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An interview with Mike Scioscia and Torii Hunter

An interview with Scioscia and Hunter

What's your lineup?

MANAGER SCIOSCIA: We'll have all we know is we'll have Juan Rivera is going to be in right field, Jeff Mathis catching, so it's Chone Figgins, Garret Anderson, Mark Teixeira, Vlad, Torii, Rivera, Kendrick, Mathis, Aybar, Santana.

It was posted down there. But I'll bring it to you every day from now on. (Chuckles.)
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Torii, you've been around a large number of playoff teams in your years with the Twins. How does this team compare with staying loose or not being loose in the middle of a playoff when things don't go your way?

TORII HUNTER: These guys pretty much stay loose. We have a lot of veteran guys on the team and it seems we have some guys with two, three plus years that have been there before and just watching the guys.

Even though we were down, you know, 4 1, you still look at guys are still trying to root each other on and get it going. So in the past we were more of a younger team, in Minnesota, and we were up there battling and fighting, you know, but here guys are relaxed because they know baseball. Baseball is a funny game, it's a crazy game, you know, you can go up -- you can win the first game and end up losing a couple more so we're going to be patient and wait for your turn, which is today.

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Why is this team so good on the road?

MANAGER SCIOSCIA: Well, I think it's really I know the guys that follow us every day are sick of what I'm about to say, but we really feel it comes down to -- it's not who we're playing or where we're playing but how we're playing the game.

We've had some bad series here at home during the season where we haven't played well. On the road, if we play well we feel we're going to have a good chance to win wherever we play. I think it speaks to how we need to play the game and that's really what we need to do in a playoff environment is bring our game on to the field and tonight would be a good night for it.

What are the things about flying tonight or flying tomorrow, I know you guys have done both things, what are you going to do?

MANAGER SCIOSCIA: We're going to fly tonight, I think when you can do it it's much better to stay home in your own bed and tomorrow we'll land and get a walk on the field, get some practice and get a sweat up tomorrow night in Boston and get ready for the next ballgame.

Mike, in a short series and knowing the importance of not going down love two, do you do anything as a manager to keep this team loose?

MANAGER SCIOSCIA: These guys are loose. I don't think there is anything that is indicative of our guys maybe squeezing the bat too tight or maybe they're preparing any differently.

These guys are ready to play. They prep themselves great, pre game, they get into the flow of the game and we just haven't gotten it done. Now we need to get it done on the field, but it's certainly not from any different attitude they're taking on the field, whether they're too loose or not focused or whether they're focused and paralyzing themselves, these guys are ready to play. And I think the momentum of a short series game swings pitch to pitch, and it's certainly game to game. We get one game under our belt and just like the Red Sox won game one, hey, the ball is in our court. We get this game tonight the ball is in their court and that's what we need to focus on is momentum switches quickly.

It can change in a matter of a heartbeat but the bottom line is understanding how to get to your goal, how to get to that win, breakdown the game and every little piece of the game like we talked about yesterday from secondary leads to situational hitting. Be focussed and be ready to execute and good things will happen.

Is there a fine line between respecting a team like the Red Sox for all they've done and respecting them maybe too much?

MANAGER SCIOSCIA: Go ahead, Torii, you take it.

TORII HUNTER: Well, you know what the Red Sox have done. Last year they won the World Series, they're the Champs, and we know that. But we also are professionals and we're competitors and, yeah, you give 'em their respect but at the same time I'm trying to break that respect. I'm trying to take that crown off your head.

So, I mean, you can't give a team too much respect because you give 'em too much respect you get laid back and you're like, "oh, they're the Red Sox, they're the Champions." Forget that you've got to come ready to play and before I bring that dog with you, forget about that!

MANAGER SCIOSCIA: In '04 they swept us. Last year they swept us. This year they won the first game. It doesn't make any sense to go back to 1986. A lot of guys were still in diapers then and that has nothing to do with what's going on here.

TORII HUNTER: I was 11.

MANAGER SCIOSCIA: You were still in diapers. (Chuckles.) You want to bring up a sore subject? (Chuckles.) There is no mistake about this. They've played better baseball than we have in playoff environments head to head, in '04 they took it to us, could have won a couple games and they took it to us.

Last year they took it to us. We need to win tonight, there is no mistake. They're a terrific ball club and we're a terrific ball club. The bottom line is to bring it on the field and it's a shame if we don't bring it because if you bring it on the field and another team beats you it's easy to turn the page and say, hey, congratulations, but if you don't bring it to the level you need to and you lose the series, then that's tough to swallow, so our focus is going to be to bring it on the field and get after it and we're a good team.

We can easily -- like I said, one win puts the ball back in the other team's court and that's what we're going to focus on doing.

Torii, talk about Josh Beckett. What makes him one of the most premiere money pitchers in the game today?

TORII HUNTER: You know what? You're a nice man and everything, but I don't know -- we might not even make it to Beckett, I'm not trying to see Beckett right now. Right now I'm worried about Daisuke Matsuzaka. If I have to sit here and dissect Josh Beckett, I might not even make it to that point. Beckett I will ask you about -- talk to you about it tomorrow. Tonight I'm focused on Daisuke Matsuzaka.

I was going to ask you about Daisuke Matsuzaka.

TORII HUNTER: Good! (Chuckles)

What's the fine line there, in terms of being aggressive?

TORII HUNTER: That's what we're going to do is be aggressive and if you put it in the zone we're going to be ready. But we can't be too timid.

He does chase and I played in Japan in 2002 and a lot of guys there pitch backwards and not saying that's the wrong way or the right way, but it worked for those guys and over here we think one way and they pitch a different way and it can actually help those guys.

Today, man, we're going to go out there and play our game, we're going to go out there and swing the bat, good luck Matsuzaka.

Fenway, you've played there a lot, playing the positions in that park, are they different as far as you're concerned?

TORII HUNTER: A lot of angles out there, I broke my ankle out there in 2005 in one of those angles out there in right field, but I'm not going to think about that.

I'll play the game the way it's supposed to be played and you know you have the Green Monster. It's difficult but I been there so many times, you might not want to ask me that question because I can play that place if I really need to.

Mike, the day off between Games One and Two, what are the pro's and con's of that after losing Game One as opposed to winning Game 2?

MANAGER SCIOSCIA: Well, you've got a lot more things going on in your head. I think when you whether you win or lose in a playoff you like to get after it the next day. This format is different and it allows us to condense our starting rotation so you want to take advantage of that. But you want to go out there and play another game.

That page is easier to turn when you know you have a game the next day. Just like during the season you have a rough game, an off day, you want to get to that next game and get started and get after it.

We're okay, we had a good workout yesterday, and I think it helped get a little anxiety out and get guys back into a baseball routine and our guys will be ready. We'll be ready to go.

We talked about Ervin Santana the other day but Saunders has also emerged the same way. Can you talk about his progress and at what point did you see he's taken that next jump?

MANAGER SCIOSCIA: Joe has evolved as he's gotten his opportunity to be a starting pitcher and for a full 30 plus starts in a Major League season and he's made the most of it. He's had a terrific run for us in the last couple of years when he hasn't really made his footprints in the rotation.

He's been up and down in the minor leagues a couple years ago so now that he's gotten that opportunity just to take the ball, his confidence level has risen.

He knows he's a Major League pitcher and he's throwing the ball very well as a result. Joe had a great year for us and he'll pitch well on Sunday.

Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports.
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