TONY LA RUSSA: Well, what Dave and I
talked about was keeping our options open and
that includes getting through Game 4 and that's
just consistent with we don't want to decide, we
don't know what the outcome of Game 4 will be,
don't know when Game 4 is going to be played.
And just the reality is, one of those two guys are
going to start the fifth game. I don't know which it's
going to be so they're both getting ready.
Jeff Suppan has taped a political
advertisement here for Missouri, I'm wondering
if you have any policy or preference regarding
your players when it comes to this kind of
TONY LA RUSSA: Our policy is you
recognize each person as -- the professional side
and personal side, and you respect both sides of
them. Actually our organization encourages guys
to get involved in something beyond just baseball.
Whether you agree with the choice or whatever, I
just like the fact that guys make a commitment and
they get involved.
In the LCS you seemed very hesitant
to wait until the last minute to decide on the
starter for the next day and you didn't want to
put the guys through that. What's different
about this situation from that time around?
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, that's spelling
out how the LCS differs. We're in this series now.
Anthony did a great job. Our three best starters
are lined up to pitch the last three games and they
all come back with short rests, so that's something
you consider. And maybe you wouldn't have a
chance to consider it, that's why we want to keep
the options open. Jeff and Carp have had two
games. If you're going to pitch a guy with a day
short, you'd pitch the guy that had 80 pitches and
had good games.
I just think our experience, there's no
formula, there's no series the same. You play the
one you're playing and you see how things were.
Just like the Mets series, we had two rainouts so
you don't get locked in.
What kind of evolution did you see
in Anthony Reyes through the season that led
to his Game 1 performance?
TONY LA RUSSA: Last year we had an
emergency start in Milwaukee and we pulled him
out and he pitched an outstanding game, low-hit
game, winning game in Milwaukee, and we were
all impressed. We always knew his stuff. We were
really impressed with how he kept his composure
and concentrated. I remember in the first inning,
somebody hit a fastball out of the park, that scares
young pitchers and veteran pitchers, too, but he
kept charging. He had more starts this year.
He had a real difficult assignment in the
American League park in Chicago and he
responded. So he's got talent and when he gets it
rolling, he keeps it rolling and other times you can
tell he's still learning. So that's part of this decision
about does he pitch again or does someone else
Reyes, Rogers and Carpenter have
all pitched great games in the World Series,
and certainly not detracting from that, but how
much tougher is it for hitters when it's 42
TONY LA RUSSA: I'm not sure. I said to
somebody before the Tiger game, I think normally
we all think that the pitcher has the benefit
because he's working hard and other guys are
standing around. But sometimes in a lot of cold
games you see the hitters' advantage because the
balls are slick, and command is the problem for
pitchers, it has to do with the grip.
I don't know, I saw each of those guys
pitch games like that right in the middle of the
summer, I just think they're really talented guys.
You mentioned Carpenter, Rogers, who else?
TONY LA RUSSA: I included Weaver, I
thought he pitched a game to win. So it's not easy
to hit in conditions like that, either, and you're
facing good pitching, so I'm not sure where the
If you're bringing Reyes and Weaver
in here, when you make that decision can we
assume that the other guy will be available in
relief or would you be elected to use either of
those guys in relief depending on how the
TONY LA RUSSA: I think there's a
difference with it with a different guy. If you go
Reyes, I think you can expect Weaver to pitch
Game 6, and you'd hold Carpenter back for 7.
That's part of it. If you pitch Weaver, it could be
that Reyes pitches Game 6 or he could pitch in the
bullpen. So Dave and I have talked a lot about
this, talked a lot about it today, have talked about it
in years past, it doesn't seem to make sense to get
locked in. Unless like if I'm the Tigers, and that's
one of the challenges we face to get two more
wins, they know their four starting pitches. And if
that was set up like that we'd do it, but we're in a
Your lineup, please, and any
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, Duncan will hit
second and play right field, Albert, Jimmy hits
fourth, Scott fifth, Wilson is going to play leftfield
and hit sixth, Molina and Miles will play second
base and bat eighth.
Tony, Derek Jeter has often
mentioned, he feels the presence of the ghosts
of past Yankee greatness and draws inspiration
from that. Do you feel anything like that given
the history of this franchise?
TONY LA RUSSA: Yeah, I mean I don't
think of it as ghosts, to me it's something that is
more tangible. Maybe ghosts are tangible to
Derek, because great things happened to the
Yankees in games they played in the postseason.
But I think you definitely feel the weight, the
positive weight, of the history of this organization.
I think they do a terrific job of making sure
that all the guys are a part of it, continue to be
welcome and they go out of their way to bring them
around Spring Training during the season.
Neatest thing about that is the guys they bring
around, Red is 83 years young, Stan, Gibby,
Brock, all those guys. They come in, and the guys
enjoy seeing them. They don't sit around and just
talk about, this is how I did it and we were great
and you're not. They pull so hard for you that it is
really a very special kind of connection that we all
feel, which I think is good for us. It adds to the
responsibility every year. You know you're trying
to fit into that kind of history, so I think it gets your
attention and gets our guys paying attention, trying
harder, whether it works out or not.
There hasn't been a stolen base in
the series, not a lot of what you'd call little ball.
Is that the circumstances, is it something you'd
like to get more in your game in the rest of the
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, stolen bases is
only one part of it. When you've got two catchers
like Rodriguez and Molina, I think we're all very
careful about trying to run into a suicidal out. But I
think the neat thing that's happened -- the other
point, before I mention a couple of them, when
offenses are having trouble producing runners,
nobody is on, you're behind, you've got two outs,
what are you going to do? You don't want to steal.
