home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


October 19, 2011

Tony La Russa


Q. How has Rafael Furcal changed your team? And do you think this is a case where a guy sort of reinvigorated his career just in the last couple months?
TONY LA RUSSA: I mean, he's been a real good player for a long time. So I think health is everything with him. He had some health problems there last year and this year. We've been fortunate we got him at a time when he was healthy, and he's a premier player. I mean, helps you in every facet of the game, in not just his play but his enthusiasm.
He was a guy that joined us and not been in a World Series, with Dotel and Arthur, for example, and that was fun to see the guys -- like we had no chance, some chance, a real chance, he was part of the enthusiasm.

Q. With the two guys you added for this round, how do you anticipate using Westbrook? Do you hold him back in case he needs to go long, or is he part of the bullpen? And then at second base, is that any more of an open thing, even with Skip back, has maybe Punto played himself into more of a job share there?
TONY LA RUSSA: First answer on Westbrook is we really were concerned, and it should have been the same answer for all, the first two clubs, because they were good hitting clubs, too. But the way the bullpen was configured, we really didn't have a guy that could throw extended amount of innings in one of those crazy games. We had a bunch of guys that if rested could go 15 to 20 to 30, and then again the next day.
Jake makes a lot of sense for us because he's in shape like a starter, and we also think that his turbo sinker can play a factor in this series.
As far as Schu, we know he can play second base and he can play the outfield, so he becomes for sure now that Chambers is not with us, he's our fourth outfielder. Whether he plays second, he hasn't played in a couple weeks. If he plays tomorrow, I'm not sure how many times the balls goes there, left-hander against their right-hand lineup. But one day at a time. I wouldn't hesitate to play him at second but I'm not sure I will.

Q. This is your sixth World Series now. On the eve of it, how are your emotions or thoughts different than they were maybe the first time back in '88?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, the first one you're just -- I wouldn't say clueless. You have a little clue, but virtually clueless. It was like '83, first time in the playoffs. You're just hoping you don't pass out during the game.
And I remember -- and that's a painful memory because there's no doubt in my mind that Tommy did a much better job at getting his club ready to play that World Series than I did with the A's. So it's a painful experience.
It really didn't make any difference in '89 because that club was so mission driven to win it, they didn't need any coaches. But anytime you get in, I think you learn and you get more excited because it's more fun.

Q. Albert talked yesterday about how quick 2004 went for him, and I'm just wondering how much the guys on your club who have been here before have talked to the kids about taking in the moment, taking a breath, kind of just counseling them on how this approach should be?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, that conversation has been had, because even understanding and trying to slow it down, you don't slow it down. I mean, this thing is going to be over quickly. There's so much happening, and you're responsible for so much as players, including family and tickets and stuff, friends, that you really can't pause too much. But you have moments in the clubhouse where you should back off a little bit and say, hey, this is the World Series and I'm on a team that's in it and enjoy the moment, try to win it.
So those conversations have already been had.

Q. How much better is your defense now perhaps than it was the first two months of the season?
TONY LA RUSSA: That's a good question to ask, it's a crappy question to answer because I don't like disrespecting the game on the other side, but especially our team. You know, we've had some defensive issues, and we're better now. But we hung in there real well with the guys that we're playing, and playing their hearts out, and we didn't play perfect, but -- I don't want to get into that.

Q. In recent years we've seen guys with stark splits, even really good at the day and struggled at night like Mulder did that year or guys have very stark road splits and people think it's coincidence; it could be the opposite next year. You've put a lot of stock into decisions with Jaime's home/road splits. What is it beyond the numbers that you kind of see and what is the reason that you hang on to to get him the home starts?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, there's not a whole lot that you have to analyze in these situations. If we had more of a veteran starting staff, then you'd have more information, but we don't have a lot of information, and you don't have a lot of information with a guy like Jaime who's in his second year. The one thing you do have is he's pitched well at home, so you go with that.
But there isn't any reason why he can't pitch well on the road, and he has pitched well on the road. He's got that kind of composure and that kind of stuff. But when you're trying to find an edge, that's one of the angles you play.

Q. You mentioned Game 4 as being in pencil and not to draw any hard conclusions about who starts there. I was wondering, what variables are in play for that? And B, is one of those variables that Jackson may be available in the bullpen for one of these first two games?
TONY LA RUSSA: Yeah, I think the whole thing is that I don't think you're allowed to plan too far ahead. I went ahead, and Dave and I talked about it, we said Lohse and Jackson, but you don't know what's going to happen tonight, tomorrow. You don't know what kind of games you're going to have. And all you know is every game has its own extremely important significance, so you're not going to hold back something for later in the series if you figure you can win it now. So Jackson is a great example. This guy is so talented, so strong, so versatile that if we get a chance to win and he's the guy and he pitches, then we'll do something else.

