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October 6, 2011

Tony La Russa


Q. Last weekend, I don't know if you have a sixth sense or not, but you were talking about a potential Carpenter versus Halladay. Now that it's here how excited are you for it?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, it may be a better word, but I think classic. I don't know, I thought about it seriously when we were on the second game, so there was a realistic chance to make it happen. I think it's just fascinating because we were talking to some people yesterday, it's not just a match-up of two great pitchers, it's their background together. I don't know if it's ever happened in an elimination game like this that two guys who were teammates, Minor League, Major League, still maintain a friendship, this may be the first time ever. But that caliber, the way we feel about competing against the Phillies, just the two of them is classic. It's just a great opportunity, very exciting.

Q. Even when you guys haven't racked up runs in this series, it seems like y'all have done a good job of getting base runners, working at-bats against what's a pretty good staff. What do you see that you guys are doing offensively that's working and that's made you able to have some success against them?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, first of all, they're veteran and a pretty good staff. They're a very good staff. And you know, we've made some things happen. We've also had a lot of opportunities and didn't cash in because they're very good. Yeah, it's just as simple as competing. You know, if you just talk about the pitching, you know how they're going to compete. The starting pitchers are competitors, not just trying, but knowing what they're doing. The relievers they bring in for the most part are veterans that know what they're doing, too. You've just got to compete against them. That's what hitting against pitching like that is, and the Phillies compete, so we're competing on the defensive side. And then you have to just figure out what competing means.

Q. Because your team has played in so many games down the stretch just to get to this point from the regular season, now here in Game 5, is your team better prepared to handle the onslaught, the pressure of a Game 5 elimination than say other teams maybe not because of what you had to go through to get here?
TONY LA RUSSA: I think we're as prepared as any. I mean, I think -- you know, this is -- compared to the Phillies, these guys have been through this over and over again for five years. So they are very prepared. Our group is younger. There are some guys taking major at-bats, having major roles as pitchers that are just getting their first real taste of it or second taste. So I think the fact it's been so hard for us and the guys have responded means that we're as prepared, because instead of taking five years they had to grow up in a hurry. Yeah, they're excited, and it's just a good feeling to know that tomorrow we'll take our best shot, and they're going to bring their best shot, and that's the way you play the game and see what the score is.

Q. Can you walk us through some of the guys who are hurt or injured or playing sore, Holliday, Schumaker, and what their availability is for tomorrow? And how do you view I guess it would be Lohse and his possibility of being in the bullpen tomorrow? Is it kind of all hands on deck tomorrow, or do you push somebody aside just in case?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, first of all, because we just arrived, you hit the questions that we need to get answered once we get in uniform. We've made it optional, and I saw all the guys that were on our bus, I peeked in the clubhouse, guys that were on the other bus, I'm guessing that Matt and Skip are going to be here, but until they go through their deals, I don't know their availability. I probably have more of a question about Skip than I do about Matt because I think at the end of the game yesterday Matt felt -- with a day's rest, I don't see it going backwards, but I could be wrong. But Skip, it's a leg thing, it's a cramp, but cramp is something having to do with muscular. But we'll see how it feels.
And on the pitching side, I think everybody that could be pitch will be listed except for Edwin.

Q. Carpenter's last start there were a couple of things that came into play. He was pitching on short rest and the strike zone became a topic of conversation during that game, as well. How much do you anticipate Chris being better or that being kind of an abnormal start for him, what happened last time?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, the first time he's ever done it. He was not as sharp, and that may have been the reason. There's no reason to think it wasn't.
The strike zone was not a real issue with him. His delivery was not good early. And in fact, if you saw like the third inning and as he got into it, Dunc (Duncan) recognized what it was, talked to him between innings, and he adjusted it. We're feeling like his delivery is going to start good tomorrow and he'll be the Chris Carpenter we know he is.

Q. Your daughter tweeted Tuesday night that given your love for animals that there was a 98 percent chance that you were taking the rally squirrel home with you on Tuesday. After its appearance again last night, did you bring it with you today? And if you did, was it tough getting it through security?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, we've kind of figured -- you know about Allen Craig's pet tortoise? Do you know about that? Allen Craig has a pet tortoise, and my understanding is that the squirrel was the tortoise's pass to the game, and they're supposed to be here tomorrow together, and I don't know if the tortoise took a walk and the squirrel panicked. I don't know the rest of that story, but I think that the squirrel is attached to Craig's tortoise, and I'm expecting them to be here tomorrow. Maybe they have a suite so they won't be running on the field. I've never met it. I actually want to meet the tortoise. The squirrel, too.

Q. Is there any real likelihood, assuming health, that your lineup looks any different tomorrow than it did last night?
TONY LA RUSSA: You know, yesterday -- I don't know if it was factual, but maybe got a little more tension about -- I don't really think David (Freese) was really ever in jeopardy of not being in the lineup. But what you do, that's the fun part of playing games in October. It's just all about now, you're not looking ahead. So we'll get together, whether it's this afternoon.
Tomorrow is an 8:30 game, so we've got plenty of time. But we'll get the coaches together and look at the 14 guys, and there may be a call or two. The injury thing is a factor, but we'll get them together. I don't think there will be any big surprises. I know that I did write the lineup on a plane at night going back, the Game 5 lineup. I think there will be a difference or two from that Game 5 lineup.

Q. Can you talk about the challenge facing Halladay, what you saw last time facing him and the fact that your players have not had a lot of career at-bats against him, does that help or does that hurt?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, when you get the caliber of pitcher that he is, you can face him -- you can be in the same division with him, face him 15, 16 times a year and get four at-bats every one of those games and face him for five years. He just has so many weapons that he can attack you every at-bat, totally different. And if you count the number of pitches and you multiply them, it's just -- he's got a very heady catcher.
I said it yesterday, if you enjoy this part of it, and I really do, the defensive part of it, watching Ruiz and Molina, I mean, that's as good as it gets. I mean, they're both brilliant back there, especially when they have guys with talent on the mound to work with.
Little exposure, a lot of exposure, hopefully he's not sharp.

Q. How are the two starting pitchers similar, both kind of on and off the field with their demeanor and everything?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, I don't know Halladay very well. I just know what people have told me about him and I've talked to Carp about him over the years. I think they're very similar because they learned the value of hard work in between starts. They've learned the value of putting a lot of thought and preparation into the day they pitch, and from the first pitch to the last to the man who takes the ball away, they compete like maniacs. And I know they have a lot of shared experiences about what they've learned that's made them so successful. I think a lot of similarity, but I don't know if Roy Halladay is quiet or loud. I mean, I don't know. I know Carp, but very, very similar.

Q. The last few games you guys have done a pretty good job neutralizing Howard. Charlie thinks they've been a little too aggressive. Do you think you guys have been able to take advantage of that, or what have you seen on that end?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, first of all, there's nothing -- no secret scouting report we have. I think one of the reasons Charlie is so respected, he knows the whole game, but he's an outstanding hitting coach and he can recognize things about hitters, all hitters. I can remember a few years ago when Albert (Pujols) got off to a great start, Charlie is the first one that noticed it. People thought they'd get Albert out inside and he was taking an inside ball and hitting it out of the park in April. He was the first guy that noticed it. I saw what he said about some of the hitters and about Ryan, and they'll make some adjustments. But that's what this game is about. There were adjustments made in that game yesterday by the pitchers in the first inning, and it didn't happen very much the rest.
They have a lot of good hitters like Ryan Howard, and if you throw the pitch that's got a lot of the plate, we're not going to be successful.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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