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October 12, 2011

Tony La Russa


Q. What have you been told about the weather for tonight?
TONY LA RUSSA: Cautiously optimistic is kind of the way I would explain it. They think -- the latest check was 3 o'clock. They are going to check again at 5:00. They are optimistic that we can play.
But they are also, by the way, they were very clear, the Commissioner does not want a lot of delays, interruptions and make -- the pitching for us.

Q. WHAT kind of contingency plans do you make for that? Does it have any effect on who might be in your lineup? Do you have any kind of starting pitching contingency or do you just treat it like it's a normal night?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, the lineup would not change. I mine, if it was that deal where we got that time we played the Reds, where it looked like it was going to rain quickly and a lot, and then -- but my impression is they would not start the game if they think we are going to be stopping it soon. If they said we are going to do that, then might not start Carp right away.

Q. The clubs have played 20 times, it's dead even. Is the sample size large enough to say, this is the way it is?
TONY LA RUSSA: Yeah, I think so. I think so. The comment that Ron made; I think we are two really good teams, very evenly balanced. You cannot predict who is going to win. We are both going to take our shot.

Q. A couple of your younger hitters were talking yesterday about Mark McGwire's influence and giving him a lot of credit for the fact that the team has led the National League in a bunch of different categories. From what you've seen, how much credit should Mark be given for particularly the improvement of the younger hitters on your team?
TONY LA RUSSA: That's like a mixed blessing, because as a staff, Dave Duncan is a good example. Players are the ones who get the credit. They are the ones that are playing. You know, the coach's job is just to be there for them and not draw any attention to yourself and Mark has done a good job. And he's doing what pitchers do for Dave; they won't speak for themselves.
I think Mark, you know, this is one of those, you can take five minutes to answer; I'll take a minute. There wasn't anything about friendship or loyalty that made that invitation to come here true. I just had an opportunity to watch him as a rookie, I watched him just be a very talented guy that did not really study the art of hitting versus the art of pitching and then in 1991, he gives Doug Rader a lot of credit and from that point on, Mark changed dramatically, changed his stroke and knows exactly what he's doing with his stroke and he can teach that. Really studying the way pitchers work; studied the mental aspect of concentrating and understanding how hard it is so that you didn't beat yourself up.
He just became remarkable. And the last thing was, when he got out, and I would stay in touch with him, and, in fact, talking to his wife, Stephanie, he had the passion to coach. He was coaching kids in a little facility. That's why I kept inviting him to come to spring training because I knew he had a lot to share. So when he came last year, I was not surprised that he had a lot to offer. I was surprised at how quickly he got into the art of conversing, relating, getting across his points. You learn how to make those points, and it was so natural for them that, I mean, I watched in the second year, guys go to him because he's so understanding and he knows how hard it is. He's a heck of a lot more understanding than I would be; man, you gotta quit chasing pitches, blah, blah, blah. He's really very good.

Q. From your observation, Kyle finished the season very well, what did you see different in him in the last six weeks or two months or whatever it was? And the other one was, are there any early indicators with him where you have a good feel for whether he's going to be good or is going to struggle?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, the early indicators are whatever Dunc says, I listen to.
But health is a key part of him being what he can be, which is what he's been this year most of the time. He showed a lot of guts the last couple of years going out there with 75 percent of his ammunition and at times getting his brains beat in. This year he's been healthy.
So the only thing with him, every time, he's one of the over-triers. He wants to be perfect every time something goes wrong. Just like when Jaime said happened to him in that inning, he got distracted, hey, if I just talk to Ron Darling, he said when he pitched for Dave Duncan one time he was in a big jam. And Dave just says, "Can you get one out, in a row."
He said, "Yeah." That's what you've got to do. It's just a matter of concentration.
I think the fact that he's healthy, is real important, and just keeping after it without trying too hard. Trying just hard enough.

Q. During a playoff rain delay, are there 25 different routines that guys are going through to either stay sharp or goof around, and are there -- are they any different from a regular season rain delay?
TONY LA RUSSA: I don't think there's any difference. I mean, one thing is you're a -- we'll watch the Tigers and the Rangers. We'll get in groups. Some guys play cards. Some guys play dominos. A couple guys play chess. Most of the guys take some time to work on their fantasy football teams.
Not a lot different. I mean, everybody's kind of aware. The thing you don't have to worry about is sometimes during the season, when you have one of these, you lose your edge because you've got your routine. You don't have to worry about it now because everybody will have their edge back on both sides.

Q. Can you talk about how you weigh Holliday versus Craig in this situation? I know Holliday improved with his situation with his hand and Craig was productive for you in the previous series. Is there a consideration when you look at the two right now, how fit one is compared to the other?
TONY LA RUSSA: I think just the fact that you're asking that question is a heck of a compliment to what Allen did this year and what he showed last year. If you're talking about Holliday, you're talking about one of the best hitters in either league, and if he's healthy, Craig has got a lot of earning to be at the same level.
Same thing with Lance. He could play right field instead of Lance, but when those two guys are there, that's why you work so hard sometimes to get Craig playing time at other positions, because he can be very productive. But both guys being healthy, I mean, it's not a tough call. Allen is not Matt yet.

Q. Is Holliday healthy right now?
TONY LA RUSSA: Yeah, I talked to him yesterday on the off-day, and, yeah, he feels good.

Q. You're playing against a team that was very dominant at home and less so on the road. Do you have any idea what would be behind that, and also, do you expect this to be just one of those series where the hitters are in front of the pitchers?
TONY LA RUSSA: No, I think the -- pitcher -- I'll answer the pitching thing first. Any of the starting pitchers on either side, if they are sharp, they are top-of-the-line guys. You're talking Marcum, he's had a really good year, Greinke. Wolf cranks out really good ones, Gallardo; our guys, too. So if they're sharp the hitters are not going to have a lot to hit and you have a pitcher's game on one side or both sides.
Stats are weird. They have a tremendous amount of confidence playing at home. They struggle some on the road. But the thing that bring us back into reality here is, since the season -- since the ballpark opened in 2006, Milwaukee has probably had more success or as much as maybe Philadelphia playing here. So they have confidence they can play in our ballpark. So I even think that potential edge for us is not something we should count on. Just going to have to play the game.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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