Q. So he's live tonight?
TONY LA RUSSA: I wouldn't say he's live tonight because he's been resting but he could be live tomorrow.

Q. In addition to success, you've enjoyed a lot of stability in your managerial career. Over in Boston, Terry Francona, who's won as many titles as you have, is gone after eight years. What are your thoughts on the secrets to having a long shelf life as a manager? And also any thoughts of Francona?
TONY LA RUSSA: I have never hesitated to give credit to the three organizations I've been with and the good fortune I've had. I've been compared many, many times to my friends Tom Kelly and Jim Leyland, who are really close. We've talked for years since the '80s, and we have a lot of the same opinions and philosophies. And the only reason that I have more wins is that the three organizations, ownership, front office, players, went through some times where there were struggles. So it has everything to do with good fortune.
In Terry's case you won't find anybody in Major League Baseball that doesn't recognize that if you're successful in Boston, you're special. That's a real difficult managing, coaching, playing position. It's great passion, and it's fun to be there for a lot of reasons, but it's tough. You're under scrutiny and people literally are living and dying with what's happening. So Terry among his peers has got top-shelf respect and credit for what he accomplished there. We were all surprised how it ended, and I think I read that he wants to manage. He'll manage somewhere, and he'll manage very well.

Q. How special is it to be here with Mark McGwire as coach and coach after doing what you two did in Oakland, and not having the chance to go to the World Series as manager and player as Cardinals?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, it's real special to be in the World Series, and I wouldn't want to single out how pleased all of us are that Mark is a part of it any more than other guys on the team, especially the guys who are here for the first time. Those are the ones that really ring your bell. I mean, I'm really excited for them. As you know the whole story, there are a lot of great players, Hall of Famers that didn't play in a World Series, some didn't even get in the playoffs.
But I'm pleased because I think there's a certain recognition about what a qualified hitting coach he is, and that's why he got the job. He made his mark last year, and he's adding to it. That I like because those of us that knew he could do it are glad to see that the results are there.

Q. You saw Lance as an opponent for a long time. What stands out to you, having him in your clubhouse this year, about him?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, the thing we didn't know in the other clubhouse was the kind of teammate he is. All you knew was what you saw against you. And that's a little bit misleading because you ask a lot of questions, and as a staff we're always kind of picking because you never know. It's an Earl Weaver thing, you always look at the guys on the other side and find out about them because they may hit you some days. That's going back to the '80s. He passed that along, and it's true. Our staff has always asked about a lot of the guys. And it had come through besides the player that he was, that he was a good teammate.
But you've got to get him there every day from day one of Spring Training until now to see all he contributes. There's a real good life on our club, throughout the season, good days, bad days, and he's got a real good temperament for playing hard and being really good but having his profession in place. He didn't walk the plank, and you shouldn't. He's been delightful, great.

Q. You referenced earlier the series against the Dodgers being painful because you felt Lasorda had done a better job. Can you share now what you've learned and what you do to help get a team ready for the World Series, what you do to have them ready?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, I really believe that, and Tommy is one of the guys that told me, it's really a staff -- manager doesn't -- you don't exclude the coaches when you go out there and do all the communicating. The staff is responsible to put guys in position to be successful. I read something that Ron said and he's exactly right, we all do the same thing.
So as far as just getting guys, their heads right, feeling good about competing, it's our staff, and our staff includes our trainers and our video guys and equipment guys, and there's a lot that you can do just to create a good atmosphere, and it's done other places, and we do it, as well.

Q. With the passion for baseball in this area, the history of the Cardinals, alumni like Gibson and Brock always being around, how much more special, or is it more special being in a World Series here in this town, managing in it, than maybe elsewhere?
TONY LA RUSSA: I don't know, it was real special in Oakland. It would have been special in Chicago. I just think it's a dream come true. There is something to the history and the tradition of the Cardinals that as soon as you sign on you feel, and those guys remind you. It's my first year, they come into Spring Training and they're there, and you know they're pulling like hell for that year's edition to add something, and I think it helps year in and year out. I think our guys feel it and they want to live up to it as best they can.
So that's what it is here. But there isn't anybody playing in the World Series that (can't say) it isn't the experience of a lifetime.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297