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July 11, 2005

Jackie Autry

Mark Buehrle

Chris Carpenter

Terry Francona

Bill Giles

Tony La Russa


MARIO IMPEMBA: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I'm Mario Impemba from Detroit and the Detroit Tigers and it's my pleasure to welcome you to the City of Detroit and the 76th Major League All-Star Game Press Conference. For the first time since 1971 the City of Detroit is hosting a Major League All-Star Game and I think we can all remember back to '71, thanks to Reggie Jackson, it was the most memorable All-Star Game in recent history and we are hoping to have the same type of ballgame tomorrow night. We'll hear from the managers Tony LaRussa and Terry Francona and we'll hear from the starting pitchers and the honorary presidents of the American and National Leagues. At this time it's my pleasure to introduce to you a long-time American League executive with the California/Anaheim Angels and honorary American League president, Jackie Autry.

JACKIE AUTRY: I think there's no question that the man I'm going to introduce to you this morning provided us with one of the most exciting playoffs and World Series that I've ever experienced. I think everyone in the United States was rooting for the underdog, the Boston Red Sox, so it was really fun and exciting for all of us. (Laughter.) In his first season with the Red Sox, he became the first Boston manager since 1918 to capture a World Series title and became the winningest manager in post-season history as Boston went 11-3 in 2004. He has held numerous positions in baseball including third base coach for Buddy Bell's staff and managing the Phillies from 1997 through 2000, another mistake that Bill Giles of the National League made by letting him go. (Laughter.) His 2005 marks his 26th season in pro baseball and his sixth as a Major League manager. He is proud to say he is the son of former All-Star Tito Francona, who played 15 seasons in the Major Leagues, and he is the father of four beautiful children. Ladies and gentlemen I am proud to introduce this year's first-time American League All-Star manager, Terry Francona.

TERRY FRANCONA: Thank you, Ms. Autry. When you hear the name "Autry" in the baseball world, it brings a lot of smiles, a lot of fond memories to a lot, a lot of people, so I'm honored to be announced by Ms. Autry, thank you very much. After 86 years of passion, frustration, fanatical fans, and a lot of genuine love for their team, I'm very excited and honored to represent not only the Boston Red Sox organization, but the entire Red Sox Nation today. It is an honor to sit here and to be able to announce the 2005 American League All-Star lineup and starting pitcher. Leading off playing centerfield, Johnny Damon; hitting second, playing third base; Alex Rodriguez; hitting third, the designated hitter, David Ortiz; hitting cleanup, playing left field, Manny Ramirez; hitting fifth playing shortstop, Miguel Tejada; hitting sixth playing right field Vlad Guerrero; hitting seventh playing first base Mark Teixeira; hitting eighth and catching, Jason Varitek; hitting ninth and playing second base, Brian Roberts. That should be a lineup even I shouldn't be able to screw up. And the worst-kept secret in America, our starting pitcher will be Mark Buehrle. Mark and Roy Halladay were our two top considerations. When Roy backed out for obvious reasons with the injury, Mark was our clear choice to be our starter. I made the mistake of letting Ozzie getting involved in it, made the announcement a little bit early, but we are honored to have Mark be our starter. He leads a staff on a team that is clearly one of the dominant American League teams this year, and we all think he is very deserving of this honor, everybody we have talked to says the same thing. Not only is he a great kid, but we all know he's a great pitcher. I've seen him too many times from the opposing side, so we are honored to have Mark start our game for us. Thank you very much. I'm sure we'll answer questions after Tony and Bill Giles does his thing. One more thing, they talked about 1918, I think the only person up here that might have actually sat through that was Bill Giles. (Laughter.)

MARIO IMPEMBA: Before we get to the National League, let's get a few words from the starting pitcher, from the Chicago White Sox, Mark Buehrle.

MARK BUEHRLE: It's an honor to be here at the All-Star Game. It's a dream playing professional baseball and a dream of coming to an All-Star Game. It's an honor to start this All-Star Game. Like you said, it was obvious, Roy Halladay in my mind was going to get the nod, and it's unfortunate what happened to him. But with me getting a chance I'm going to go out there and give the American League the best chance to win to get advantage for the World Series.

MARIO IMPEMBA: Thank you, Mark. Let's move on to the National League now, at this time I'd like to introduce the son of a long-time Major League executive and National League president, Warren Giles. He was long-time owner of the Phillies and he's current honorary president of the National League, Bill Giles.

BILL GILES: Thank you, Mario. You know, my father was president of the league from 1951 to '71, the American League lost 75 percent of the time and the National League won 75 percent of the time. I have yet to win. (Laughter.) I am zippo. I feel good this year because we're going to outmanage the other guy. (Laughter.) He worked for me for three years. Tony La Russa was 3-10 in the All-Star Game, never lost. Tony LaRussa was Manager of the Year five times. He has 2,169 victories which is the most of any active manager. When the Cardinals win their 81st game this year, he is going to become the third winningest manager in the history of baseball, surpassing Sparky Anderson and only Connie Mack and John McGraw will have more victories. One of the greatest managers ever in baseball, Tony LaRussa. (Applause.)

