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October 9, 2009

Tony La Russa


Q. Tony, last night you said it was important to get upset when you lose a game that you should have won. Have you been able to let that anger go, or is it something instead that you want to hold on to and use to your advantage hopefully?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, the point I was making was that there's a difference between losing and getting down and discouraged, and it just means that the energy just leaves your body. You just kind of droop and feel sorry for yourself, and what if this, and regrets.
If you get upset, then that's energy-producing. Okay, let's do something about it. What you don't want to do is to act too cool, like what's the big deal, and you don't want to act like it's the end of the world, because it's not. We play tomorrow.

Q. What do you want to see from your club in Game 3 tomorrow?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, I really believe that the way we went about it in LA was, as far as the effort and the intensity and concentration and everything, was outstanding. I think we made a lot of good things happen, came up short.
Give the Dodgers credit, but more of the same; just don't give in to -- just try to have more runs than they do and try not to play the bottom of the ninth inning. I heard the dugout. The dugout was on fire for two games. Guys were trying. Just keep trying.

Q. A lot was obviously made, and for good reason, about the one play with Matt (Holliday) yesterday. Two things on that: One, do you specifically personally pull him aside with any kind of message, not necessarily tell us what it was; and second, do you maybe try to convey to the team, to us, to anybody how much more there was to that game than one play?
TONY LA RUSSA: Those are two good questions. Number one, I think Matt's play was a good example of the whole game after about the third inning. I think you have to understand that the conditions were not perfect for both sides. You saw Ludwick break back on a ball. The ball fell in front of him, and you saw some funny routes by their outfielders.
I thought both hitters and both gloves really worked hard not to give in to twilight, and good stuff. So that's why I say, I thought we went about it right. I know the Dodgers were. Wainwright was outstanding.
But in Matt's case that was not a routine ball. It just happened to be right at him at that one length, and you can catch it with your glove up, glove down, ball is sinking. Should he have caught it? He's a Major Leaguer and I'm sure he thinks he should. But we just explained it to him and the team, for both teams, it was tough conditions and nobody gave in.

Q. Do you have a Game 4 starter yet, and if not, is Carpenter in the mix for that?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, what we're doing is we're spending a lot of time thinking about what we do to get to Game 4. I mean, that is definitely the priority. But whether it's the right thing or it's more fun, anyway, we are thinking about what if 4. I think that's the way we should think. Chris is one of the guys that's a possibility.

Q. Are you surprised at all that they're pitching Albert (Pujols) so carefully? After you acquired Holliday, it seems like the intentional walks fell off.
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, we've seen that strategy before. I mean, it's a sign of respect. I think Joe (Torre) has been very clear, articulate, explaining the respect that he and the Dodgers have for Albert.
But one of the reasons we're a lot better club here in the last half of the year is that we have protection behind him. I think I talked about that the first or second day. You do that enough, Matt is going to make you pay, or Ryan, or whoever hits it will make you pay. That's one of the good things that you have. Other clubs have it and we have it. You pick your poison. Whichever way you want to go, you want to pitch to Albert, he'll get you. But if Albert keeps getting on base, we'll pick him up.

Q. Just wondering about your thoughts on Franklin. I mean, obviously if the catch is made, we're not even asking you about it. But it kind of snowballed after that. Will you stick with him? Will you try more like a mix and match approach? Just your general thoughts on Franklin.
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, you know, I think I qualify this because I think the subject is important enough. You know, if you lose your credibility when you're speaking as a manager or a coach or whatever, then I don't think you're worth much, and your comments aren't worth much. I try to be as honest as I can. Sometimes if I don't want to get all the honesty out, I just evade it.
So when I say, and I echo this from Duncan and from Marty (Mason), we talked about it later, we were really impressed with Ryan yesterday. It was his first true save situation in the postseason. You look at his delivery, you look at the life of his arm, the way he handled a tough break, and I was very impressed, so was Dave, so was Marty.
So the short answer is he's got a day rest. We have a chance to save it tomorrow. He will definitely be our closer. Why do I say that? Well, he retired Manny (Ramirez). Alone he's a very dangerous guy. He got a ball that was in play.
Then we were going to expand the zone on Blake, and he made some great pitches. Blake being a quality profile, some pitches off that could have been the last out.
And then with Belliard, he tried to get a gimme on the curveball. That's a compliment to their Dodgers' preparation. We were looking breaking ball probably because that pitch had been thrown to them by Adam several times. So that's where you kick yourself. Maybe there's a different way to go about it.
So he had the one gimme over the breaking ball, the guy looking for it, and instead of trying to hit a two-run homer to win it or a three-run homer, he hit a single to tie it. A nice piece of hitting.
And then low at the time row, who had struggled against him, the pitch was in, it had a good life, it got a little bit up. And what you try to do with that pitch, try to get it down, so if the guy gets it, sometimes the ground ball may get through and beat you, let the ball go up, sometimes you get a looper.
What I'm telling you is we were very pleased how we handled that chance to tie the series. He didn't show any kind of rushing, any kind of panic, and I think he felt good afterwards, not about the outcome, but I think he thought he handled it, and we agree.

