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October 13, 2001

Tony La Russa


Q. Give us your batting order today.

TONY LaRUSSA: Vina, Polanco, Drew, Pujols, Edmonds, McGwire, Renteria, Marrero, Smith.

Q. What's your thinking on McGwire versus Paquette today?

TONY LaRUSSA: There is no reason not to play Craig, he's had a few strikeouts, but we haven't really been on fire. I really like the at-bat Mark gave us against Kim. I was talking to Phil Nevin, you can be at bat all game long and all of a sudden you face Kim, he's so tough. And I thought Mark had some good swings. Big game, he's one of our best in these circumstances. I'm looking forward to playing him.

Q. If we don't play this game at all, would that alter your pitching plans for Game 4?

TONY LaRUSSA: I know Morris would pitch.

Q. Given the circumstances of the game, do you keep a shorter leash on Bud Smith today?

TONY LaRUSSA: Absolutely. I think there are a lot of things that would make you go quickly to the pen. It could be the rain delays, it could be him struggling, it could be the fact we can't lose today. We've got a lot of weapons out there. So hopefully, it will make it easy and we'll play straight through. Bud will pitch real well, but you're not going to let the guy struggle.

Q. Do you second-guess yourself for not getting the bullpen more involved yesterday?

TONY LaRUSSA: Definitely when the game is over, you replay a lot of things, how you played the 9th inning, but in the 7th inning, I think I gave Rick Hummel my best answer, I was paying attention. What you saw is what I thought. I think the only place it might have been different -- and I probably would not have done it differently -- would be if I had Veres instead of Timlin. If you bring in Timlin, they're going to bring in left-handers, and Mike struggles against left-handed hitters. We wanted Veres with Kline for the end, and that might have been the only difference. The way we got there was shaky, but to end up with a tie score and Matthews against Counsell is a good fit for us. I just give Counsell credit for beating us.

Q. Last night there was some situations where they were uncharacteristic, the way they were swinging the bat. Is it just the pitching or have you seen something?

TONY LaRUSSA: It's uncharacteristic of us lately, we were doing this earlier. I've had a chance to watch a lot of postseason games, nobody is driving in a lot of runs. I think you get caught a couple of ways. One, usually you want to be aggressive with men in scoring position, and in this series, there's been a couple of times we've taken a good pitch and swung at a bad one. That's the age -old dilemma. And the other thing is, clubs that get here usually have good pitching and are aggressive, someone throwing that nasty stuff off the corners. Bottom line is that's why it's the big leagues. You've got to -- you know, in the end that happens a lot. It's really magnified when you play a big game or you get a RBI situation. The balance is you want to be aggressive with something in the strike zone. A guy throws you a pitch over the middle, you want to be ready to swing. If it's out of the strike zone, you want to take it. Classic example was Counsell yesterday. He threw him a couple of breaking balls, if he chases those breaking balls, it's 0-2, 1-2. He took them, he got into a very favorable count. He didn't want to keep messing around with Gonzo on deck, and he got a fastball to hit. What I see is that, and I'm going to pat our guys. I've watched Atlanta and Houston and Seattle, I mean everybody that's playing, the A's, the Yankees, you see a lot of that and it's tough pitching and we've done this better than we're doing it right now. But it can change today?

Q. You said earlier Drew looked a little funky at the plate. Do you see him coming out of that?

TONY LaRUSSA: I don't want to spotlight Drew. I was asked about Drew, so I answered it. I don't think J.D. is on time like he has been most of the year. But I see him getting closer, and I think that's true about a lot of our hitters. Here again, is it our hitters or is it their pitching, or a combination?

Q. Tony,you were going back and forth between Smith and Hermanson. Did you think about changing that?

TONY LaRUSSA: Well, not really. We try and think of when we worked out, was it Monday, we worked out in Arizona? Bud pitched a couple of innings there in a simulated thing getting him ready for today. As I've said, we penciled him in for today. I told him it was a strong likelihood he would be pitching on Saturday. In that situation yesterday, I mean, as much as I like Bud Smith to start the day, I don't think Bud would be a better reliever against, you know, left-handers than right-handers, than Matthews or Tabaka. Bud is today's factor, and he wasn't a factor yesterday.

Q. On the ball that Womack hit to Vina, looking at the replay, did you think he could have turned two on that play?

TONY LaRUSSA: I looked at the replay and I thought it was iffy, and I'll tell you why. The way Womack swung at that ball, he hit it and it wasn't like he fell back and now he's got to gather himself, he hit it and he's moving, Fernando has got to get it, receive it, throw it. I thought it was iffy. And what we had told our infield, I mean, they looked to me, and I had Edgar and Vina in from halfway. And I told them, anything you've got a guy at 3rd, not good legs, you've got to make a play at the plate if there is any doubt. It had to be a line drive one-hopper before they tried to turn two. So I think Vina made the right play. As I said, when we got that out at the plate and you have got Counsell against Matthews, that's a good situation for us.

End of FastScripts....

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