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October 23, 2011

Chris Carpenter


Q. You guys were 10 1/2 games back late August. My understanding is one of the things that happened is there was a team meeting where Octavio said you spoke out and he was very impressed with what you said. Can you talk about that meeting and what happened after it?
CHRIS CARPENTER: You know, I've answered this a few different times.

Q. Sorry.
CHRIS CARPENTER: That's all right. We just weren't playing well. We didn't look good when we were playing, and it wasn't just me that felt that there was something that needed to be said. There was a few other people, and we just decided to talk. We had a great meeting. Some guys spoke up. It was about continuing to play hard, doing the best we can.
At that time Milwaukee was doing their thing with their 20-something and whatever they were. We had just got swept by the Dodgers, and we were 10 1/2 and a half back from Atlanta, and there was just a lot of angst in what was going on in our clubhouse with the race, with our team, and the expectations of what we had and where we came from. We didn't want to lose those expectations, even though everybody had written us off. We might not catch Milwaukee, we might not catch Atlanta, but let's go ahead and do everything we can to, one, not embarrass ourselves because we have a great ballclub, and we have a great group of guys that were having a lot of fun together. Let's not embarrass our coaches that worked their butts off to help us win. Let's not embarrass our organization and our fans. Let's go at least make it look respectful.
And that was it. A few other guys spoke, and we started playing better.

Q. When you get to the postseason like this and you face a team twice in the matter of a few days, and even each one of your starts there's probably more scouting going on than normal, but how much do you have to look at what you do first time around and change things? And the other thing I wondered about is starting pitchers are creatures of habit, and you get to the postseason like this and you're doing this multiple times before your starts, and every one of your starts lately is the biggest game of your career, which was the biggest game of your career before. I just wondered if that's relevant and if you have to reboot emotionally or anything for each one of these.
CHRIS CARPENTER: No, I mean, I don't. The one thing about this stuff and the creature-of-habit stuff, to be honest with you, I'd much rather do this all season long, be able to talk to whoever we need to talk to one time and then move on, than have to continue answering all kinds of different questions throughout the week leading up to your start.
This stuff doesn't bother me. It's a little distraction, but as professionals, that's what you learn how to handle. You learn how to handle distractions, simplify it and go make pitches; that's what it's all about.
Facing them back to back, I think if you're talking about a ballclub that we face 16 times a year and it's all of a sudden three weeks in a row I'm facing Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, something like that, it might have a little relevance. But not against a ballclub that, one, hasn't seen me a whole lot or I haven't seen them a whole lot, too. You won't go back -- I know what I did. I remember what I did. I know pitches that I got guys out on. I know pitches that guys got hit. I know the reasons why they did.
Like I've said all along, and I've always said this and I always will: You execute, you'll get outs. You don't, you won't. We saw that last night when the guys kept the ball down, worked ahead in the count, and threw quality pitches down in the strike zone and we got outs, and so did they. When the ball got elevated in the middle of the plate or you fell behind, they started launching balls everywhere. You make good pitches, you'll get outs.

Q. How much do you feel or do you believe in the perception that how you do in the postseason defines who you are, and do you think that that's a fair thing?
CHRIS CARPENTER: No, not at all. I don't think it defines who you are. I think what defines who you are is, one, the consistency you put in day in and day out as a professional, and two, how you go about your business on and off the field. That defines who you are. Postseason is just at a different level. I think the guys that are successful maybe might be a little more relaxed and able to deal with the distractions that I am talking about a little better because there is a lot of them. But I don't think that it should define -- if you scuffle in the postseason, it shouldn't define what type of player you are. That could just be that series. There's times throughout the year where guys go through slumps or don't pitch well. So yeah, I don't think it should define it at all.

Q. When you take the mound tomorrow, it could be the World Series-clinching game or it could be that the series is tied at two apiece. Will that have a bearing on your game plan in terms of who you might attack and who you might pitch around? Game-plan-wise would it be different whether it's tied or whether it's the clincher?
CHRIS CARPENTER: No, I'm going out to do the best I can to give my team a chance to win no matter what game it is. I do that in every game and see what happens. If it's 2-2, hopefully I can go out and do a good enough job to keep those guys off balance and off base and don't give up a bunch of runs, and our guys can score runs, and we go home 3-2. If it's the clincher, same thing, hopefully I can go out and do the best I can to give us a chance and hopefully we can win it.

