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October 28, 2011

Tony La Russa


Q. What's the biggest factor in your decision to go with Carpenter?
TONY LA RUSSA: Actually didn't decide until this morning. And I think first of all, Dave had a real heart to heart with him to gauge just how ready he was to pitch just physically, not mentally but physically. And then I think if he would be available to pitch, he probably would have pitched in this game sometime. Makes sense to start him. Goes through his routine, gives us all he has. And it made less sense, I think, to come out of the bullpen at some point, got to rush, warm up -- warm him up once, you don't use him, all that stuff, it's complicated.
I mean, the last thing is I think what he means to our club, I think our guys feel better about him starting than anybody.

Q. Everyone was so amazed about what happened last night immediately after the game. For you in the last 20 hours when did you start to really turn the page on that and focus on tonight?
TONY LA RUSSA: I mean, I learned early on, you've got to enjoy the moment. I mean, one of the problems that coaches tell you all the time, you don't enjoy the wins like you suffer the losses and there's a lot of truth to that. You lose, the next day you can't put it away, you win and it's usually easy because you're worried about the next one. Winning a game like that, it's harder, especially the significance. I mean, it's really hard. I can't imagine it being harder.
But I think I rely on -- we're trying to rely on the club. The first job that we have today is putting yesterday aside to be remembered later. So since I'm one of the ones on the staff that gives that message, as soon as I got stirring this morning, refused to think about last night. You control your mind. That's what we're trying to do as a team. The fans are happy with it, you just -- this is a dead even competition, and you cannot be distracted by last night.

Q. Early last night's game, Texas has first and second with Colby Lewis up and he's bunting, and I don't know if this is the right terminology but your corner guys crashed. Is that a bunt defense you often use or what dictates using that bunt defense?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, I appreciate the chance because nobody asked me last night, but I want to give credit where credit is due. That's a Whitey Herzog version of the bunt defense. He actually way back in about 1980 or '81, when I was with the White Sox, we used to go to St. Pete to have this governor's dinner. I sat him to next and we were talking about bunt defenses, and he charted out what he did. I went, wow. In the American League you don't really have to use one, so you just use a standard. But coming here for 16 years now, it's our wheel play except what Whitey did is he kept the shortstop floating around the middle, and the second baseman who initiates the play, he kind of floats because a lot of times when a guy sees that wheel play they teach the guys to swing and the middle is covered. You hope they swing. But the shortstop, he gets over and he covers third if they do bunt.
So that's a Whitey Herzog play and we used it, and sometimes if it's bunted firm enough, you can get a double play.

Q. Last night I wanted to ask you about the at-bats you got from Jon Jay and Daniel Descalso, what role they played in the comeback and how it was lost in Freese's heroics and everything, but to go up there and give you the at-bats they had and the results they got?
TONY LA RUSSA: If you watch his play, if you watch what Dan did, he has been clutch as anybody on our club, whether playing defense, pinch-hitting, starting, he's just been a real clutch winning player. And he had two strikes quickly and fought back.
And Jon, I mean, he's in a struggle right now, but against left-handers you look at his -- he hit .270, .280 against left-handed pitching. So he's a tough out against them. We were fortunate we had a couple of guys who were going to compete and make something happen.

Q. I wonder if you could elaborate on whether there was any difficulty in the Matt Holliday decision and what ripples that has in your lineup tonight?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, it's difficult when you have to bang one of your core guys, but in a situation like this, the evaluation is what can he provide to you if he plays, and pinch-running. I mean, you really couldn't put him out there if he can't swing the bat. Once we knew the extent of the sprain, we had to get him.
The effect is, it's one our middle guys, especially against a left-handed pitcher. He'd be hitting fifth today. It shortens our depth a little bit, but we've still got a good lineup. Tough decision to make, though.

Q. There's a lot being made about Carpenter's performance the first time he went on three days' rest. I'm curious with a guy like him, if you think he learned something from that and he'll be using that to his advantage tonight? And also then swapping Furcal down to 7th?
TONY LA RUSSA: One of the things that came out of the discussion that he had with Dave was that start on short rest, and how he felt, and how he tried to adjust or compensate and what he thought he learned from it without going into it. I thought it was really intelligent what he learned from it, and he's going to go out there today and try to play.
You know, I think you can pitch with three days' rest. It may affect how you throw, but you can pitch with three days' rest, so we'll see today.
Furcal has been struggling. I've been thinking about moving him just to take a little pressure off himself. He's putting too much on. Theriot is hitting leadoff and put Furcal down -- 7th is a good spot because you can drive in a run there.

Q. Now that Yadier Molina has developed offensively, I wonder where he ranks for you among the all-time catchers you've managed and seen throughout the game?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, every place I've been -- I was on a club that had Carlton Fisk. He's not just an outstanding defensive catcher, great athlete and a tough-as-nails hitter, clutch hitter, Hall of Famer.
And then in Oakland we had Terry Steinbach, who was a very good all-around player to convert from third baseman, tutored under Dunc and Ron Hassey.
But Yadi is -- I mean, defensively, I've been around -- I don't want to only talk about the playing career, but I've been around a long time. He does things in all phases better or as good as anybody I've ever seen, and you put that together with -- he's got a nice stroke, he's pressure proof, I think he's -- he'll be a star the rest of his career because he's that good in every phase, except running.

