Oct. 2: Mike Scioscia pregame interview

Q. Could you talk about this Royals team and talk about running on the base or stealing and the things that they have to do, because they don't get the long ball?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: Right, you know, the Royals, I think are playing the style they have to, it's the way the team is built. One of their best tools is their ability to create in the base paths, and they do it as well as anybody. I mean, anybody I've seen, it's reminiscent of the Cardinals back in '85. Maybe not quite to that extent, but that's how they pressure them.

So even though their slugging percentage maybe isn't with other clubs when you stack it up, the way they create on the bases adds a lot of situations, and offsets some of that. You know, you have to, obviously, pay attention to them.

Q. What went into your decision to leave Santiago off the rotation, and in terms of his role in the bullpen, do you see him as a guy that can provide length out of the bullpen or will you use him as match up situations?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: I think Hector has the ability to do a number of things for us. You might see him early in the game. You never know how a series plays out. He's certainly a candidate for when we need him as a starter if something were to play out maybe the way we don't want it to. He provides length, and he provides a situational look that we haven't had.

So I think he's more of a Wild Card that we can use, and he's going to certainly pitch at some point, but right now he's going to start out of our pen.

Q. Following up on just the speed question, and looking at the game they played against Oakland, isn't there a fine line to getting caught up with worrying about the stolen base and your pitcher not make his best pitch?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: There definitely is a fine line. I think you have to obviously try to contain the running game to some extent without giving a shift of balance to the batter's box, who is in the batter's box for a team.

So you certainly consider a lot of things when you are trying to control the running game. I've seen it from both ends. I've seen it when we've been able to pressure teams and you've seen pitchers get out of rhythm and do things that are comfortable and creates a bigger advantage for you in the batter's box. Then when you find that balance and you contain it, that's what you hope to shoot for.

Q. Following that up, Iannetta's throwing percentage was quite a bit better this year than it was last year. Was that him or your pitchers or what exactly happened there?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: I think we did a much better job overall of containing the running game this year than we did last year, both from the perspective of stealing third base and just the way we did some things that helped on the defensive end. And Chris has a terrific arm. A lot of maybe what we saw last year wasn't really attributed right to Chris. He throws well, and he certainly, if a base runner doesn't quite get his jump or tries to force some things, he'll get them.

Yeah, I think we did a much better job and our catchers definitely threw the ball more consistently this year.

Q. You've played (Brennan) Boesch a lot more than Navarro the last few weeks. What went into the decision to keep Navarro over Boesch?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: Well, I think that we gave both guys a lot of playing time in September, and we matched up and they both contributed. When it comes down to it, Efren has a little more versatility on the defensive end, his ability to play first base or quarter outfield to first base is important. He's a good bunter and can certainly come off the bench and get a bunt down if we'd need it or pinch hit. He's going to put the ball in play.

I think that would play more than the one thing that Brandon does. He's got big power, but for this first go round, I think we might need that coverage with that effort to bring out the defensive side too.

Q. I know you like pairing up Trout with Pujols. What is it about how they impact each other that you like?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: Well, I think it definitely shrinks some holes in your lineup when you have a guy like Albert behind Mike. And on the other side, take advantage of Mike's on base percentage, you want Albert behind him.

So I think you want those guys connected. They've been connected all year with us. We've had a lot of discussions about where Mike would hit and what is the optimum spot for Mike to hit?

Whatever we came up with, it was always connected with Albert and Mike. Mike sees a lot of pitches, Albert sees a lot of pitches. So to get through those two guys in an inning, obviously a pitcher has to work to get those outs. We've had some 1, 2, 3 innings with those guys in the middle, and you look up and the pitcher needed 20, 22 pitches to get through them.

So I think that dynamic, they're two mega talented players, and to have them connected shrinks some of the holes that could come up when you have a guy like Mike that we saw last year when Albert was hurt, how few times he was really challenged. It seemed like he was walking once or twice a game.

Q. What is your philosophy on pitching changes in the playoffs as opposed to the regular season? Is the hook quicker?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: Well, it might be quicker because some of the guys on our rotation right now maybe you have to watch them a little more closely, certainly Matt Shoemaker. We'll see where C.J. Wilson is for Game 3. I think it goes on the talent.

If you're talking about our particular team, there is no doubt we want to get into a spot where we can bring our bullpen into the game. If that happens in the second or third innings, obviously, that's not going to work on every game. I think you have to look at the horses that you have up front and where you project they're going to be effective and to what length in the game.

I think if you look at Detroit's rotation, they're probably a little different outlook than we're going to have as far as how far your starters are going to go.

