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Tony La Russa pregame interview

Tony La Russa pregame interview

With all of the good right-handed bats you can put in your lineup, do you have any explanation for why you've struggled against left-handed pitchers this year?

TONY LA RUSSA: It's really been a strange deal. It's got us wondering, got us scratching our heads, and I think more than anything else, our approach. We have good, tough right-hand hitters who individually have had success against left-hand pitching and I just think there have been games that our approach could be improved. So we're going to try to improve it the next two days.

What's been your history with using pitchers on three days' rest, do you think that most Major League guys could do it? And then what do you think about Jeff coming back on three days tomorrow?

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TONY LA RUSSA: Well, we've done it, Dave and I have been together for a while, and, I don't know offhand how many times we've done it. I would say the majority of the time, a good portion majority of the time, the pitcher has been effective. I think the biggest hurdle is they are not used to doing it. They got used to the four days and they have a routine that they do this on day one, two, three and four. I remember routine, postseasons for Dave Stewart, he would throw twice with three days' rest. I remember we had an example here where Darryl Kile pitched on three days' in 2000 but had a rough couple innings, but it wasn't because -- his stuff was outstanding. I just think Jeff knows it's coming, he's getting ready for it, and we're optimistic.

When you picked up Preston Wilson, since you picked him up, has he met your expectations, perhaps even exceeded what you hoped his role would be with this ballclub?

TONY LA RUSSA: We thought at the time that it was a real break for our club, because that's the time that we had real issues with Jim's health. As it turned out, Jim was unavailable a lot more when we first thought when we first got him, we thought this is a guy that gives us some depth there. I was always very impressed with the way he played and he's competitive, very dangerous and when he gets it going, a very live bat. Coming over as a teammate, he has an infectious personality, he's good when he plays, before the game and after the game. In fact, I just posted the lineup and he's not playing tonight, and it was real difficult to leave him out because I always think he's going to do something big.

What has the approach been for your hitters, your right-handers against lefties, what was it before you've tried to amend it this week?

TONY LA RUSSA: No chance to get an answer out of that. That falls into scouting report. (Laughter.) I wouldn't say what we've been doing wrong, and I'm not going to tell you we hope we do better. I mean, that's my answer. I don't think we should be talking about it, just in case they haven't figured it out, which I think they probably have anyways. (Laughter.)

At what point did you contact Manager Leyland yesterday or vice versa and how did that conversation go?

TONY LA RUSSA: Well, I forgot to turn on my cell phone when the night was over. And it wasn't until, you know, 2:00 or so and I remembered, and I turned it on and he had called a couple of times because I was going to call him. He called a couple of times, I figured by then, it's three there, so I talked to him this morning. And I could have called him at three because he wasn't asleep (Laughter.)

You must be used to seeing Rolen and Edmonds and guys like that in your sparkling defense, but does it ever get tired and what's it like to have that kind of safety net for your pitching all the time?

TONY LA RUSSA: Well, you're right, I think sometimes a couple years ago, we had three guys hit 100 RBIs, MVP's and all that stuff. But our defense, year-in, year-out, you talk about two guys, and then you had Edgar, and now you've got David, so that's solid there. Second base, and then Albert's gotten so good, we're used to playing great defense, and it can get lost in the shuffle with the pitching and the hitting. Those guys put on a highlight film quite often, and those two guys are two of the best at their positions all the time. They can rank with some of the very best. So every time you -- especially against a lineup like the Mets that has a lot of dangerous hitters, you know, if all of the sudden you turn a potential hit into an out and there's an extra baserunner, very important.

You talked about Preston not playing today, did you find a way to keep him in the lineup and what else have you done through your lineup today?

TONY LA RUSSA: Well, I ended up saying, Wilson is not in the lineup. And the reason Preston is not playing left field is that Scott is. That's what it came down to. It came down to Scott or Preston, and you know, Juan is playing right, hitting fourth, and Jimmy is in center. So really a tough call. I'm always thinking a guy is excited about the post-season as Preston is, I guess yesterday, walk, base hit. But it's hard here tonight with the lift that Scott has given us in games that he's started.

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When you look at what Jeff has done here at home, do you see it more as maybe pitching in front of so many people or pitching at home or pitching when it's been hot, what do you see with why he's pitched so much better when he's on the road versus when he's here?

TONY LA RUSSA: His first couple of appearances he was still trying to get in a good groove. And that last home game that he pitched, I thought he pitched very, very well. I think the way he's throwing, he's got a chance. I just think it's a coincidence when he starts pitching better, we have more assignments for him.

Just to follow-up on your conversation with Manager Leyland, what are your feelings about that, and what are your feelings generally when you see people who are -- who you've been affiliated with, including Willie Randolph?

TONY LA RUSSA: Well, I include the A's, especially Rene Lachemann who was really a terrific teammate for many years and I guess because of hook or crook, he would miss a post-season for the first time. You know, when you have teammates, a special bond, and when you become friends, it's even more special and feel great for them. The big thing, Jim and I talked about it this morning, the big thing about the success of the Tigers is, I feel about Jim like I do about Dave Dombrowski, we go back to 1978. The big thing is the franchise and the fans. You have a personal relationship with somebody, just like our players can have a friend on one of the winning clubs. But the significance is the Tigers as an organization, what it means to their fans. Same thing with us. We're getting to the post-season. It's not individual or it's not too personal. It's really players, team, fans. I mentioned to somebody, I don't see him here this morning or this afternoon, but there was a gentleman here from Detroit. I mean, I could remember sitting on the bench on the A's in the early '70s and going to Tiger Stadium when Vida Blue pitched and 50,000 people in a doubleheader and they gave him a standing ovation when we went to pitch in the bottom of the first. I remember in the '70s and '80s, you go into Tigers Stadium and that was electric. It's great to see that franchise having success for baseball.

Was it tough at all not to find a way to get Taguchi in the lineup, particularly against a lefty today?

TONY LA RUSSA: Yeah, that was tough not to play him yesterday, but here again, you start process of elimination. I think Juan is our best fourth place hitter, he's going to play, Jimmy is going to play. Preston, So, Scott, I mean, bothered a little bit, Aaron Miles has done a really good job and has had some success against the Mets. This is, what, our fourth game and he hasn't started yet. It's a tough ball, but it's the kind of problems you like to have.

Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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