This time of year a lot of guys are
hurting, Cliff Floyd is being tested today, and
you've been through this. Is there a fine line
between being a gamer, just going out there
and playing, and fessing up that there's pain?
TONY LA RUSSA: That's a real fine line.
We have the perfect example in Scott. You
admire, especially nowadays when guys have
guaranteed money, and for years, a lot of us,
whether it's front office, ownership, coaches,
managers, a lot of us have problems that you can't
get those guys on the field. Every little ouch, they
So when you have a guy that's got all that
security and he's doing everything he can to stay in
the lineup, I mean, you respect that. That's the
better kind of problem.
But in the end, I stressed with Scott, you
know, you just want the players to be
straightforward. That way, you have an idea
about, you know, how close to themselves they
are. Otherwise, if a guy is not swinging right, you
don't know, sometimes your swing gets a little
funky, or maybe there is something physically
wrong. So there's a real fine line.
I think what we usually go by is the doctor
or trainer, they evaluate and if it's a sore spot that
doesn't get worse with play, then all you're doing is
battling the effectiveness. If he has something like
a hamstring or Achilles' like Cliff has, if you tweak
that, it will get worse or it might blow it out, and
that's a different kind of thing. If you put all that
together, I make the point with Scott, I was never,
and not now, upset with him, because I really
admire the fact that he wanted to go out there. It's
just you need the information so that you can make
a better call.
Do you think modern medicine has
made a difference in a club being able to
evaluate and check out a guy before a series
TONY LA RUSSA: Yeah, it's been like --
well, we talk a lot about that among ourselves, and
even in the industry. There's some wonderful
advances and all of a sudden you have things that
get scoped and the recovery is so much quicker.
But they uncover stuff that was -- older players
years ago that we're not aware of and played
And clubs are in such a precarious position
because there's so much money involved and if
you find something, and if you don't err on the side
of caution, you're laying yourself wide open, and a
player's career. It's really, in some cases, it's been
really good. In other cases, it creates a lot of
Has Jeff pitched better over the last
couple of weeks, and if he has, what do you
think the biggest change has been in the way
he's been pitching?
TONY LA RUSSA: I think you've got to
start with the fact that he's been an effective
starting pitcher in the Major Leagues for a long
time. So he got out of whack. And these guys are
men, not machines, so when they get out of
whack, whether a pitcher or a hitter, it gets into
their coconut and they start pressing and they try
stuff and it just drives you nuts. Sometimes a
change of scenery, he came over, we looked at
him, he's healthy and he's a competitor and every
time he's out there, he's had success, he's got
more confident and he's more himself.
Can you just talk about, it's been
kind of a lot of swings, stretch run and then the
great series, can you talk about how this club
has bounced back.
TONY LA RUSSA: Three different
streaks, and a lot of losses to have a winning
record. Tells us overall, when we've been good,
we've been real good and we've had some periods
where we have not been a good club. I think when
we struggled, we did the right things. We never
quit playing, nobody pointed any fingers, we just
kept trying to fix it. I think we're coming into the
post-season, and we've gotten by one series with a
lot of character and we know we've been tested in
ways that have not been fun to go through.
But we've gone through it.
What are the updates on Edmonds
and Rolen as best you know for their chances
TONY LA RUSSA: I watched Scott work
out. He's been surrounded most of the morning
and the afternoon. But I know the report is that he
came through the workout well. Looked like he
was moving well, so I'd be optimistic that he would
be in there.
I think Jim has got through that first series,
and probably got a little discomfort from time to
time but he's playable and I expect to start him as
What about Adam Wainwright has
impressed you and how far has he come since
not this Spring Training but the year before,
talking about the progress he's made mentally
TONY LA RUSSA: Well I think you have
to separate the two. He's tall and kind of a gangly
young guy and with that frame, you knew he was
going to grow into it. Outstanding character.
Smart individual. First year he came over, you
could tell, he wanted to learn; not one of those
guys that has all the answers. Last year in AAA
made a great start and made a good impression
Came to Spring Training. He was a dark
horse to make the club. But he's got talent, so if
he shows something, one of Duncan's favorite
things is to take that young, potential starter and
just like the old days, just give him a year in the
bullpen and protect him and just get his feet wet
and just seems to really work.
What happened, we were not out of April,
and we had changed from just spotting him here
and there to giving him important assignments, and
he's gone from there to what it is now.
Could you talk about Jeff and the
kind of changes he had to make in his game.
And can you talk about Glavine and what
you've seen in the last year, year and a half.
