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October 14, 2001

Tony La Russa


Q. Do you expect to see Randy Johnson today?

TONY LaRUSSA: I hope to see him. That means we've done enough to get Schilling out of the game before he completes it.

Q. Would you be more inclined in a game of this importance and the caliber of the pitching to play small ball, trying to manufacture some runs early in the game?

TONY LaRUSSA: I'm not sure the importance of the game is what makes it. I think the quality of the starting pitcher, when you face guys like that during the season, you're just trying to win a game. And if your guy is pitching good and you think it's low scoring, every point you get is really big. I think the important part is who gets on base and who is at the plate. Because, obviously, if Edmonds is on base, I'm not going to bunt McGwire. There are certain guys we can do things with and certain guys we just let swing.

Q. In talking to Walt Jocketty the other day when you and he first took over at the Cardinals. You talked about starting pitching being your prime concern. Would you talk about how that has come about?

TONY LaRUSSA: Well, I mean, that's one of the things that everybody in baseball knows is true. But coming over in the winter of '95 and starting to look at the last few years that Joe was here, injuries to the rotation. You know, nobody competes at a high level when your rotation gets beat up, unless you're so rich you can have five or six guys waiting around. There were a couple of other things, like injuries to infielders and so forth. But the rotation was a big focus. I remember that year we had a couple of young guys and we were going to try and sign Andy for Todd Stottlemyre. And the whole idea was to try to get durability in our rotation. And I look back at the three years we've gotten in and it's because our rotation has been stable and given us an everyday chance. And two of the three years we didn't get in, our rotation got beat up. Bottenfield comes out of the bullpen to become an 18-game winner. It's hard to do that. The one year that we did starting pitch well was '87. We pitched great, we just couldn't score. I mean, there's no secret. I think a lot of clubs believe that. We believe it. When it's been true, we've been good. We were talking about that this morning: If we could win this game, we're really excited about the way our pitching lines up for the next series. It's because of the pitching.

Q. Tony, can you talk about your strategy last year with Matt Morris's first year coming back from Tommy John surgery and how that's helped this year?

TONY LaRUSSA: I will correct that a little bit. Whenever you talk strategy in pitching, that's Dave Duncan. He's really, really special as a pitching coach. But although we had a good situation, we were starting to get some ouches. But more than anything else, our bullpen was kind of a question last year. We thought that maybe later on we were looking at Alan and we were looking at Matt. And one of the things in Matt's case, you know, two, three, four innings are really good. But having to think about him building up to where he could throw 100 to 120 pitches, and not just pitching well, but be healthy, we thought we were looking at maybe, you know, August, September. So I said, Well, that's a long time to wait. And then his first three or four innings were so dynamic and we had a bullpen need, we just started talking, you know, there really is a solution here that's real good for Matt. Because the first priority was to take care of Matt. He's such a talent. We weren't going to do anything in one year, shoot the works for one year, but it would really be good for Matt if he could just be conditioned to throw 20 to 40 pitches, rather than try to get ready for 100 in his first year from surgery. We can use him in the bullpen. It would be good for us. And then spend the winter training for him to be a starter. He is a unique guy and it was a perfect situation.

Q. Would you go to Woody Williams tonight if you had to?

TONY LaRUSSA: The answer is, yes, if we have to. In fact, today's his day of throwing on the side, and he's not going to throw on the side. And what I hope with every bit of my heart is that sometime around the 7th or 8th we feel great about winning the game, he gets in the bullpen and throws so he's ready for Tuesday. But we're holding him back just in case it turns out that he's the best guy to be out there.

End of FastScripts....

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