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October 24, 2004

Tony La Russa


Q. When you take a look at the Red Sox roster, do you think that they seem well suited for National League play, National League style?

TONY La RUSSA: Good question. Yeah, I don't see why they wouldn't. I think probably the only thing that I saw where Terry (Francona) is going to play Ortiz at first; If he was incapable of playing defense, that would be a big blow to them. But yeah, I don't see any reason why they can't play there.

Q. I think last night was the highest-scoring Game 1 in series history and in addition to that I think there were 20-plus men left on base. Was it just one of those nights or do you think it's going to go like that the rest of the series?

TONY La RUSSA: Well, I didn't hear whether the pitchers said, sometimes comes off as an excuse, whether it's true or not. Sometimes when the conditions are like that, the balls are slick and they don't have feel. If that's what happened, there's a chance that that did happen, you're going to miss your location. Now, you can choose to miss it right over the middle of the plate or try to pitch to the edges and you're going to walk people. We walked a bunch and they walked almost as many. So I mean, the wind was blowing in. There were 20 runs scored. That's not supposed to happen. I think there was probably a grip problem, that's part of the answer.

Q. Speaking of walks, is David Ortiz kind of approaching a place where you might prefer to walk him, such as a Barry Bonds?

TONY La RUSSA: Well, what we try to do is identify how dangerous a hitter is, and it could be somebody that you wouldn't think but he's red hot at the time or might just assault the pitcher out there. Maybe hits .250 against everybody else and .350 against you, for whatever reason. If the guy is dangerous, you've got to pitch him like he's dangerous and you try to keep the ball out of the middle. You pitch to the corners but we don't like doing it. We did it with Barry Bonds, however, there's a lot of dangerous hitters in our league. We don't like telling our pitchers they are not good enough to get somebody out. So we are not telling any of our pitchers they are not good enough to get Ortiz or any of these Red Sox hitters. Yesterday there was a situation with Millar and we gave them an intentional walk because they had Varitek behind him. We're going to compete against everybody we can.

Q. How close of a call was Womack and what went into Anderson and some of your other choices at DH?

TONY La RUSSA: It was close enough to where even though I got a call from Barry in the morning that Tony felt ready to go, I didn't want to have to make the lineup and have to change it. So I kept it open until I saw Tony and talked to him. He said he can go, so he goes. If he had not, then Anderson was going to play second and we would have chosen somebody else. Anderson, he's played behind Schilling, he's had ten at-bats, and I think he's got the kind of legs and handle of the bat that maybe he can do something special if we want to try to manufacture.

Q. Have you mapped out your rotation beyond today in terms of Game 3 and Game 4?

TONY La RUSSA: Well, definitely. Jeff Suppan pitches Tuesday and we've got Marquis listed and I think he'll pitch Game 4. The only thing is that we also have Marquis listed in our right-hand relief side today because we used up Danny (Haren) and Matt (Morris) is going on three days' rest. If we need some innings, Marquis can pitch. But I think Marquis can pitch a little bit today and still start Game 4.

Q. Can you talk about the job that the closer for the Red Sox has done and what makes him so difficult to hit?

TONY La RUSSA: Well, I mean, I've followed him since I watched White Sox closely. He went to the Oakland club; I watch closely, the A's, so he's somebody we paid more attention to than other closers on other teams. He's come a long way. I think he's a high-quality closer and he's pitched in this situation here where a lot of times during the summer it's not an easy place to get three outs; the conditions favor the hitter. He's got a feel for pitching that's what you hear a lot about him. I think he kind of senses if the guy is looking in, away, looking for a change or whatever, he's smart and he's capable of making pitches. He moves his fastball around, he's got a good changeup. If you're a reliever and you have one great out pitch, you're good. If you've got two, you're better. And if you've got three, you know, you're as good as there is. So I think he's an outstanding closer and he's got at least -- probably he's got more than two, but he's got at least two pitches that he can get the same hitter out with in consecutive at-bats, which is real good for a closer.

Q. Your team played very well at home and on the road during the regular season, is there anything that you can read into right now, the disparity between your home and road record in the post-season? Is it a function of playing good teams or facing hot pitchers like Clemens and Lima?

TONY La RUSSA: Well, we lost the first road game, got shutout by Lima. The three games we lost to Houston in a tough environment with a hot club we had a chance to win all three games. 3-2 the first one and then it got too late, the other one, we had a chance. Yesterday we had a chance. So, I feel like we're a real good road club. We're ready to play. We're suited to play any kind of game anywhere. I think the No. 1 thing that, you know, we believe in challenging guys that are capable of handling it. Our big regular season was built as much on quality starts as anything, and here in the post-season, we have not had that six or seven innings where we could leave two or three of the relievers like it's the best way to go. So we feel like we need to challenge our starters to get deeper in the game and they will respond.

Q. What were the toughest things to swallow about yesterday's game other than the loss itself when you went back and replayed all of the situations?

TONY La RUSSA: Can we go to a commercial while I think about this one? (Laughter.) There was a lot of tough -- I don't know. What did you think was the toughest one? You guys pick one. I think there were a number of key moments there. I'd say, I don't know, there were a lot of them. I'll give you one that was -- I just told the people downstairs, you know, with the radio and TV, I had never had that happen. The grounds keeper came up and apologized for the bad hop on Womack. I've never had that happen. We were playing four or five steps in the dirt, we really weren't in and we had a chance to get a double play or throw the guy out at the plate, but the ball was hit very hard and it ate up -- a double play would have been a nice momentum thing for us. But there was so much in that game, you know, popping Scott (Rolen) up and striking out Edmonds, some really good pitching, I don't know. A game with that many opportunities and things, you know, if I had to pick one, the one -- just by the amount of cussing I did in the dugout, I would say probably the walk of Bellhorn by Calero in the seventh.

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