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October 1, 2002

Tony La Russa


KATY FEENEY: Questions for Tony LaRussa.

Q. Would you talk about the status of Woody and how that's evolved?

TONY LaRUSSA: He's not on the roster. That is one of the things we just hoped. When it first happened, we got him out right away, close to the time before where he pushed a little bit more, took an at-bat. We thought he would catch a break, he would heal. He was supposed to have a serious throw yesterday. Made about a dozen throws. It was obvious that there was no way he could get ready by Saturday, so we didn't want to take a chance.

Q. What it a reaggravation or was the current injury not well enough for him to move forward?

TONY LaRUSSA: He's had a couple episodes. It's not the same spot, but it's in the same area. Yesterday when he should have felt - let me get my days straight - I think it was maybe Saturday or Sunday in St. Louis, he felt really good after he just played catch. When he got on the mound, made that downward move, he could feel something in there.

Q. Can you elaborate on Stephenson being placed on your roster? You had a number of candidates.

TONY LaRUSSA: Choices are Jamey, Gabe and Garrett. With taking Andy now, he's starting, better than Gabe, for example. Garrett, he hasn't pitched much this year, given us some good innings when he pitched. We think we can use him in a situation, he's not going to spook, he'll make some pitches.

Q. What do you see as Stephenson's role?

TONY LaRUSSA: If our starter goes deep in the game, it's a normal relief in the game, he's not the guy you would choose. We have other relievers, that's what they do normally. I think he would be flexible. I mean, if it just turned out you wanted to bring him in for a one-hitter, I think he could go after him, get him out. If you had to guess, he's probably an innings guy, a couple, three, whatever.

Q. How confident are you that Andy can go in the game, and would Jason be your next up?

TONY LaRUSSA: Good question. I don't know that confidence is what I feel. Backs, they're notorious. I just think he's going to get great treatment, do everything he can. There is a period of time, five full days' rest. If he can't go, Jason will get the ball.

Q. Fernando Vina and his placement at the top of the order, is that what he's accustomed to?

TONY LaRUSSA: He's had spurts where he's been normal, swung the bat well, gotten on base, then he had a couple of sluggish periods. You know, we started playing better the last month or six weeks; he was in the middle of a lot of that stuff. He really picked his game up at the end. He's coming into these playoffs with a lot of confidence, swinging well.

Q. Can you describe Edgar's assets as a player and is he beginning to take his place among the elite shortstops?

TONY LaRUSSA: He's been around a while. People forget he's only 27 years old. He's played the best overall shortstop in our league, in my opinion. From the first day of spring training, he's really dedicated himself. He's in good shape, worked hard on his defense, kept his legs. He's one of our best base runners. I mean, he's a classic winning player. He really gets turned on by a winning situation. He would love to be up there in the ninth inning with a chance to win it. He has a stroke to hit the ball out of the park, digs out tough pitches. When you put that together with just a terrific personality, I mean, he's everybody's favorite in there. Guys have a good time with him. He is really special.

Q. His ability to come through in the clutch, anything in particular you attribute that to?

TONY LaRUSSA: I think mentally he's really into the winning thing. He really gets turned on by games, making a play, getting at bat. When he takes the at bat, you know, he's got a real high average stroke. I remember a game the other day, hit a ball down the third baseline to win it, Sunday he hit it down the right field line to win it. He can hit sinkers down at the end. He's got a good high average stroke that has a lot of field coverage and handles different pitches. When you put that with his attitude, I mean, he's a tough out.

Q. What kind of impact has Tino Martinez had getting ready for the series the last few days?

TONY LaRUSSA: I wouldn't distinguish the last few days. I mean, even when he's struggled, he never lost the focus of what we were trying to do. He was always speaking positive things about our chances. As the season got going, you could see him rise to the occasion more and more and more. I mean, he's got the benefit of being in this thing, been successful. He's talking all the right things.

End of FastScripts�.

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