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October 23, 2011

Tony La Russa


Q. I haven't seen you guys all year, and I think at the end of August, most people thought you guys were done, then all of a sudden you take off. What happened in late August and early September, and did you think you had a chance to be here?
TONY LA RUSSA: Hmm. Well, we had had a real good first four months where we had a lot of problems and the club has shown a lot of heart to stay competitive, had a decent record, fairly close. Then made a real good trade where we were a lot better and we weren't getting any wins for the first part of August. Guys just got together and said, hey.
I mean, at first it was the most immediate thing, let's not ruin everything we did for four months, which got a lot of respect -- a lot of managers and coaches would come over and say you guys are hanging in there, and we were getting ready to blow that.
You know, reality is that we were -- we had a lot of games left against good teams, so we thought we had an outside chance. Would we have bet on it? Probably not.

Q. Is center field any kind of a question for you right now, or do you just see a little bit of a bump for Jon? Or how do you kind of look at that when you make out a lineup right now?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, we played three games in this World Series. That's nothing. He's putting the ball in play, he's not getting beat at the plate. It certainly hasn't affected his defense. We had a legitimate option with Schu. I just don't think you jump to conclusions based on three days.

Q. Last night notwithstanding do you have a position on the expansion of instant replay and whether it should be expanded for the World Series?
TONY LA RUSSA: I know I've got to be careful. I'm on the Commissioner's committee, and I know that it's real smart to let whoever the spokesman is or the Commissioner speak about what's going to happen there. We've discussed it, and we'll see where it goes. Everybody is recognizing that there's a lot of capabilities.
You know, my perspective is I'm more interested as a baseball man than I was a couple years ago when we first started discussing it because of umpires. I mean, I think they've got so much on their plate, and right now they'll catch as much heat as any manager for making or not making a move, a hitter leaving a guy on third base or a pitcher having a bad day.
I mean, they really -- I think they have a lot besides just calling the game, pace of game, all that stuff sitting over their shoulder.
My two cents is more in favor of looking at it just because I think as long as it doesn't affect the game and all the other things as far as slowing it down, I think the umpires are -- it's unfair. And if there's a way to ease that burden, some limited additions are going to be discussed, and we'll see where it goes.

Q. If a team, any team, decides we're not going to let Albert Pujols beat us, how equipped is the rest of your lineup to make sure it can do whatever damage is needed?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, since our heydays with Jim Edmonds and Scott Rolen, and those were real good heydays, there was one year where three of them were MVP candidates, this club is right there. I mean, Matt Holliday, Lance Berkman, these guys are classic producers, and then you've got a young emerging David Freese back there.
You know, you just don't spend a lot of time trying to anticipate or explain someone else's strategy, because they look at the game differently, and whatever they choose to do, you respect the fact that they think they know what's best for their club. I'm just saying that if the idea is for Albert not to beat them, that doesn't bother us, because the depth that we have in front and behind him.

Q. In Game 1 you got Carpenter out after six and 87 pitches. I know the game situation probably dictated it, but did you also have an eye on this start to make sure he had plenty in his tank for it?
TONY LA RUSSA: I mean, Dave and I pay a lot of attention to a lot of factors, and as the season goes on, there's more weight. I mean, he has thrown a lot. We talked about the start with three days' rest. The last two months of the year, his conditioning or whatever, he was stronger than he was the first four months. But we take every game based on what we see, and in that game -- the hairy calls come when one of us sees something different, and we both felt like he had given us what he had that day. He's going to have four days' rest before this one. It was more what we saw.

Q. Prior to last night's game, Allen Craig was the hot bat, and nobody wanted to have him beat them. To have him hit ahead of Pujols in the second hole, was that in part an assist for Albert Pujols, the two, three?
TONY LA RUSSA: I think it's an assist for Allen because he's at bat and the count is 2 and 1 and Albert is back there, and he was 3-for-3 at one point in the World Series. You can't just say we're going to pitch to him like he's Babe Ruth and here comes Albert. I think anybody that's in front of Albert benefits. That's why you'd like to have somebody there that's got some pop.

Q. In last night's game there was so much spotlight on Ogando versus Craig. Could it be that there was a momentary lapse with Ogando having struck out Allen and here comes Pujols, that maybe he left a pitch up high? Do you think there was any play between that situation?
TONY LA RUSSA: I mean, I know that Ogando is a real force when he brought him -- I thought Ron brought him in the game at exactly the right time. We're not saying -- our guys had great at-bats. You'd have to ask the pitcher, when he strikes out Craig was he any different. The way he's been pitching, I think he got a pitch up and Albert hit it.

Q. About in an hour here, Ken Griffey, Jr., is going to receive a historic achievement award from the Commissioner in recognition of his career. You managed against him when he broke in. What do you remember about what he brought to the game?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, a true -- I don't know how many tools. I think he had five tools. He just had a lot of tools. The enthusiasm that he brought to the game and the excellence, he was great right from the get-go. I mean, like a lot of guys that have been around the game a long time, defense is sometimes more fun to watch than the offensive side, and the way he played center field, even though it was against you, you had to respect it and enjoy it. You know, he had a long career. You never like to see guys get hurt. Towards the end there he got hurt a lot, and it was a shame.

Q. You've had about 18 hours to reflect on it. Do you look at what Kyle has gone through this postseason, and does that give you any pause about the remainder of the series in terms of the rotation? Are you pretty much locked in through seven?
TONY LA RUSSA: I'm locked in for Game 4. We've got a formula that's been working, and nothing is going to get us off that formula, which is today is the last game of our life. I like our players too much to disappoint them, so I am not going to say anything beyond Game 4. I just mentioned Carp about a question about him pitching. He can talk about that tomorrow.
It's nothing to do with anything beyond that. I have given Kyle's appearance yesterday and put it in the context of his other ones, and Dave and I drove to the ballpark today and we talked about it some. But it's all about today, period.

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