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Phil Garner, workout day quotes
10/12/2004 5:46 PM ET
Q. Why the pitching switch?

PHIL GARNER: Well, this allows me to bring Brandon (Backe) back on the fifth day at home on Monday. He's pitched his best ball at home. I think this is the best way to go.

Q. Do you feel handicapped at all, they've got their big guys going first and your guys going later?

PHIL GARNER: No, not at all. This is what it took for us to get here. This is what we'll go with. Brandon's pitched well for us, Pete's (Munro) pitched well for us. Our bullpen is okay, ready to go. Who knows how the outcome of the game is going to turn out, but we're delighted to be here and we don't feel handicapped in any way whatsoever.

Q. Does Brandon have any experience on three days' rest, and will he turn to Clemens and Oswalt for help?

PHIL GARNER: No, and I don't think it matters with him. I think he could pitch on one day, two days'. I think he can pitch tomorrow and he'll probably be ready the next day.

He's been in the office a couple of times already saying he's ready to pitch in between starts.

Q. Has Pete Munro done anything to prepare for a possible start in the second round?

PHIL GARNER: He's been throwing bullpens. He threw a bullpen last night.

Q. Do you remember what you said to the ballclub the first day you took over, and how difficult was it to move into that situation?

PHIL GARNER: Yes, I remember. It's not an easy thing to do. Number one, it's not your ballclub when you take it over. There's been a lot of things that you do in spring training to try to mold the club, try to understand what the club's like, understand the make up of the club, what kind of team you have and the character of it, being are you a power team, are you a hit and run team, are you a team that's going to manufacture runs, the style of play that you can have.

So when you take over a ballclub in the middle of the season you don't have that knowledge and you haven't been working with the team to try to find out what works.

And the second, perhaps most difficult part of it is, usually the first ten days in spring training. I usually have a staff come to spring training early. That's when you're able to spend a lot of time with your staff members. You do a lot of communication, discussions, talking about your style, my style, how you can communicate, how things filter from me down to the players and how certain things need to come back up to me from below.

We had to compress all that in a matter of half a day.

I have to give credit to our staff members who we brought in -- Jim Hickey, Gary Gaetti, they had to work hard, come up to snuff real quick. They didn't have a chance to kind of ease into the positions. They had to work extremely hard.

But everybody pitched in, did their part. There was no resistance for anything that I tried to do or tried to implement, and that's a good thing. It's just very difficult to get it done in such a short period of time and, indeed, we didn't play good for a while. Matter of fact, we went from .500 to four games below .500 at one stretch, about the lowest we got down. Then we started pulling it back up.

Q. What did you tell the club that first day?

PHIL GARNER: Well, that needs to stay in the clubhouse (smiling).

Q. How good has Carlos Beltran been for you guys, especially in this post season? And how relieved are you that even though teams asked for him at the deadline, you guys kept him?

PHIL GARNER: Well, he's been as good as you can be. Take a look at last night. Now, that's a great game, but he's done that a couple of times. In the Chicago series he was hitting home runs all over the place. He got on another couple of runs for stretches, down in the latter part of August and September, where he was just playing fantastic ball.

So I think now the word's out. I think the world knows he's one of the greatest players in the game. There isn't anything he can't do, that includes throwing the ball. We've seen him throw guys out from centerfield. You don't see that very often in today's game. He can beat you with his legs in the bases, in the outfield with his defense and can certainly beat you with base hits and home runs. He's the total package and in addition to that he's a nice young man.

We are delighted to have him. We would like it to have kept it a secret for a little while, but the word's out now.

Q. Will Adam Everett's role be increased in this series?

PHIL GARNER: Perhaps. I don't plan just right away...I do not plan to start him. His role right now is as a pinch runner and perhaps a defensive use in the latter part of games. If there's an opportunity to get him some at bats, I'd love to do that before I threw him into the fire.

Q. Do you mind jumping right back into this series? After finishing that one, do you think the momentum carries over after last night's finish?

PHIL GARNER: No, not at all. I think it works well. I would much rather do this than to have several days to wait around.

Obviously, Kent took a ball off the foot. The day might help him a little bit.

But other than that, everybody's fine and ready to go. I think we're in good shape and everybody's ready to play.

Q. There are comparisons between you and Jack McKeon's situation last year. What do you feel about those, and what was on your mind before you got the job?

PHIL GARNER: Well, I certainly hope age wasn't one of those comparisons. (Laughter) But I don't think last year has anything to do with this year. I thought it was a fantastic story to watch what the Florida Marlins did last year. I know Jack was a big part of that.

