10/23/2004 6:59 PM ET
Tony La Russa pregame quotes
Cardinals manager gives thoughts before Game 1
Q: Given how important Steve Kline was, how does this affect your bullpen that you lose him and now you only have one left-hander for this series?
TONY La RUSSA: Well, since your attitude has no negative vibes, I feel worse for Steve than I do for us because we are going to make the adjustments to compensate and still find a way to win. But just like Chris Carpenter, these two guys have been so important to us getting into this opportunity, into this position, it's really a tough break. And he would be helpful, but, you know, we'll do without him.
Q: What was your thinking in moving Matt Morris to Game 2 starter?
TONY La RUSSA: Well, we had an edge and we decided to play it. He pitched 80 pitches, tomorrow will be four days, three days' rest. If he had pitched a normal game and had to reach deeper, could have done it. But he has a lot of road postseason experience and that's this one, if it goes to Game 6, that's where he would be and we felt like he was the best shot. Plus you get Jason (Marquis) in as another hitter in our lineup.
Q: You spoke yesterday about having only three players in your clubhouse who have won a World Series ring. What does it feel like for you personally to get back and until the other night whether you were feeling any pressure or relief after the game?
TONY La RUSSA: Yeah, I think you learn a long time ago that this opportunity is not a coach's/manager/trainer thing. You ride the coattails. I'm not saying we can all contribute but I don't look at this personally. I think it was disappointing because we had the opportunity as a team, and it was our fourth try that we finally have a chance to play for the ring. But this is an opportunity for the players, who are the ones that are going to decide this thing and only three guys have a ring. Everybody else, this is their shot, and I'm pleased, as everybody, that has kind of a complementary role that these guys have an opportunity and we're going to try to complement as best we can.
Q: What goes into adding Reyes as opposed to Flores or Carpenter?
TONY La RUSSA: Well, Carpenter was, I mean, Dave (Duncan) and I, he was clear to throw 50 to 60 pitches, including 30 warmups. And I really think that even though there's a question of how effective he would be, Dave and I both came down on the side that we could never forgive ourselves to send him out there. He's been inadequately prepared physically. You're pitching for the biggest prize there is in baseball and he's going to rear back because he's a great competitor, and if something bad was to happen, I think we would both walk away from the game. It just wasn't a fair, safe risk to take and we need him to lead our staff next year.
Q: Could you compare this lineup you have right now with the Cardinals a little bit with the lineup you had back when you were with the A's?
TONY La RUSSA: Well, I hate doing that. Because invariably you compliment one and you criticize the other. I've seen it done too many times, and I've fallen into the trap and kicked myself later.
This is a real good lineup. I think we have the ability to play a lot of different games, and I really enjoy watching our club concentrate on defense, baserunning -- which doesn't happen all that often anymore -- up and down the ballclub. And the Chicago club in '83 was a heck of a club. So was the A's, and each is different.
Q: When you look at the matchups in a game like this, do you get the feeling sometimes that everything is overanalyzed to the point or the fact that people just miss out; that it is an important game, but it is another baseball game?
TONY La RUSSA: Man, it ain't another baseball game. (Laughter.) We're playing for the big ring, we're playing to be World Champions. I think you can go to the Super Bowl or the NBA; I don't care how much you try to analyze it as a fan, you're not going to understand what they are doing. It's too complicated. Baseball is meant to be analyzed and discussed and second-guessed and first-guessed. I mean, it doesn't happen more than it does here. You have a whole year of statistics for these two teams, plus you have career. I'd analyze it almost to death. I think that's part of the enjoyment of this, and then play the games.
Q: Reyes came to you. What has he done for you since he came to you, could you speak to that?
TONY La RUSSA: We had Randy Flores and Al -- were the two guys that we were keeping in shape. We really did not consider Rick (Ankiel). We wanted Rick to settle down, and he's going to pitch winter ball. Maybe a different club, we'd have given a closer rook at Randy. There's much of a left-hand presence with the Red Sox, and Al Reyes, we signed him, and he was at Triple-A and led the league in saves. So when we were looking for help, and we trust our guys there, they recommended him and he came up and did a very good job for us. So by a margin, a thin margin, we thought he was a better choice than Randy.
Q: Why is So Taguchi in your lineup tonight?
TONY La RUSSA: Mostly because I'm trying to sell those 2000 win things in Japan, trying to get them really excited and happy with me. I'm serious. (Laughter)
But partly because, I don't know a lot about (Tim) Wakefield. I just saw right-handers hit him a little better than left-handers. I know So has been real good in the clutch. We all know that playing in the World Series, he's been experienced from his play in Japan. You could see it, whether he's pinch-hit or played late, he was never in awe of a tight situation in the big leagues. I may play him tomorrow, but I think keep Reggie (Sanders) off there for one day, in this weather, and Reggie will probably be back there tomorrow. I think it's a good move. We'll see.
Q: Your lineup tonight?
