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October 12, 2000

Tony La Russa



Q. Is there any way to explain what's happened to Ankiel in the last two starts? He didn't walk anybody in the last end of the season.

TONY LA RUSSA: Well, just I think he said something about he didn't feel the baseball, but, you know, the manager's responsibility is to put guys in the right position. I blame myself. I don't blame Rick Ankiel; he's too special.

Q. Would you go over all the reasons you had McGwire bat where he did.

TONY LA RUSSA: The biggest reason was we had a chance to win the game with a position player coming to bat. I was yelling at J.D. to stop at first. Once he got to second, it's Mac and Wilkins. You're conceding there's no chance to score, and I didn't think that was worth giving up that out when, you know, they had a chance to score and they ended up scoring. So came down to Paquette with a chance to put us ahead, and it's a shame, but Wilkins was the only other choice. I couldn't use Wilkins.

Q. How close were you to using McGwire in the 4th?

TONY LA RUSSA: For who, Marrero?

Q. When Marrero had gotten on.

TONY LA RUSSA: I guess he was, I say, hot. That's what I call a pinch-hitter. He was hot a couple times. Couldn't get him in that spot that could max him out.

Q. During the first inning there were numerous attempts by your infielders, then Dave Duncan to calm Ankiel down. What were you telling him at that time?

TONY LA RUSSA: Well, I was obviously concerned on the part of the infielders trying to get him right. We've seen Rick all year long, and he just was out of kilter. Somebody walks in like Will or whatever, maybe you can say the right thing to him. In the end, then Dunc' has the best shot. You make your trip. Second or third time that Will went there, was just stalling, trying to get Reames ready at that point.

Q. Can you comment on Al Leiter's performance? It seemed like you had a few opportunities to chip away.

TONY LA RUSSA: Well, I mean, he's a quality pitcher and I feel great about -- we got behind that ball game and we battled back twice to tie. I mean, that says a lot. We had some chances, we did miss a runner at third, once. They missed them, too. It's not like it's an easy situation. I thought Leiter was tough, but I felt like our club played with a tremendous amount of courage and in a position to win. It was a very, very tough loss because of everything we put into that game.

Q. Would you talk about Reames and the continuing excellence he's displayed.

TONY LA RUSSA: Well, that's the way he's pitched, whether he's started games or relieved in the first series, and that's what gave us a chance to come back and win the game. For him to shut them down, he made one mistake to Piazza for a run. In fact, we ended up, we made a lot of good pitches, and we made just enough mistakes to, at key times there at the end, give them something to hit. Ended up being the ball game. But Reames, talking about versatility, he's outstanding.

Q. Given the nature of the game, with so many moves being made, you used 20 players. Was there anything you would have done differently?

TONY LA RUSSA: That's a fair question. This is a game that you keep the card tonight and you replay it. Usually if there's a time where I'm kicking myself, I recognize it at the time and I'm kicking myself already. Right now, without looking at it again, I'm not sure that I would have done something different. Maybe if you ask me tomorrow, I might give you a different answer once I replayed it. But right now, there was no time during the game I was upset that we didn't get the guy home or didn't get the out. Like I say, I blame myself for Rick, rest of the time I thought guys were in the right spots and we had a lot of heroes, but we just came up short.

Q. You say you blame yourself for Rick. Do you think in retrospect you should not have used him?

TONY LA RUSSA: Well, I think that my responsibility is to put players in the right position to succeed, and before anybody starts kicking Rick around, I think the blame is me for putting him there. That's where it ought to end. This guy's too special to look at any other way.

Q. Being down two games, does that impact who pitches Game 3?

TONY LA RUSSA: No, I mean Andy Benes is our scheduled starter, and that won't change. I think the only thing that will change, by the time we get to New York, we can just right to the ballpark.

End of FastScripts....

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