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Tony La Russa pregame interview

Tony La Russa pregame interview

Any lineup changes or are you going with who you had yesterday?

TONY LA RUSSA: The same lineup.

In the postseason, should they try to be more careful than the regular season with the weather in making sure games don't start where they could have delays, where your starters get burned?

TONY LA RUSSA: Well, I think I heard the Commissioner say yesterday something that seems to make a lot of sense, and that is however the game is played, even if there's delays, you want to have, as best you can, reasonable playing competitive conditions. So part of that is not burning a starter, but sometimes you're in an area where squalls come through and -- you play in Florida, you can't wait for three-hour breaks there sometimes. But I think the idea to play nine innings in October as best you can as opposed to just trying to survive it, seems to make sense.

Still keeping your options open for the Game 6 starter?

TONY LA RUSSA: No, we're going to go ahead and pitch Weaver tomorrow. Weaver will pitch Game 5.

How about after that?

TONY LA RUSSA: We'll be consistent. We know we're going to play two more games, and then see how our staff shakes out.

Is it hard for your pitchers, especially the younger guys to wait a day, maybe they don't warm up, but they're motivated, they're excited about pitching and then they have to wait?

TONY LA RUSSA: What are you talking about, our relievers? Our starter, Supp, has experience. I think generally maybe the veteran has a little more experience. There's such an excitement of being here that you deal with some of the interruptions and distractions and when it's time to go, the excitement and the enthusiasm carries you.

Do you think you could have played yesterday?

TONY LA RUSSA: No chance. I was downtown late, they had no chance to play. If it had been anything other than a World Series game, they would have bagged it earlier. They did the best they could.

What made you go with Weaver over Reyes?

TONY LA RUSSA: I think it will be his natural day, I think. The way he's pitched for us makes sense to go, and we keep Anthony ready for whatever we need.

How much do you think it ate away at Scott Rolen the struggles in the '04 World Series, and not being able to make it up with the last post-season? How much do you think that's helped with this postseason?

TONY LA RUSSA: I think with Scott, he hadn't been healthy much in October. And the one time I think whatever it was, was it '01, I think it's '01 where he started off really good against the Diamondbacks, the first game and a half, and got blasted and that was it for him. And every year after that he gets to the end of the season he's pretty well beat up. I liked his quote, since we've been playing, he said he thinks he's got a fighting chance, and that's all it takes with him.

Your only other World Series was '89, can you talk about how that experience affected your view on baseball and life?

TONY LA RUSSA: Well, I'm not sure I really want to think about it, because this is 2006 and it's completely different. We're just trying to win now. But I remember that was a really talented club, and it's a coach's dream to have that kind of talent peak, and we were peaking as we got -- we beat a really good Toronto team. So all of a sudden you play two games, we were playing as good as we could play, pitching as good as we could pitch, and you have to wait. But looming over it all is people were killed, loss of property, injured. It was a devastating hit to the Bay Area. And there was some attempts to make us feel guilty for wanting to continue it, but I looked around and everybody else, every other form of entertainment -- we were out 10, 11 days, whatever it was, but I think we're all capable. As a club we concentrated on professionally this is an opportunity. In that clubhouse there were very few guys with World Series rings, very, very, few. This was their chance. On the personal side we were careful not to celebrate. We didn't have a parade. We didn't have champagne, stuff like that.

One of the things Jim Leyland said yesterday is that your club's familiarity with Polanco very well could be playing a role in the fact he hasn't hit, how true could that be?

TONY LA RUSSA: Let me ask you, if Poli goes out and gets two or three hits, what happens to familiarity?

That's what Jim said.

TONY LA RUSSA: I know that's what Jim said. He said it could be. I think we pitched him really tough. I think he's had a couple of pitches where he had real good swings, he fouled them off. I also remember against Chris he had a line drive on a 0-2 pitch to first or second. Was that the one Albert had to dive at or something? He's going to get his hits. I think in a short series sometimes, averages don't count for lots. It's at-bats, and we're really worried about him, whether he hits third or seventh.

Do you, yourself, or any of your baseball friends, colleagues, ever wonder out loud about the TV ratings and how that plays against the record attendances and all these teams that thought two million was unimaginable when you were growing up, and three million and four million, and the ratings go down and down, do you think about it at all?

TONY LA RUSSA: Well, I can just speak for myself, it's not something we talk a lot about in the clubhouse. It's really concentrating on playing the game. Everything else like that takes care of itself. I read once in a while if one of the New York teams had gotten in or both New York teams, so maybe that's a function of it. The way I look at it, if you're anywhere from a casual to a great baseball fan, and you've got the Cardinals and the Tigers with the history both these franchises have, it's a must see World Series. That's enough for me.

Baseball, generally, what's happened to the first two spots in the batting order? It used to be leadoff guy was the guy that just got on base, and the second guy was a bat handler. And then you made the No. 2 spot a power position, how did that all evolve?

TONY LA RUSSA: I didn't make that. I learned it. Everything I do I've learned from somebody. I tell you who taught me that one, but -- I don't know. I can remember didn't Bobby Bonds strike out a lot, and that was years ago. You look at the players you've got, the best players for the position, and you start configuring them in the lineup. In '89, Bo Jackson led off, because you had to put him somewhere. And guys like can Kirby were needed other places. So I do think that -- it's the only thing I've said for years about our -- I've been very fortunate in the three places I've been, I have always had a three hitter that was a real problem for the other side, from Harold to Jose to Mark to Albert, and when you've got that kind of problem for the other side (crossing fingers) makes sense. Some of this stuff I run by Dave. It makes sense to put some extra-base pop in the two spot. I will say the best comeback we had here was in 2001, we were eight or nine games down to Houston in August, we came back to tie for the co-championship. The guy that hit second did more to trigger our spurt, his name is Placido Polanco. He was a classic Ted Sizemore kind of guy. I think the big thing if you think about it strategically, if you have this dynamite guy hitting third, and you do the traditional thing where you use the second guy to get him in scoring position, open base, you put the guy on, you take the bat out of his hands, so it doesn't make a lot of sense, unless you can get him to third, which is something we try to do once in a while.

With the stay in St. Louis lasting about a week, do you think it's an advantage for your players home in their own beds rather than in a hotel and just trying to get through the day?

TONY LA RUSSA: That's a good question. I think the mindset is so strong on both sides -- I know the Tigers are one of the best road clubs in both leagues. They're going to handle it, if we beat Detroit, guys are mentally set to play out their best shot. I think it is a problem, I don't know if -- because it happened to us, it happened to the Mets and there was a possibility that guys, some guys had to change rooms, not the players, some guys in the organization, because you had to stay over an extra day. But it's not going to be a factor either way.

What role do you see for Anthony Reyes in this series or what role would you like to see him in for the rest of the series?

TONY LA RUSSA: There's so much uncertainty about how long the series is going to go, with the weather, what days. He's going to throw a bullpen today and we'll see how long this thing goes. And there's a reasonable chance that he will get -- he's not going to start in the St. Louis portion, but there's a chance he would start in Detroit. So we're going to get him ready for that.

Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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