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Hampton pregame quotes
10/06/2004 11:04 PM ET
Q. When was the last time you had to have your knee drained, and does it feel any better or worse than the last time you pitched?

MIKE HAMPTON: The answer's about 30 minutes ago, and it feels good.

Q. Bobby puts it in terms of getting you through a month. Do you feel the same way, move by move, on your part?

MIKE HAMPTON: Well, even though the diagnosis -- we know that I'm going to have to have surgery at the end of the year. For me, the longer the better, and for the team as well. We'll put it off as long as we can.

The two starts that I've had since, we went, had it examined and I felt pretty good. I've been able to tolerate it and I've been able to move pretty well.

Q. You pitched so well. Are you a little bit surprised you've been able to come back and pitch so well? Not just because of the knee, but you had two weeks in between. You've picked up right where you left off.

MIKE HAMPTON: One thing with Leo's [Mazzone] philosophy is we throw quite a bit, we throw a lot in between starts and stuff like that to stay sharp.

I'm not really surprised. I think all the throwing we've done since Spring Training has prepared me to be ready when I take the mound.

Q. How close have you followed the Astros right at the end of the season, and how does it make you feel your home run helped get them to this point?

MIKE HAMPTON: I started following them from Spring Training because I have a lot of good friends over there, and their ups and downs. I was one of the guys, they dug themselves a really big hole, and it's going to be tough for them to get out of it.

But they played great baseball. I went into that start against the Cubs knowing that if we do our job there, if we win, it's going to help them out tremendously.

They're good friends of mine, but for me, the friendship will end, I guess, 4:09 tomorrow, between the white lines, which will be back to where we started.

Q. How many of your good friends have you spoken to since you knew you were going to play them?

MIKE HAMPTON: I've spoken to quite a few of them. They got some funny remarks about my beard and stuff. But that's all right. We're all good friends. Both teams are here for one goal, and that's to win, and win the World Series, and nothing matters unless you do that.

Q. Do you think with Bagwell and Biggio, their performance in postseason kind of mirrors Chipper and Andruw, do you think the opposing teams gear up for them and that's why the Lemkes and others do so well?

MIKE HAMPTON: I think any time you face a team, there's always two or three guys that you feel that have the chance to do the most damage. I mean, those are two of their best players, just like if you face the Giants or you face the Cubs, they got those guys, you can't let those guys beat you but you always elevate your game.

But every year is a new year. Every at-bat is a different at-bat. Every inning is a different inning. Who knows what will happen this year, that's why we play the game.

I know facing the top players on each team, I think every pitcher kind of puts a little more focus on that particular at-bat and that particular batter.

Q. Hockey players traditionally didn't shave during the playoffs or Stanley Cup. Is this a playoff beard? What is your motivation?

MIKE HAMPTON: I really just want to see if I could grow a beard. I just wanted to see what it looked like with hair on my face.

Q. Roger [Clemens] is starting today at 42. What is your assessment of him as a competitor? Can you imagine yourself still pitching then?

MIKE HAMPTON: Well, having a chance to watch him in the Subway Series and the postseason when we played him in 2000, he's just a very intense competitor, probably one of the most intense people I've seen on the mound. That's what works for him. He's one of the best. Not only pitching, but his work ethic has got him there.

To answer the second part of your question is no.

Q. Why?

MIKE HAMPTON: My kids are getting pretty old, so I want to be spending time with them for a while.

Q. Playing this team, does it add a little bit extra fun to it, playing against your good friends?

MIKE HAMPTON: It does. There's bragging rights involved.

But I've seen the frustration on the other side when I was with the Astros, for the whole organization. So long since postseason and then winning the postseason series as well as winning a World Series, which they've never done. So I know it's a special time for them, and it's special for us, too.

I've been there before. I got the second place ring, I got the runnerup ring, and it's not as nice as the World Series ring. It's something we're all shooting for.

Having the chance to face those guys, we win this series, it will be bittersweet, but something that I'm definitely going to work my tail off to accomplish.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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