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September 30, 2002

Tony La Russa


Q. Can you tell us your starting lineup?

TONY LaRUSSA: Vina, Marrero, Edmonds, Pujols in left, Rolen, Renteria at short, Martinez at first, Metheny catching and Morris pitching. It's nice to have that kind of success on the bench in case we get bases loaded and no outs or something, one out. But I think Tino will have good swings and he's going to play great defense.

Q. Is there any sense of an emotional edge?

TONY LaRUSSA: Well, I think you always look at it from both sides. There's no doubt that our club has gained strength from Darryl and Jack. I also think there's no doubt that the Diamondbacks will gain their strength from other places and I don't think there will be any kind of an emotional edge. I think both clubs will be very ready to play.

Q. Do you feel that you have any psychological edge after beating them up last week?

TONY LaRUSSA: I'd look at it as it was us that came in here and lost three games. The history of a short series is that everything gets put in the past and it's all about the series you're playing and who plays the best for three out of the five games. You can never draw anything from what happened, whether you lost two and 14 or vice versa. It's just a brand new series. They will have their pitchers and we'll have our pitchers and hitters. I think it's just literally dead-even. I wish I'm wrong on that. I wouldn't mind taking a couple edges there, but I just don't think they exist.

Q. Do you have any update on Woody Williams, and will he be able to start Game 3?

TONY LaRUSSA: He'll be throwing here within the half hour. I think it's going to go well and we expect him to start Game 3.

Q. Was this one of the most challenging seasons you've faced?

TONY LaRUSSA: Well, I never really -- I think it was one of the most challenging seasons that we faced as a team. I think much of the stuff that has happened on the field or with the team on the baseball side, is typical of clubs; they win or lose. The only little difference is usually when your pitching -- it's the thing that gets beat up, you usually don't overcome that. You can get position players beat up and you can still win. I mean, it's -- I don't know, what's the right word? To get wins in the 90s with the pitching issues that we have, means that a lot of guys stepped up. I think our catchers did a really great job. I think Duncan, Marty, that's a little bit unusual. You usually don't get this many wins when you have pitching issues. Now the other stuff, the personal side, that was -- I hope no club has to go through that because that was really, really difficult. I think our club is very special for handling it, but I think other clubs who were challenged would have done it too, but just we had to do it.

Q. Can you give us your 25-man roster right now?

TONY LaRUSSA: Officially, I'd rather not because I know we have a meeting scheduled. I don't think there's any surprises in our roster, but officially, we have not met to name them, but I think we have a really good idea that the 25 are going to be guys that you that you would expect.

Q. Is there anything that you plan on doing that you would not normally do against Randy Johnson, and how does your club stack up against him?

TONY LaRUSSA: I remember when -- he's a different pitcher now than he was then, for one. And, you know, we faced him once or twice each year for the last four or five years. We've used a combination of different guys. It really depends on who you've got in a situation at the time. We've thrown right-handers at them before. With the guys that we have now, our left-handers hang in there real good against left-handers. The way Randy is, he's just as tough against a left-handed hitter. He's not even easier against right-handers. I think he's just different. With the guys we have now, we're going to start three left-handers.

Q. Does it help that you've got to play your best against him?

TONY LaRUSSA: Going out Tuesday, I don't care who you are, if you're a really outstanding pitcher and you have everything working that day, it's tough to score runs. It doesn't mean you can't beat them. It means that you pitch really good against him and find a way to scrape. We will have eight tough outs in that lineup, and you have to play the game. So we just have to play the game, and I know that this year, if you look at some of the outstanding starters that we competed against and found a way to win the game, I think we have a real chance.

Q. 12 pitches versus 11 pitchers, what's the difference?

TONY LaRUSSA: Well, I think if you're being honest, which you're supposed to be, one of the beauties of the post-season that that you don't need the extra pitching and you will take the extra player. Is that going to make any difference? Since we don't have the extra player, I hope not. We have an advantage, if there is one; that's been our formula all year long. We've played 162 games -- I shouldn't say the month of September, more than that, but we played for five months with five position players on the bench. Sure, in the post-season you would like to have that extra hitter versus pitcher, but maybe, we might have caught a break that way, too. If we had our druthers, we would go 11 and 14, but with the question with Woody, maybe we'll be glad we had that extra pitcher. Who knows?