Q. I believe you threw about 87 pitches the last time out. Did you notice in your between-starts work do you have a little more in the tank because of that? And did your elbow bark at all?
CHRIS CARPENTER: No, I felt fine, and the pitch count situation isn't -- it doesn't matter if you throw -- I believe it doesn't matter if you throw 120 or 80, whatever, it's the quality of pitches and the difficulty of stressful pitches that you throw. There wasn't a whole lot of stressful pitches for me. It was a battle, but I was able to get through it pretty well, and I feel fine. I felt great throughout the last few days.

Q. As somebody that's played with Albert for a long time now, can you speak to how great a performance that was last night, and what it's been like to play with him day in and day out for this many years and all the things he's done.
CHRIS CARPENTER: Another guy that when you talk about postseason, you talk about the differences in the postseason and defining who you are and what you are. If you can simplify what's going on, it makes it that much easier. If you're relaxed and continue about your business just like it's any other day, then that's what it is. That's what Albert does. That's what makes him so consistent and so good. Not only just his talent, but the way he takes and approaches every single game and every single day.
I've been very fortunate, I've said many times, to watch this guy go out there and compete for the last nine years. It's unfortunate to him at times because that's what his expectation -- that's what he is expected to do, and I said last night that I was in the clubhouse before the game was over, and I said, you know what, this was truly as great of a year as Albert has had. There's only a few of us besides the coaches that have been around him as long as I have, and this is -- last night was truly an Albert Pujols night, that I've seen multiple times, no matter if it's April, June. Fortunately for us it was Game 3 of the World Series. But he's done this many times.
Those nights that you can just tell he sees every pitch, and when he does, he's not going to miss it and he hits it a mile. You can see it in his batting practice. I mentioned about his batting practice to someone, he does a couple bunts and his first swing he centers and hits 450 feet to the right of the visitors' bullpen out there. You can just see it in him, and you can see when his swing is going the way it's supposed to go. And it's been so much fun watching him play, and I think the reason why he has the nights like he did last night, especially in situations like last night, is because he is able to eliminate those distractions, those extra things, and just continue to prepare the way you're supposed to prepare for every game.

Q. Is there any alteration in your between-start routine pertaining to side work? And having pitched here before how big an element is this ballpark in a game compared to what we're used to seeing -- right field comes into play a little more here than other places. How much do you factor that into a game?
CHRIS CARPENTER: First question, no, I haven't changed anything.
And the ballpark, I have pitched here before. When I was with Toronto, I was a different pitcher, first of all, than I am now. And second of all, you go back to just another distraction. If you keep the ball down, it's hard to hit home runs when they hit it on the ground. If you pitch the ball up and let them get it in the air, they're going to do damage. Right field is no different than Milwaukee. I don't think it's any different than Cincinnati. I don't think it's any different than left field in Arizona. I mean, it's just -- you don't pitch to a ballpark, you pitch to your game plan, and if you don't execute and get it up, they'll hit it out. That's the bottom line.

Q. Is the anomaly of this postseason with starting pitching just something that's going on in this postseason? Obviously the Giants all pitched deep last year, you and Halladay came up in a different era and you pitched deep against him. But the Rangers, their starting pitching, they've used four pitchers at least in every game since the start of the ALCS. Is that just this year or something going on in pitching that you see long-term?
CHRIS CARPENTER: I don't know. I'm saying it's probably just this year because there's a lot of guys that had some really nice, dominant years throughout the season. Maybe it's just that time of year and guys are wearing down. I'm not sure. But I don't see any crazy thing for the future. I just think some guys haven't pitched well. I mean, I didn't pitch well in Game 2 against Philly, I didn't pitch great against Milwaukee. I was fortunate to get some key pitches and get some key outs in key situations.
I just think it's one of those things because they're very talented. The kid that threw for them last night has got great stuff. The guy that I faced has really great stuff. Our guys got great stuff and pitched well all year long. I think it's just one of those things.

Q. You mentioned that your game plan won't change tomorrow regardless of what the situation is, but do you anticipate a different night of sleep if you've got a chance to clinch the World Series tomorrow, a different set of nerves beforehand the night before in anticipation of the game?
CHRIS CARPENTER: Yeah, not really. Again, this whole ride has been a lot of fun for every single guy in that clubhouse. Going into the last day of the season against Houston, going into Game 5 against Philly, and then hopefully if we win tonight, I'll get a chance to clinch tomorrow. It's an exciting day if you get that situation. That game going in against Doc was one of the most exciting days going into it just because of all the hype. But it's how you deal with it.
Like I've said all along, there's all kinds of distractions. If you can't get rid of them, you're not going to be able to be successful. If I'm fortunate enough to have the opportunity to pinch in a clinching game tomorrow, you treat it like another game. If I go out there and say, oh man, it's the clincher, I gotta do something different and try a little harder, I've got no shot. So you deal with it just like any other game.

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