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October 5, 2000

Tony La Russa


Q. With Davis starting in right field, who will be starting in left field? You have several choices.

TONY LaRUSSA: The choices are Ray Lankford. He has had a lot of at-bats against Glavine. Glavine, I don't know that you hit any better off of him when you have seen him a lot, but you sure have an idea what he is doing, he had some success, so, as opposed to J.D. or Paquette, a couple of other guys you would consider, I think Ray and the experience he has had, the way he was swinging there later in the season, I think he is a good choice. He will hit sixth.

Q. Is Morris available today?

TONY LaRUSSA: Yes, he is definitely available. In fact, we are in real good shape today. The only guy that is, that is not, only two guys not, are Hentgen and Stephenson, everybody that pitched on Tuesday, you know, James, Reames, Timlin, they can all go, Veres can go, Christiansen, and Andy Benes is available for the innings or emergency.

Q. How is Stephenson feeling the day after throwing in the bullpen?

TONY LaRUSSA: Very good. He was good yesterday in the workout. He is encouraged, we are encouraged that he is his normal self.

Q. You were toying around with Davis hitting second but you are back to Renteria?

TONY LaRUSSA: Right. In fact, late yesterday afternoon, I tried to get a head start, I wrote the lineup, I had Davis second, Hernandez fifth, Renteria seventh, one reason is, it keeps Edgar where he has been most of the last months, six weeks; but you know, the more I thought about it last night I think it puts two guys in a position that are a little bit different. I told Eric yesterday, he would possibly hit second in the workout, he is fine. He is more middle of the lineup. I did not want to get in the same game and all of a sudden, Fernando will be on the base, he will think, I try to nudge the ball. Let him have his at-bat. Edgar can hit second, Carlos, I think, with all he has to do with handling Kile and getting other hitters out, giving him a fifth place responsibility, that may be a little too much. Keep him 7th like he was the other day. And move Edgar to second. I did change last night.

Q. Have you settled on a Game 3 starter yet?

TONY LaRUSSA: Well, that is a good word. The word settle, the answer is, no. But we had Pat throw yesterday, he threw the ball well, Garrett passed, so I think it probably will be one of those two guys, depending on today's game if Andy goes. We went in thinking, I think the point to make is, we came in to the postseason with a rotation, one of our strengths all year long, it was incredible, our five guys took the ball all the time, then with about six weeks to go, we lost Andy, then Garrett missed a period of time, so we came in with three-fifths of our rotation kind of unsettled, so our idea was, we want to play out our options and we -- that is why I hate to say somebody for Saturday, like I talked to Rick yesterday, I told him Davis is hitting second, all of a sudden, tonight he is not. We are encouraged by what we see with Stephenson and with Hentgen. And Andy, as well.

Q. Do you think it hurts the Braves not knowing who will be pitching until shortly before the game?

TONY LaRUSSA: No. First of all, they knew Ankiel was pitching one of the two games here. They knew he was pitching Monday, in the afternoon when they came to work out, they knew. We do not know who is pitching for them in Game 3, they listed Millwood, Ashby, maybe Maddux. No one knows. We will both announce starters, that is more than enough time tomorrow.

Q. Any surprise at how well Reames pitched in the situation that he was in?

TONY LaRUSSA: I think the word is just really, impressed. I mean, we were not surprised, because he was the guy that came in the game. It was about as tough a situation as we faced in the entire nine innings, we had to get them out. But, as a starter, he was very impressed. We pitched him one time in relief Friday or Saturday, Cincinnati hit the ball all over the park. Rick came in and gave us two shutout innings as a reliever. A guy got on base, he got a double-play. That is all we had to go on. He is so competitive that we were really impressed, but we did bring him in, into that situation, so we had some confidence. I do not care who you bring into that situation, first and second with Galarraga, your work was cut out for -- cut out for us. He was incredible.

Q. Walt Weiss was talking about how much he learned playing under you. What memories do you have of him?

TONY LaRUSSA: Walt is one of those guys you are blessed to have on your roster. Probably one of the most important things that happened to the '88 club, was in '87, September, Griffin got hurt. We had a really outstanding club and we did not have a lot of trading material. He got hurt, so Walt played quite a bit in September. And was so impressive that that winter, when Sandy Alderson made the three-way deal, where we got Welch and so forth, he traded Griffin. It put Walt Weiss right into the middle of this infield, with a club that ended up winning a hundred plus games, he was Rookie of the Year. What I remember about Walt, was, the same exact player every day, I think I was surrounded by guys like Carney that really taught him about the Big Leagues. I say, blessed, because Walt, Mike Bordick, those guys, I mean, Mike Gallegos, these are players that, you really get affectionate about, because they are perfect. I would not change them. I wish that Walt could have dodged a few injuries and he has had a very good career, I think he had a spectacular career.

Q. What sort of a difference has Vina made for your lineup all year?

TONY LaRUSSA: Here again, I give Walt credit, he was a perfect player for us because, we had a top of the lineup need, if you watched us play last year, when you make a lineup, somebody has to get up first. He is your leadoff plan. If it is a guy that is playing out of his skills, you are asking him to do something he should not. We had a top of the lineup need, Vina comes in, he is a top of the lineup guy, grinds every at-bat, as tough as they are, can get on base a bunch of ways, and then defensively has had a terrific year, range, sureness of hands, I will challenge anybody anywhere to find somebody that turns the double-play better, quicker than Fernando. All of a sudden you get that one guy that hits at the top, anchors your defense, and that is part of our story this year. We lost him for a period of time, and we were able to play with Polanco and Paquette, guys like that, but he is a hell of a player.

Q. What do you rate the chances of McGwire actually getting an at-bat without intentionally walked, a situation where it is pretty likely he will be walked intentionally?

TONY LaRUSSA: I think the chances are actually good. You know, the Braves have a lot of confidence in their pitching, they usually go after everybody, including Mark. They have been as tough on him as anybody in the National League, so I mean, the other day when they made that move, you can understand it, but that brought Edgar to bat, one of our best clutch hitters, we were going to win either way. I think the way he is confident in their pitching, I think if you see Mark today, there is a good chance they go after him, unless the game dictates different.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about the fans and what they meant to you on Tuesday?

TONY LaRUSSA: It is no secret, I mean the secret is out, you have guys raving about playing in St. Louis, whether you are a visitor or home guy, now it is actually benefiting us, because we are getting really good players to sign on, for multi-years. But I think our crowd gives our club an adrenaline rush, you know, adrenaline is something that makes you bigger and stronger and faster, quicker than you ever were. There is no doubt we are tougher to beat in this ballpark, does not guarantee anything, but I am sure we are better because we play in front of these people, because they just jack you up

End of FastScripts…

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