TONY LaRUSSA: Thank you. I'll try to outmanage Terry like we did in October. (Laughter.) We were all pulling for the Red Sox and we're all pulling for the American League tomorrow night. (Laughter.) But it is a pleasure to be here with Bill Giles, going way back to '79 and the early '80s, when I first started managing with Chicago and Roland Hemond, Bill Veeck, Jerry Reinsdrof, we were in tough situations. The Phillies were one of the model organizations, and many, many times, the courtesy and respect that they paid to Bill and Roland and later on and Jerry and Eddie was very important to get us going at that time. So let's hope that we can break the drought and maybe we can use the Red Sox inspiration and get you your first All-Star win. But I like our club a lot. I like their club, too. Our lineup playing right field is Bobby Abreu who will lead off; playing second and playing left field will be Carlos Beltran; hitting third and DH'ing is Albert Pujols; hitting fourth and playing first base is Derrek Lee; Jim Edmonds will hit fifth and play centerfield; Aramis Ramirez hits sixth and plays third base; Mike Piazza hits seventh and catches; Jeff Kent is our second baseman in the eighth and David Eckstein is our shortstop hitting ninth. Our starting pitcher, and I think it's really a well-deserved honor and it says a lot when you consider the guys that we considered, a very strong core of starters, potentially with our National League squad this year, had a lot of input from around the league, and a lot of comments from other managers and coaches based on what they have seen over the last two years, and the rush that he put on in June, July, I think it's a very deserving choice we've had the benefit of in St. Louis, so our starter is Chris Carpenter. (Applause).

MARIO IMPEMBA: Chris, if you wouldn't mind, a few words about your All-Star selection.

CHRIS CARPENTER: It's an honor to be here, like Mark said, you dream to play Major League Baseball, you dream to get an opportunity to play in an All-Star Game, never mind starting one. And with the amount of guys that we have, with the opportunity to start this game and Tony selected me, it's just an honor. I'm going to do my best and go out there and represent the National League. Thank you.

MARIO IMPEMBA: Thank you very much. How about another fine round of applause for all of our panelists here. (Applause) I think as you can tell by both starting lineups this should be a very entertaining game tomorrow evening at Comerica Park. At this time we'd like to open it up for questions.

Q. Tony, you have a nice hitter to be the leadoff hitter and you have a lead-off hitter that could make cleanup. Tell us about it; did you give another thought to put Abreu as lead-off?

TONY LaRUSSA: Well, I think when you have talent like this on a squad, I don't think you can write a bad lineup. I mean, you can just scramble them up, but I like everything that Bobby does offensively, you know, he has a good strike zone, he runs the bases well, he hits righties, he hits lefties (knocking on wood). So we will try to do some damage early. You know, the American League, a lot of the clubs use a nice spot in the second lead-off and he'll hit right in front of our one, two, three, four. I don't think you can write a bad lineup with this group, and that's the way we win.

Q. Considering how close of a friend you are with Roy Halladay, when you found out he was not going to be your mound opponent, what was your reaction and what conversation did you have with him?

CHRIS CARPENTER: I actually talked to him the morning after he got hurt, and he gave me a call. We were out in San Francisco, and I didn't know at the time that I was going to be a starter. I thought he would be and maybe I had a chance. We both laughed about it, thought it was going to be an opportunity that we would have a good time and be able to compete against each other in an All-Star Game. Unfortunately he's not going to be able to be here. He's disappointed, frustrated -- and you know, he wished me the best.

Q. You have been here quite a few times to the All-Star Game what does it say about having so many first-time All-Stars and does this have the star power as others that you've been involved in?

TONY LaRUSSA: I think the star power comes from the fans going to the ballpark that day and seeing the excitement, guys that are anxious to get out there and show what they can do. I don't know that anybody is going to be more excited than first-time All-Stars. It's one of the things that you look forward to, and as Mark said, you kind of dream just about getting to the big leagues and participating in an All-Star Game. It's a real, real highlight. Personally I think the first-timers are some of the most fun for either squad, just to observe how they go through it. I think the fans will see that, starting with their workouts today, these guys are not going to be cool and what's the big deal, we've been here before. It's really an important thing, they are excited and I think they are going to excite the crowd.

Q. What consideration did Dontrelle Willis get and was Chris the clear-cut decision?

TONY LaRUSSA: It's very tough. When you look at our candidates, there was Roger or John Smoltz or Dontrelle, Roy Oswalt, Livan Hernandez, really, it was similar to the lineup. We just put a lot of things together. Honestly, one edge that we hope to play is that Paul Lo Duca will catch part of the game, and he knows Dontrelle and we wanted to use that, so we'll use Dontrelle somewhere around the middle.

