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Interview with Rich Harden

Interview with Rich Harden

Obviously the biggest game of your career. You know what the stakes are. How do you deal with that pressure?

RICH HARDEN: It's a very big game, but I don't want to change anything in my preparation. It's still the same game of baseball and I have to go out and get prepared and get ready and treat it just like any other game.

There was a report that you got a cortisone shot in September. Was that maintenance or was there some issue with your shoulder?
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RICH HARDEN: Just regular maintenance. I guess some people think it's an issue. There's nothing going on. Regular maintenance, getting ready for the post season.

You guys flew out today, not last night?

RICH HARDEN: Yes.

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What was the mood on the flight? How were the players -- what was their temperament? RICH HARDEN: Obviously today pretty relaxed but coming into the field today, get some work done and get prepared for tomorrow. It's a really big game for us and obviously we need to win it. And we'll just come out to play tomorrow.

During the regular season, the Dodgers were more or less an average team, a lot of highs and lows. To see what they've done especially to your pitching staff the last two games, how much of a surprise is it to see what they've done so far?

RICH HARDEN: Well, I never played against them. And since I only came over later in the season, we didn't plan on -- didn't certainly know too much how they were doing early in the year. But I've been impressed with the lineup these guys have. Because they're pitchers and hitters. They hit the ball and make stuff happen.

There was obviously a lot of nay sayers, gloom after the two losses. How does it feel to be just away from that environment?

RICH HARDEN: It was even after the first one, you could kind of feel the energy a little bit after that first game around Chicago, come down a little bit. But it's tough losing that second one. You never want to drop two in a row. We can come here. Kind of start fresh. All it is is it's one baseball game we've got to win here then move on from there. We've got to treat it like that. We can't look too far ahead. It's more we've got to win tomorrow.

Does it feel good also to be away from that negative vibe so to speak?

RICH HARDEN: Yeah, you're coming into LA here, home field also. So there's going to be some negative vibes towards us anyway here. So you never really get away from that. That's just something we deal with.

You faced Manny Ramirez during your time in the American League. What's your strategy when you're approaching a lineup with him in the middle of it?

RICH HARDEN: Yeah, he's obviously one of the best hitters in the Major Leagues. Especially the last few months what he's done it's pretty incredible. But, yeah, I mean we'll definitely have an approach. I faced him a lot over the last few years.

And the whole lineup is pretty solid. With him in it, it gets a lot better. But go over it with the pitching coach and catcher and figure out what we want to do with him.

Being down 2 0, either on the flight or once you guys got here, did Lou or any of the veterans kind of stand up and say anything to the team?

RICH HARDEN: No, not really, not yet. I'm sure we'll have a little bit of a meeting tomorrow before the game. I think it's kind of relaxed and once we get to the field tomorrow then it's going to be time to work.

Going back to the fans, it's probably the first time you ever saw any negativity around Chicago around the fans since you've been here. How did you deal with that? How do you think the other players have dealt with it? Because it's been all about winning all year and pretty upbeat and positive.

RICH HARDEN: Yeah, that's part of the game. You just deal with it. And I'm sure you go to a lot of other teams and you get the same thing. Hey, we dropped the first two, I think everybody had such high expectations and expecting us to just walk away with it the way we were playing. Hey, we've got a game tomorrow that we've got to win and we can go from there. We can turn things around and hopefully make things positive.

You alluded to not changing your preparation for this game even though it's of great importance. Do you have to kind of sell yourself on the notion this is, after all, just another baseball game?

RICH HARDEN: I wouldn't say I have to sell myself. I've been pitching for a while. I know not to change anything. That's the most important thing is to treat everything the same, get prepared the same way, the same routine. And mentally, physically prepared. It is a big game. And I like pitching in those games, but I'm going to continue to prepare the same I've been preparing the whole season.

Sort of warmed to the situation, is what you're saying, you look forward to this, you anticipate it eagerly?

RICH HARDEN: There's a lot of anticipation and excitement. It will be nine days since I've started. Yeah, I definitely want to get out there. I'm excited to get going.

Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports.
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