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October 9, 2001

Tony La Russa


Q. Would you talk about your roster composition with 12 pitchers?

TONY LaRUSSA: Well, I think if we're playing somebody else it would be 14-11, but we just looked at all the left-handers that they play in the starting lineup. They have three more on the bench. That's one factor, and then, secondly, we really would like to save Steve Kline to get that last opportunity in the eighth or be the guy that gets the chance to close it out in the 9th, so that takes him out using him in the sixth or the seventh, fifth, wherever, so in effect, you would be going against this left-handed looking lineup with Mike Matthews, and we didn't that was too smart, so we put Tabaka on and we didn't want to dump a right-hander. There wasn't a right-hander that we didn't think would help us, it's unusual for the playoffs. We played all year long with 12 pitchers, that means five bench players. Like I say, if we were playing Atlanta or Houston, we would not use that extra left-hander, but we're now playing Arizona.

Q. Would you talk about the decision to use McGwire today and how you plan to use him on the day off?

TONY LaRUSSA: We're concentrating on game one. I talked to him before the game yesterday and he pretty much -- if he didn't start he understood because guys like Paquette have done real well, but if he started he was ready to compete. I think he gives us an extra dimension. The other thing it does when you have five bench players, all five guys on our bench now, you know everybody has a premium because you only have five moves you make. And I planned that Paquette will get a start or two in this thing, but when he doesn't start it really helps us. Mac on the bench, you can't run with him, and he's a first baseman. This gives us more flexibility off the bench. Like anything else, I was talking to one of my coaches that I think is going to be managing one of these days. Whether it was the lineup move or pitching move during the game, it's a good decision, if you lose, somebody is going to say it was a bad decision. If it bothers you, do something else for a living. I like Mac today, and I'm thinking about running him against Randy tomorrow. I'm not sure -- that's not good.

Q. Would you talk about Woody Williams as a pitcher since he's joined your ball club, and as a teammate?

TONY LaRUSSA: I'll start as a teammate first. In one area there are comparisons to Will Clark. I do think there are similarities there. Anytime you bring somebody on your ball club like that and they're real excited about winning games and getting to post-season, I mean that's a nice fusion of energy, and Woody was very excited. He talked about his first experience in Toronto and he wasn't on the roster. As a teammate, you know, it was good to get that kind of energy. Hey, man, let's try to win this thing, because that's the fun. I think too much is made of what Will did in the clubhouse, and the same thing with Woody. What these guys have really done is when the game started. Whether it was Will playing, or when Woody pitches, just -- I mean, he just competes as hard as you compete. Nobody competes as hard as he does. He has a nice assortment of pitches, very smart. And a quick comment, because you hear a lot of B.S. when you manage, you don't know whether it's B.S. until later, the first couple of games he pitched for us, he was out one game after five, and another game after six, and he said he's very disappointed that he left that many outs of the game. And that's the kind of thing you're supposed to say. A lot of guys say it because you're supposed to say it, no guys mean it. But we learned the last couple of months we played. This guy goes out there to get as many outs as he possibly can. He is a very good finisher, he gets sharper and sharper and sharper until he runs out of gas. He is terrific, just like tomorrow. We know who we're facing but our club feels great that he's the guy competing against Randy Johnson and the Diamondbacks.

Q. What makes St. Louis such a great baseball town?

TONY LaRUSSA: Well, I don't think -- you have to see it for yourself, that's what I tell friends, take a trip to St. Louis, you've got to see it. I think there are a lot of things, I think the people, Midwestern people, they have some really good values. They've -- I think they honor hard work. Like Jack Buck's explanation, they are a little forgiving if you have a hiccup or stumble or fumble, as long as you care or try, and I think they just -- they've been very fortunate, a lot of great players are great people and they're still around the franchise, I see it a couple of times I'm around, Red (Schoendienst) and the way he's treated and the way he treats people, you've got to see it to believe it. I couldn't explain it, but it's special and players, visiting players like to go there because they think they get treated fairly, if they play well they get applauded even though they want the home team to win.

Q. What's your sense seeing Morris today? Does he seem business as usual or are his emotions --

TONY LaRUSSA: Yeah, I think he's very much like he has been most of the year, and that is to get here, I mean he had a big responsibility, he pitched a bunch of big games and we won. The guy is emotional. You don't want guys out there yawning because what's the big deal. I think he has learned a lot. I think actually as it turns out as he explains, pitching in the bullpen last year, you get two guys out or three guys out and a couple of times he was jumping through the gym, so he's taken all that into this year. I know he's going to be excited. I guarantee you Curt Schilling is going to be excited, but he's done a really good job of learning, not just how to control his emotions, but use his pitches. And the next two or three times that he pitches post-season, he will be better for the experience.

Q. The Cardinals have had a lot of success here in Bank One Ballpark. Do you consider that an advantage?

TONY LaRUSSA: Well, the part about beating Johnson is not an advantage, because I don't think when you have success against a guy with that much talent that that's going to work on your behalf. He'll be excited to come out there tomorrow. I think the ways the games are played, we have pitched well in this park, and when we pitch well in this park, we've won series in this park. And if we pitch well in the next two days, we're going to come out of this thing feeling good about going back home. The most important guys today are Schilling and Morris. But I like the ballpark, I told somebody yesterday. For a new park, it's a fair park that you can play good baseball. The gaps are big enough where you don't get beat by a cheap home run. You don't win a game with a cheap home run. I think if we pitch well, we'll have a good chance.

Q. When did you tell McGwire he was starting and was there any reaction?

TONY LaRUSSA: That's a good question, because I told him as he was walking in to take his batting practice yesterday. I talked to him before we went out on the field, I talked to Red, ran my thinking by Red so he could switch it if it was bad. I know he likes the big guy. I told him when he walked in and he hit 50 balls in the seats. So I don't think he was unhappy with the start.

Q. The fact that the Cardinals played in the playoffs last year, does it help? Does it not make a difference?

TONY LaRUSSA: I think mostly it's square one and 0-0. I don't think it has a big effect. I think the only thing that helps our team is that we had a lot of first-timers that really played well in the prime time. I mean, all our guys, in the first Atlanta series, we had about five or six guys that hadn't been in there and they played as hard as they had all year long. Against the Mets, we didn't hit as well, we just got to pitch more than anything. So I think this one here, from our side, our guys know when the pressure is on they play well. But if Curt Schilling is pitching the game of his life, it's going to be tough to score. Same thing with Matt Morris. So I think it's 0-0 and they have a better running club anyway.

End of FastScripts....

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