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October 10, 2001

Tony La Russa


Q. Would you explain your lineup adjustment?

TONY LaRUSSA: Well, there really is only one adjustment and that's Cairo instead of McGwire or Drew. I watched yesterday and learned about J.D. when he's swinging well right, left, whoever it is, he's got a great chance, but the last few days he's gotten a little funky and a left-hander -- a tough left-hander is not going to make him better at the end of the day, and we need to have him better by Friday. That's why J.D. is not playing, so it came down to Mark or Cairo, and I think in this situation, the last couple of months, Cairo has given us a nice lift and the last couple of years that we've been the best against Johnson, it's been a running gun. We've given him more problems, so that's why. So with J.D. out somebody is going to hit third and Renteria, it's his time of year.

Q. How mentally tough can it be less than 24 hours after facing Schilling you now have to face Johnson?

TONY LaRUSSA: A lot of hours or little hours, it's not going to be easy. You can have three days before you have to face him. It probably is an advantage to get back out there right away. Hopefully the Diamondbacks celebrated early in the morning and they won't be as ready. Here again, I think it's a lot like yesterday, I expect both pitchers to pitch really well.

Q. Tony, the last time you faced Johnson was in April. Is there still carryover from then?

TONY LaRUSSA: I think it makes them more determined. When I try to figure that out, I don't think I've ever seen him take the mound against anybody not determined. So if he's more determined, maybe that will push him over the edge and he'll be wild and walk a bunch of guys and we'll get some easy runs. I think one of the factors is John Hirschbeck is a very consistent umpire, but he's very aggressive, probably the most aggressive in the league. A couple of times we've played Randy it's been better that the umpire has not been real aggressive, so it will be interesting to see it out there today.

Q. When you got Miguel Cairo, you said you had been wanting to get him for a while. What has been affirmed since you got him?

TONY LaRUSSA: Wanting to get him was only a product of watching him play against us. He has a nice stroke and good base hits all over the park. Playing with the Cubs earlier this year, he just knew the game and if the ball had to be at that side or needed to be aggressive or take a pitch, you can see he understood the game. That's what it looked like, and showed nice defensive skills. Since we've gotten him, we're even more impressed. He's a very smart player, very good teammate, has done an outstanding job coming off the bench as a pinch-hitter. I don't know how many games he's started, maybe half a dozen, every time he's started he's done something to help us win.

Q. Tony how important is it for Fernando Vina to get on base for your offense to be productive?

TONY LaRUSSA: We look at it as he's gotten on base, Polanco has gotten on base and we haven't scored because the guys in the middle don't drive him in. Everybody has got their role. If he gets on base we get something going, we've got to get a hit with men in scoring position. Our strength has been we send eight guys up there to take tough at-bats. It's not all on Fernando. But I'll tell you, it's been a year where he and Polanco at the top, in my opinion, have not thrown away one at-bat. They were so relentless with the way they approach it, they really set a good tone for our team.

Q. When you're facing somebody like Randy Johnson, do you have to manage a little differently to try to rattle him?

TONY LaRUSSA: I mean, he's so much different. Early on when he was at Seattle, he was really fired up and he was firing everything. He's come a long ways. He pitches more and I think he stays with himself better. He's really become even better. I just think we treated Randy like we do any really good pitcher. You've got to look for every chance you can to do something and if the percentage is not in your favor you can take a crazy chance. If you sit around waiting for three or four hits in a row, we'll be taking a plane back to St. Louis, I'm not going to try to squeeze with somebody on third. We tried that play yesterday, but we couldn't get the guy on base. We'll try to push, but you've got to get guys on base to push.

Q. Speaking with a couple of your guys last night they expressed a little frustration they didn't make Schilling work as hard as they could have, and not seeing as many pitches, is there a danger today facing Johnson that they may do the same thing and be a little more aggressive?

TONY LaRUSSA: I think there were several answers to that, aggressive is our style and that's why we're a good aggressive club. I do think there is, you know, the kind of good sense that most offensive teams use with nobody on base, deeper in the count, make the guy work, and get somebody on base. Last night we were more aggressive with nothing happening and then a couple of chances we had, we took a couple of pitches. That's a little ass backwards, but a guy like Schilling, I mean it's like what Eck (Dennis Eckersley) used to have going for him. You just want the first pitch to be an out. Next time, don't swing. Strike one. And now what happens with strike one, the guy gets more to the corner. That's why these guys are really good pitchers. They have weapons. A guy like Randy, if he gets strike one, then that next slider is nastier and nastier and the next fastball is a little harder and more out of the zone. It's a real dilemma. I think you try to play the game according to the score board, but I tell our club, when in doubt, be aggressive.

End of FastScripts....

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