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October 7, 2009

Tony La Russa


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Tony La Russa.

Q. Could you tell us your lineup for tonight's game?
TONY LA RUSSA: Leading off with Schumaker at second base, Skip Schumaker. Brendan Ryan at shortstop. Albert Pujols at first. Matt Holliday in left. Ryan Ludwick in right. Yadier Molina at 6th, DeRosa at 7th, and Colby Rasmus is center fielder hitting 8th.

Q. You had a decision at center and second. Could you kind of walk us through how those decisions kind of came together?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, I just think that it really came down to Colby or Rick at center. And I think Colby earned the start. Rick's close.
We have a good team. We have a choice to make. And second, Lugo goes a lot against left-handers and I would expect maybe tomorrow; we'll see how today goes. I felt like Schu was a good match-up for Wolf, and Julio has struggled against Wolf. In fact, quite a few of our guys have.

Q. Ankiel has been statistically your best pinch hitter. Does that factor into things, too, that he's been pretty good off the bench at times for you?
TONY LA RUSSA: Yeah, it's one of those deals you don't want to penalize him for starts and you give him starts. But he's had some very good at-bats coming off the bench, and that's an asset in these series, any series, especially a post-season series.
Like I said, I hate to penalize him just because he's a great pinch hitter, or a really good pinch hitter. But it's a factor.
I just think Colby's been having a lot of consistent at-bats and earned the start.

Q. Are you a fan of guys who kind of after struggling for part of a season for all the season going into the playoffs looking at as kind of a second chance or way to salvage the season? Or do you think that puts undo pressure? Specifically DeRosa has talked about how this is a chance for him.
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, I think there are times where you have a couple of things that happened during the season. One, you can have an injury that costs you at-bats or forces you to change your swing. If you get healthy, and you can start fresh. Another one is you can have a season start to get away from you and you start forcing and forcing and you get deeper in the hole.
The beauty of the post-season, you start 0-0 and if you're healthier, you can start from scratch and you don't have to feel like you're digging out of a hole.
If you've been struggling all year to get something going, same thing, fresh start.
So, yeah, I believe there's something to it. If you're not any good, you're not any good, either one, except you wouldn't have many chances to show it in the regular season. So I think -- like in Mark's case, I think it's a healthy attitude on his part.

Q. The two guys who got the last two spots in your bullpen, how did they kind of separate themselves or distinguish themselves for those spots?
TONY LA RUSSA: I don't know how you -- I don't know who you would define as the last two. I think Boggs is probably one of the two, I'm not sure what the other one would be. But Boggs. I mean, he showed some exciting stuff as a reliever. That's why he made it.
He came with the ability to I think get us three outs or get us one out. He's really letting it go. His velocity was mid-90s or above and he kept his composure. And as far as that, we really had a tough call. We'd have had a really tough call to go 11, because Hawksworth has done a good job, McClellan and Motte been part of what we do.
And so really going to 12 pitchers made us not to have to make a decision on Boggs versus one of the other young guys.

Q. When you looked at Boggs, did you primarily focus on what he had done since he went to the bullpen for you, or did you -- how much did you weight what he had done when you'd seen the Dodgers? How did that whole thing evolve with him specifically?
TONY LA RUSSA: I think more than anything, his work as a reliever. He came in there in several situations and against good hitters, was very tough to center. Got strikeouts. Really wasn't throwing the ball overly hard, he kept his -- like I said, kept his composure, his deliveries together.
So we feel like we've got an innings guy there, or at least a couple. So I think he was exciting when he pitched.

Q. How would you use him? How would you envision using him, Boggs?
TONY LA RUSSA: I mean, I don't know how the game's going to be played. So there's one scenario where the starter like Chris goes deep and then you probably go with somebody that's got more -- it may be another one where you have one of those games where you make your moves early. And he matches up well. Some of it is just -- Duncan has a good feel about where we need to go to certain areas of to get outs, and if he matches up well.

Q. You've had guys -- you've opened with guys like Welch and Stewart in the past, but have you ever had a better feeling going into the series with your two first starters than this one?
TONY LA RUSSA: I've never had a better one. I would definitely respectfully refrain from saying they're the best, just because we had Hoyt one year with Dodson with 24 and 22, and obviously Stewart was not just a great season pitcher, he was a great post-season pitcher, as Welch. Mike Moore that one year.
These two guys, I mean, they're as good as anybody we've trotted out for two games, that's for sure. And we figure we have a great chance when they pitch and then you play the games.

Q. You guys have dominated the Dodgers over the years, really, post-season, regular season, is there a different vibe not having the home field advantage in this best of five?
TONY LA RUSSA: I'm not sure about the dominating. Because I'm a historian, I think the all-time record between the two clubs is about even. So I think the clubs have played so even.
I just think that home field, start on the road, it's one of those deals whatever happens, if you're good enough to win a post-season series you're going to have to be good on the road, you have to be good at home.
We like to have started at home. That would be an edge if you could. But we didn't get it. But other than that, I think our games against the Dodgers even this year when we had an edge, couple went to extra innings, they were all real close, we won two, three games here.
I think it's a very even series. They're very tough to play against. What we're trying to be is very tough to play against as well.

Q. Wainwright goes tomorrow. You reflect back on 2006 and what's the same about him and what has changed? Other than his job assignment, what has changed about him?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, he keeps -- what he did in '06 was that he started out with one role and very quickly started getting more important outs later when Izzy was still healthy. We were impressed that a young guy could have that kind of composure and guts. Right at the end when he showed in the last period of the year, post-season, was you couldn't shake him.
As a starter, I mean, he's got that ability. I knock on wood. It could happen tomorrow: He gets a couple of guys on, gets a couple of hits.
What happens in one game doesn't define the pitcher. This guy has an ability to keep his concentration, keep his delivery, keep his guts together and he makes pitches in key situations.
And that's why that Friday also he's pitching for 20 and all of a sudden he had a great game, great pitches right there until he got tired. So that's a real ability of his, the same with Carpenter.

Q. Managing like a young guy like him when he first came up, young pitchers, young players can be all over the map. Some too hyper, some maybe need to be humbled. Some of them don't bear down all the time. It's almost like your "arf activities," they have to be housebroken or whatever. With Wainwright, though, from the beginning, was there any evidence at all that he didn't concentrate or he needed to be humbled or needed to be reminded what it was like to be a pro. Was he any different than a lot of guys in that respect?
TONY LA RUSSA: Yeah, he was a mature -- I think a lot of that is some terrific early development with the Braves. They didn't just walk into a lot of that success they did a lot of good things with pitchers and players.
So he came over and he was not young-acting on or off the field. And the only thing was -- and who can blame them, like a lot of young -- a little impatient. Didn't want to go to the Minor Leagues, wanted to pitch in the Big Leagues. That happens.
I think he's got a terrific combination of confidence without being arrogant. Great teammate. He's very special. And to have it this together this early in his career is a terrific sign for later on.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Tony.

End of FastScripts

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