LaRUSSA: It's one of those plays where all of a sudden, all of us are paying more attention to it. I've been around a long time and I haven't paid all that much attention to it. I think you should ask catchers. I just watched an interview where Brad Ausmus was asked. I've asked catchers because they are right next to it. Duncan would be good to ask, but by the time finished watching the replays, Duncan was already gone. I'm not sure what the standard thing is. I've heard an umpire supervisor say this, another umpire, catcher say different. I think it's an unusual play and there's not a lot that's set as a precedent or anything.
We just talked to Abraham and he seems to be having a great time; can you talk about what he's brought to the table since Scott went down?
LaRUSSA: Well, he's saved us in many ways. Scott Rolen will go down as one of the greatest third basemen of all time and he's out of there and that's a huge gap and this guy comes along and catches the ball very, very well, very useful offensive player, is productive. So he's really been outstanding for us. So much so that we have kind of a tradition, first bottle of champagne, you look around, who is the most appropriate, and I think there's only two or three guys that had not popped champagne. Abe, by consensus of the players, Abe should pop it. That's about as good a recognition from the team as you can get. This guy has been great for us.
I understand Larry Walker did not take batting practice today. What's his health status?
LaRUSSA: You've seen it before, got hit by a pitch, made that tumble in San Diego, he has a lot of parts of his body that are aching and he feels he can go, he's in the lineup. He has not done much any time between now and 7:00 or whatever, I would rather not play him than send him out there and get him out after an at bat or two. He thinks he can start, I think. He might get a couple, we've seen before he starts just pretty good and something aggravates it. Just going to watch it closely and maybe later in the game if he can get through the first two thirds of the game, try to protect him a little bit.
But nothing after yesterday, though?
LaRUSSA: No, I think it's just an accumulation.
You talked after yesterday's game about how much your pitchers work on sacrifice bunts and how important the defensive aspect is to your team. It seems like so many teams are categorized as either power hitting teams or teams that play small ball, and you guys have been able to do a little bit of both; is that as a result of the type of players you get or just spending more time on the fundamentals?
LaRUSSA: I bet you our program, when you start in spring training right through the season, is very similar to National League clubs. Pitchers get a lot of time to lay the bunt down, take their swings, because they are involved on the offense. Enough times, if they do something positive where even it's advancing a base with a sacrifice or if they can get a base hit, it could be the difference.
So our guys put the time in and very serious about it. You know, I think generally we execute well. It's not unusual.
Is there a way that you guys play, both small ball and the power and the double plays on defense and all of that, is there a club that you've managed against in your career that reminds you of the team that you have this year?
LaRUSSA: Well, a bunch of them. We're not doing anything that's unusual. I mean, if you look at the clubs that are successful year in, year out, you make routine plays, you don't create extra chances for the other club. It's just basic baseball. The club we're playing plays the game the same way.
I mean, we're doing it at a high level, and I like it, I like to watch our club because they really concentrate on the whole game. Once in awhile, you'll find individual players that are chasing their stats and money and they don't understand that you have to defend and run the bases. But this is just part of good baseball. Every year you see clubs who are playing well, that's what we all do.
Two questions. When you were talking about Abe popping the champagne, was that the clincher or the Division Series? And he's a free agent this off season, how nice would it be to get him back next year?
LaRUSSA: No, it was the first time we had a chance to pop. He appreciated it, too. I saw some comments about it. To be in his position, that's special, a sign of respect.
Free agent, you know we're not thinking about it yet, but I know his agent, we all know his agent, and we're definitely going to be interested in him being part of the club. It's going to be a matter of economics that's all. We'd love to have him. How much we can afford to pay him, somebody just like Mike Metheny, Mike Metheny got three times the money someplace else, he had to go. So we'll see. That's later.
Regarding Abe, do you see him now as a star in your mind or is he still just a guy who has filled in or an All Star who is injured?
LaRUSSA: Oh, I think he's capable of playing every day, as long as he's the best player at second, short or third. So if you've got a better shortstop than Abe, a better second baseman, better third businessman, he's an outstanding utility player which is a really important spot, but I wouldn't say that he could not be an every day player. He's done it this year and he's played well.
How big of a role has Jose Oquendo played with Abe and Eckstein and everybody?
LaRUSSA: That's a good question, because Jose is a very good teacher. He's got a very good knowledge in a lot of areas. But I go back to since he's joined our club and all of the infielders that have come through here: Edgar, Fernando; Fernando won a Gold Glove; Edgar won a Gold Glove. They are good players, but Jose, he points out some really important keys that he's consistently there to work on. So for whatever credit you want to give a coach, he should get it, but it's mostly the players.
Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.