Interview with Garner

Interview with Garner

Phil, last year at this time you had to do a lot of things to shuffle your rotation. Can you just talk about the difference now of having Pettitte in there and just how that stabilizes everything else?

GARNER: Well, actually the top three, and four even with Brandon Backe scheduled, if necessary, for a fourth game, gives us a lot of, obviously, confidence. I think with Rocket, after his last start, he's healthy. So we're not concerned about anybody's we don't appear to have any problems right now that I'm aware of.

So we have a pretty solid rotation. Coming out with Pettitte, Clemens and Oswalt, you got to feel pretty good about it. I was joking a few minutes ago, if I only had one other guy to add to this rotation, it would be Cy Young. It would be hard to get him here now, I guess. But nonetheless I feel pretty good about it.

Would you characterize this series as good pitching against good hitting?

GARNER: Well, yeah, their good pitching against our good hitting, probably. I guess you might put it.

You know, I don't know that you ever can figure it out. In 1979 in the World Series, in Pittsburgh when we went against Baltimore, they had three 20 game winners. You know, it was supposed to be very much a pitching series. It wasn't that way at all; it was very much an offensive series.

I don't know how to figure it. As you listened to me say a number of times, I don't know what to expect sometimes. What I do know is we've been resilient, we have found a way to win ballgames when I didn't think we could. That gives me some encouragement.

So it wouldn't surprise me if we see a bunch of 2 1, 3 2 ballgames, nor would it surprise me to see a couple of 8 , or 9 run ballgames.

Are you more concerned about this year's Braves team than you were going in last year or is there any difference?

GARNER: Last year doesn't count. Doesn't matter what was going through last year. I'm very concerned about this year's Braves team.

Phil, is it different managing in the playoffs?

GARNER: Yeah. Yeah. You know, everything's scrutinized, there's no question about that. There's a whole other level of importance on everything that you do, how you are going to depend on your players.

It's still our baseball game and we still plan to play it just like we do, you know, right down to the wire. It's fun. This is why you play 162 ballgames, just to get to this point where you can really get down to business.

With Hudson going tomorrow and Smoltz the next day, are you apt to put (Mike) Lamb at first and (Lance) Berkman in left? Has that decision been made yet?

GARNER: No, I haven't made that decision yet. I'm still mulling it over. I'm thinking about it a little bit. Probably won't make a decision until tomorrow.

Barring the arrival of Cy Young, in a lot of ways, Phil, the roles are reversed this year. Years ago the Braves always had the top three pitchers Maddux, Smoltz, Glavine. Everybody talked about the Braves' pitching. This year you're coming in with the same thing, your top three. Can you talk about that?

GARNER: Well, it certainly makes you feel good. Any time you have a short series, if you have good pitching, I think you have got to feel comfortable about it.

But, again, it's like I was referring to earlier, in some respects, you know, our ballclub's been unusual in a sense there have been times when I thought we were just going to, you know, absolutely tear people up and we were going to get on a good roll and we didn't. Then there were times when I thought, "Boy, this is the death of us," just as short ago as last week. When we went into St. Louis, I thought, "Uh oh, we lose two out of three to Chicago. I think this is bad news," and we end up winning two ballgames there and playing very well against a team that's been very tough on us, in their ballpark, against pitchers that have been very tough.

You always feel good about pitching when you have good pitching, and we've had good pitching. There's absolutely no question. From top to bottom, starting rotation, bullpen. By the way, you'll hear a lot of talk about our starters, but in modern day baseball you don't win unless you have a closer and you still don't win unless you have a bridge to the closer. We've had a fantastic job by our entire bullpen this year. That's what makes, in most cases, our starters as valuable as they are. When they leave the ballgame, we have pretty much a lockdown from that point if we've had the lead.

So it gives you a great deal of confidence, but still, as I say, there's been these kind of funny games. It's been a strange year for us in that respect.

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