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October 10, 2004

Tony La Russa


KATY FEENEY: Questions for Tony LaRussa.

Q. Same lineup tonight?

TONY LaRUSSA: No. We have Suppan pitching (laughter).

Q. Other than Suppan, is it the same lineup tonight?

TONY LaRUSSA: No. Against a lefty, we move Edgar to five, Jimmy to six. Like Game 1.

Q. What encouragement did you take from Rolen's at-bats yesterday, the hard fouls and the liner to center?

TONY LaRUSSA: Well, you know, I used the word, I saw somebody else use it, too, I think a lot of us that were watching that know him, keep saying "close". I think he's really close. You know, we didn't do a whole lot of damage with the other seven guys. I mean, you know, Lima pitched a good game. I think Scott, every time he gets another game and more at-bats, he's more like himself. That's one thing about the post-season, like JD Drew today, one swing of the bat, you make a contribution. Scott's there. He's ready.

Q. Do you anticipate the Dodgers being a tough team to close out, having seen the way they played this year?

TONY LaRUSSA: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. I said at the beginning of the series, I think we have a lot of things in common. We have respect for them. It will be a tough series to win. The one thing that I like about our chances tonight, just like last night, we've been really good on the road. We really tuned the crowd out. I think the crowd will be really good for the Dodgers, but it's not going to have an effect on our club.

Q. Do you enjoy more the emphasis on the importance of one game in the playoffs or the 162-game season?

TONY LaRUSSA: I think the importance of these games stands alone because it's the post-season, you're playing to win the big prize. These are more enjoyable. During the season, you know, it's 162 games. A lot of times all of the coaching staff, managers, you've got the games that you just played, the ones you're going to play. You know, you're factoring in a bunch of stuff. Here you let it all hang out. I think this is more enjoyable.

Q. During the post-season when you use more or less a set lineup, how difficult does it get for Cedeno, Mabry, when their appearances are stretched out more?

TONY LaRUSSA: Well, the post-season is different that way because you really are going to utilize the core of your club more. That doesn't mean you make a switch back and forth. It depends on what kind of club you have. There are some clubs where you routinely mess around with a spot or two. I see the Dodgers are doing the same thing we are. But we really feel that it was a plus we picked up coming into October, the last two, three weeks of the season, all those guys really played a lot. Luna, Molina, Mabry, Taguchi, Anderson, they got a lot of at-bats there at the end. It hasn't been that long ago that they've had at-bats. I think if it came down to a bench game today, we'd have a terrific chance.

Q. Sort of a special appearance for Jeff Suppan, being home for the first time in post-season. Do you have any concerns about him being too hyped?

TONY LaRUSSA: First of all, I hope he is hyped, because that's the attitude he should have. You just work to control it. If he's not hyped, we've got the wrong guy pitching. I'm a great believer in half full and half empty. I mean, yesterday we got beat, tipped our cap to the Dodgers. It wasn't going to be easy, it's never going to be easy. But one thing that's happening that's good for our club is that if we can win this first round and go to the next one, maybe go to the next one, Jeff Suppan is going to be a part of it. Half full is that he will get a post-season start. This is very good for us. It's an opportunity for him. You know, I'm anxious to send him out there, see what he's going to do.

Q. What have you liked about him that has made him so successful on the road?

TONY LaRUSSA: The on the road thing is just like the home thing, except that if you have success someplace, you do pick up a psychological edge. But he pitched well at home. What we like about Jeff is he's very consistent in coming to the park and working every day, the way he gets ready to take the responsibility as starting pitcher. As Duncan defines him, he's a pitch-maker. He's got three fast balls, he's got two breaking balls, he's got a change-up. He's really got seven, eight pitches that you might see. That's what he's going to do today. He's like almost nobody in this league. If he throws a ball down the middle, it's going to get hit. If he throws it on the edges, keeps mixing it up like he has most of the year, he'll do well.

Q. In matching wits with a guy like Jim Tracy, what do you like about him as a manager?

TONY LaRUSSA: The whole deal. I mean, I watched him spring training. We played the Dodgers. I've known him as a coach. The most important thing you do during the game is put the guys in right situations for them to play, it's a players' game. I see Jim runs an outstanding game. The other thing you do is before the game, you create an atmosphere where the guys get ready to play and they care about the outcome. I think ever since the first day he showed up here, they've been very competitive. They had a couple tough losses late in the season. This year they pulled it off. So I think he's very complete as a manager. The game will not be decided tonight because Jim doesn't do his job.

Q. You guys have done a good job on shutting down Beltre. Has there been a consistent theme to doing that and how important is it?

TONY LaRUSSA: Well, I mean, he's had a great year. You know, they've got a lot of damage right in the middle of their lineup. You know, it would be -- I'd love to win this series and then answer that question. But as long as we haven't won the series and he's still taking serious at-bats tonight... You know, for both sides, if good pitchers make real good pitches, it's tough to center it. That's how you see some of these outs being made by outstanding pitchers on both sides.

End of FastScripts...

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