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October 3, 2000

Tony La Russa


Q. I guess you're happy with your choice at third base?

TONY LaRUSSA: If you watch his play all year, I do not care what position he is in the field, where you put him in the lineup situation, he is a player. Anybody that has watched the Cardinals, our fans, his teammates, nobody was surprised by the game that Polanco had.

Q. Who is the possible starter for Game 4, if you need one?

TONY LaRUSSA: Well, I have seen Rick struggle like this before. Then he and Duncan get together between starts and get back on it. He threw some outstanding pitches and some funny ones that were not so outstanding. No doubt about it, he struggled, with the lead-off walk to Maddux, I think that really got to him except that there was, for both sides, there were guys walked. It wasn't just our 21 year old, sometimes pitching is tough. I do believe, if somebody thinks this is an excuse, that is why it is America, but I will tell you my explanation: I do believe that once the game is replayed and Duncan and Mike Matheny can talk Carlos through the time that Rick was out there. I think that Rick will have a better chance, because he had a certain style that was really working, and I think it was hard for Carlos to get a grip on that. I think this is a good experience for Carlos with him. If we are going to win enough games, Mr. Ankiel is going to have to be there for us.

Q. That was uncharacteristic by Maddux, also?

TONY LaRUSSA: It was. I do not care, as great as Greg Maddux is, all starting pitchers will tell you, the first inning, they are vulnerable, there is a couple of defensive plays they usually make that might have changed, would have changed the inning around. We came out, had some great at-bats, but he is -- he was competing, we only have one more, so, he pitched into the fifth. I can't remember now, there was so much in that ball game, but I think, starting pitchers are always vulnerable the first inning, I do not care who you are. We caught a couple of breaks.

Q. When they walked Hernandez to get to Polanco, had to be very satisfying for him, Polanco?

TONY LaRUSSA: That is the play, you know, Bobby is doing what you have to do, because Greg there threw up a ground ball in a minute, it is a double play, you are out of the inning. We had a good situation there. Carlos has been a tough out for the Braves, so has Polanco. We just had something good going, but Polanco still had to get the hit, you can understand what was happening, if you get the ground ball like they are looking for, could have been a double play, but it wasn't.

Q. How scary was it when Jim Edmonds went down in the outfield?

TONY LaRUSSA: The way he went down, it was real scary, even when I talked to him about his tailbone, he is next, it was a real concern, that was one reason, we had a chance to blow it open when J.D. hit against the left-hander, with runner on third. Paquette was ready to go. I did not feel comfortable making the move, we had the lead, if Jim goes down, the centerfielder should be J.D. It was scary enough to where I think it stopped us from trying to take advantage of one of our right-handed hitters on the bench.

Q. Could you talk about your middle relievers?

TONY LaRUSSA: When you replay this game it is very, very special, what Mike James did, I was talking to a couple of guys in the clubhouse, if you watched over the weekend, he pitched Sunday. To come out there on Tuesday and have an extended time like that, I mean, that was huge. Mike got us to one, he is not happy with getting the damage started in the 7th. Reames, that young man, what a competitor, to come in against Galarraga, first and second, nobody out, but our fans know how it was when Britt Reames pitched. That is how he has pitched for us, he has been tough, a terrific competitor. That was really the key to the game. You have a closer, Edgar had a great defensive game, except the first error. Terrific job by the bullpen.

Q. Reames did not find out until 8:45 that he was on the roster this morning?

TONY LaRUSSA: Yes. I think we sent certain signals yesterday, in the workout, we were concerned about Matt and that, if we did not activate Matt, if we told Britt that he would go; it was not official until this morning.

Q. Are you going to play Marrero in any games?

TONY LaRUSSA: Will I play Marrero in any games this series? We will commit ourselves to take our best shot, game by game by game. I have no problem playing Eli, as part of that, but I will tell you, Thursday Carlos will catch that game. I have no hesitation to play Eli.

Q. If there is a Game 4, would you bring Rick back in Game 4?

TONY LaRUSSA: Yeah. I will answer the question, but it is really not good thinking for us to -- you just lay some plans out, and -- so you are ready and have your options open, I do not want to talk about Game 4. Part of-one of the important reasons Rick pitched today is that Game 4 will be four full days' rest. So, that option is available to us.

Q. What about Game 3 for a starter?

TONY LaRUSSA: That is a good question.

Q. Have you had any thoughts on that?

TONY LaRUSSA: That is a good question. We went through some relief today, so we will play Thursday like it is the 7th game of the World Series, which means that Pat Hentgen, Garrett, Andy; I think Andy pitched Sunday, could be available. When we get through with Thursday, we will take the off day Friday, pick one of those three guys for Saturday.

Q. What was it with Ankiel; nerves, mechanics?

TONY LaRUSSA: Well, I don't think it was nerves, because he did -- if you watch, he did that against Cincinnati, he did it a couple of times. It got out of whack. He started rushing his delivery, he walked Maddux, I think that really upset him. If you remember, Duncan made a trip, he got better after the trip. There wasn't anything he could not fix. It was a tremendous difference. He was upset he did not pitch longer. This is a young man still learning how to keep his delivery and concentration together. But I watched veteran pitchers, I watched them today, you know what, they have the same challenge. So our young man is way ahead of the game as far as having things solved.

End of FastScripts....

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