Interview with Ozzie Guillen

Interview with Ozzie Guillen

Have you decided on your rotation?

Ozzie Guillen: We're going to start with Jose [Contreras], Mark [Buehrle] and [Freddy] Garcia, because I like Freddy on the road. Jose is the best we have. It would be right for us to give Jose the first shot because it's his turn.

I'll use my regular lineup, just like every day. Backups will be [Pablo] Ozuna, [Timo] Perez, [Geoff] Blum, [Chris] Widger and Willie Harris. I like Ozuna on offense, not defense. Blum will give me the opportunity, because he can play all four [infield] positions.

Ozzie, have you decided on [Brandon] McCarthy or El Duque?

Guillen: We're going to stay with Duque. We cannot use McCarthy to start until the fifth game. That's why I'll put El Duque in the bullpen. He did a pretty good job in Cleveland pitching one inning, then two innings. McCarthy did a tremendous job for us, but he won't be able to perform in the next few days.

Tell us about being perceived as an underdog in the series.

Guillen: It's hard to believe that we're going to compete against the World Champions. With 99 wins, we should get a little respect, a little love, but honestly I kind of like it that way.

I was with a team a couple years ago that wasn't supposed to win one game, then all of a sudden, won the World Championship.

How much does the lack of respect motivate you?

Guillen: I'm a winner. I like to show people how good we could be. As long as you believe in your players, just stick with them, we'll see what happens.

We've been on the top since April 1. We've proved that we're that good.

Talk about how well Jose Contreras has pitched this season and how much El Duque may have helped him.

Guillen: One of the reasons we brought El Duque here was because we were thinking about the situation. Having these two guys together makes Jose feel more comfortable. We have a couple of Spanish coaches, including myself. I knew Jose would feel better here than he did in New York. It's different around the clubhouse with the people around him.

I've always believed that Jose has a great arm. At the beginning of this season, if I told you Jose would be my first start for the playoffs, you'd think I was crazy.

No one doubts that Jose has the best arm of our starters. He's not the best pitcher, but he's the best arm. I think one of the reasons we are where we are is because he's come up big for us every time we need a big win. He's there for us.

How much more of a challenge is it to have to get past [David] Ortiz and [Manny] Ramirez back-to-back?

Guillen: Those two guys are my favorite players. We pitched good against them this year.

With Jose pitching, I don't want Ortiz to beat him. I will take the chance with Manny.

Some people get caught saying, "Don't get beat up by these guys," but they forget about [Jason] Varitek, they forget about [Johnny] Damon. I think the key for us and anyone playing the Red Sox is keeping Damon and [Edgar] Renteria off the basepaths.

Do you feel comfortable putting [Bobby] Jenks out there to close a game?

Guillen: I thought [Dustin] Hermanson did a tremendous job, but right now I'd put Jenks in tough situations, and he's come through. Right now, at this point, I think Jenks is going to take the shot. I know Jenks has prepared himself for this.

How is playoff baseball different from regular-season baseball?

Guillen: The biggest thing to me was that the regular season was a battle. Once you get to the playoffs, you have to win just 11 games. Regular season, we won 99 games and we went to the wire. Obviously, there's going to be more media attention, but I think the way we played all year long was like a playoff game.

I talked to the guys. I told them it's one thing that happens just once in your life, just to be in the playoffs. Some people play a lot of years in this game and never have this opportunity. Just believe in yourselves and continue to play the way you've been playing and take your chances, because I'm going to take mine.

You've been relying on the long ball a lot in the second half. Do you think you have to get back to small ball in the playoffs?

Guillen: I'd rather have five guys hit 20 home runs than have two that hit 50, because that would give you more run production. We never thought we would hit 200 home runs this year. You have to execute, especially in games. You're going to win a lot of games by one run. If you don't execute with your clutch hitting, then I don't think you're going to win the game.

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