CARPENTER: I don't know. I really don't. I don't know if when you're dealing with two powerful lineups like we have if there's in favor of anything. You've got to go out again, and we'll come up with a game plan, and you've got to make pitches. It's who's going to be able to execute the most, and not only that, but hopefully when you make good quality executed pitches, these guys, that are obviously really good hitters, don't do damage with them. They're supposed to do damage with the ones that aren't good. You've got to keep them off the ones that are good and do the best you can and see what happens.

Q. I was wondering, given what you've gone through in your career both performance-wise and health-wise, when you get to a point in the season where there's so much on the line and you're faced with an ouch or something more than that, to what extent do you allow yourself to protect yourself? I'm not saying anything serious is wrong, but to what degree do you think of your own self interest in a situation like this, or is it totally off the table?
CHRIS CARPENTER: I've worked too hard to put myself in any situation or any risk where I'm going to do any damage to myself. I've gotten to the point where if I shouldn't go out there, I'm not going to go out there. It's too important to me, it's too important to my team. I'm fine, okay? I promise. I'm fine.

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