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Backe workout day quotes
10/09/2004 12:12 AM ET
Q: Did you ever think you'd be in this situation, in a spotlight, in a room here by yourself?

A: No. I've dreamt of this situation before, time and time again. But never did I think that it would happen this soon, as far as my career's been going.

But getting traded to the Astros has been a real blessing.

Q: What did you learn last Sunday that might help you tomorrow with the pressure?

A: Yeah, well, you know, situations like that definitely help as far as the pressure and handling the crowd and all this.

But my whole life, I've been groomed to be in that situation. That's the way I take it. Back in Little League, playing championship games, that's a lot of pressure when you're that age. I imagine it's going to be pretty close to that, but a little bit more.

I'm just going to try and do my best to just stay focused and let my ability take over.

Q: Are you nervous, and are you glad that it's a noon game so you don't have to sit around all day waiting?

A: It doesn't really matter. Whatever time, I'm going to be prepared. I'll have a steak tonight before I go to sleep, and tomorrow I won't have so much to eat.

But doesn't really matter what time it is. I would much rather it be a later night so I can have all day to walk around and get moving.

But when it comes to games like this, it doesn't really matter what time it is.

Q: Would it be easier if you did like last week, and you didn't know about it so far in advance, just walked in to go pitch?

A: It doesn't matter. I never really get sleep the night before I start. It doesn't really matter, you know, what time it is or how long I know before I'm going to pitch.

It was kind of a different situation last week, that I was told two hours before the game, but that's just the way it goes. Something happened like that, and I actually did pretty good.

I've had some good games, you know, sleeping overnight. It doesn't really bother me. I'm just going to try to get as much sleep as I can tonight and be ready for tomorrow.

Q: What have you learned about the Braves' lineup from watching the first two games of the series?

A: Well, they're an aggressive team. The first game, they started to take pitches once they figured out that Roger wasn't, you know, in a groove early in the game.

But I think yesterday, they were a little bit more aggressive, and they may take the same approach to me tomorrow. It could be a good thing; it could be a bad thing. I could get a lot of quick outs and maybe last a little longer in the game if they're a little too aggressive.

Q: When you switched from being an infielder to a pitcher with Tampa Bay, whose idea was that?

A: It wasn't my idea, tell you that much. I'm not sure if it was just one person or a group of people over there that decided to do that. But I'm sure Tom Foley and Chuck Hernandez, they got together and talked about it.

They came up to me at the end of the year 2000, sometime in August, about two weeks before the season was over with, and they were -- they actually came up to me and they told me they wanted me to come to instructional ball. I thought I would go to instructional ball and get a little bit more A, Bs and maybe become better for next year. When they told me as a pitcher, I didn't like the idea.

So I told them I'd think about it, slept on it for three days and finally gave in and took a shot.

Q: It worked out pretty well for you as a pitcher. Do you think you could have made it as quickly as an infielder?

A: My answer to you from my perspective is yes. I think that, obviously, I got into the big leagues as a pitcher a lot quicker than I did as a position player, but I still had a lot more maturing to do, a lot more pitches to see.

I think I could have. But, you know, who knows. No one will ever know.

But I'm glad that this has happened to me. It's actually -- I'm becoming a pitcher, it's something that I'm learning now, and it's really fun.

Q: You talked about dreaming about being in this kind of a situation as an athlete. Being from Texas, is it that much more important for you, to be able to do it here in Houston?

A: Yeah. Like I said, it's just a dream come true. I've been watching the Astros ever since I was a little kid. Bagwell and Biggio, I've said it time and time again, that those guys are my heroes, and now they're my teammates.

So it's really special to be playing here and have my friends and family be able to come to the game. It's really special. So I feel like I have them on my back when I'm out there, they're pushing me along. So it's pretty special.

Q What can you say about your makeup in this kind of a big situation that you haven't been in a lot of before?

A: I'm just going to go out there tomorrow and just treat it as another game. I've got to face the Braves. I've watched them on TV, I've watched them while (Roger) Clemens was pitching to them and Roy (Oswalt) was pitching to them. I've seen them enough that I'm comfortable facing them.

There's going to be nervous energy out there, that's guaranteed. I mean, I'm sure everybody out there has a little nervous energy, even (Jeff) Bagwell and (Craig) Biggio, even Clemens.

I think it's just more about controlling that. As long as I keep it on an even keel, I should be able to do pretty good.

Q: How many tickets did you have to get for friends and relatives?

A: (laughing) Unfortunately, had to pay for them. So I got five tickets to each game, so that's the way we're going to do it. It's just enough to get my family in, so that's all I need.

Q: Phil (Garner) thought the city would really be pumped up this weekend for the series. In the brief time since you've been back in town, do you get the same feeling?

A: Oh, yeah. Like I said, I've been watching the Astros all my life, and we haven't won a playoff series yet. We've got Roy Oswalt and Roger Clemens as our two guys that went out there. Unfortunately, we got a loss yesterday.

But I think the expectations are really high right now because we've been a winning team for the last month and a half. It's been an incredible run for us. We're a hot team right now. It was a good ballgame last night that we lost. You can't really ask any more than what we did.

But I think everybody here is excited because something special could possibly happen. If we clinch it here, it would be really nice to do. Q: As a youngster, how much did the Astros' losses in the playoffs bother you?

A: It bothered me quite a bit.

I'm an Astros fan. I may be an Astro now, a player, but I'm also a fan of the Astros; I always will be. When they lost, I was a little kid, I was devastated, I wanted the Astros to win.

So I certainly don't want it to happen now that I'm on the team. But that's the past and, you know, we have two games to win. Hopefully, we can pull it off.

Q: How did you get picked to run to the bullpen yesterday?

A: I pretty much volunteered. Was chaos. Was pretty much a bad situation as far as the crowd being really loud and everything. No one could understand what was going on. So I just decided just to go down there and tell them to pick up the phone or somehow -- I was going to ask Brad (Lidge) if he was ready, and run back and tell Phil.

I'm just -- I'm like that. It doesn't matter. I'm a hyper guy and I'm into the ballgame. I'll do anything it takes to try and help.

Q: Did you take off on your own, or did somebody send you?

A: I said, "Do you want me to go down there? I'll go down there and ask him if he's ready."

Then they told me to go down there, so I went down there and asked him.

Q: The energy that you have, is there anything you do before a game to try to keep it in check?

A: Yeah, I've got a routine before a game. I'm usually pretty calm when I wake up in the morning but once I get to the field, you know, I start to get that nervous energy, like I said.

About an hour before the game starts, I usually go in the weight room and have a little light workout to burn some energy, get a sweat going and kind of just get myself wound up to where I'm a little -- not tired -- but just burn some energy already before I get out there on the field.

Q: Who's more nervous, you or the five family members?

A: I don't know -- probably my family. I'm not going to be too nervous. I'm just excited to be in this situation. Like I said, I've been dreaming about these situations my whole life, and I'm finally in one, and I'm just going to try to make the best of it. They're probably more nervous for me to do well, probably more than I am.

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

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