TONY LA RUSSA: I think
nowadays veterans, if they're very smart
about their nutrition and how they work
out, they maintain their skills and they've
got all that experience that gives them
potentially the chance to be better than
ever, and when I see him, it looks like his
fire is burning pretty well, but he's turned
up even more. Sometimes that works
against the guys. It's worked for him. I'm
sure he's going to be fired up tomorrow
and he'll be tough.
You and Dunc have been together a
long time, but now you're managing his son.
He's in there as DH. Does he ever give you a
nudge and say, Chris is hot, he ought to be in
the lineup or how does that dynamic work?
TONY LA RUSSA: You know with
Dunc, it's like E.F. Hutton, if he says
something I listen. And against the Mets,
he said pinch-hit Chris, and I pinch-hit him
and there it goes.
I think if somebody from USA
Today, I would suggest them staying away
from Dunc, because they called Chris
brutal, and I would fear for their safety,
whoever is associated with that scouting
report, because he would hurt them. So
the way it works is that Chris has given us
a great lift. It's been a real treat to watch
him. But if Dunc is disappointed with the
days he doesn't play, he only hurts me a
With the two choices you had in
there today, is Taguchi, is that largely a
defensive thing in this outfield or what goes
into that and also what goes into the options
TONY LA RUSSA: I think the two
hole in front of Albert, and that's the
reason we got into the postseason. Early
on I was thinking Spiezio, and I checked
the lineup card from our game here in
June and Verlander was really tough on
Scott, so why push it. So had walked a
couple of times and competed well in that
series, and he's swinging well, and I think
you get his potential offense plus great
For those of us who have been
covering the American League, discuss how
Wainwright has evolved into your closer, and
how he built on the big save the other night?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, I mean
it's been an evolution that was so quick.
Like I said there's a long version and short
version. The very short version, he came
to Spring Training with no spot on the
club. He had to really open some eyes,
but he was given legitimate assignments.
But the thinking was he'd go back to
Triple-A. But one of the things Dave
Duncan likes to do is take the promising
starter, put them in the bullpen a year. It
gets his feet wet, especially around our
starters who work so well. He can learn
how you can condition yourself.
So if he looked like in Spring
Training that he could get big hitters out in
a carefully set-up situation, he could make
the club, and he did. So we started out to
be really careful with him and you just had
to see him in the first month or two, he just
was taking charge. So we kept increasing
his responsibilities and supposedly the
pressure later in the game, and he kept
responding. So soon he was in the
seventh and eighth, when Izzy went down
he was the logical choice. He's looked
exactly the same since the assignment in
Spring Training, he really has until the day
the other day in New York.
Todd Jones has made some
derogatory comments about Jeff Weaver, as a
manager that has shown he's been protective
of his players, what's your response to that,
and how do you handle a situation like that?
TONY LA RUSSA: Yeah, I noticed
those in -- I qualify it by saying, I'm only
protective of the guys that deserve it. The
thinking about being a player's manager, I
never have liked -- if a guy is a teammate
of ours and he doesn't care about the
outcome of our game, he doesn't care
about his teammates, he shows up on
Monday, Wednesday and Friday and
forgets us the rest of the week, I'm not
protective of him. I'm not a player's
manager. But what Jeff Weaver has done
for us, we're real supportive, protective,
whatever it is, and those comments upset
Now, I'm not sure what the history
is. I know more than a lot of their guys
have never been in our club. I know Todd
had several conversations with him, I
followed his career, and I think he's really
a good pitcher. I respect what he's done
for the Tigers. But I was disappointed
because to me comments like those
should be addressed privately among
teammates or ex-teammates. To air them
publicly I thought was a disappointment.
And other than, I mean, there isn't
anything else to say about it or do about it.
But I was disappointed and the teammate
that Jeff has been with us, we would rally
around him against those comments.
Dave McKay is someone that's been
on your staff for a number of years, talk about
some of the assets that have made him so
TONY LA RUSSA: One of the
neat things that happened is that --
sometimes there's a belief that managers
and coaches are friends; never been
allowed that luxury. People I work with
you can't. It's better when some -- a fellow
joins your coaching staff because of his
expertise and the work he does, and then
you become friends afterwards. That's the
case with Dave.
We went over to Oakland in '86, he
was there as a coach and played for Billy
and he was there coaching and after
observing him for half a year, and we had
the chance to make the '87 staff. It was a
Since then he is probably the most
reliable coach I have ever been around. If
you have something that needs to be
done, and you ask Dave to do it, you can
bet your life that it will be done. He's a
very talented guy in a lot of areas, he's a
great worker. Also one of my favorite
things that he does, we encourage all
coaches to do, he takes no crap from any
player because he's a very respected
coach who does a good job. Sometimes
players start playing the role like, I'm the
star and you're the coach. I've seen Dave
stop BP, walk up to the guy and tell them,
"I'm not having anything like that again."
"Yes, sir, Mr. McKay."
