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October 9, 2004

Tony La Russa


KATY FEENEY: We'll go ahead and take questions for Tony LaRussa.

Q. Same lineup tonight?

TONY LaRUSSA: Yeah. I mean, like Game 2, where you just switch Jim and Edgar. But the same eight guys are playing.

Q. What do you think makes Lima tick and what impresses you about him?

TONY LaRUSSA: Well, I think he's a good competitor. In the end, if you have stuff, and you forget you're trying to get guys out and help your team win, you're not very special. This is a competition. Same thing with hitters. You got a beautiful swing. If you don't try to win the competition against the pitcher, you're not a very good hitter. So he competes. He has an excellent off-speed pitch. His change-up, he uses his fastball, moves around the zone. So, you know, he keeps you off balance. He's a good pitcher and a good competitor.

Q. This is only Matt's second appearance in about 20 days. What are your thoughts about that?

TONY LaRUSSA: Well, we're excited to see him out there. I think he's physically and mentally ready to, you know, give us a shot to win. So, I mean, other than just hurry up and get the game started, see how Lima looks, see how Matt looks. But I know physically and mentally he's ready to go.

Q. How unusual has it been to just play every other day for the last week?

TONY LaRUSSA: Well, I think we've had some experience with that since we've been in St. Louis. It seems like we've used this formula at least a couple other times. I can't remember exactly.

Q. San Diego?

TONY LaRUSSA: For sure, San Diego. Was Atlanta that way, too, maybe? You know, it's unusual. But it's unusual for both of us. Seems like you're stop/start. It's the same rule. It affects us both the same way.

Q. What is your take on what Houston has done in the Atlanta series?

TONY LaRUSSA: Well, I thought today was, you know, an important game for Atlanta it looked like because I see they're going to pitch Clemens and Oswalt. That's a tough break, you lose your starting pitcher in the first inning. So Byrd has to come in there. But Atlanta is relentless. Jones' home run... I think it's a really interesting series. I think both clubs play the game well. Houston's got an important edge now. Win one of the next two.

Q. How important is Jeff Suppan to you this year? If you do win tonight, what are your plans for him in the NLCS?

TONY LaRUSSA: Well, he's a pitcher that's done exactly what his career has said. He's been very, very consistent in every way. Every day at the park, every day he pitches, he looks exactly the same. Sometimes when he's out of whack, he's a little bit different. But as far as mentally, he's into it. He's been very solid, very consistent. His road record is one of those crazy stats, because he's looked good at home, too. You know, just not going to think about the Championship Series as long as we have to win another game in the Division Series. He's ready to go again tomorrow.

Q. Dodgers don't have a lot of big names but they've shown a lot of resiliency this year. Talk about that and their comeback win?

TONY LaRUSSA: I only agree with half of what you say. I definitely think they've been resilient. And that's why, you know, we're pushing so hard against them. If we get a lead, we're going to try to keep trying to add. Today, you know, we're taking the game just to give it our very best shot because we know how resilient they are, whether it's getting ready to play every day or all nine innings. But, you know, they've got some names over there. I think they got quite a few big names, and a couple, like the shortstop, is goings going to be a big name very soon. Like I said at the beginning of the series, I think we have a lot of things that are similar, and we have terrific respect for them and concern about today's game. That's why we're anxious to play and see what happens.

Q. When you put Larry in the second hole, did you have any conversation with him, or did you think his skills would just translate to that spot?

TONY LaRUSSA: No, we had a conversation. For one thing, I wanted him to understand how welcome he was. He's mentioned a couple of guys called him to try to convince him. But a guy like Scott immediately volunteered to leave the four hole. We've seen him. He can hit anywhere in that lineup and he'd be solid. But in the second spot, yeah, there's a lot of pluses that he brings, and I think it was reasonable to talk to him about just get on base in front of the other guys. Tony is on base, take advantage of them worrying about him. Got the hole open. All that stuff that he brings to your lineup. Turn that pitcher around. I mean, lineup turns around, there he is sitting in the second spot. Yeah, we talked about it because, I mean, I'm looking around. There's quite a few guys using that second spot that way. It's a weapon.

Q. Is everybody available for you tonight?

TONY LaRUSSA: Well, I think a guy like Jason Marquis will be available tomorrow, not available today. Would hesitate to use Haren, threw 30 some pitches, a day rest. If it meant the difference in winning and losing and I knew we were going to win if we used him, I think he'd be available. But I doubt, unless it's one of those games.

Q. How has Scott Rolen's calf responded to these two games?

TONY LaRUSSA: I think he's encouraged how he feels. He's not a hundred percent. Use that word "playable," that's what he is. He had that big scare in the first game when he scored from first base. He hasn't gone backwards. I think he's sore, but I think he's all right.

Q. For you is Rolen's calf a bigger issue than his ankle or is it all the same?

TONY LaRUSSA: No, I think his calf's the issue. I mean, that's the thing that's going to restrict him. You worry about him, you know, making a bad move and tweaking it or doing worse.

KATY FEENEY: Thank you, Tony.

TONY LaRUSSA: Thank you.

End of FastScripts...

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