DAVID ECKSTEIN: Actually we really didn't have that much time together, because when he came over, we do something every day. Jose Oquendo takes us out there early to work out, and soon after that I was injured and I was out for a month. He's a great veteran guy over there that knows how to play the game. It was one of those things that we just went out there and worked as much as we could, but he's very smooth. He plays very deep, and he gets to a lot of balls and it's been helping us out.
How do you explain your team, you guys staggered to the finish, barely got in, and then you go and kill San Diego. How do you explain your team?
DAVID ECKSTEIN: Very frustrating. We had an up-and-down season this year, but we've got a veteran-type club that understands how to go about playing the game. There was a lot of things that did not go right with us this year, but we were still able to right the ship enough to get into the playoffs, and that's what this is all about is trying to find a way to get into the playoffs, because once you get there, anything can happen.
You know, we got Chris Carpenter, who does a great job in our bullpen, stepped it up. And Ronnie Belliard made so many great plays that helped change the course of the series.
What's it like playing for Tony La Russa and maybe some contrast between him and playing for Mike Scioscia?
DAVID ECKSTEIN: Actually, they are both pretty similar, especially with this style of game that I play. They will call anything at any time. You know, I remember watching when I was in Anaheim with Mike Scioscia, he put three straight hit-and-runs with Bengie Molina 0-1, 0-2 and on 0-2 he got a base hit. That's the same thing that Tony will do, you just don't know what's going to happen, especially with putting guys in motion and trying to make things happen from an offensive side of things. Scioscia will show a little bit more emotion. Tony is pretty straight laced and especially on the bench, I don't think he will crack a smile at all. But he's very focused on what's going to happen and he plans the game and how to go about it.
You've been through this before, you've been successful. The Mets talk a lot about chemistry, do you believe in that, does chemistry help, or do the two teams have chemistry because they are playing well, which is which?
DAVID ECKSTEIN: I think chemistry is a major factor in a club. If guys get along inside the clubhouse and like each other, they are going to go out and play harder on the field. I think it's huge. You know, you watch, like you said, you're talking about the Mets, you watch them play, they look like they are having just loads of fun out there. You've got a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of guys coming together.
On our club, we have a good veteran leadership-type of deal in which we know how to go about it and we have a good time suiting up and playing hard. I think that's a huge factor in becoming a championship club.
Albert Pujols might be the biggest game-changer in baseball. What's it like having him on your side and are you flabbergasted how many teams pitch to him?
DAVID ECKSTEIN: Definitely. I think he's probably, if not, he's right there, one, two, with the best guys in the game today. He has the ability up there and he knows the strike zone. I think that's what makes him an even better hitter than some of the other guys. He's not willing to force the issue, he's willing to take the walk. But he has the ability, like you said with one swing of the bat to change the game.
That's why it's really important for us to have Jim Edmonds back in the lineup, backing him up, so that at least you're kind of, well, do we pitch to him and if we pitch to Edmonds worrying about runners on base. It's one of those things, we need him and hopefully Scottie is going to be healthy here soon. If we have those two guys backing him up, he'll get more pitches to hit and if not, the guys behind him will be facing the pitching.
You have a better eye for this than we do, as a shortstop, as a fellow professional, what is it that sets Reyes apart? Just from your practiced eye, what makes Reyes special?
DAVID ECKSTEIN: I mean, I think anybody that's watched him play loves his enthusiasm, his love for the game. It just shows through. His raw talent is unbelievable. He gets to balls, makes the good throws. His ability from the offensive side of things, switch-hitting, can lay down bunts, can hit for power. He has pretty much the total package out there, and being so young, just his eyes are so wide, he's just fun to watch. When I was talking about chemistry, I think he brings a lot to the club. I think he gets the club going, and he adds to it, just his young, enthusiastic style of play.
Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.