Oct. 3 Mike Scioscia pregame interview

Q. Can you just go into your decision to stick with the right-handed hitting Cron against Ventura and not going with Navarro in the match-ups?

MIKE SCIOSCIA:  Yeah, I think C.J. handles, I think he handles velocity. You saw last night he's got power all fields, has a chance to drive the ball, and want to try to get a little continuity there and get some swings. So we'll go with C.J.

Q. Is this the proverbial must-win game for you guys?

MIKE SCIOSCIA:  Well, to be honest with you, I think any time you're suiting up to get out there and play a playoff game, it's a must-win game. There are no games where you go, hey, you have one to play with.

Obviously, when you get off on the wrong side of a series, the margin of error is starting to slide away from you a little bit. But I don't think your focus is anything but to go out there, pour your heart into every situation, and play baseball free. You can't play any differently if it's a game that you're sensing that it's really going to put you behind the 8 ball.

I think our guys are good at that. I think we've had a lot of series during the year. I think there are a lot of times when you could go out there and maybe press a bit, and our guys have gone out there and played free. I think we'll do that tonight.

Q. When you won the World Series with the Dodgers in '88, do you remember what your bonus was for that?

MIKE SCIOSCIA:  I don't know if I remember too many things about 1988. That's a long time ago. But what our playoff share was, you mean?

Q. Yeah. Also, what you did with the money?

MIKE SCIOSCIA:  Wow. Are you like E.F. Hutton or something? You got some ideas of what I should have done with it (laughing)? Yeah, exactly. To be honest with you, I try to remember a lot of things. That's one thing that I think slipped my memory exactly what our playoff share was, and exactly what I did with the money, our first son had just been born a month before, so I'm sure a lot went into diapers, to be honest with you.

Q. A perception, maybe it's just mine, but there was a perception last night that there was a lot of stalling and slowing down, pitchers stepping off the mound, and every time your key guys were up in key situations they'd have seven conferences on the mound. Is that a tactic? Is that something that's perturbing you? Is that something you want to address or is it just natural?

MIKE SCIOSCIA:  Not at all. I didn't perceive any kind of tactic that you might use to break a hitter's rhythm in that way. I think that when you're in any game, let alone a playoff game and each pitch is going to be important. I think you saw last night in a lot of situations, especially that we had set up where there was a lot riding on each pitch, especially from Kansas City's side when we had some guys in scoring position. So I don't think that was an issue.

Q. Gary Sheffield on the TBS broadcast had some comments about Josh Hamilton's body language. Said it didn't look very good, and maybe it was not the kind of thing teammates want to see at that time. What is your impression of that? Did you have any issue with it?

MIKE SCIOSCIA:  I didn't hear the comments from Gary, so I'm not going to comment on that. I think that Josh is working hard to contribute. He's worked hard to get back to be physically ready to play in this series, and hopefully he's going to find some rhythm at the plate and contribute to what we need to do.

Q. Have you or will you or have you even thought about reminding some of your younger guys that in '02 you lost the first game of the playoffs and went on and did some good things?

MIKE SCIOSCIA:  Well, I think our guys realize what we're up against. Afterwards, obviously, it's a late loss and it's an extra-inning loss, and there is always sting for a second. Clubhouse afterwards I thought our guys were doing what you would hope they would do. They were starting to turn the page, starting to talk about some things that maybe we could do better.

So I think the mindset is fine. I don't think there is going to be any need for a talk or a meeting. I think these guys who have been through playoffs understand the way momentum changes in a heartbeat. I think the guys that haven't been there, you know, understand it's not over until one team is going to win three games of this series.

So I think we're okay. I really do. I think we're okay on our mindset and what we need to do.

Q. Last night Josh did admit though that the game was coming a little quick to him after missing so much time. How much thought did you give to sitting him against a guy that throws as hard as Ventura does?

MIKE SCIOSCIA:  Well, I think right now looking at all the alternatives it's definitely worth playing Josh out now to see where it's going to lead. There is no doubt about that. He's a guy that's a game-changer when he's on. There is nobody on the bench that we're looking at that's going to go in there and potentially do what Josh can do.

If it comes to a point where it's really going the wrong way or we don't see it happening, I think that's a valid question and something you'll look at. But we're not there yet. He needs to get some at-bats.