Q. To kind of follow up on an earlier question, to what extent might tomorrow dictate what you do in 4, meaning will you make any of those guys available in the bullpen tomorrow given that it's an elimination game, maybe an all hands on deck kind of thing?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, when I talked about options, like I say, I think 99 percent of our attention is on trying to get to Sunday, so everything is about Saturday. But I did mention that Chris is an option. Chris is not going to be in the bullpen tomorrow.
Other than that, it's the other 99 percent. We've got to win tomorrow. We're going to try to win tomorrow, and then we'll see what we shape up with as far as alternatives.

Q. So those guys will be listed as available?
TONY LA RUSSA: Yes, they will.

Q. I've got to ask you to weigh in on the white towels. Last night Wainwright said that he thought all those white towels the fans spin around are distracting, the baseball is white. He said he doesn't know why they give out white towels. What's your opinion on it?
TONY LA RUSSA: I thought that was a case of really high quality, first class teammate trying to cut his left fielder a break. I mean, nothing is worse than basketball where they have white towels behind the basket. That wasn't the problem. I thought it was a cute comment he made about blue towels. But I'll guarantee you if white towels were distracting, we'd have white towels, we'd have white towels and do everything we do to distract the opponent. They have them all over.
To me the issue was yesterday it was potentially a tough seeing day for a hitter or a defender. It wasn't perfect. But I just think that Adam was trying to take care of his left fielder who is a great teammate.

Q. A lot of the attention this season was on Carp and Wainwright and how they fit into the Cy Young equation. What has Pineiro done for you to put himself into that class, and what he's done all season as far as his poise and what he may bring into his first elimination game?
TONY LA RUSSA: We're excited about sending him out there because of what we have observed. We liked him when we first got him.
Last year he had an interrupted year with injury. This year he come into camp perfect, good winter off-season of work, full spring. His efficiency all year long against all kinds of lineups spoke for itself, and I like the weapons he takes to the mound tomorrow. I mean, he has a lot of ways to get a hitter out, plus he's a cap, tough to run on, and they have some guys that can run. So I also think he's got the right experience. This isn't the first time he's been around a winning club. He was on the Seattle club. He's a veteran. He's got a lot of things working for him. We're excited to send him out there. I think he'll give us a chance, a real good chance.

Q. From your experience, is it easier to bounce back from a game where you maybe get handily beat as opposed to one last night where it's pretty excruciating down to the last pitch?
TONY LA RUSSA: I mean, I think it's easier when you come close to winning because it's like fine hair, play here -- even Game 1. We had done enough there where something could have fallen for us.
But yesterday, as close as it was -- then all you have is heart break, but you don't have any question that you were competitive and it was there for you. You get your butt beat, you say, man, are they that much better than we are?
So I think the biggest problem, and it's one that's handleable is the club needs to understand one of the things that happens when you qualify for the playoffs is you're taking a shot at this humongous high of a bottle of champagne and going to the next level and the next level, and winning a championship.
Well, there is a downside. This is a tough game, what's the big deal, just another spring training. It's a painful game, and that comes with putting yourself in this position. As long as you understand that, it's turn the page, and we're still alive. I'd rather not get beat clearly, but I'd rather get your heart broken than be humiliated.

Q. Generally how do you think the mood was today? I'm sure it was a tough plane ride last night, but your sense of your players' heads and where they are today, the day after?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, I thought it was -- I thought it fit what we believe about this club, and if you're here in St. Louis you've heard me say it before and I'll say it again. When the game was over, I thought everybody handled it. Like I said, I don't even think Adam's comments were an excuse. I think he was just picking up his teammate. Buses were really quiet. The plane trip was really good. A lot of guys -- nobody pointing fingers, nobody hiding. I mean, it was classic family, tight. But what I believe is, and I've said it over and over again, and every time I say it they keep showing it, this is a very tough-minded club. They've proven it now.
This is into our third year, and they're proving it again this year, and I have no doubts that tomorrow our fans are going to see a very energetic, trying to win a stinking game club. And I believe just knowing the confidence that we have in our fans, I think the fans understand we came close twice, and having them be really excited -- I'll tell you one thing. It would be like Jack Buck, and I'm not Jack Buck unfortunately, but maybe we can get somebody else, he told the fans not to go on the umpires. I hope that when Matt gets introduced and when he comes to play for the first time, our fans give him a long standing ovation, and that's what we expect is our fans are going to be there, and we will not let them down.

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