TONY LA RUSSA: We watched him on
tape and looked like he was healthy. That's a big
step in the right direction. A guy struggles and he's
not right, a month or so after surgery or something,
so he was healthy and we had a need.
And the other thing I said, every time that
we faced him or I see him on TV he's very
competitive. In the end being competitive counts
for a lot in this League.
Do you think the cold weather
favors the pitchers?
TONY LA RUSSA: That's an interesting
question, because I think most times we all
assume that it does, because they're working and
they're warmer. But just from my experience, past
history, there are a lot of games in conditions like
this where the balls are so slippery you just can't
get the right grip on them and pitchers lose that
fine command and sometimes a game like this,
even if you've got outstanding pitching, you end up
scoring more runs than you think, because the
pitchers can't get the ball where they want to.
How much better has Scott Rolen
swung the bat the last three games than maybe
the previous five games?
TONY LA RUSSA: He looks more like
himself when he's right. And a big part of it, even
when he was struggling, he was working very hard.
He and Hal McRae spent hours, trying to get it
fixed and as it happens a lot, hard work pays off.
Could you give us your lineup,
TONY LA RUSSA: David, Spiezio second
DHing, Albert, Scott Rolen and Encarnacion five,
Jimmy six, Preston Wilson, Yadier and Miles on
Tony, you worked together with
Dave Duncan for so many years, what is it
about him that's made him an effective pitching
coach? And also the second part, how much
influence did he have in getting Chris to the
Cards and up to the majors and being a
TONY LA RUSSA: He had nothing to do
with Chris, other than he fathered him. He made it
a point to stay out of -- in fact, when we had our
evaluation meeting in Spring Training, a lot of
times when it got to the nitty-gritty, Dave wasn't
there, that way nobody would be uncomfortable
being real candid about it.
What Chris has done, he's earned his way
through our Minor League system and he opened
everybody's eyes in Spring Training, and we knew
he was an option to bring up if we had a problem.
We wouldn't be here without that second-half
surge of his.
As far as Dunc, I think I've learned over
the years he's the absolute complete pitching
coach because we've had all kind of starters,
relievers, right, left, young guys, old guys, and they
come in with different issues and there isn't
anything that Dunc is not qualified to talk about.
You can go right down the list, I can give you an
example with everybody. He's absolutely
The other thing that he does, I marvel at
because I can't do it, he likes to try to stay with or
ahead of what's happening in the game. Back
when it was computer, back when it was video, I
mean he's always been hungry to stay ahead of it.
I say that because I still do stuff longhand. I'm just
old-fashioned that way. But I've always been
impressed, but I think that's another reason
because he stays ahead of it, because he's always
Teams have attributes that develop
over the course of a season. Do you think that
there are any attributes that your team has
developed just during the postseason and if so,
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, it's been quite a
ride, because we started out well. I can remember
people talking about another hundred-win season,
and all of a sudden people talk about blowing your
chance to get to the postseason, so we went
through both of those things. When we got in we
had a couple of key guys, so it looked like our
lineup, and then we had Jeff Weaver, who had
really been clutch there at the end, Suppan had a
big second half. So our pitching, we felt better
about the bullpen, even without Izzy. We had
some weapons. We got in there and we thought
we would be competitive. And if you compete, who
So I think it was more of a fair challenge
for our team rather than sometimes it was on the
unfair side. Which it is for a lot of clubs during the
season, it's a reality.
They're going to have Sparky here in
a while, and he's going to be part of the
ceremonies tonight, can you tell us a little more
about what he meant to you and has meant to
you in your career and how much you enjoy
seeing him in the spotlight here and things like
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, it's just not me,
it's every young baseball person, whatever, if
you're a manager, coach, some guys had his
expertise and were kind of were reluctant to share
it to everybody. I was just one of the guys that you
went up to him and asked him, he would give you
everything that he had. So he was a wealth of
information. And then as I gained experience you
realized how valuable it was. But his willingness to
help young people who were trying to understand
the game, very, very, very exceptional.
And then you watch as far as like an
ambassador for baseball or something, he's does a
great job with media, fans. And I've had a lot of
games managed against him and he's on top of
everything. Whether it was pitching, he'd do a
great job with pinch-hitters, team attitude,
professionalism. We had a guy named Tony
Phillips that was with us in Oakland and went over
there, and Sparky insisted that he was a Big
Leaguer. I've always felt like he's the most
complete manager that I've ever been around.
Anything the organization needed, Sparky was the
Could I ask why you dropped
Taguchi from the lineup tonight? Was his
performance last night poor?
TONY LA RUSSA: No, he's very good.
So we have a good club, we have too many good
players. One of the things that So does very well,
he helps us with our manufacturing game by
bunting and hitting-and-running and stealing, and
Kenny Rogers takes that away from you. So we
went with a couple of other guys that could do
No, So had an outstanding game and he'll
There's a new labor agreement in
baseball, just want to get your reaction to that.
TONY LA RUSSA: Is there?
It just happened.
TONY LA RUSSA: Good. Well, I'm all for
-- I think we're all for certainty and not going
through a winter of wondering what's going to be
going on. So I applaud the powers with the union
and the MLB. Helps us go about our business.
You talked about a couple of your
coaches yesterday, what has Hal McRae
brought and what kind of job has he done for
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, Hal, in the days
that I started managing, which was '79, the mark in
the Western Division was the Kansas City Royals
as far as what winning was about, and George
Brett and Hal McRae were the winners who set the
example. So we were on the other side, it was
painful to compete against them. So when we had
a chance to bring him on to our staff, he's a very
smart man, he understands what's hitting is about,
he knows when to say something, when not to say
anything, and he understands winning.
We look at Molina and the way he
can throw and all the things he does as a
catcher, but what about how fiery is he
personality-wise in terms of taking charge and
working with the pitchers?
TONY LA RUSSA: I think it's amazing
and he showed it -- well, he showed it two years
ago when he was backing up Mike (Matheny) and
we were having a good year. Last year when he
was so young, no hesitancy at all, to take charge
of a pitcher who was having a problem. Our
pitchers respect him for that. He has real feel for it.
He doesn't go out and insult you, he does it in a
way that's constructive and positive.
This guy, he's so far ahead of the game.
Ten years from now, he'll have a little better idea,
but he already knows stuff that you would expect
from a ten-year veteran.
Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.