KC has a couple guys that I'm sure are going to get a long leash and pitch deep into games. But as far as what we need to do and what our rotation is, I think it might turn out a little more reminiscent of what we saw in '02 where these guys get to a certain point in the game. If they're effective, they'll keep going.

But I don't know if we're going to be able to stretch anybody. Certainly I think our bullpen is throwing the ball as well as any bullpen in our league at this point, and you're going to want to get some of those guys in at certain points.

I don't know if it's a philosophical thing to say you bring your bullpen in earlier. I think it's more of what you have. If we had three or four starters that were pitching deep into games and were pitching very effective baseball deep into games, then I think your pitching management would be different.

Q. I know managers have always been scrutinized, but I just wonder if from having done it as long as you've done it now, in this current climate is there more negativity or attention paid move by move? I think back to Don Mattingly this time last year, and obviously Ned Yost the other night?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: I kind of, yeah, there is no doubt you're scrutinized. I kind of look in the mirror, and you start the season and I lost a lot of weight coming into spring training, and I think that I kind of measured it by how much weight I put on during the season how I've been scrutinized so you can see the result. I think it comes with the territory.

I think it comes down to just the nature of not only the playoffs, but I think where we are in the world of media right now. Probably 2,000 my first year, most of the scrutiny would come from beat writers and questions and how people got their news a little differently.

Now it's obviously a little more quick and probably a little deeper than it was as far as some of the questions, which is just the great thing about baseball. So, yeah, I definitely think that moves are scrutinized more, and that just goes with people's interest in baseball, the love of the game, and all the strategy twists and turns that happen during a game that can be discussed. It's a great thing. I don't think it's anything to be intimidated by. You're going to be scrutinized on what you do, and I think if you have things thought out and it makes sense, you go with it and hope it works out.

Q. I'm just wondering, Mike, since Shoemaker has not pitched in close to three weeks, what you would reasonably expect from him tomorrow as far as length?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: Well, you know, I think as far as a starting pitcher, I don't think two or three weeks is a huge amount of time to be away. I think if you're talking six to eight weeks, a couple months, obviously it puts you in a little different perspective. He's been throwing, really throwing for and throwing bullpens for the last eight or nine days. So it wasn't like he was that far removed from being on the mound. Certainly, I think you're more concerned of how he's going to bounce back. I think realistically he should have enough stamina to pitch deeper into a game and get us to a certain point in the game and hopefully be very effective.

What that is, I don't know. But I do know when he was on a roll there. He was pitching routinely into the seventh inning, at times into the eighth inning. If we see that, great.

If he looks like he's getting a little tired, we can look to do something sooner. But I don't think we have any expectations to artificially shorten him now but we'll monitor him closely.

I think what you're really concerned with is right now we're looking at Matt to pitch Game 2 and to be available for Game 5. That's what you really monitor closely is how he bounces back since it's been a while since he's going to go out there and throw to whatever it adds up to, 100 pitches.

Q. Going back to Pujols. Has the difference in him this year merely been healthy, or has he had like an extra drive or some extra motivation because of the doubts that were intended last year when he had a poor season?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: I've only been around Albert for, this is the third season, so I can't go back too far. But I don't know if I've ever been around anyone as determined to excel as Albert Pujols. Even when he is even when he was banged up, came over here the first month and struggled a little bit when he first signed and then had a terrific season.

Last year he was banged up and eventually got hurt and missed last third of the season. He comes out because he wants to try to win every night. He wants to do something to help us win every night. I don't think there is any extra motivation that Albert felt. He never expressed anything that he was the same in spring training, same during the season. Had a terrific season for us.

I really think Albert is driven. He's just driven with the notion of wanting to win. He doesn't play the game for stats. He knows he has numbers, but he's not playing the game for numbers. If you saw him give himself up to move a guy over or work the count for us this year, then you know he's in it to win, and that's what he's shown. I think that's his motivation to play the game. I don't think that's changed. I don't think there is anything that happened last year with his injury or bouncing back that would maybe give him any extra motivation.

Q. Matt, when he faced the Royals this year I believe he gave up eight runs, struggled to keep the ball on the ground and flyballs. Any level of concern with that?

MIKE SCIOSCIA: That was probably his worst start of the season. If you look at Matt when he's thrown the ball well and probably his last eight starts, arguably he was our best pitcher. So if you look at when he's throwing the ball well, what he's doing, I think it matches up well with what we'll need to do on the defensive end.

The start he had in Kansas City was rough. He just didn't have a feel. Left some splits up and got hit hard. But I think I don't think that was really indicative of the way Matt can pitch. If he was out there making pitches and hitting his spots and he gives up eight runs, I think you'd probably have a little different view of what was going on. But he was absolutely off that day, and I think we'll see a much better Matt Shoemaker tomorrow.