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October 7, 2011

Tony La Russa


Q. I think you have all your pitchers that are on the roster listed as available in the bullpen, some with parentheses. Is there a scenario that you would use Jaime, specifically Jaime, or is he just there in case this thing goes long? Can you imagine a spot with the success he's had against this team that you would put him out there?
TONY LA RUSSA: I think much more than likely, to use regular relievers in the game, but if you had to go into those -- Lohse is the most rested and I'm sure could do a good job.
Jaime is to get a left-hander, just be a third left-hander if it comes up that way.

Q. What went into the shift you made in the lineup today?
TONY LA RUSSA: Went back and looked at the at-bats that Jon has had against Halladay, and he's very smart, very adaptable. He's just gotten worked over. Then you have Nick who has some experience against him, got a couple hits, plus he has done very well against the Phillies in his career. You know, you get extra defensive player, and Skip can do anything in the outfield. That's the reason.

Q. Given that decision that you made with those guys, we've seen you do that in the regular season where you will side with what one guy does against a pitcher. Is there a hesitancy to do that in the post-season when for the most part you have stuck with the guys that have got you here or the guys that represent the best eight, not just the best eight against the pitcher?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, I don't know, I -- to get here, we had a four-game series here, I played Punto here. Are you asking about playing Nick instead of Jay, or because Schu (Schumaker) is in the outfield?

Q. Both.
TONY LA RUSSA: I mean, I have -- if Nick had have been healthy, we'd have had a better record. We have a lot of confidence in all the things he can do to help us win a game. And Skip has proven even though he's made this conversion to the infield, looks very comfortable there, whenever we put him back in the outfield, which we have done. He's shown good jumps, and he's got a great arm.
Like I say, I think it's -- the guy we're facing, I think -- my bet is I'll talk to the hitting coaches about it, we think Nick will take a better at-bat, and we've got defense at second and center, and I think it's an edge we want him to play. I want him to play.

Q. Charlie Manuel said he got here at 10:30 in the morning. He said he got tired of sitting around the house. How anxious and excited were you? And after thousands of games doing this, how fortunate do you feel to be part of a game managing like this?
TONY LA RUSSA: I sent a couple messages to friends, and I said, to me it's an honor to be a part of this game. You know, the final game of a five- or seven-game is what you dream about. Kids dream about it as players. And I certainly did dream about it as a coach or a manager, and I've had a few experiences, and it's never a disappointment. Then you add who we're playing. We have so much respect for the Phillies, love the way they go about it, the match-up of Chris (Carpenter) and Roy (Halladay), and what we've done. We've played really well against good clubs for a long time.
I had a similar experience to Charlie, I was getting tired, so I actually put myself in jeopardy and I walked the streets of Philadelphia and heard quite a bit, but nobody put their hands on me, so I was happy.

Q. I was wondering, a lot has been made about how the team has played differently or better the last six weeks. To some degree would you describe or concede that to a degree you've managed a little differently the last five or six weeks, either by how you've used the rotation, depending on certain relievers a little bit differently, maybe played a little more stable lineup, pushed more offensively? How would you look at how you've approached it over these five or six weeks where the team has kicked it in?
TONY LA RUSSA: I mean, I don't put a lot of stock in that in the sense of what was different about how you approach it because just like today, whether it's us or the Phillies, coaches, manager, we're going to try and put guys in position to play and pitch, and it's a players' game. And as a manager I think you feel the urgency from day one to win games. You just can't get to the end of the season and pound out the wins.
I think the only difference that once you concede is when you get to the last six weeks and the end is in sight, if you're in contention, the games are running out. So there are certain decisions that you can make, that you can push, that you're not -- that you shouldn't do earlier. But the big key was that our players were playing well, and we were in game after game after game. And so the decisions meant something, so you kept putting players there and they kept responding.

Q. Did you get a chance to talk to Leyland after last night or this morning? And if so, can you share anything he said about his game or what you guys have in front of you?
TONY LA RUSSA: Yeah, I talked to Jim when I talked to my family, I think. Yeah, I just -- we're close, so I was watching the game closely. And when they went to the bottom of the 7th, I left him a message on his phone, you've got nine outs to go, then six, then three. He called me back around 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning, so we talked, and he talked to me a little bit ago. Yeah, we both agree that one thing we have in common is that the home club -- there are a lot of expectations. The Yankees have expectations; the Phillies win 100 games. They've got a great club, representing the league, and that's a tough burden, but we also agree that they have Roy Halladay.
We feel like it's an even game. We like our team. We know how hard we're going to go after it. We like Chris. But we know how good they are, too. But yeah, I've talked to him.

Q. You touched on that with the pressure on the home team in a deciding game. You mentioned the Yankees last night and the Phillies today. Is there something tangible to that, do you think, in having to deal with that? People consider home field an advantage, but when you kind of have the weight of the expectations on you, does it allow you to be a looser team in this situation?
TONY LA RUSSA: I just know that the expectations come not just -- it's not the home-field advantage. Of course you get it because you have a better record, but the success that you have had that year, over years, the Yankees had it, the Phillies right now, they've been our league's best, and that carries with it a certain extra pressure. But just like if you don't -- if it's ridiculous, if you don't win the World Series, you've had a lousy year. That's ridiculous but some people would say that. If you have a outstanding regular season like they had and you don't get by the first best of five, what a wasted season. Players understand that. It's not fair, and it creates a distraction. But we've had that. We've had that situation with the A's and the Cardinals, and you just have to ignore it.
I'm confident the Phillies will ignore it tonight, and we're going to see a real good effort by them. But just because they're human beings and they can get distracted, it can be a problem that you have to overcome.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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