TONY LA RUSSA: Well, I start with the
fact that he's always hit, and it's very frustrating
sometimes this year when the hits weren't there.
He experimented a lot.
He's got something that's working and the
thing is, he's also shown, as a lot of good hitters
do, they can look out over there but if you pitch him
inside, he can pull the ball. So it's a nice
approach, and it's getting results.
With the way the pitching is set up,
starting pitching is set up for both teams, what
kind of games are you expecting here in the
next couple of days, especially since both
teams have injuries, key injuries in their
starting rotations where you're going a little bit
deeper to guys that you didn't probably expect
to use in the postseason?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, first of all, I don't
think you can ever predict. Baseball, that's just the
way it is. That's the magic of it. I don't care what
the numbers are. You go out there and it's a
We did expect Suppan to pitch and we put
Anthony on the roster, we didn't think he was going
to pitch. And they did the same thing with Trachsel
and Oliver Perez.
Suppan has pitched very well. Perez has
had his moments and so has Reyes. Who knows
how effective they are going to be. I just know
both sides have lineups that will test a pitcher, but
the first day, the score is 2-0.
Most of your moves that you made
in the last game worked for you, I was just
curious if there's a fine line between being very
smart and good fortune at this time of the year
TONY LA RUSSA: I think what you learn,
you're responsible to take your best shot and you
just have to figure what's your best shot is. You
can't sit there and try to figure out which shot is the
one that draws the most compliments or the least
criticism. It doesn't work that way. In the end, I
don't care how much success you've had or lack of
it, every move you make is judged by whether it
works or not. If you use somebody to pinch-hit,
bunt, don't bunt, strategy doesn't work, there will
be enough people to say, bad decision. So why
drive yourself nuts? You just do what you think is
Is Scott Rolen in the lineup tonight?
And how do you keep this thing from becoming
a tryout in each game, which I think is a
sentiment he had according to the St. Louis
paper, that Thursday was a trial-type situation?
TONY LA RUSSA: Yeah, I read that and it
quoted a couple of, I don't know if it was players or
somebody that had an opinion.
Encarnación is not in the lineup today.
Was he trying out yesterday? You try to put the
lineup out that has the best chance to win. Scott
Rolen is in the lineup today. I saw him dive and
make a play yesterday. That's a healthy indication
about what his shoulder is like, that his shoulder
was not restricted. To me it's just a heckuva play.
He's just got to find his stroke. He's an outstanding
player, and you always give an outstanding player
benefit of the doubt.
But I mean, you look around, Chris
Duncan is not playing today; Preston Wilson is
playing today. You're supposed to produce when
I assume then that Spiezio is in the
outfield today. Can you tell us how well he's
done defensively as an outfielder this year?
TONY LA RUSSA: He does the outfield
like he does -- he's most comfortable at first and
third, and we've played him at second. He does it
like he does everything else; he competes. And if
you compete, it's amazing how well things work
out, and he has played at least an average left field
Are you a believer in momentum
within a short series, and if so, what kind of a
value apart from one win do you place on last
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, I mean, that's a
real involved question that's gotten a lot of
attention over years and years, sports or whatever,
What do I believe? I believe it was a real
exciting win. I believe that if the one club that had
the exciting win and comes around today and is
patting itself on the back and feeling oh, just
wonderful, you get just slapped. I believe the club
that gets beat, if they get their dauber down, they
have a better chance to get beat, just say, we just
lost a tough game.
When I have learned and what I believe is
that you control your own momentum. And that is,
you want to remain up, you want to remain positive
no matter what, you control it. The other thing
people talk about, which I think is a lot of truth, in
our game, if one starting pitcher is better than the
other one earlier in the game, that dictates a lot of
how that game is going to be played.
So if there is something to the starting
pitcher, that dictates momentum.
Sounds like you laid out most of
what you had in your lineup. What went into
the various decisions you had to make in
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, Preston is hitting
second. You know, he's had success against
You know, I think Chris is trying real hard,
and this is a guy that can -- he really picks and has
good command of several pitches.
