BARRY ZITO: Yeah, the first game is
huge. We set the tone, pitching the first game of
the first series was big. I think maybe it's a little
more pressure to win the first of five. But we want
to get started on the right foot, and we can do it
here at home with two games. It's something that
we're all very focused on, coming out and setting
the tone early.
And you like to go first as the
BARRY ZITO: Yeah, definitely. I've just
been throwing baseballs since I was seven, so
whatever the surrounding atmosphere is, let it be.
But I'm the guy tomorrow.
The way that you've embraced the
leadership role with a lot of the young pitchers,
how much do you think the trades of Hudson
and Mulder forced you to grow up a little bit
more and forced you to become a veteran, and
how much do you think that's made an impact
on the way that you've progressed as a
BARRY ZITO: Yeah, it really gave me an
opportunity to become a solidified No. 1. Those
guys went into veteran situations, had you had did
I went to like John Smoltz's clubhouse per se and
Mulder went into the Cardinals' clubhouse where
Carpenter and Marquis and those guys were in
there, had been there. So for whatever reason I
had an opportunity to keep an eye on the little
chicks, all the A's players in the clubhouse.
Being 27 and dealing with that really
helped me, and it transfers into this year where it's
a good role, and being able to start the playoffs in
the first game.
When people look at these two
teams, any similarities that they seem to find
are generally with the pitching staffs. What are
the images that are conveyed by their batting
BARRY ZITO: They can hurt you in the
middle of the lineup, and they've got some fast
guys. They play baseball the right way. They're
going to hit and run, they're going to bunt, they're
going to steal third and get guys over, they're going
to hit it to the right side when they have to. They're
just fundamentally sound.
A lot of times in the playoffs, World Series,
the team that wins is the team that executes
fundamentals the most consistently. That's
something we're all expecting out of Detroit.
Both teams come into this series
with a lot of momentum, a lot of confidence.
Can you touch on how important that is at this
point in the season, considering you guys
broke that string and got to the ALCS and the
Tigers clearly haven't been in this situation for
a long time?
BARRY ZITO: Yeah, as for the Oakland
A's, we're very happy to be able to get the monkey
off our back. It wasn't many of us that had that
monkey, it was only a few of us from the old teams.
But we're a fresh clubhouse with a fresh
outlook, and I think we're not satisfied with an
ALDS or even an ALCS. I think we want to do the
right thing, and I think Detroit is bringing that same
mindset out doing what they did against New York.
We're both riding highs right now and it makes it a
You could have been traded in the
off season; you could have been traded at the
trade deadline this year. What does it mean to
you that you're still here and getting the ball for
the Oakland A's still, maybe leaving in the off
season. But what does it mean to you to get
this start after all that stuff?
BARRY ZITO: Yeah, it's great. There was
always speculation for the last three seasons now
of possible trades. That's just something that --
that's how baseball is. That's how the business is.
I always said, until I'm not wearing white
spikes, don't come up to me, don't ask me what I
think, because like I always say, it's like asking a
guy, well, you might get in a car accident today
when you go home; how do you feel about that? I
don't know, I'll deal with it when it happens.
Obviously Marco Scutaro has had a
pretty good first series. What's he like in the
clubhouse? He seems like fun in the dugout.
BARRY ZITO: Scutaro is very focused on
what he does. His role as a backup guy the last
couple years almost seems like a starting role
because we've had some injuries. He's stepped
up every way that we've asked him to. He's won
multiple games over the last few years in the last
at-bat. He's our ringer. He's the guy we look to to
lead us. When other people see him coming up, I
think they underplay his value, and he proves it
Do you and Ken Macha interact a
lot, and if so, what does he give you as a
manager to a player?
BARRY ZITO: Mach brings a lot of
pressure-free, relaxed environment. He comes up,
he talks to us. We just rap about this or that, just
the day's affairs. I don't get too much of a tight
feeling from Mach. I'm sure we're all focused on
what we have to do, but he keeps it light around
the clubhouse, and he lets the kids play, which is
all we can ask.
When Frank Thomas was acquired
by you guys, what were your initial feelings
about his addition to the team, and how have
your feelings about having him on the team
evolved as he's had this incredible season?
BARRY ZITO: When we got Frank we
knew he was going to be a huge addition to the
clubhouse, on the field, off the field. To have a
Hall of Fame guy around the other 24 guys on a
daily basis, I think you can't really speak of how
that helps a team, how it helps a clubhouse, simply
the vibe, him bringing to our position players more
importantly than our pitchers, and he's in the
dugout, he's chatting, cheering it up for the guys all
You know, I don't know if my perspective
has changed. We pretty much knew what we were
getting with Frank. Just to see him have a year
like he's having in person, almost single-handedly
carry us in the playoffs here has been pretty much
fun to watch. I'm not taking that for granted, and
it's something I'll always remember.
Somebody asked Ken about
clubhouse chemistry and the way it's evolved
over the years. I would think you'd be better
able to speak to it since you're in the
clubhouse more often. The 2001 team got the
big frat house rap. In your opinion has it
changed dramatically, and if so, how?
BARRY ZITO: I don't think it's changed
too dramatically. You know as well as a lot of the
beat writers that have been in there every day for
the last few years, it's pretty much the same. I
don't know if I'd call it a frat house, but we're very
relaxed, we have a lot of fun in there, Kotsay is
always leading the cheers inside the clubhouse,
and I think it's a situation where guys are just
relaxed and they want to play baseball. We don't
get too caught up in the pressures or the media or
the expectations, anything like that.
I think that's the main thing that's been
consistent throughout the years that I've been
Regardless of what happens next
year, how special will this start be for you after
all the years you've been with Oakland and
making this Game One start in front of the
BARRY ZITO: Yeah, it's great. There was
some speculation I may not pitch again here in
Oakland, and my last start here against Weaver
and the Angels, that was my last one. It's good to
come home for the fans and see them in person
and under a playoff atmosphere, which is great.
They've got the white towels out there like they did
against the Twins. It's going to be electric out
there and I'm excited about it.
Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.