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October 13, 2002

Tony La Russa


Q. How can a five-and-a-half-year-old make 25 men better?

TONY LA RUSSA: Well, it just reminds us of the 30-year-old that was part of the family. In his own right, he's such a neat young man. He says the neatest things. When you're on the bench, I bet you half the guys didn't know the score; I ask him the score and he said 2-1. He's a great young man, he's a great kid, comes from great parents.

Q. Matt Morris talked about what he went through after losing Darryl, losing weight and not sleeping well. What did you guys see from him at that time and what did you do to help get him back on track?

TONY LA RUSSA: Well, you just try to be compassionate. That's not something that you can pull a trick on or get on his case and tell him that he's wrong for feeling this. It's a very close relationship. He felt it deeply and everything he was doing was sincere. I do think that taking the All-Star Break freshened him up a little bit. When you have a really significant relationship and something like that happens you're going to be affected.

Q. Did it affect Matt in any different way than anybody else on the team?

TONY LA RUSSA: I think in most ways it affected everybody the same because Darryl was very close to everybody. But I think there was a couple of extra connections there. They were locker mates. Darryl could see Matt like he was: A young talented pitcher, and Darryl was kind of a mentor. I know Matt was looking to Darryl for some of the points that made him better and better. So, it was a very -- in that case he was closer in a couple of ways than anybody else, but that would be kind of an injustice not to characterize Darryl's relationship as close with everybody; he was just that kind of guy.

Q. What are you doing for your lineup today?

TONY LA RUSSA: Exactly the same except a different pitcher.

Q. Is it difficult to leave Cairo out of your lineup?

TONY LA RUSSA: Well, you definitely think about it because he has been huge. But he's got that same ability off our bench and a lot of games are decided by somebody to come up there, and in his case, he starts a rally, keeps it going or finishes it. So, tomorrow against Rueter, might he play? Good chance. Yesterday, definitely we wanted to play Eli, didn't think he was going to hit a home run, but I just thought his defense was important in this park. Cairo, whether he starts or he's off the bench, we just feel like he can help us win.

Q. The 12 outs your bullpen had to get yesterday, who do you have available today? Is everybody ready?

TONY LA RUSSA: Well, Veres and Steve Kline had a couple of days off, so they were definitely ready. Mike will be ready today. White, one hitter, he'll be ready. I think Izzy, when he reaches back for an extra nowadays, he gets a little achy. But my guess is that he would be available in the ninth inning but not before that. I guess the only guy I would concern myself a little bit with is Izzy, but if we have a chance to win, I feel like if he cranks it up he'll be ready to go.

Q. Do you look at Matt's Game 1 start as an aberration, nerves? How do you think he will recover?

TONY LA RUSSA: Well, I saw the term "nerves." I don't know whether he actually said it or whatever. I just think that, you know, Matt is a high-energy type guy, and when he comes into a game, he's got an aggressive mentality. You can see that, June 1, if it's a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday afternoon get-away day, he gets himself ready to go. What he's learned to do more and more is to collect himself and kind of amp down a little bit. It's just in that game, it got away from him early, and what happens with guys like that, a lot of times, they get by that first inning and they settle in a little bit. Santiago's ball, maybe he gets that out, second thing, maybe it's a little different. I don't think Matt did anything different in that game than Arizona. He just didn't get into the flow of the game in time.

Q. What's Rolen's situation today?

TONY LA RUSSA: Same as yesterday in the sense that he's working indoors so. That means if he's not doing things on the field, he's not close yet.

Q. Before the series, you kind of tried to bait Bonds into expanding his zone. Were you still surprised that in the ninth that his ego does not get the better of him and he tries to swing at some of those pitches?

TONY LA RUSSA: Well, I'm actually offended when I hear stuff like "baiting." That's an offensive word to me. It's just like I read that someplace over the years, psychological tricks -- I try to be honest in my comments. I think sometimes, I don't want to react too much the other way and don't answer any questions. I honestly said that what we do is treat dangerous hitters on the edges. And that's how we treat them. I wasn't trying to get Barry -- Barry can do anything he wants to. But I just said, you treat dangerous guys on the edge, and sometimes, if the guys want to participate, we're happy to talk about Barry Bonds. We had the same conversation about Sammy Sosa, did we not, Mr. Rogers? Same conversation if you play against Piazza. Same conversation if you go to Houston and talk about Berkman. If you want to participate in some situations, you've got to expand the zone. Mark had to do it. All of the dangerous hitters had to do it. It wasn't playing any games. It's just being honest. If he takes the at-bats he wants to take -- just like with Mark, it sets up more base runners for other people. I was just being honest.

End of FastScripts...

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