I love the way he carries himself.
And I love the way he supports the
importance of coaches, Major League
coaches to a ballclub.
We sometimes hear players say for
their career to be fully complete they have to
win a championship. How would you view
what Albert's done, and what would winning a
championship do for his career?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, I don't
think it's smart to frame it that way,
because Albert is one of many, many guys
on our club that have not experienced a
world championship. So what it means to
Albert is what it would mean to any one of
our guys that doesn't have the big ring.
But I do believe that one of your dreams,
one of the benchmarks of your career is
did you ever get that -- we just talked
about it the other day, you win a pennant,
you get a ring, but you don't get the ring.
You've got to win four more.
In his case, one of the reasons I
respect him so much is that he is
dedicated to help get his club in this
position and get the four more. It hadn't
been about stats, it hadn't been about
money. This guy is a winning player.
He's going to be out there trying hard. But
it's just like the rest of our team, it's just as
important to the rest of them as it is to
You won the NLCS, even though the
production of your 2 and 4 spots wasn't up to
what its usual standards are. As a result Albert
had one RBI in the series. How big is it during
this series that you at least get closer to the
norm with that part of your lineup or does that
prove that it's not that necessary, you can win
without that production?
TONY LA RUSSA: What it proves
is that when you get into October, you're
facing pitching that can shut you down
and it's tough to string rallies together and
put up crooked numbers. We got here,
that's true, but we're here because the
Mets, with their really potent attack are
pitching good enough to get us out. And
now we're facing the staff that had the
best ERA in Major League Baseball. I just
know that to us to get four wins, we need
to pitch like we've been pitching, but we
need to find a way to break through
offensively enough. And it will be a real
challenge, because of the quality of
You've got a quick turnaround to the
World Series, just like you did in 2004. You
thought that was maybe a factor in what
happened to you guys that year. How have
things been different this year? Is there
anything you can do to help the team get over
that and move on?
TONY LA RUSSA: That's a great
question because it's something we
actually addressed. We pointed out that
in '04 we won at home. So we celebrated
until four or five in the morning and then
you had to kind of stumble around the
house packing your family. We didn't get
to Boston until early evening and it was
just a mess. And then the first game was
there and it was a rush.
We won in New York, we got here
at 5, we were packed. We think we've
slowed everything down and we've really
worked hard to put that one behind us and
concentrate on this one.
So there's a couple of differences,
we'll see how it plays out.
For those of us who haven't seen
Anthony Reyes much, what makes you
confident in him and what is sort of his
long-term ceiling as a pitcher in this game?
TONY LA RUSSA: He has the
physical ability to be a solid, winning Major
League pitcher. I think the impressive
thing about him that he's demonstrated a
couple of times last year and some of the
spot starts this year, which make us think
he's got a shot tonight, he's got good
composure. You're going to see a guy
that he's not fizzing all over the place, he's
not breaking into a sweat, he's going to go
out there and pitch the game. He deals
with situations well. Guys get on base, he
gets them out and throws a pitch.
So that gives him a chance today
and for his future if he stays healthy and
keeps developing, he's a solid, Major
I realize your options were limited,
but going into tomorrow with Weaver starting
in the city that he called home in a while and
the organization that he kind of grew up with, is
that a situation you like or having your druthers
would you prefer to avoid that?
TONY LA RUSSA: No, I love it
because one thing is that's why he started
in San Diego; he's been outstanding on
the road. And he's a veteran that will take
that whatever the adrenaline is and make
it work on his behalf.
Anthony Reyes spoke a little bit
yesterday about why he abandoned his
wind-up about the third inning of his last start.
TONY LA RUSSA: What did he
He thought that -- well, I think Dunc
came out and said to him, "I think you're
tipping your pitches in your wind-up, so why
don't we go from the stretch here on, and we'll
deal with it in your next start, instead of going
through the whole process out on the mound
or between innings." How have you talked
about that? Is that something where people in
the dugout start talking about it? How often
does that happen?
TONY LA RUSSA: It happens
more often than you'd believe. There are
a lot of guys that are trying to read
pitchers and I don't know if it's 40 or 50
percent of the time; more than you would
think. And I think it is true, it happens
more with young pitchers because that's
not one of the things they fine tune before
they get to the Big Leagues. So he's been
working on it between then and today. If
he goes out and has a problem, you go in
One of the problems, it is a habit,
and you may be thinking about it. If you
get out on the mound he should be
thinking about pitch, deliver it and then to
be distracted with, you know, whatever
you do, it makes it counterproductive.
We're going to watch him close and if we
see anything, put him in the stretch over
time he'll fix it.
When you saw it, was it based on
what he was doing or hitters' reaction?
TONY LA RUSSA: Dunc saw it
and they were having some swings and
taking some pitches, which are telltale.
But if you can see it, I mean the Mets had
some veterans that are -- they have
well-earned reputations for it, you know
they're seeing it. It was a no-brainer.
Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.