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October 24, 2011

Tony La Russa


Q. What's the plan for the rotation moving forward here? Obviously for 6 but for 7, as well.
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, I just think my attitude is really consistent. It's about today, and you have to get somebody ready for 6, and that's Jaime. Then stop and see where we are at that point.

Q. I know there's a ton of pressure here, but are you having fun? Is this enjoyable for a manager?
TONY LA RUSSA: Yeah, yeah, I mean, it's the most enjoyable, exciting thing because it's -- that's why clubs start the season, trying to get to October, and then especially if you can win a couple series, get this far. Competition is what excites you. There's two clubs playing. Fun I guess -- we had fun Game 1 and 3; 2 and 4 were not fun, but there was excitement and just the enjoyment of being in the World Series. It makes it all worthwhile. Every time you get in it, you enjoy it more, I think.

Q. What's it like to manage against Ron Washington, somebody that doesn't necessarily do things by the book?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, you know, I had a little history with Ron just from afar. He was a player, a very heady player, winning-type player, and then had a real advantage of course because he was in Oakland, and all the people that are in the Oakland family when I was still there, they all -- I mean, I trust them implicitly, and they're always really right about people there, and Ron, glowing remarks about the person, pro.
So I knew that about him, and when he came over, he watched -- I really don't know him, but you watch him closely because he had the Oakland connection. I give him and his staff, because I think it's always a lot about the staff, too, we know Mike very good. I really think that with him leading the way, Jackie Moore, that it was a wake-up call for how they competed here. And I see the way the players respond to him.
But I think he came in and said, look, this is the way we're going to play. We're going to play hard and aggressively and competitively. I have tremendous respect for him. The guy has won back-to-back league championships, not me, especially when they're a young manager. So he's very special.

Q. You went with Schu in center today. Can you just talk about that.
TONY LA RUSSA: It's more -- if you know Jay, he's starting to pull his hair out because he's just not right at the plate. It's not affecting his defense at all. He's a good offensive player, and I'm going to give Schu a shot because Schu is a really good player and can play the outfield and come in with a fresh stroke, and then we'll see about Game 6. But it's more just Jay is just not himself. There's no reason to bury him.

Q. You and Dave Duncan have been side by side for so many years. What does he mean to you personally?
TONY LA RUSSA: You mean on a professional level or personal level?

Q. Personal level.
TONY LA RUSSA: Oh, he's -- well, our wives claim that we're sometimes closer to each other than we are to them. Probably spent more time together. He's a brother. I think there's only two guys -- I guess maybe Mark would be maybe the third, but there's only -- I don't even count Mark, but Rene Lachemann and Dunc are the only two guys I was friends with that became coaches. Everybody else joined the staff because of their expertise and then we became friends. But Dave, we've known each other since '63, roomed together. A lot of it is trust, respect. I can't trust and respect him more on a personal level. But professionally I've said, it's not where you manage, it's where he coaches. And that's for anybody who would want to manage.

Q. Going back to the sixth inning last night, I was just curious if it had crossed your mind at all to take Edwin out a batter earlier, try to set up a lefty-lefty matchup with a guy like Rzepczynski perhaps.
TONY LA RUSSA: Yeah, I thought about it, but Edwin -- I think Edwin did a really good job. I know he walked some people, but his competitiveness is off the charts, and he did a really good job of making pitches. I thought he pitched them as far as he could.
And then in Napoli's case, he had already walked him once and he had just hit a long fly ball. So I brought Boggs in. Where I screwed up is I forgot to remind Boggs to get the ball down. He threw it up and it was out of there. I should have reminded him and I didn't.

Q. In a six or seven-game series what's perception versus reality as far as having the home-field advantage? And has your attitude changed about having that link to the outcome of the All-Star Game?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, the All-Star Game, to me, people talk about comparing ours to other sports, and it's better, but it's best when it's a true competition. You know, I've been around long enough where I can remember the old days, and it's something about the league. You really wanted to beat the other league. You didn't need anything. And all of a sudden there was a little drop-off and guys didn't want to go, and whatever the thing was. To the extent that putting the home field adds to the competitiveness, I'm all for it.
But we started this road trip as a wild card team, so we always did not have the home-field advantage, and you feel if you got in October you play well on the road. I'm sure Texas doesn't feel like they're at a disadvantage having to go to our place, but we like the fact there are games that we play there.

