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October 13, 2000

Tony La Russa



TONY LARUSSA: Will Clark is one of the greatest players that we've ever had in a Cardinal uniform.

Q. How do you -- I mean, I know the answer to the question I'm going to ask - you have to win a game - but how do you win a game? What areas do you need to improve on to get back into this series?

TONY LARUSSA: Well, I'm not sure it's anything that's too complicated, it's just straight baseball. Yesterday we had, and in the game before, similar, we had a couple chances with men in scoring position where we could do a better job of having an at-bat. You look at them and you say, "You know, we'd be tougher if we..." That's the kind of stuff you pay attention to. You make an adjustment, hopefully. Pitching-wise, yesterday's game really boiled down to the runs we gave up late, with two strikes, breaking balls. So just make better pitches. But I watched, the other club had a runner on third, get them home. We had a couple balls up. That's what happens - guys are not machines. In the end, we played -- I think we played very hard, pretty good. They played better.

Q. What type of message do you now have to give your team that you now have to try to win four out of five as opposed to four out of seven? Do you rely or give anyone history lessons in terms of telling them what other teams have done in the past?

TONY LARUSSA: Well, you got to be careful with the history because most clubs that get down 2 don't do very well, but it is possible. If, by the time we leave here Saturday night, we are one game behind in this series, it would have a different complexion. So what we need to do is compete like we've competed the last two days. I don't think there was one Cardinal fan that walked out of that ballpark - they were disappointed but they were not ashamed of the home club. So we compete like that, but when it gets to that, the winning difference, a little bit better at-bat, a better pitch, you got to make that thing happen. But it really is just playing tomorrow's game, like a game in the World Series. That's been our attitude. We played the Braves. Our club likes to play that way. They've been practicing all year long. I think the two starting pitchers are dead even. I think Reed's very tough, I think Andy's very tough. It should be another great game.

Q. How surprised are you by the impact of the two rookies, Perez and Jay Payton?

TONY LARUSSA: Well, that's a great question because I think they have been very impressive. But we watch the Mets closely, last couple months of the season, they were more intense. Perez played in our series in St. Louis. You look at the guy's ability, Payton is Rookie of the Year candidate. Very aggressive, a lot of talent, it's been a boost for their club. But we've seen the same thing with ours. It's one of the nice balances you look for. You like those young guys that come out there full of vim and vigor, then you have the veterans that still have that excitement but they understand what experience is all about. They've been impressive.

Q. Have you had a chat with Ankiel? He's young, obviously had a rough outing yesterday? How is his confidence?

TONY LARUSSA: Well, we talked yesterday a couple times after the game on the plane briefly. And he knows as a manager I have to deal with problems, he said, "Make sure you put me at the bottom of the list," because he doesn't have problems. In other words, he's going to be fine. He's out of whack right now. It's a tough situation for him. It's made two games difficult. We were able, because of our outstanding bullpen, we were able to win one of them. We were tied late yesterday. So he doesn't feel like he's done anything that hurt the team, I'm sure he's bothered personally. But he's a very tough young guy. He's 21 years old. I would kill for his future. Any of us would, I think.

Q. Would you use him out of the bullpen the next day or two if you need a lefty?

TONY LARUSSA: Yeah. Yeah, I mean, I don't think it's too unrealistic to think about starting him again. But our attitude is that like tomorrow, I mean everybody's available except Darryl Kile. Probably Pat Hentgen if you had to push and shove. Rick threw 30-some pitches yesterday, a day off, would I use him if it was an emergency? Probably try not to. But I know one thing - if you bring him out of the bullpen, the hitter's going to have a very uncomfortable at-bat one way or another.

End of FastScripts....

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