Q. Obviously you're in the middle of this right now, but for all the baseball that you've seen in your life, do you have an appreciation for how this season has unfolded since I guess September and October, how amazing that is historically?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, I think we, and I'm part of the we, we have an understanding -- in fact, there was a comment made yesterday in our dugout by one of our veterans, "this historic run is not going to end today." It's a hell of a comment. It was by a guy that people listen to, and it ended up being true.
Here's the problem, though: It's really difficult to enjoy it while you're in it because that slightest distraction makes you less competitive. That's why I talk about, can't think about last night playing this game today. We won't be as good. You can't keep pushing forward if you take any moment to look at what we did because you'll lose an edge. So it really is something that I think the club is going to have to enjoy later on. They're aware, but we've been talking about just get to how far we can go or we're good enough to get, and then you take the retrospective, not now.

Q. You've said in the past that you're not too big on using starters in relief roles. Does that change today with say Lohse, Jackson?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, I know they're available. They're both strong. They're both rested, which is a big plus. They've got veteran experience. You know, we are going into this game all hands, but we did have Salas, Lynn throw quite a few pitches, so it really depends how far Chris goes. The guy that's been very impressive is Westbrook, so I think he would get the first call.
But you look at where you are and I look at the veteran status of Edwin and Kyle, and may it's rogue and you prefer not to, but if you have to, you have to.

Q. I asked this of Bochy last year and they won the World Series so we'll ask you: We have a little Wash, what would a kid have to do to look like a little Tony?
TONY LA RUSSA: Have four legs, a cute little cat or a funny little dog, I don't know.
Probably watch a game like a cigar store Indian. (Laughter).

Q. As much as you caution players not to do too much, when you see errors like in the first five, six innings last night, how do you tell players not to get too geeked up?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, I don't -- I just say, what the hell is going on? Those are plays that you over-try. The one between Matt and Furcal was, you see that. The outfield has got a long way to go. It's a tough play and should be made.
The one with David, he was freaked out. That was just embarrassing. I'm sure Young, who's an outstanding player, he's -- sometimes you try to do something a little too quick. In fact, when Dan played short there later, he fumbled that one force play, didn't want to throw it. It's human nature.
What you do, I think, on the defensive side more than anything else, is a guy trying, if he is and he messes up, you say, hey, relax. If you see a guy lackadaisical, that's when you kind of pound him.

Q. Last night Lance said if you guys don't win today Game 6 becomes a great footnote, if you do win today that becomes a huge piece of baseball history. Do you agree with that sentiment or do you think that game is going to stand the test of time, win or lose today?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, I think it'll be -- you're going to have to go real hard to have a better sixth game than that ever. I think that's going to make its mark as far as the sixth game of the World Series. But I understand his point and I like it. We don't want to settle for an exciting Game 6 win. We want to bring it out today and see if they can beat us. I think it'll stand alone as a sixth game, but that's not what we came here for.

Q. The last time that Carpenter started on short rest against the Phillies, he seemed to struggle a little bit early on location-wise. Was there anything in particular with that start going in with him that there was just an abnormal thing or was it something he just wasn't used to, pitching on short rest?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, like I said, I didn't get too specific, but when Dave and Chris talked, part of what he learned from that is why he gets the ball today, and we expect it to be more effective. And in fact, he made an adjustment the last part of when he pitched, and he wasn't the same guy that he was in the first inning, if you watched him the last couple.
I think he did learn something, and he'll be better.

Q. Both teams don't give up. At the end of the day we will have only one winner. Do you think it'll come down to the small things like the positioning of an outfielder, maybe a hit-and-run? Do you think the small things might be the difference in this game?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, I think even in a game like yesterday, it was one with a couple big things. They did some big things to take the lead. The game is made up of a lot of small executions. How we defended that one bunt affected that inning. The game is going to be full of the obvious big things, get a base hit with two outs and second and third and advance a guy. Their second game win, they ran the bases well, they had two fly balls and they scored two runs that was just really good situational ball. You'll have all of that, I think.

Q. You've talked about being in this game for so many years, seen so many different things. You're into this Game 7 after this remarkable Game 6. What is your mood right now? What are your thoughts right now? Are you excited, nervous, what?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, whoever is not nervous should not participate because that means you don't care. Nervous is good. Nervous means you care and you're ready and you learn how to control your nerves. I tried to explain this a few times because it's how I feel. Every time you get into one of these things, you enjoy it more because of your past experience. It never disappoints. So here is like the final piece, you participate in a Game 7, that's as good as it gets. I plan to enjoy the hell out of it.
Now, I plan to enjoy personally the competing to see if we're good enough. But if you compete, you keep a score, we want the score to go our way, then starts the fun.
Yeah, I'm nervous and excited and enjoying it, and it really has very little to do with the game because the players are going to decide how this thing goes. Just hope it's our players.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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