Q. There's been some suggestion in the media if the Rangers lose this series it will be like a failure because it's two years in a row they've lost in the World Series. As someone that's been on both sides of the coin in World Series, is it fair to say if you don't win the whole thing that it's not been a successful season or a successful run?
TONY LA RUSSA: You know, it's fair if there are going to be comments like that made and if it bothers you, you've got to be doing something else for a living. That's it. Some diehard fans are going to say, okay, you got us -- maybe the American League should have just won the Division Series. But they won, they got their World Series. Fans, whatever their honest opinion is, whatever they're going to say, they love you not just win, lose or tie. They love you and say, hey, just do the best you could. I just asked the question of a couple guys we were talking to, and I believe there will be a lot of people -- we made this nice run again, beat Philadelphia, beat Milwaukee, won twice, and now if we don't win 2 out of 3, I think there are a lot of people who will say we mugged it and totally discount how we got here.
They know what they did. They repeated as league champions. Very, very hard. It's hard to win championships and they did it twice. Give credit to the Giants, and just like if they beat us, I'm going to tip my cap. We did the best we could. I believe if they get there they'll tip their cap and that's what makes this a really good competition. Fans, even the media is going to say "you mugged it" and take their criticism like you do their compliments and you ignore it.

Q. In the postseason how useful is it to look at the postseason to evaluate players long-term because you see how they produce in high pressure situations, and how much do you have to discount it because it's such a small sample?
TONY LA RUSSA: That's a really interesting question. I think there is something if you're productive at this time of the year. I think you give it special attention. It should be the only thing -- if a guy has not been a good run producer and has a hot series, I don't think you automatically say, hey, if we get this guy, he's going to be special. I think if a guy has proven he's been a clutch player and he goes into the playoffs and his swing is a little funky, it doesn't mean he's not a clutch player. Hitting is so fragile, his timing, his confidence. I think you pay attention to it, but there are other things that you put together.

Q. Where do you see Furcal right now offensively maybe relative to when he was at his best for you? Getting consistent offense at the top of the order maybe hasn't been what you want. What do you see from him right now?
TONY LA RUSSA: I just see over-effort. Yesterday he hit the bullet down the line to start the game, and knowing Rafael, that thing goes -- he might get two or three. To me it's -- you really appreciate it. There isn't anybody playing in the World Series that wants to win this thing more than he does. There are a lot of guys who are tied with him, but he wants it bad, and the harder he tries, sometimes the more he gets in his own way. Because he's already trying, so our message -- I mean, the players get up and all say, just let the game come to you, don't force it.
That's the answer. If you just look, he just over-tries sometimes, and that's a hell of a lot better than trying to kick somebody in the butt to get him going.

Q. Bear with me on this one, given there are so few Big League managing jobs, presumably everyone who has one has credentials, and relatively speaking anyway, there's quite a bit of evenness in terms of talent, relatively, from team to team. I wondered if you had a thought about how much a manager, any given manager, can impact his team and what would be the most important way in which he could impact a team?
TONY LA RUSSA: That's a good question. That makes you think a little bit different.
Well, I just mentioned the Texas situation. I really believe based on not being in the league but just watching the way they went about it and the success they've had, I do believe that Ron and his staff came in and really stressed effort, execution, creativity. I think it's really important. I don't know a manager, and I keep bragging on Jim Leyland, I don't know if even Jim Leyland is going to carry a team by himself. I mean, staff is critical in today's baseball. A lot of guys need to learn how to play because the game is so fast.
So staff will have a lot to do. And when we say staff, we include our trainers and clubhouse guys. Anybody in touch with the Big League situation, they can impact how a player feels.
The last thing that comes to my mind, and one of my mentors said this to me one time, you can get the greatest strategist in the world, baseball world, with the same talent as this other guy, greatest strategy and have a personality like this table, and you can take this group of players and have a guy that they get excited to play for that's got no clue about the game, this guy beats that guy all the time. If you have a staff that gets guys enthusiastic about competing, I think that's your biggest responsibility. Not your only one. So the real good staffs get you excited and show you what to do when you're excited.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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