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Jon Lieber pregame quotes
10/05/2004 10:06 PM ET
Q. I guess it goes without saying, tomorrow is going to be the biggest game you've ever pitched. How do you keep the butterflies in check and look at it as just another game, or can you?

JON LIEBER: Probably the best thing I've got going for me right now is my family being here, my wife and three kids. I think if anything, they are going to keep me a little relaxed before I come to the ballpark. So I'm really looking forward to it, and just being getting the chance to be out there.

Q. You threw short yesterday?


Q. Haven't really thrown much between starts all year. Why did you decide to do it yesterday and are you glad you did?

JON LIEBER: Yeah, I think the reason behind the bullpen session was there was quite a bit of rest in between my last start, so I wanted to just make sure, just kind of fine tune. Maybe just kind of get a touch and feel off the mound.

You know, I felt fine.

Q. Does it seem like it's been a long road back, or did time pass quickly, and was there any time during the year that you had doubts where you would get to where you were or where you thought you needed to be?

JON LIEBER: You know, the road back has been obviously, to me, I think pretty quick compared to before I had the surgery. I thought it was going to be quite a while just going through the rehab process.

It really went by fairly quick. You know, there was a lot of ups and downs through this season, not just physically but mentally. Just not being able to perform the way I was used to, maybe 2000 2001 with the Chicago Cubs. It was definitely frustrating, I would say around June, July. There were some games where I knew I could perform at a better level and I just wasn't getting the results that I was hoping I was going to be able to get.

Q. Can you talk about this being on the big stage and everything, the opportunity to pitch in this game, Yankee Stadium, in the playoffs? Would you just talk about that?

JON LIEBER: Well, this is what I've been waiting for, for 11 years now that I've played in the big leagues. You know, this is what it's all about. You know, and it could not happen at a better place than New York City and Yankee Stadium. I've seen it, the previous seven, eight years through this organization. I've been watching it every time on television, watching this team go through the post season. And to actually be here and be a part of that, especially after going through Tommy John Surgery, really is something special.

Q. Joe was just in here talking about watching Tommy John going through his rehab and watching him run in the outfield and it being a lonely time. During that time outside of family, was there anyone in particular that you turned to?

JON LIEBER: You know, I think it was really the guys down there in Tampa. There were some other players going through rehab processes. Steve Karsay was a big influence on keeping my sanity, I guess. Some other minor leaguers. King and Bomer, we would do things together and really, I think it really took the thought process of, you know, is this ever going to get better away from that. You know those guys down there and us hanging out together was a big help.

Q. Did there come a time after June and July when things got to rolling and you said to yourself, "I'm back to where I want to be"?

JON LIEBER: You know, I really think probably towards the end of August, and this goes with talking to other players, I think really the one person that comes to mind that's really helped me this year is Tom Gordon, because he went through this in '99. And to be able to have him here and seeing the struggles that I was going through this year and being able to talk to him, he really told me, along with some other people, just wait till the end of August, September, you're going to feel your best and you're going to feel your strongest. I feel like I've got some room to improve but I definitely feel a lot better than where I was June or July.

Q. Pitching at home, do you have a lot of outside distractions, people calling for tickets, do you find it hard to focus on pitching?

JON LIEBER: There really has not been that many distractions. You know, it's been okay. It's not like my time is just consumed. The bottom line is, I think a lot of other people know that I am pitching tomorrow and they are probably afraid to bother me.

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