Q. Terry, I have a question, but it's about the National League. You specifically have a good relationship and know Bobby Abreu about as well as anybody. Your thoughts on him getting his first All-Star starting nod and just his being recognized now as one of the top players in baseball.

TERRY FRANCONA: I think Bobby has been one of the top players in baseball for the past few years. I think it took him doing some maybe extraordinary things early in the season to get some of the nation on board with that and to get him some notoriety. He does everything, he hits home runs, he steals bases, he can play defense. He hits the ball out of the ballpark. It's funny, I heard the question asked of Tony about leading him off. Back about six years ago, I called Bobby into the office in St. Louis, and I said, Bobby if you want to hit lead off, you'd be the best player in baseball. I still believe that. Now he might hit third and be the best player in baseball but he's that type of player. I can certainly see why he's hitting leadoff.

Q. Is Scott Rolen out, you go with Morgan Ensberg of the Houston Astros to fill that roster spot; was that a slam-dunk decision and did you know that you disrupted his trip to Lake Tahoe?

TONY LaRUSSA: Well, starting with Scott and that decision, I mean, that was a gut-wrenching decision because I know there's a lot of publicity in our place, and hopefully the fans have read it across the country. Scott was really honored that the fans chose him, and you know, he's coming back after being out almost six weeks with the shoulder problem. A week, ten days ago, our team doctors and trainers recommended him that he take the four days off because he was starting to fatigue and get sore again and he needed the time off. His comment was, you know, the fans picked me and I am honored by it and I want to respect that, I want to respect them. So literally, I think it was 2:45, 3:00 yesterday afternoon, we're two hours from game time and he came in, he really had a tough time sleeping, he was getting sorer and sorer and more sore, however you say it, and so we had a discussion. We had a discussion and I stayed out of it because I never wanted him to think that I didn't want him to play, because it would be great with him playing. If you watched the game last night, we won because he played the third. Getting back to Morgan, when you start looking at the clock and 3:00 is 5:00 in Houston and they finish and most guys, they are going to take advantage of that break, I really wondered whether we could track him down. So we were out taking our practice and I got a note and it says "Ensberg okay." You said it right now, I don't know where they tracked him down, but he's a first-time All-Star. I bet you he's excited to be here and not Lake Tahoe.

Q. Terry, you have five Dominicans in that lineup any of which could be the cleanup hitter, why does Manny get the nod?

TERRY FRANCONA: We didn't base the lineup on nationality. That's for sure. (Laughter.) We'd have Italian leading off. (Laughter.) I think Manny is leading the league in RBIs after kind of a slow start, I think he's done it year after year. Again, like Tony said, look at this lineup, it's hard to mess this lineup up. We have Brian Roberts hitting ninth. He's probably going to be an MVP candidate. I mean, you have to hit one person in the cleanup spot, one in the fifth and one in the sixth. And my math is not good, but I know that. I think Manny deserves to hit cleanup because of his production, not only for this year, but his whole career.

Q. I just know that it's very hard to put this team together and one of the things being Ozzie Guillen, being the best manager in the first half, why is he not (one of) your coaches? Did you invite him, did he decline?

TERRY FRANCONA: Oh, my, you have to do homework a little bit. This was done in December at the time Ozzie was 0-0. This has nothing to do with who plays well in the first half. We took our staff from the Red Sox because we won; I think that's a very deserving honor. And then you select two managers, Allen Trammell from Detroit, for obvious reasons and Ken Macha, who I thought I wanted to repay for some things he had done for me personally so, that's how that came about, but this was way back in December.

Q. For Terry, Kenny Rogers appearance is going to bring some attention and certainly a bit of a distraction, do you plan on talking to him and what are your thoughts about him coming here and do you think it's going to take away the luster from this game, because there's a lot of people think he probably should have taken this game off.

TERRY FRANCONA: I spoke to Kenny the other day. We were in Texas playing, and I spoke to Kenny and told him that I would certainly stand by whatever he decided to do. I did make a point that, you know, there would be questions asked, certainly. I think as long as Kenny shows up, answers the questions, because he did do something wrong, which he admits. Now, he's paying a pretty severe penalty in baseball terms. That will be figured out through due process. He was voted on by the players. We respect that. He earned that right. If I have to answer a couple of questions about him, I don't think that's the end of the world. I think if Kenny shows up, answers his questions and moves on, I don't think it takes the luster off anything and I think it's handled and we move on and we play the game.

Q. Buck Showalter said that you really have the courage now, now that you're the manager of the All-Star Team, can you talk about the experience that you had, difficult times you had and the pressure of trying to pick this team and some of the players and some of the guys on your own team, what it's been like this week?

