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Jim Tracy, workout day quotes10/06/2004 7:32 PM ET
Q: Steve Finley has been very productive down the stretch. What are your expectations for him during the post season?
A: I don't want any of my players to feel like they have to do anything out of the ordinary or anything that is beyond what their comfort level is from day to day, you know. I think that when you get to the point where a player's individual expectation level of himself is well beyond where it should be, it becomes a very counterproductive type of thing.
I think in saying that, you like to think that you get equal contribution in the -- in the other areas of your lineup that you have gotten pretty much all year long, and it takes less of a load off of any one individual and affords you the opportunity to play the game pretty much the way you've been playing it all along. In actuality, that's something that hasn't been happening to us as of ate. We've had our moments where offensively we have struggled some. We kind of have gone full circle.
We were struggling from a starting pitching standpoint, and yet winning games because we were coming up with big hits, whether it was from the lineup, the bench, whatever it might be because we were having to wade 6 through 3 2/3, 4 1/3, 5 innings from starters. We got to the point in the last week of the season where we got four to five consecutive solid pitching performances in a row, and we're coming up short offensively, but I think that's the cyclical thing I was alluding to yesterday, you know. Hitting never really gets to exactly that. It's this or it's this, and how you're able to handle the little things in between those type of cycles I think goes a long way in determining how good your ballclub's going to be over the course of a six-month period.
Q: Sometimes you've used Gagne -- given him a little work to keep him sharp. Like tomorrow would be a day he would get work no matter what the game situation is?
A: More than likely. Most teams like to see us use him when we're just trying to keep him sharp. That's when they like to see us use him, but you know, from the standpoint that I believe it was what, Wednesday or Thursday of last week was the last inning that he pitched, we would more than likely with another day off on Friday be looking to find an inning just to get him a little bit of work, but up to this point there just hasn't been any real need to do that, and unless we feel that, we just don't utilize him.
Q: If somebody is trying to overreach, is that sometimes a product of a lack of experience or is that an issue here?
A: You have the tendency to see that happen with younger players, but as we were talking about with the first question, I think a lot of that stems from how the supporting cast is doing at the time. If they're not doing so well, and yet there's four or five other guys that have stepped up, it eases the burden on that specific individual, especially if it's a guy that has been counted on and has been doing a lot of very positive things for your club offensively during the course of the season. It makes it much easier as they're trying to figure some things out, but you know, I was talking about this a little bit yesterday. I was very impressed with the way, knowing the number of guys we have in our clubhouse that are experiencing this for the first time, the way they handled themselves yesterday. I was extremely impressed with the way that the group of a lot of them, young players that we have on this ballclub, the way they dealt with and handled themselves. You know, I know I'm repeating myself a little bit, but the way that we approached our at bats in the early part of the game facing a veteran guy in Woody Williams offensively we did exactly what we would like to see or what we would have liked to see us do as the game unfolded. We got to a point where his pitch count had been built up, but as I said yesterday, your pitch count can build up a little bit and go a little bit higher when you've got a six-run cushion to work with. The stress level's a lot less.
Q: Jeff Weaver seems like a very laid-back guy. Is his personality well-suited for the situation he's going to be in tomorrow?
A: He's a very special guy for me, and for a lot of other people in the clubhouse. He is the right guy for tomorrow. I think some of what you're suggesting is a part of that. I've said this to our columnists and our media people throughout the season in Los Angeles, and that is, you know, his 13-13 record is very deceiving. All you have to do is go back and look at the early part of the season when he was 3-7, I think, his first decisions he was 3-7 to begin the year, and yet following up and checking out the amount of run support that he had gotten during the course of those seven losses, Jeff Weaver could have very easily won 17 or 18 games this year without doing anything differently, not one thing differently than he did from the first day of spring training. For us to get an extra hit here or there or have a situational at bat at the right time of the game, Weaver wins at least four or five more games than he did with his 13 and 13 record. He knows how to pitch. He knows how to pitch. He knows how to adjust in the middle of the game because of what the opposition is doing to him or trying to do as the game unfolds. He's an experienced guy. He knows what a loud crowd sounds like. He's gone through that. He has been, you know, when you look at the 220 innings that he logged for our club this year, he's been the workhorse of our staff. There's no getting around that, and he has been the model of consistency of our pitching staff since the first live ball we threw back in April.
Q: In the MVP race debate, how does Beltre stack up against the three candidates from the Cardinals and might they cancel each other out?
A: Beltre stacks up with any of them, Barry, and you know how I feel about that, but from the standpoint of the three candidates they have here which they do, I can understand the suggestion that Walt was making to you due to the fact that people that do the voting, you know, I don't know how it works as far as how you vote for first, second, third place, whatever it might be like that, but there is definitely a possibility that when you are choosing between Rolen, Edmonds, and Pujols, there is the possibility that the way people file their ballots, they could cancel one another out. By the same token, someone may feel more strongly about one of the three here than they do Barry or Adrian, and they may start cancelling Barry and Adrian out. I think it's very safe to say from the standpoint of the most valuable player in the National League, you have five legitimate candidates, and you've touched on all five of them with the question that you just asked.
Q: There was some conjecture after the game that Perez' sequence of pitches might have been picked up by the Cardinals. Any concern on your part about that?
A: I don't think concern because it's something that obviously you always keep a very close eye on, and as you watch things unfold, you begin to get an extreme sense of awareness that there possibly could be something going on here where there's a little bit more information out there than needs to be. It doesn't necessarily have to be information that's written down. It's the reaction of the opposing players due to things that you see and how the results turn out and the physical end of the game that suggest that hey, they may have his pitches, this, that, or whatever it might be. You know, I really feel like the second time through the order I would have liked to have seen a few different choices in certain situations. I think the predictability of a few situations the second time through the order was an assumption on the part of a few of the Cardinal hitters, and you know, a very wise assumption from a thinking standpoint. It really worked out for them. I mean, when you think about the fact that we lost yesterday 8-3 and six of their eight runs were scored after two were out, nobody on base, as I said yesterday, if you put those innings down, you change the complexion of that game entirely. It becomes a very interesting game 1 of the division series if you keep them from doing the damage they did with two outs and nobody on base. But in series like this, as you go further into the playoffs, you have to put innings down
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