TONY La RUSSA: Lineup is, Edgar (Renteria) is going to lead off again with Tony (Womack) hitting seventh. Same issues. Mike (Matheny) hits eighth and So hitting ninth, and everybody else, two, three, four, five, with Reggie DHing in the six spot.
Q: How helpful was Marlon Anderson, and how did he adjust to that kind of a role?
TONY La RUSSA: I think that was one of the neatest things that happened on our club because he came in to contest for a regular second base job. And then we had a chance at Tony, and I mean, I've seen that happen on our club and other clubs, a guy goes in a 180-degree different direction where a guy just pouts and he's a problem and you have to get rid of him or you just keep him and he's just negative.
Marlon, right away, I think if you look at, I think, our first road series, he hit a home run in the ninth inning coming off the bench against Arizona. He's been a real dangerous pinch-hitter and when he's played, whether it's second base or left or right, he's played. So I think we all have admired how mentally tough he dealt with it, which isn't a fun job, but it was on a good team and he probably enjoyed that part of it.
Q: Do you have any memories of watching the '67 World Series, and how does cold weather affect a World Series game like this? Is it played any differently?
TONY La RUSSA: Oh, yeah. I think because -- was that the Impossible Dream season? -- The Red Sox -- I was a Yaz (Carl Yastrzemski) fan, and his heroics were like a Hollywood movie. I grew up in Tampa; I was more of a Yankee fan and I was more of an American Leaguer. I wasn't paying as much attention to the St. Louis Cardinals even though they trained in St. Pete, but I watched it. I saw that one guy that kept pitching and kept winning, the guy that Red (Schoendist) says, 'I wish we still had,' 45. It was very dramatic. Some real heroics, which is what you're going to see here, I'm sure.
Cold weather, you know, I think it will be cold for us that are watching, whether you're in the stands or in the dugout. Players, I think they can get into it and they will get warm. I just like it when the wind blows in here because I don't think you get beat in a freaky way with an out that carries against or something.
Q: Do you feel this series encompasses the two best baseball cities in America, and if so, why?
TONY La RUSSA: Well, you know, I mean, that's not my style to just like, comparing, you know. If you say they are the two best, then there's a whole lot of other outstanding baseball cities that you're saying they are not as good as. And I'm not a big politician fan, but I think you know St. Louis and Boston are tied for first with the best that you can find, let it go at that.
Q: You mentioned having three players with World Series rings, how helpful is it to have Edgar Renteria with his success in the World Series leading off for you?
TONY La RUSSA: It's helpful in a couple ways. No. 1, he does have World Series experience, success.
Secondly, if you just watch him play, it's clear that he wants a ring with the National League St. Louis Cardinals. His intensity and the way he's going about it, when we had a chance to get in the post-season in the two series we've played, when your best players show that they are really going after this thing, it picks everybody up, and he's one of them.
Q: Just any impressions of coming into Boston and Fenway, and I'm sure a lot of your players have not exactly played in this ballpark, any tips for them?
TONY La RUSSA: Well, we'll see how the series turns out. If we end up winning, I think the fact we played a three-game series here in Interleague Play last year gives some feeling. It was middle of the summer, there were big crowds, and it was a tough series. So I think we're not totally unfamiliar with it. But you know, Fenway, the fans are all around you, they are very, very close, closer than most places. You know, you could play it in privacy, we're playing for the ring, so pressure is there. It's an exciting atmosphere. I think our players, I tell them, enjoy it, look around once in a while, but pay attention to playing the game.
Q: Could you just talk about how well you know Terry Francona coming into this series, and if you could compare your managing styles?
TONY La RUSSA: Well, I know that -- I think he's got a lot of credits on his resume. When he managed Michael Jordan, that was a very high-profile thing, and he did a very good job. I know Michael respects him.
More importantly, I saw him -- I'll give you a tidbit probably nobody knows, or maybe even cares. When I was a young shortstop, 18 years old with the Kansas City A's, I roomed with his dad, and I can't understand why they roomed us together. It was just a couple of trips, maybe his regular roommate and family came in. And Tito was, talk about a first class man, I was -- I shouldn't be there, I was a kid. Some guys treated me like I shouldn't be there, which they should have, but not Tito. He was just a terrific roommate for a couple series. And just a very, very helpful guy, for a guy who was way over his head. Now to see his son go to Philadelphia -- and I had followed Terry's career.
In fact, we tried to get him, he was a left-handed hitter and he got off to a slow start his rookie year. And managers look at other managers and a bunch of us talked about it. When you get off to a slow start your first job, your natural instinct is to point fingers, maybe the fans and think, 'oh, it's not really me,' but he took the high road. Just, man, look at the way he was handling this. He was getting beat. Never did anything publicly that cost him. And they had a big second half, and I think a big part was the way he handled it. Didn't burn any bridges with his players. Scott Rolen told me he's the best manager he ever played for, and he just beat one of the great managers of all time, Joe Torre. So I think that Terry will do very, very well, unfortunately.
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