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October 26, 2011

Tony La Russa

ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI: Game Six (Postponed)

Q. What's this do for possible Game 7 starter-wise?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, Dave and I just talked about it, and we said it doesn't do anything because we don't know how Game 6 is going to go. So we're just going to play Game 6. In fact, one of the things, I know Katy will ask for our starter tomorrow, and I think we're going to -- if Bob Gibson is there, we'll send Bob. (Laughter). We don't have one. Cal Eldred I would never send, just him representing our organization. Is he here?

Q. Knowing you're not going to actually give your Game 7 starter, can you sort of run through in your mind your array of options at this point?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, Jaime is going to pitch tomorrow, and we've got to do everything we can to win the game, which is -- we're going to list Kyle Lohse on there as -- who knows how the game is going to go. Depending on the score, if we were lucky enough or good enough to get up there, then you could save some protection for the next day. That's why I think it's just -- you know, it's already been asked about Carp. I was told by Carp that he would be ready to go. I think most importantly the response is for 6 -- I think I mentioned to somebody he's very competitive, and he'd pitch Game 7 had we played today. I don't think that'll change tomorrow if we win.

Q. Are there any circumstances under which you would use Carp in relief in Game 6?
TONY LA RUSSA: 6? No chance. Little chance. (Laughter).
We've got to get to 7, so yeah.

Q. At the risk of beating a horse that's probably already been dead for a question or two, if Carpenter tells you he's good and if he feels good, what could happen that he wouldn't be your guy?
TONY LA RUSSA: Can we use something else besides "beat a horse"? Can we just say "beat up a writer"? (Laughter).
What could be? Just want him to have a long and prosperous career. I'll tell you, either getting to Game 7 or winning a seventh game, whether it's Chris Carpenter or anybody, we will not jeopardize an arm. That's what Lance Lynn was all about. We're not going to jeopardize it. Dunc and I have been together too long. One game is one game. Seems like a push to think that he could contribute anything tomorrow without jeopardizing his career. Three days' rest, I mean, already done that. So we'd all feel better about 7 if we needed him.

Q. Just in general, the idea of having a day off, what it might do for your bullpen, guys with little aches and pains, what kind of impact does this have?
TONY LA RUSSA: I mean, I think it's the same for both our clubs. I mean, our relievers, since Carp did such a good job, we came out of that game ready to play today, ready to play two in a row with one day off yesterday. It gives them a little -- at this time of the year if you get an extra year, it's all going to be the same for their club. I don't think it adds anything to our competitive chances, nor theirs.

Q. If you would not mind answering this in Spanish: What goes through your mind when you have to wait one day longer?
TONY LA RUSSA: A day off is a day off. I can't do anything wrong. Could run a stoplight or something.

Q. It was a tough loss the other night. Do you think this extra day can help you guys in any way mentally, or do you think it can hurt? Do you want to get back on the field?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, I mean, I'm not sure how closely you followed our rush there at the end, but we didn't win every game. We had a few very painful losses, and that's why this club is special. The next day it was ready to go, we were ready to go today. It wasn't my line but somebody used it during that September time, so you make it your own and everybody forgets that somebody else said it, but one of our players said, hey, we got beat, we're upset, but our heart's not broken. That's a great line, and that's the truth about our team.

Q. Did you decide on any lineup tweaks? And if so, could you share them?
TONY LA RUSSA: Yes. Should I share it? Why not? It's not going to change I don't think. That's what off-days are for when your family is not around. It could change. But the lineup would be Rafael, Schu hitting second playing center, then Albert, Lance, Matt, David, Yadi, and Nick at second base.

Q. Under the category of aches and pains, I don't know if anything is bothering Holliday with the hand and stuff he's dealt with, but could the extra day do him some good?
TONY LA RUSSA: You know, I think if we had played Game 5 and we were playing the next day, and this was a rain-out, yeah, but we were off yesterday. He was ready to go. I just saw him in the clubhouse, looks great. He's already worked out. He's ready to go.
Here's one of the problems with answering these questions sometimes, it'll come off like you're covering or making excuses for a player, and all you're trying to do is explain, and if somebody disagrees with the explanation -- I think the biggest thing is he missed some at-bats leading up to the crunch and in the crunch, and all of a sudden it's the most pressure you've faced all year long. I do think he's healthy right now, but he's trying to catch up. It's a tough time to catch up. So we're trying to say he should slow down a little bit, just -- you don't force it, and I think he's trying to force it.

