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October 15, 2000

Tony La Russa


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Tony LaRussa.

Q. Make any changes to your line-up today?

TONY LARUSSA: No, same eight guys, different pitcher.

Q. Did you decide on Darryl on three days' rest rather than Pat for this game so you could potentially have Darryl for Game 7? Was that it?

TONY LARUSSA: Yeah. That's exactly, we figured our best chance in a potential seven-game series is the guy that -- we've had good starting pitching obviously from Andy, from Pat, from Garrett and from Rick. But Darryl is suited for it, and it's our best shot to win if it goes seven games.

Q. Can you talk about what the starting pitchers have done as far as putting aside ego, Darryl not starting Game 1 in the Division Series, Pat getting put off to this long, Darryl coming back on three days?

TONY LARUSSA: Well, it's what you expect from this group. I mean, from the first days of spring training, they got together and they wanted to be a force as a unit, and they were going to do whatever it took. They compete when they're not competing, they pull for their buddy. Before we played Atlanta, we sat everybody down and we talked about what we thought was our best shot. And a lot of times when you explain, I think it answers, and if you don't explain, some guys draw the wrong implication. We only played three games against Atlanta. Both Andy and Pat could have pitched in that series, if it would have gone longer. In this one here, with the factors that we were facing, we definitely felt that Darryl would be the guy that would be able to come out three times, whether it's 2-2 or 1-3, Pat's perfect for tomorrow. He's the ultimate warrior.

Q. Do you feel the need to get Mark into the game at some point regardless of whether it's a 5-1 game or whatever?

TONY LARUSSA: I think the only responsibility any of us has, and as a manager my responsibility, is to make a few decisions, is to take our best shot to win. Mark is one of the guys that can contribute, actually in a limited way. Because he's not a typical bench player. I contrast him a lot to Lenny Harris, who has our respect, but Lenny can run the bases, you don't have to be careful about double play situations and having to use up another player to pinch run for him Mark is there, very dangerous for what he can do, and just try to use him to win the game. I mean, nothing goes beyond that.

Q. Would you be okay if you could win without having to use him? There's no need to just get him in for the fans' sake or anything like that?

TONY LARUSSA: Well, the fans are much more interested in the Cardinals -- our fans are more interested in the Cardinals having more runs at the end of the game. They don't want to sacrifice that. So you got to be careful, like Mark, he's not a typical bench player, but he is playing off the bench. You have to be careful using him, guys like that, when you don't have a crystal ball and all of a sudden the game goes longer. We did that during the season a couple times to make sure he got an at-bat more than anything after practice coming off the bench and we were already the champions of the Central. This area, he's like any other player. He can contribute, but there's no need to make a grandstand play with him.

Q. Pitching on three days' rest used to be commonplace. It seems pitchers are struggling with it much more today. Is it a mental thing? Has the game changed? What's the difference?

TONY LARUSSA: Well, I think it's a legitimate question with no easy answer. I think physically, guys are trained to take four days and then pitch. I think mentally, they're conditioned, four days to pitch. When you see a guy pitch short, it's usually guys that are real strong between the years. Oakland, we had Dave Stewart, loved to go on three days' rest. He's one of the toughest guys a lot of us have been around. We only did it one time this year; that was Pat Hentgen. He pitched on three days' rest on a Sunday, pitched five or six innings and won the game for us. But I think it used to be more guys were out there and understood that pitching is not just stuff; it's locating, changing speeds so you don't max out every throw. Now, a lot of guys get to this league and they need to learn that. It's about time to revert to a tough situation, they try to go harder and harder. Veterans learn to make times easier as long as you put it in the right spot. Darryl's case, he's a pro's pro. He's been so impressive. We're looking forward to having him out there tonight. Physically, he's set up really well for it. I know his history is not great with three days' rest, but we're not in an ideal situation with our rotation, which is ironic, because we were ideal all year long, but we're not and we will make the best of it.

Q. Can you talk about Pat's competitive nature and how that affects the club?

TONY LARUSSA: Well, some guys it's -- you got to be careful when they're outwardly and disappear on you, other guys are quiet but still competing. Pat's outwardly competitive, that's how he is. We've seen it in spring training. Of course he had a track record, well-deserved, in Toronto. This guy is a terrific competitor. That's one of the reasons he does well in visiting parks. He's not intimidated by the atmosphere of the other guys' stadium. But when you see him out there, his emotions are on his sleeve, he's working hard to get outs, and very popular with our team, very popular with other members of the rotation. It's been a really neat thing to see the starters interact. They got a nice thing going. They're very tight.

Q. How did Benes come through yesterday's game and where do you stand on a sixth-game starter?

TONY LARUSSA: Well, we need to win another one here in this park before we talk about Game 6, but you do have to look at it some so you're not caught with your pants down and he's okay right now. Most guys will tell you it's the day after, not -- I mean two days after, not the day after. So we'll see, I think his arm will be fine. We'll see how his knee is. And for him to have to pitch six, you think Darryl for seven. Will Darryl be well for seven? You have to watch today. We just want to keep our options open. As of this afternoon, there wasn't anything in the way Andy walked in that does make you think he wouldn't be available maybe as early as six.

Q. The home team has yet to win the series; is your team sort of different on the road in this series because they're maybe not overwhelmed by all the hometown pressure?

TONY LARUSSA: No, that would be a -- I mean, that would be a mistake. Whatever you observe, knowing them like I know them, it may be a mistake. We're fine in Busch Stadium, we just got outplayed. In fact, I complimented our team the first day, I mean, good body language, we responded good to the ball, we had at-bats, we had chances and chances, didn't get the hit. The next day we came back twice. So our club just plays, but I know that we also play well on the road. Because we have a nice balanced team. That's usually the answer. We're not suited just for our ballpark.

Q. Did Benes have to get his knee drained?

TONY LARUSSA: No, he hasn't had it drained. If he does, he doesn't need it before he pitches.

Q. Your team does so well against righties. Obviously there are a lot of baseball reasons for that. Does that also become kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy, do you think?

TONY LARUSSA: Well, it's only until you get late in the season or into something like the post-season where there's so much attention to everything that the club here is just a lot about. Most of the year, it was just something that was happening. In fact, I thought we tried to bring it to their attention because there's no reason why some of those games against lefties, we did not play better. Randy Johnson or we had to face Leiter, those guys are tough pitchers. But there are some left-handed starts against us where we just didn't approach it the right way. As we bought more of their attention, the last month, six weeks, we were much better against them, so I mean I've never been afraid of a left-handed pitcher, whether he's left-handed, because our hitters hang in there real well. I'm concerned about a guy that's a good pitcher. Today, Bobby Jones, he's sharp. He's a handful.

Q. You just mentioned Jones. When a pitcher has had the kind of game he's had in the last outing, is an optimist's view like, "Yeah, let's see him do that again," and in your experience, how is it with pitchers after they've pitched the game of their life?

TONY LARUSSA: Mr. Jones pitched a game very much like that against us on Sunday afternoon here, whatever it was, August or some time. So he's a good pitcher. He can be a very good pitcher. Was that the game of his life? Just because it was only one hit, I think he's pitched that effectively before and he's capable of doing it today. I think, like most pitchers, a lot's going to depend on his command, as it will with Darryl. We're hoping, he's a guy that likes to pitch the edge and off the edge, like Atlanta. So hopefully Mr. Scott doesn't give him too wide a plate. I'd like him to give Darryl a wide one and Bobby a narrow one. (Laughter.)

End of FastScripts....

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