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October 26, 2004

Tony La Russa


Q. Marquis has pitched a lot more innings this year than he has before, do you think this is affecting him because he's not been that effective of late?

TONY La RUSSA: That could be an issue, because that's new territory. If you believe him, then you've got to be careful, because he's one of those guys that has a hero complex. He's going to tell you he's ready to pitch. But he says he feels physically good. And I would think because he has had a couple of struggling starts, he really hasn't been extended lately, so he should be, for this time of year, as fresh as you can be.

Q. Do you believe in momentum of two wins or the momentum of that starting pitcher in that particular night?

TONY La RUSSA: Both. I believe that the club that is playing well goes in with some momentum, as long as they don't take things for granted. But I definitely believe the most important thing is the pitcher for each side, because you can go in feeling great, and the guy just stops you. So if you had to pick one, I'd pick the starting pitcher as the more important one.

Q. I'm just going to cut it dry for you, how long would you assume that you want to wait on this rain as it is right now for your team, knowing that you once you go you're two games behind, how long would you want to wait? You don't have any control over it to that point, but human nature, how long would you want to wait?

TONY La RUSSA: I think most players, if they are going to get a game rained out, they want it rained out early. If they're going to hang around, you wait for an hour, hour and a half, you'd just should play it, because you're already at the park, you've already lost a night. We had the off-day yesterday, I think everybody is ready to play. The only thing that would change that is if the conditions are really miserable and you really couldn't play a baseball game, and you just get through it. But I think the report is it's improving, and we want to play.

Q. How much have you seen Pedro (Martinez) in person, and why do you think the guy's been so special?

TONY La RUSSA: I haven't seen him much. Most times when he was in the American League, I was here -- in fact, 1996, my first home game that I ever managed, he pitched for Montreal. So I saw him during those years before he left the league. I saw him when we played last year. I saw him in Spring Training last year. I haven't really seen him much. I know he's got -- depending on how many fastballs you say he has, he has four outstanding ways to get hitters out. He's a Hall of Famer.

Q. Over the last 30 years you've been an innovator in this game, you've also been the one guy that has helped managers and coaches get more money in this game than anybody else, and yet you seem not to have gotten your props. Do you wonder why that is? Because as a reporter I do, and there's other people that do as well.

TONY La RUSSA: Honestly I respect you, but I think I've gotten more recognition than I really have wanted. I've gotten more attention than I've wanted. I know I was taught right and brought up right. This game is about the players. And the stories should be about how well they're playing. And it shouldn't be how well the hitting coach is doing, the pitching coach is doing or the manager. You just put guys in the right spot. I feel exactly the opposite of what you're saying. I feel I've gotten more attention and credit than I felt comfortable with.

Q. Along that line, do you feel like your players have gotten the recognition in this series that they perhaps have coming or has this turned into the saga of the Boston Red Sox against some team from the National League?

TONY La RUSSA: I believe that you get what you earn. If we had won two games in Fenway Park, I think everybody would be talking about how this club that led the regular season in wins is playing at a high level and can anybody stop them. They won the two games so they get the majority of the attention. I think they've earned it, they get it. It's up to us to get a game and get into this series.

Q. Do you think that the Cardinals are the most complete team that you ever managed?

TONY La RUSSA: It's the most complete Cardinal team, I would never compare it to the A's or White Sox. It would be a mistake to do that. We've had some good clubs here, but this one here I think had more ways to win a game than any of the others.

Q. You were talking about Jason's hero complex. Has that ever put you in position where you've had to rein him in, and if so, how do you rein in his enthusiasm?

TONY La RUSSA: That's a good question, because there's an old coaching thing about you don't ever want to coach aggressiveness and enthusiasm out of players; it's too important a quality. But the most important way you do it is you take the ball away from them. He's pitched 6, 7 innings and looked like he's done, and you tell him at the end of the inning, you're making a change, and he's begging you to go back out there, "I feel great, I feel great." And you have to make the decision and stick with it. If you think it's in his best interests or the game's. I never insult him because it's too important the way how excited he gets to compete.

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