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October 6, 2000

Tony La Russa


Q. When you came here in August and won three out of four, does that give you any slight, little edge?

TONY LaRUSSA: I think it is good for us, I don't think it makes any difference to them. They take care of their own business, they are playing at home. For our ball club to come in here, Turner Stadium, has been tough for us. I think it helps us.

Q. Garrett Stephenson's health the last couple of weeks, what is his status coming into this game?

TONY LaRUSSA: He had to throw on Monday. Felt great. Did some not as extensive throwing a couple of days ago. Felt great. The preparation is not perfect. He pitched one time, in two or three weeks, but he pitched all season long. I think he will be like he has been for us all year, very clutch.

Q. Are you surprised at all they are going with Millwood or did you think much about it?

TONY LaRUSSA: You start messing with your lineups, I am not sure how different it would be Millwood versus Maddux or something. One thing you are real confident of, they know what they are doing. You will get their best shot. They figured their best shot is Millwood, the position we are in, we were going to see him sooner or later. Just knew they would do what they thought was best.

Q. Garrett Stephenson definitely is starting, correct; why would you pick him over Andy Benes or --

TONY LaRUSSA: It is a tough call, between the three of them, we are very happy to -- Pat's wife had a little girl last night. He will be here later today. I don't think you can make a bad choice between the three of them. In Garrett's case, remember last year when he got the ball, he was one of the best pitchers, won a lot of clutch games. Had the opportunity this year, time after time after time, he won as many games as anybody on our staff. He pitched well against the Braves twice. I would not have any hesitation with Andy or Pat. I think Garrett is the best choice.

Q. Why has Garrett not pitched a lot; is it arm fatigue or an injury?

TONY LaRUSSA: I don't think it is fatigue as much as maybe some aches. Like any starting pitcher in the Major Leagues, Garrett is coming here later, he will tell you himself, they all experience a lot of discomfort. You do not go out very many times, 30 plus times you take the ball, like in Spring Training, so he has had a bunch of games where elbows, shoulder tweaked him. We got to the finish line, we just thought he was having a little more discomfort, thought it -- banked him for 10 days, we gave him a start last Friday of the season against Cincinnati. More than anything else, it was not discomfort that he had not faced before, but it seemed like, maybe got to him a little bit more. Thought at that time we already clinched the post-season, we thought, let's try to get him well.

Q. (Inaudible).

TONY LaRUSSA: No. That is the Braves taking care of the Braves. The Cardinals will take care of the Cardinals. We did not go 2-0 in 1996, this is 2000. As I read Jim's comment in one of the papers, our club fully understands, this is a three-win series, not two. We are sure the Braves will take care of business, I am sure the Cardinals will be ready to take care of their business tomorrow and do whatever it takes to win a game.

Q. I know you talked about this yesterday, expand on Edmonds and how he has blossomed since he has been with you this year?

TONY LaRUSSA: I think you have to give credit to what he was in Anaheim, as well. This guy had some very solid seasons, had not done anything different here except he has been consistent all year long, numbers are, first time 40 home runs, whatever; but, I don't know, I think a lot of times, just a change of scenery for a player, it happens a lot in baseball, pitcher, player, you get in a situation; there are guys that left clubs I have managed that have gone to another place, a breath of fresh air is good for them. I think Jim came over, came into just about a perfect situation, a very good club around him, and needed what he could do, I think the friendship with Mark was very important early on. Once he got comfortable, he has been outstanding. He watches play, he wins games with everyone of the abilities, he is a true five-tool player. I think it is just another great move by Walt that made a lot of sense for us. Sometimes it might make sense, but he -- you get out on the field and it does not work, but this is one of the ones that did work.

Q. How is the makeup of this year's team different from say 1996?

TONY LaRUSSA: Well, I think no matter who we play, we do not get distracted. You are playing the Braves -- I will say something about them in a minute. During the course of the season where you play in your division against other eastern other western teams, there is something that may, if you are not solid, between the years might distract you, disrupt you, but our ball club is real strong in the heart and in between the ears. The club likes to compete. They understand competitions are different. And the one thing we are trying to make sure is that we use the emotion as an edge, but the Braves can be irritating to play. They want to pitch to a wide strike zone, if they get anything that is called a strike not over the middle of the plate, they complain. That's irritating. We won't be irritated. You try to make enough noise to where it, you make sure that it does not go just one way. We try to play our games, try to compete, not deal with that irritation.

End of FastScripts....

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