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October 21, 2011

Tony La Russa


Q. The early signs of this series were very close back and forth, and there haven't been a lot of World Series like that lately. As a Cardinal manager I'm sure you wouldn't mind having three nice wins and call it a day, but as a baseball fan how good would it be for the sport to have that dramatic back-and-forth long World Series?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, it's two different perspectives. I mean, obviously if you're a coach or a manager, the farther you're ahead, the less chance -- you get so far ahead, you can't screw it up. That's been our strategy for years. So you like those better. But as a fan, thrilling, exciting games. There were a lot of them in the playoffs. A couple games got away at the end, I think it's healthy, but we don't have any control over it other than you just play the best you can. They do, too, and see how it turns out. But the first two have been I think very entertaining.

Q. Are you ready to announce the DH, what you're going to do with that tomorrow?
TONY LA RUSSA: Yes, I am. It really comes down to just respecting Lance. He's a pivot on that, and talking to him, I think tomorrow we'll play Allen in right field and Lance will DH and go day to day with it.

Q. Last night four of the players left without talking to the media including Albert, who was a key point in one of the games. I wondered what your thoughts are on that and what your thoughts are in general about the responsibility of star players of that magnitude to speak to the media?
TONY LA RUSSA: I think we have a very strong responsibility. We have a great -- I'm talking about a great PR department. I think we've got a history, unless people want to correct me, about being responsible about being accessible, but I think the press should be fair. I sat next to Brian Bartow on the plane, and it was 40 minutes before anybody let anybody know that they wanted to talk to those guys. It's getaway day, we leaving earlier because we had an early workout. They wanted to pack for their families. If anybody had said, we need to talk to Albert, he would have stayed.
So I think we have responsibility. We're willing to live up to it, but somebody has got to be fair with us. And I heard the criticism, and it offends me because I know our attitude as an organization is 180 degrees different from the way it's being portrayed. Nobody asked for those guys, and they got out of there. They had other things to do. All they had to do is say like tomorrow, who do you want to talk to, the guys will be available.

Q. Your club, like a lot of clubs, had some tough ninth-inning losses during the course of the season like the one with the Mets --
TONY LA RUSSA: That wasn't tough. It was worse than tough.

Q. Inevitably each time your club bounced back. Was that strictly a mental thing as a club to get back on the horse the next day?
TONY LA RUSSA: No, I think that's more a character issue for your club. And the clubs that do it well -- you have an opportunity throughout the season and now postseason to demonstrate your character, not just talk about it but demonstrate it. The game is so tough and you're tested so many ways, and that's one reason that all of us that are around the club a lot have respected this club from the early days of Spring Training. Character is very strong, and I have no crystal ball about tomorrow but we will come ready to play and compete to the best of our ability.

Q. You've been around Albert a long time and watched him develop and mature. How is the Albert of today different as a player and a person from the Albert you first met?
TONY LA RUSSA: That's a good question because I think there is a difference, and it's all based on experience and maturity. I mean, if you talk to him away from the field, he's much more aware of what he can give back to the community, his responsibility to the game. If you talk about him as a player, he's so smart that all the experience just keeps feeding into some of these plays that he makes or at-bats that he takes. I think just every way you look at it, personally and professionally, he's better than ever.

Q. You and your personal life, you surround yourself with a lot of people who have had success at the highest levels in various sports, various industries. I wonder what you've gleaned from those people over the years that you have used in your own personal and professional life.
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, if you look at those kinds of people, they -- there's that old saying, you're only as good as your last success, well, it's not true. You're as good as your next one. They always have a very forward-looking -- look at Albert. Albert's last year of hitting .300 is not what it's all about. This coming year trying to be as good as you can. I think it's a real personal challenge that you don't let anything distract you or deter you. If you get rich, it doesn't change you. It's something you prioritize as what you want to represent, and it could be not just your professional life, your personal life. The people I've been around, they really enjoy the pursuit, the brand-new pursuit, and they take it personal when they're not measuring up, and they usually fit it.

Q. Lohse and Jackson, if you go by the numbers, have higher fly ball rate than your other starters, and in this ballpark, I wanted to know, how much did you weigh that in your decision? And is it a little bit of an extra concern, and how do they maybe beat those factors?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, I think it's accurate that they can get the ball in the air more than Carp or Jaime, but I don't think it would have been our best shot to have pitched them in 1 and 2 and then had those other guys here. I also have seen games where both of those guys have made pitches that are tough to elevate, so I think that's really the key is the quality of their pitches more than are they incapable of keeping the ball out of the air. The ball does carry here, and you're going to have some danger if you don't hit your spots, and they're a very good club; they'll penalize you.
But they both are capable of pitching to the edges and having the movement and the changes that keep hitters off strikes.

Q. How much did it play into your choice to have Lohse and Jackson go here, any sort of edge from experience pitching in this ballpark? And also, with Lohse being healthy, do you think it's a matter of just his stuff or how aggressive he feels he can be now that he trusts his stuff?
TONY LA RUSSA: I think you have to look at his year. He had a fine year, good wins, good ERA, pitched a lot of really good games, and most of that I think is directly tracked to his health. So tomorrow he's coming in healthy. For an October pitcher, I think he's stronger than a lot of guys who pitch at this time of year. He'll have a good plan. He and Duncan and Yadi will work out a good plan, and it comes down to execution.
I know he's excited to compete, and he's had this assignment, maybe not the World Series, several times this year, and he's come through quite a few times.

Q. Was it at all an edge that you wanted a player who at least had experience in this ballpark?
TONY LA RUSSA: I don't know, I didn't really factor in -- I factored in 1 goes 5, 2 goes 6, 3 goes 7, all that stuff. You know, the experience in this ballpark also coincides at times when the Rangers aren't as good as they are now.

Q. When the series shifts, we always ask about the home field. I know you like playing in St. Louis, but you win on the road, too. How much does it really make a difference in the World Series emotionally?
TONY LA RUSSA: I think it's a non-factor actually because the teams that have survived to play in the final eight, have had to do enough on the road to get to October, and that means, by definition, yeah, there's no doubt the Rangers will think they have an edge tomorrow, and they should, being at home. They know their ballpark and their fans will be cheering. But when a club like ours goes on the road, I mean, we have a real toughness that we -- a level that we get to where we shut everything out. Listen, our bench tomorrow will make as much noise as the 40,000 people will. It's going to be intense. It's all about just a game, and we'll make our own noise.

Q. With all the talk about bullpens in this series, how much of it is an evolution of the game where we used to have a starter and a closer, now there are more guys in the middle that have nasty stuff and can throw 92, 93? How much moving forward do you think it's a shift where these middle relievers on every team are going to become much bigger factors?
TONY LA RUSSA: I don't think you can have the same attitude during the regular season because you have only got seven guys and you play six, seven days a week. You just don't have that mind of manpower, unless you're sending guys out every two weeks and bringing in somebody fresh. I think the old formula about starters that get you in the last third of the game is how you're going to end up qualifying.
But there's a lot of truth to it. I mean, I don't know anybody that doesn't pay as much attention to their bullpen as they do to the starting rotation. And even if your starter goes six or seven, a lot of the games are still decided by the relievers in the eighth and ninth. The only difference here is that you come into October and you play two games, have a day off, and you don't have the luxury of staying around much, especially if you have a deep bullpen, which we both do.
I think it's more an October thing. The only thing that I added because Dave and I talked about it, there are times when you will face a starter that's had a long year, and he may not be the same starter he was the first four months as far as -- not stuff but stamina, and you factor that in when you make the call and you go to the bullpen.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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