But yesterday Scott Rolen did a terrific job of
getting up to second and third. Game 1, we had
Jimmy at third base, a ball was hit to third base, he
got a great jump, and forced Inge to hurry a little
bit, the ball hopped up and got a throw-away for
two runs. There haven't been a lot of chances, but
I know how Jim teaches, they are execution-type
clubs. You have to watch more carefully, because
some of the dramatic stuff is not happening.
What do you see differently in
Molina's approach to the postseason compared
to what he did most of the regular season?
TONY LA RUSSA: I do think the most
important thing is that he's a hitter. He's always
hit. Last year he got off to a bad start and came off
and hit .250.
This year he struggled and as he got into
the second half of the year, he's a proud guy and
he got into human nature, every game he wanted
to get three hits, sometimes in two at-bats. You
can't force results, I don't care who you are. I think
when he got to the postseason it was 0-0, he
started fresh. As I heard him explain one time, he
had good conversations with -- Oquendo is very,
very sharp, helps everybody. Albert gives some
good -- and Hal McRae. So I think starting fresh,
and he had the season where he tried and
overtried and it didn't work, he just relaxed and got
off to a good start and he's a tough out.
With the conditions you're going to
be playing in tonight, will that affect the way
you approach or handle the game?
TONY LA RUSSA: You know, most of the
time the game dictates how you try to approach or
what you do. One of the realities is that the guys
are out there playing and pitching, and just like
you'd like to run, and nobody gets on base, stuff
like that. I think the one thing, we had a question
about who plays the outfield today, and it's a little
treacherous out there, we were thinking about
getting an extra left-hand hitter in there against
Bonderman, and we went with an extra
right-hander, just to make sure we had a better
Other than that, you don't try to pick
ground balls and throw ground balls away. You
don't try to get cute. You just are aware of it and
you deal with it.
Last night the situation with
Carpenter, obviously the win is the most
important thing, going about the business of
picking up the win, finishing the game the way
you did, the decision you made becomes
another part of it. Have you or can you even
allow yourself as a manager to get emotional
even for a second about a guy, complete game,
World Series shutout, have you done that in the
past and do you almost have to eliminate that
thought process pretty quickly if it does pop
into your mind?
TONY LA RUSSA: You're more likely to
allow yourself if it's a seventh game, the fourth win.
We're only halfway there. But he was going out for
the ninth. I'd pinch-hit, I wouldn't have bunted him.
He was pitching effectively, he was still strong. But
two things happened: We got an extra run, and
secondly, and more importantly, because we were
never comfortable. You just can't take anything for
granted. The Tigers have come back too many
times. The longer he sat there and as cold as it is,
the more likely sending him out there was going to
create problems for him. Even if he gets through it,
all of a sudden what became a really good game,
he made a bunch of good throws, he gets out a
little of whack, he is more sore today, he's going to
pitch again in this series. So it really wasn't a
tough call. When it's over, then you start realizing
that however many, 10, 15, 20 pitches might have
saved him in the ninth has something to do with
when he goes out again.
Given the importance of starting
pitching related to the weather, is there
concern on your part tonight Suppan going,
say, four or five innings and then the game is
delayed? Have you had any conversations yet
with baseball officials or will you regarding that
TONY LA RUSSA: Well, the decision
makers are baseball people. They know what's
involved. It's not Suppan, it's Suppan and
Bonderman. We're both in the same boat. You
can try and play it.
I mean, I just had a friend of mine who is a
pilot and called with the forecast, and he said it's
uglier than we thought. They get all that
information. And whatever happens, if we play
and it gets stopped, Tigers get stopped, too, we
both have bullpens. We'll just deal with it. You're
glad you're here, and whatever happens, happens.
This is a couple in a off for
Encarnacion, is he doing anything off the field
or is he out of the games to get straightened
out? Is there a conversation you have to have
with him when a guy who's been a regular sits
out two games in a row? What are the sort of
aspects and complications of sitting a starter
two games in a row?
TONY LA RUSSA: One of the nice things
going through the year, you have a feeling when a
guy is just not having success and when he's
struggling. And looks to me like he's struggling.
And I read and heard some of his comments and
he admits he's struggling. So you play him, if you
don't have a good option. We have other options.
I think Juan will play again before the
series is over, and what he is doing, I watched him
yesterday in the practice, he's in a cage trying to
get it right, I thought he had a good BP yesterday.
But you've got 25 guys in there trying to get that
ring and I think he understands. He walked by me
yesterday and he wasn't cursing and he said hello
and I said hello, let's go get them.
A lot of people seem puzzled,
obviously, that a team that only won 83 games
in the regular season can have the success
you've had in October. Is it possible that,
especially given the way Suppan has become
almost a second No. 1 for you, that you're a
team that's perhaps built for the postseason,
so to speak, or at least more built for the
postseason perhaps than for the regular
TONY LA RUSSA: It didn't start out that
way. Losing Mark was a big hit for us. Jason
Marquis had a bunch of wins, where he got in
position. We picked up a real edge because
Suppan got hot in the second half, and he's carried
We were really good and we were not
good in the first part of the season. But the unit
we're putting out there is a well-rounded position
player, and when that team plays, the regular
season and postseason, it can do a lot of things.
Jeff Weaver has been very tough towards the end
of the season and in the postseason. So we were
a club that had potential to play better during the
I just know that we felt coming in that in a
short series we could be tough to play against.
That's where we are today as we start. We've
been going out there ready to play and playing,
you look at the stars they have lined up against us,
I don't think we're an overwhelming underdog
anymore, but I don't think we're the favorite to win
the series. I think we fought ourselves into a heck
of a chance. We've had years where our guys
have stayed healthier and we've been more like
that during the season. And we've just -- we're
fortunate with guys like Jimmy, what Jimmy has
done in the regular season is what he's done in the
postseason. This year he was hampered.
Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.