Q. You did kind of touched on this a second ago, but do you feel like now with getting the extra day, do you feel that the bullpen is going to be about as fresh as they've been since the postseason started now?
TONY LA RUSSA: With a day off yesterday, you look at -- you go guy by guy by guy, even Jason pitched to one hitter, Lynn had his time, Salas had his time off. It makes no difference to our club to pitch tomorrow, except it's late in the year, and every day helps a little bit. But we were -- there wasn't anybody that pitched in Game 5 that couldn't pitch today, I mean, Dotel, anybody, Mark, we were ready to go.

Q. Will either Jackson or Westbrook be listed as being available for tomorrow?
TONY LA RUSSA: Westbrook will definitely be listed on the card. It makes sense to list Jackson, as well.

Q. What was your input on the postponement decision?
TONY LA RUSSA: No, I was giving output. I just picked up the phone, they said, "The game's postponed." No input.

Q. I was just wondering, you talked about Holliday, I know we asked this during the season when he was hurt and not hurt, but just statistically his presence in the lineup when he's effective, it dramatically changes what y'all do. So is it possible to overstate just where he is for you and what you can expect from him at this point?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, no. I think you're exactly right, because other guys, including Albert, get on base so much, whoever hits, whether it's Lance or Matt, when they hit, we score some extra runs. I mean, that's the way the club is set up. I don't like -- I mean, if Matt has a great day tomorrow, we could lose because nobody else does anything. If we don't pitch, he's the only guy that gets four hits, so it's really a responsibility for the team.
But I believe that -- I hesitate to say it because I hate to add pressure to a guy, but I think it's very possible that one of the next two games Matt could be our hitting hero. I just think every time he takes an at-bat he gets closer, and he just needs to not force it.

Q. This sort of got lost in all the Game 5 stuff, but in two critical situations, Freese swung at the first pitch after walks. What was your thought on that? And have you had any discussion with him about being a little bit more patient?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, because it's our tribute to all the scouts and baseball people that were dissed by Moneyball, that's why I walked out of Moneyball -- actually going to see it tonight.

Q. You walked out on it?
TONY LA RUSSA: No, I'm going to see it tonight.

Q. Is there an answer here? (Laughter).
TONY LA RUSSA: I think Brad Pitt is a great actor.
You know, Katy has always warned me, your answer has to be 30 seconds to a minute tops, so it's tough to answer this in 30 seconds to a minute, but I'm going to try. On-base percentage is one of the most dangerous concepts of the last seven, eight years because it forces some executives and coaches and players to think that it's all about getting on base by drawing walks, and the fact is that the guys that have the best on-base percentage are really dangerous hitters whenever they get a pitch in the strike zone.
So if the pitcher knows that and the catcher knows that, they work the edges, and pretty soon it's 2-1, 2-1 rather than 0-1 all the time. So the question about Dave Freese is, did he get a good pitch to hit? If he didn't get a good pitch to hit, then that was bad execution and we should coach him better. If he got a good pitch to hit, then maybe he tilted, and the pitch he had was a real good pitch to hit. He just hit a fly ball to center field.
You watch your productive hitters in the Big Leagues, and they get a chance to drive in a run, they look for the first good strike, and the better the pitching, especially this time of the year, you get that first strike, that may be the last one that you get to see. So you'd better be ready to swing early. But that danger creates counts and deep -- it's not sitting up there and taking strike one, strike two so that you can work the count. I mean, I think most people would agree with that. So he was -- did he get a good pitch to hit? And in fact against Ogando he did. He just flied out.

Q. The second time, too?
TONY LA RUSSA: The second time, too.

Q. Your club's hitting with runners in scoring position has been kind of glaring in your losses. Have you seen different approaches at the plate? How much of that is attributed to the Texas pitching in those situations, or are you seeing your hitters take a different approach there?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, yeah, it's a great question because the answer is part of everything. If you look at some of our at-bats, we've taken strikes to hit. So you would have been much better -- like Nick Punto took. We have had some misses with runners in scoring position because we weren't aggressive with pitches to hit. We've had some bad at-bats because we've gone outside the strike zone, which is not good hitting, so you want to be aggressive in the strike zone. And then we've also been ready to hit and they pitched the ball right on the edges with movement. That's to their credit, and it's tough to hit. And that's the beauty of what we do. There's no easy answer, you've just got to watch every at-bat. In most of the cases I tip my hat to the Ranger pitchers. They've made really good pitches in key situations.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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