TERRY FRANCONA: Tony has a lot more experience than I do in various different settings of rules and applications on how the rules work. We actually did not pick the team. I mean, the fans voted for the starters. The players voted for the backups, and we were basically left to kind of cleanup organization the that were not represented and then make it all work. So it wasn't, and there are quite a few rules to follow so, we really didn't pick as much of the team as maybe as once they used to do.

Q. For both managers, how hard is it to balance the fact that you want to play all of your guys, especially the first-year guys, but how important it is to win this game; how tough is that balance?

TERRY FRANCONA: I'm waiting to hear your answer. Go ahead.

TONY LaRUSSA: I think it's like situations that you get into where you have several factors and your goal is to take care of them all and still do the right thing. The right thing is to play a competition and represent the National League and hopefully we play the bottom of the ninth inning. And you also want everybody to participate, but the reality is that rosters have been enlarged so that we don't have a tie and you run out of players. So what you do is whoever you think that you're going to have to hold back, you explain to them that they may be the hero in extra innings if it goes that far. You try to do it all. You try to get everybody out there and try to win the game, but you have to be realistic about if it's close and it's late and you are going to have to save somebody.

TERRY FRANCONA: We're going to do our best to be respectful to the players, to the game, understanding that these players certainly deserve to play. But at the same time you have to be always concerned there could be an injury, there could be extra innings, and what it means to win this game. I mean, having home-field advantage is a big deal. It's a big deal to a lot of people. So you have to treat it that way, and we certainly will.

Q. Tony, the tactical challenge, and your experience of this game, is it greater because the other side has a bench and a bullpen full of All-Stars, or is it sort of as Terry was suggesting, that no matter what you do and who you go to, you can't screw it up; the tactical challenge of this?

TONY LaRUSSA: I just think that, you know, you talk about strategies, very often during the season you're talking about players and pitchers have some strengths, probably have some weaknesses and that you want to play to one and away from the other. You've got All-Stars, you're talking about strength against strength, every pitcher who goes out there is strong, doesn't have a lot that he can't do and same thing for hitters, so basically just matching strengths. Every hitter can hit right and left-hander, every pitcher can get a right and left hand hitter out. I don't really think that's a big strategy. The experience I had, if you manage in a National League ballpark when you're trying to take the pitcher and use everybody on the roster, that gets confusing and it's a real challenge. But in an American League situation like ours, it will be easier to get guys in and out without having to worry about getting caught short.

Q. You've been here and, last year how much do you think home field would have helped you guys in the World Series and, having been here, will you manage tomorrow night differently than you did those other three games because of the home field?

TONY LaRUSSA: I think it's two different things. I do think that home field is a significant edge or advantage to the club that has it. I mean, I don't care what the sport is, including ours, we all play better at home and it's very important. I think we talked on the conference call the other day, I think Terry and I believe there's probably a better way to arrive at who gets the home field, to do it during the season rather than play in the All-Star Game. It's an important thing. Would we have played better? Yeah, I think that if we had started the series in St. St. Louis, maybe we would have lost in five. (Laughter.) I think it's important. With that said, you know, I've been in a few games as coach and manager, and this first time -- well, actually I was actually coaching with Dusty, for Dusty a couple years ago in Chicago where the home-field advantage was the first year of it. I didn't see anything different in that game versus the other games. I think these guys are all competitors and they don't want to go out there and be embarrassed. They all enjoy winning for their league. And so I think one thing, it's just a game between great athletes and they want to be able to trash-talk the other league. Home field is there and it's significant. But it's not the reason that we're going to manage hard or play hard or coach hard. I think it's just because you keep score.

Q. With the seasons that Johnny Damon and Brian Roberts are having, how much did you wrestle with that lead-off decision and what was the deciding factor?

TERRY FRANCONA: I acknowledge, Brian Roberts, like you said, is having an MVP-type season. I think Johnny Damon is doing the same thing, and he did it last year. I did wrestle with it. What I did wrestle is Brian Roberts understanding why I wanted Johnny Damon to lead off. I went over and talked to him about it, he's an awesome kid, he not only completely agreed, but he going to come talk to me. I did want to talk to him and make him understand that this was certainly not a slap in the face, but something I thought needed to be done, not only because of what Johnny has done this year, but for his career.

Q. Having pitched Saturday, how much can you go tomorrow, and how much influences will Ozzie have on how much you pitch tomorrow?

MARK BUEHRLE: I talked to Mr. Francona and he asked my availability. I bounce back pretty quick, I think I threw 100-some odd pitches, I told him I would be available to go one, two innings. Ozzie keeps saying he only wants me to go one inning, but when the game gets here, the situation, we'll have to see, but I'm available to go as much as he needs me to go.

MARIO IMPEMBA: Mark. Thank you.

End of FastScripts...

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