I thought the tough call was Juan. But as I
mentioned before, you know, I don't think Juan is
swinging the bat as well as he can, and when you
have alternatives, you go with the alternatives. So
Scott is going to play left and Preston is going to
A guy that had a lot of consideration was
So. So I think we have a good team; too many
You've said several times that you
with a watched Ronnie Belliard from afar and
had interest in him before, what did you make
of how deep he played defensively and what do
you make now that you're closer to kind of the
action there, what he's able to do with that?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, I think he's got
deeper over the last few years. He hadn't been
playing that deep in Milwaukee and Colorado,
that's something he did when he got to the
American League. He's got more experience and
he makes it work.
I think he's real aware, only thing we tried
to help him with is guys that have deceptive speed
and he got burnt once this year with Prince Fielder.
Prince Fielder is a big guy, but he runs well.
You mentioned Oliver Perez before,
he had an unlikely journey here, he said the
last place he expected to be was the NLCS. In
your experience, who have been some unlikely
starters and how have they done for you?
TONY LA RUSSA: Oh, for us?
Or against you.
TONY LA RUSSA: I can remember '88
when the Dodgers had to start Tim Belcher in
Game 1 and that was one of the keys to them
getting a jump in that series.
I don't know, I'd have to -- it would take me
some time to think about guys that we pitched that
were -- like we haven't very often put an
assignment on Anthony Reyes like we're doing to
him tomorrow. But he and Oliver, they share, they
have talent. They are young. They will go out
there and don't be surprised if their talent
dominates a lot of good hitters.
I've read your quotes and stuff
going back and forth the last couple of days
about Albert. Do you think this has been
overblown, and what's your thoughts on this as
a couple of days have passed and you've
settled down a little bit?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, it's very irritating
to me because I know Albert is classy,
professional, respects the game, respects people
in it. It's an issue with how we go about it here in
the last X number of years.
You want quotes from players, right? So
the guys that give the best quotes are usually the
guys that are not the very best competitors. If a
guy burns with the competition and you get him ten
or 15 minutes later, he's liable to say something
that's not really how he reflects. Albert doesn't
disrespect Glavine, but they are making a lot out of
his being upset that he didn't do better and we
didn't do better.
You walk into that game and say, Mets
only get two runs, don't you think we have a hell of
a chance to win? So we were all upset and
disappointed. So you jump on a player and you
get him right -- like I said before, and it's not a
threat, to me it's just an answer. I don't want to
see Albert Pujols misrepresented. If this happens
a couple of times, I'll tell him, make yourself
unavailable and that happened a couple of times
and he got ripped because he wasn't around to
For me, let his actions speak better than
his words. If people are going to start hammering
him because in the heat of the moment he says
something that wasn't, I don't think, anything to do
with -- we should give Glavine credit for how great
he is and how effective he pitched, it's not worth
the embarrassment, I would say just make him
unavailable. It's not good for the game.
Everybody just use common sense. Is that
what Albert says? Just think about it. We had that
incident years ago in Oakland, Dave Stewart,
fiercest competitor around. Yet you talk to him
after a game and you ask him a question after he
had gotten beat, man, the stuff that came out of his
mouth that was just incendiary. Just have to use
common sense. If somebody labels Albert Pujols
as disrespectful and not a good pro, that's
ridiculous and it bothers me tremendously.
To be fair, he was not spontaneous,
he made us wait, so he had plenty of time to
calm down and the questions were not
inflammatory at all. They were very casual
questions and his reaction -- and that's why
there was such a huge cry. It was not
immediately after the game by a long stretch.
That's probably why.
TONY LA RUSSA: To me "not immediate"
means the next day. That's one of the credos that
you use as a manager when you get taught when
you're a baby in the Minor Leagues. The Minor
League manager says, if you're upset, wait until
the next day until you talk to the player. In the heat
of the competition, the guys take this stuff serious
and losing is upsetting. And the guys that are not
upset, I repeat, the guys that give you the best
quotes, I would check their competitive fire; it
needs to be burning a little. So I would ask him the
next day. If it's the next day and he had time to
reflect and be sensible, then that's a little different.
Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.