I personally like Jack, I've known him. Jack traded me. I always didn't like him for that, but he traded me from Oakland, which turned out to be a good deal.

Jack's one of the characters of the game. I'm certainly happy for him. It was a great story for him, the way he was able to come out of his retirement. I think we are very similar. I was actually at my granddaughter's one year birthday party down in south Texas when I got the call from Gerry Hunsicker. I saw the reports in the paper but didn't think I was on the radar screen for Houston, did not give it any thought. I had known Gerry, not very much. I hadn't talked to him in a couple years. Maybe just at a golf tournament to say hello. I really didn't consider that I was in any sort of their plans, so it wasn't anything I had given any thought to, actually.

So when I got the call, I had to give it some thought.

Q. When you look at your research what worries you most about the Cardinals?

PHIL GARNER: They're a complete ballclub. They play good defense, they don't make mistakes. Their offense is pretty doggone good, they have speed, they have power, they put the ball in play. They can beat you in all those ways.

Their pitching has been good. The thing that worries me is it's a complete there's not a weakness. There's no particular way that you can say, "Well, we're going to take advantage, we're going to be able to steal off them." You can't do that. "We're going to be able to wait it out, get into their bullpen." That's not going to help you. "We'll throw the ball in certain areas and get them out." You have to be on top of your game. They're a very good ballclub, very solid, very good ballclub. That's the reason they won this year, because everybody's doing a good job.

Q. They always say pitching wins in the post season. But looking at these lineups and the scores that were run up in both your series, do you really think that's true?

PHIL GARNER: Well, it's a good point, because if you hold them down to two runs, you saying your pitching was good; if you don't, you say your pitching was bad.

I do believe there's a potential of a lot of runs being scored in this series.

There's also a potential of some pretty good pitching being done in this series. Roy Oswalt and Rocket aren't too bad to run out there and take your chances with those guys. Our bullpen's been pretty good.

So we've got some guys that are pretty good that we can throw out there and run at them. There could be some good pitching this game, but also I could see a scenario where you could have some high scoring games as well.

So I think it looms as a potentially good fan series. You might see some close ballgames where there's going to be a lot of maneuvering. Then the next night you might see a game that could be see sawing back and forth, one of those 8 9 kind of things, where it's 2 1, 4 2, 6 5. That kind of game, too. This could be a good series for everybody.

Q. The Astros have waited so long to win a post season series. Now that they have, is there any chance they'll exhale and lose their focus, or do you think it will work exactly the opposite, they've finally got over their Mount Everest?

PHIL GARNER: Well, there's no question we got over one of our first humps we haven't been able to get over as an organization. We have a mountain we have to climb when you look at the St. Louis Cardinals. We're in territory we've never been. I absolutely do not believe this ballclub will have a letdown. I do not have a clue what the outcome of this series is going to be, but it won't. We won't fail because there's a letdown, I can tell you that.

One of the other things, I was concerned going into last night's game. They have a fresh pitcher. We're playing in Atlanta. You know you're going to have a hostile environment. Biggio's first at bat set the tone last night. Even though we hit into a double play to wipe out Biggio on the bases in the first inning, I felt our guys were extremely focused, which has been the case in the last six weeks. In the toughest games we've had to play, we've absolutely been at our best.

Q. Brandon Backe has pitched some very good games for you in the past six weeks. Do you think at this point you realize what he's done, or do you think he's been acting so much on adrenaline?

PHIL GARNER: Well, he's not stupid, I don't think (laughter). But, you know, it could be a good question and a good point, because I think sometimes young people are just so involved in what's going on that they don't stop to think what this means.

But I think in his case, he's aware. He was a high school football player at Galveston in Texas, took the team to the state championship. You know what high school football's like in Texas; that's a big deal.

He's already been sort of in that environment before. Now certainly this is a grander stage, but, you know, when you're in high school football playing in the state championships, that's a pretty big stage, too.

This is not something that's necessarily a first time affair for him. He's also already pitched two big games, as you alluded to, the game to finish out against Colorado was a big game. That, you don't get anywhere. Well, we ended up having to go back to San Francisco. If we don't win that game, and that's not a pleasant thought. That was a big game. Then he wins a big game for us in the division series.

So he's been there. I think he's aware and I think he understands, and I also think he's a kid that has gotten just a little bit better as he's pitched in these big ballgames. That's a good sign.

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