Q. Just piggybacking off of that just a little bit, was there any thought given yesterday being that Vargas is a lefty of waiting until today to put Josh in against the righty and maybe putting Collin Cowgill in left field last night?

MIKE SCIOSCIA:  No, I think Josh when he's on he hits lefties, righties, anybody. I thought a couple swings he took off Jason were probably some of the best he took of the night. I think, in fact, Jason is probably one of the guys as a lefty that you don't mind having some left-handed bats in there. So I think it was a match-up that we were looking for.

Q. Last night you had a situation, I believe in the eighth inning, where you did a pinch-run for Iannetta for the go-ahead run. I know it doesn't matter --

MIKE SCIOSCIA:  Oh, it matters.

Q. In general, is it hard for you to take Iannetta out of the game given their threat on the bases?

MIKE SCIOSCIA:  I think there was a lot of consideration to that that came into play, and there is no doubt as we were talking on the bench, we were talking about trying to assert some speed at times, if we could. We got a chance to do it when David Freese led off and we got Gordon Beckham into the game to run.

I think with Chris it's a little more sensitive situation right now with his ability to hopefully contain a running game. So we wanted to keep Chris in the game. His head had all the at-bats in his game, and he was doing a great job back there. We felt we could hopefully move him around and get a run in and keep him in the game, especially with the score being tied. If you're down a run, you're probably going to look at it a little different.

Q. You had a lot of guys parading for the plate last night in really tight, tense situations. Guys in scoring position, first game of the playoffs. Do you have any sort of master psychology to lighten it up with these guys a little bit now as it goes on tonight? Do you do anything in the dugout to lighten things up?

MIKE SCIOSCIA:  I know you guys might not believe this, our dugout is pretty light. I know guys that have been around here for a while, you talk about the intensity and everything. Our dugout's pretty light. We have a group of guys, and it's always been like that, that understand what we need to do.

Hey, you're not going to come through every time. But if you look at last night, I don't think there is anything about our at-bats that pointed to a tenseness that some guys had because of the playoff situation. Howie hit a ball off the right field wall that somehow Aoki caught.

Crony drove a ball to right field that was just short of the wall that was a bullet that Aoki somehow caught.

Aybar hit a bullet to center. Cowgill hit a ball that was extra bases off the wall that Cain caught. As we talk about last night, I thought our at-bats were a little bit better than maybe what a box score is going to show.

So just being honest with you, I didn't see anything last night that showed anybody being tense or intimidated by a playoff situation. Naturally, you're facing good pitchers, and those guys came out and did a good job. We just didn't execute, and ironically they beat us with a home run where everyone's talking about trying to shut down their speed. It's just the way the game flowed.

Q. If you do see that, what do you do?

MIKE SCIOSCIA:  There is no doubt about just trying to support a player and let him know that you're never going to succeed if you're afraid to fail. You've got to go up there and play this game like it's a spring training game. You have to go out -- we've talked about going into this series, and we've talked about it for a long time. It's really a baseball game.

There is no such thing as putting a spring training adjective in front of a baseball game or a regular season game or a pennant race or a playoff game. It's a baseball game. You need to go out and play with that freedom. The things that you've done or things that you do that make you a good player and things you've done during the course of the season, you need to bring into any game that you play.

I think that is the mentality that will keep guys from getting distracted from what might be perceived as a bigger game being because it's a playoff game than it really is. The only way you're going to slay this dragon is to bring your talent on the field to play baseball.

So I think we want to get guys back in touch with that. If you see a guy that's coming out of his shoes trying to hit a ball 430 feet when he only has the capability of hitting it 370 feet, or a pitcher that usually pitches at 92 and all of a sudden is trying to throw 96. I think those are the things and distractions of calling something a playoff game or putting more on it that can creep into a player. I think that's what you try to buffer against.

Q. What have you seen from David Freese in the last six, eight weeks of the season, and including last night that's been improved from the beginning of the year?

MIKE SCIOSCIA:  Well, David was just starting to swing the bat well when he fractured his finger. I think it set him back a little during the season. But particularly the last, like you said, six to eight weeks, he's driving that ball well the other way. When he's getting pitches in the zone, he's hitting them hard. He's been doing what we anticipated.

It looks more like David Freese a couple years ago in St. Louis than he was probably last year and earlier this year. So it's coming at a good time, and we're going to need it. Our lineup needs to get deep. We need to swing the bats, and Dave has been doing that for the last month and a half.