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10/10/06 4:09 PM ET

Paul Lo Duca workout day interview

Lo Duca talks about team camaraderie and pitching to Pujols

Paul, that was a great example, that exchange with Tom, what you've done all year, in terms of chemistry, the sense of humor and the banter and all of that. Wondering, when did it become apparent to you that it would be this way for this team this year, being new to this situation, when was it apparent, Spring Training, after that, when was it?

PAUL LO DUCA: I think definitely in Spring Training. Everybody on this team, we had one goal going into Spring Training. We've reached it so far.

But yeah, I think it starts in Spring Training. We've had a good time and we have a bunch of great guys. I've said this a million times. Omar did a great job of getting guys that are talented and obviously winners on the field, but he did a better job with the guys off the field and the core they had here already. And David and Jose are just so upbeat kids, and they are the franchise. And Carlos and to go out and get Delgado, who is one of the best human beings that I've played with and Tommy. So it was a good mix from the beginning and it's gotten better as the season went on.

Is Tom the best pitcher you've ever caught?

PAUL LO DUCA: He's up there, let's put it that way. He's the most professional pitcher I've ever caught. He's just so prepared.

For a guy that's been doing this for 20 years, he never misses a stretch, he never misses a meeting, he's here early. He sets a great example for all of the young kids.

Just wondering what your thought process is on handling Pujols and the type of hitter he is.

PAUL LO DUCA: There's some guys you really can't handle, you just try to contain him a little bit. You know, it's a seven-game series, so you have to pitch him at some time. He's the kind of guy that you just can't let beat you. You want to be able to go to bed at night -- but there's no disrespect, because the guys behind him are great players, but he's the kind of guy you want to go to bed at night knowing he didn't beat you. He's an unbelievable player and you have to face it, he's going to have an impact at some time and hopefully it's not too big.

Do you go into this series any differently than you went into the Dodger series? Is the approach any different?

PAUL LO DUCA: No, I don't think so. I think we're playing a totally different ballclub than we played at Shea towards the end of the year with Eckstein and Jimmy healthy, going to be playing. So it's a different ballclub. They have got a lot of playoff experience. They have been here. We know it's going to be a battle. We knew the Dodger series was going to be a battle and we know this is not going to be easy. They are not just going to hand it over. We need to play the way we did.

Of all the games we played in the Dodger series, I was more proud of the Game 2 win because we did the little things, bunting guys over and we won the game with pitching and timely hitting. We're going to have to do that against this team because they have been there before, they have been to the World Series and know how it is, and a lot of us haven't been there on our side.

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There's such a sense now that the American League is better than the National League, you're aware of that, I'm sure.

PAUL LO DUCA: I didn't know that. Go ahead. (Laughter.)

This is sort of like the second place championship.

PAUL LO DUCA: Where did you hear that from? Your own assessment?

No, it's not my own assessment.

PAUL LO DUCA: Where did you hear it from then?

I follow baseball.

PAUL LO DUCA: Who is all of baseball?

I said I follow baseball.

PAUL LO DUCA: You follow baseball, so you're saying the American League is better than the National League?

I cover a National League team, I don't know.

PAUL LO DUCA: So you're saying the American League is better than the National League.

I'm not saying the American League is better than the National League.

PAUL LO DUCA: Is he saying the American League is better than the National League?

They obviously were, they were better overall in the interleague if you want to go there, but it's all washed out so we need to go play. We're not concerned with what happens on the American League side. We're concerned with what happens here.

Because of what happened in the first game of the Dodger series, for the rest of your career, when you tag out a runner at the plate, will you always look to see if a second --

PAUL LO DUCA: Every time I look at that replay, I was lucky I turned around. It was a bizarre play. It will probably never happen again. It was an amazing play. It wouldn't have happened without the two guys on the relay. It was just one of those things. I know it was only the second or third inning in the first game of that series, but it might have turned around the whole series. It gave us some momentum and made John Maine settle down, especially a guy out there for the first time.

You know, sometimes things happen, we got a couple breaks in that series, including a couple balls that fell in against L.A. Sometimes good things happen to good people, and good teams create their own luck.

Going back to the Pujols question, would you have words that you say to your pitchers or maybe if it's Maine and he's a younger guy, anything that comes to dealing with a hitter that's that good?

PAUL LO DUCA: You know, I had some issue with Barry Bonds, he was unbelievable for those years. I'm a firm believer, you either go after him or you walk him. Because as soon as you tell a pitcher be careful, that's when they try to be too fine and they leave something over the plate and that's when he's going to kill you.

You either go out there and tell him you're going to go after him, go after him and get him out or you put him on. I don't think you put that doubt in any pitcher's head, and I think that's the way we're going to have to approach it.

Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.