Q. The three-man rotation for the Diamondbacks, does that work to their advantage or does it not make a difference?

TONY LaRUSSA: Our big attitude is take care of our best competitive chance, not theirs. There are things in that set-up that work for us in a positive way, as well. So, such as, if he is not as healthy as he's been all season -- so every time he has a day off, that makes him available more than he might have been. I can dream up some more if I have to. The big thing -- that's the schedule and we are not going to take any negatives from our point of view. Does it help them? That's them.

Q. Can you talk about how Andy Benes has been since he's come back and what role he will play?

TONY LaRUSSA: He's going to be like a poster man for the 2002 season because he has really been an example of the kind of heroics that we've had, especially when we needed him the most. Andy, the way he's pitched -- yeah, what's so deceptive to me is in the last week or ten days, the race has gotten away. But we had a real good situation with Houston up until a couple of weeks ago. The reason we were holding our own there was Andy, for a big part of it, because when you lose Woody like we did, our rotation was hurting. Andy has stepped up so huge that that I don't know what would have happened in the last two weeks, but I know that to get to a competitive point, he was really important. What happens now, he did get a little tweaked yesterday in his five innings and he -- he would not be available for Saturday, anyway. So I think we just play the first two or three games and know that we've got a special, special case there that, whether it's coming in behind somebody or starting a game we want to start, we'll be ready.

Q. What did he hurt?

TONY LaRUSSA: His side or back or something. It's kind of hard to pick.

Q. You guys seem to have some success against Schilling. How do you feel about that?

TONY LaRUSSA: Well, when I see replays of the Cardinals against Curt Schilling, I see a heck of a lot more replays of Game 1 and Game 5 than of our regular-season games. I think he and Randy, I think they are great pitchers and it's neat to compete against somebody that good. I also believe that your chance against them is for a quality lineup, to make every at bat as tough as it can be and that's what we are going to try to do. We're here to win, so we're going to find a way to break through. But we know how great he is.

Q. Earlier, Bob Brenly mentioned he would pitch Batista in Game 3 versus Helling. Would you -- how do you feel about that?

TONY LaRUSSA: That just makes a point: People that know their club the best are the people that are there, and Bob knows his club better than anybody. Batista is a unique talent. This guy has been unique for a while. He has a good arm and all of the sudden, he has versatility; short reliever, middle reliever, starter. He won the series against us as much as anybody by pitching so well in Game 3, the one at our place. Unfortunately for us, I think that's a real good choice, but he's going to face the same thing that Randy and Curt are: We're going to have eight guys, maybe nine counting the pitcher, that are going to be making them work for every out.

Q. In a league where pitchers have to hit, how do you feel with pitchers like Mark and Dennis and Williams hitting and running to first?

TONY LaRUSSA: That's a good example of an issue that does not set up as well this post-season as last year. Last year, we had Woody and Matt swinging and running. I don't like Matt running now, and I'm not sure I don't like Woody swinging and Andy -- even with Chuck. It's a little edge against us.

Q. Can you go back to early in the season with Tino Martinez and was there more pressure on him for taking over for Mark?

TONY LaRUSSA: I don't think that Mark was a factor. I think what the factor was -- he's a very conscientious guy and he signed a three-year contract. He wanted to make a mark, I think. Besides trying too hard, you add in some adjustments -- I saw the at bats. There were times that he would -- he would think he would get a fastball to hit and he would swing and somebody would throw him a breaking ball. He's settled more as the season has gone on. He's had a very respectable season. Now that he's gone around the League a couple times, he's made adjustments much better than others. The other thing that we noted, even the first month or two when he wasn't as productive as he wanted to be, there were several times that the game was really on the line and you saw his at bat improve and you could see that he had those championship qualities in him. That's why it would be fine with me if it comes down to him taking a bunch of at bats here this October, because the more the game was on the line, the better he concentrated, whether he saw the pitch or not or whether he was pressing. He just simplified it and he had a good at bat.

Q. You had very high praise for Matt Morris at this time last year. How has he progressed since then, especially in light of what's happened this year?

TONY LaRUSSA: That's a very good question because here again, when I think about our club and you just mentioned Andy, I think Matt is a perfect example of a guy last year who was -- moved into the upper echelon of pitchers. I'm sitting here thinking about his pitching, or his struggles on the road; he's upper-echelon stuff. Started that way this year. He took a savage hit when Darryl died. It was tough him to put it all back together and I think he has shown a lot of great qualities to do it. Now all of a sudden, he hurts his hamstring, but he's physically fit for tomorrow. The only thing you wish, you wish he had eight or ten starts this way rather than four. But he is physically fit. He is a stallion. We'll be proud of him tomorrow.

End of FastScripts�.

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