He's talked a lot about having to reinvent
himself a little bit.
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, he's had a
phenomenal career, but he's had a really
wonderful year. He's doing all of the things that he
used to do all of the time to get you out, and now
he's added enough variety where he's tougher to
read, and he still executes pitches. He pitches to
all parts of the zone and a very cool customer, just
got an outstanding career, and great deception.
You can never tell when he delivers the ball
whether it's one speed or the other.
So I mean, he's a real challenge for
tomorrow, but I do believe that he's added some
weapons that a hitter has to contend with.
I haven't seen scouting reports on
your team but I have to believe up at the top is
"Don't let Pujols beat you," yet he continues to
beat you and beat you and beat you. How does
that happen, and are you amazed at times
yourself how often he beats the other team?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, I'm amazed that
he's so good, but if you watch our games day-in
and day-out, just like the clincher against the
Padres, he walked. So if you want to walk him,
walk him. The guys that hit behind him have made
that strategy not pay off enough to where
managers say, this is not good.
I keep repeating Felipe's -- my favorite
quote, when you deal with really dangerous hitters,
it's about competition, not cowards. You raise
competitors, not cowards. I really like that. In the
end, the other side is not comfortable going like
that all the time. I don't think it's the right way to
compete. We don't do it to Barry.
So the reality of our games, if you've got
guys on base ahead of him, and you just put Albert
on, that's another run that's likely to score. If you
start out saying you're not going to pitch to him, we
end up scoring more runs.
He's just a terrific weapon, with his on
base percentage. Once he gets on base, he's a
While you're talking, the Yankees
they are having a press conference and Joe
Torre just announced he's staying as manager.
Just your thoughts being a veteran manager
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, you're talking
about a no brainer. I am no veteran manager, but
he's a veteran manager with incredible credentials.
This time of the month, the success they have had
-- they have had a couple tough series here
recently. I think however he's involved with it or
whatever the Yankee brain trust, that's a no
brainer. Those results don't just happen because
they have got talent and he shows up and talks to
the press. He's an outstanding manager, and
For all of your experience and all of
your success, are you a believer in the way
teams get along and are you a believer in
chemistry, does that have any impact on how
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, you're asking my
opinion, and I don't listen to talk radio anymore,
and I used to, I do in the winter. I always mark the
expert that says team chemistry is something that
doesn't exist and it's not important. I mean, you
spend more time together than you do with your
family, especially in baseball, basketball. You're
there seven to eight months. You tell me that the
relationships between your teammates, the
respect, the trust, that that's not a key factor.
So it was explained to me one time, if you
have that, just like a general manager trading for a
superstar and if you don't have it, you're missing it.
We're working very hard creating an atmosphere
where guys respect each other, trust each other
and pull for each other and they enjoy being
together. I think it's very important.
How do you do that? How do you
help build chemistry?
TONY LA RUSSA: It starts with the right
people. You've got to have the right people. And
they have to think that those things are important.
If you have a bunch of jerks that ignore that
message, get rid of the jerks.
You know, I'll give you one example that
happens every year. The club decides that they
are not going to point fingers. So you lose three or
four games 1-0, 2-1, and you don't have pitchers
walk in here and say, hey, we can't get any runs;
or you have games, 10-9, the hitters walk in, hey,
you can't make any outs. Our club does not allow
finger pointing publicly. If you have a problem, you
take care of it within the family. You'd be surprised
when you're not pointing fingers and not trying to
cover your butt by pointing at the other guy.
You've got to start trusting each other and you stay
together. It's just human nature and common
sense. Really, you've just got to be careful. Just
treat your teammate like you would your family.
Just be careful with them. It ain't all that tough.
Along those lines, the job that Willy
Randolph has done over here, I know they have
a lot of money to spend and they have a lot of
talent, but can you appreciate how he's melded
that together and they seem to have a good
clubhouse chemistry over there?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, I was always
kind of amazed that it wasn't until last year that he
got a shot. I mean, talk about his credentials as a
player and winning situations as a coach, a quality
man. But I remember watching him last year in his
first Spring Training. You know, the kind of staff
we've got, we think that the big leagues are special
so we look around and we were all really
impressed with the way that Willie from the first
day, the way he was dealing with his players and
And this year, it was a continuation of it. I
think he's a real good man, outstanding baseball
man, and does a terrific job of -- probably because
of his background and what he's been through. He
knows what's not right and he works to make sure
that's not part of their situation. That's an
important part of how they play. They are a very
Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.