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10/10/06 6:59 PM ET

Ken Macha pregame interview

I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about how Pudge Rodriguez has changed this team, and not just from the lineup perspective, but he came after you had lost 119 games. Did that make a distinction for other players?

KEN MACHA: Well, it was probably a signal from Dave Dombrowski that they were serious about turning the thing around. It was probably a big sign for them to get Pudge to come up there. I said yesterday, he's got a World Series ring. He's experienced the whole thing, so I think it's huge for the other players to be able to lean on him as far as that's concerned.

But like I said, you make a big sign like that as an organization, and you're letting everybody know you're serious.

I know you don't like to talk about yourself that often, but can you talk about your feelings on being chosen to represent the team going to Japan, the All-Stars? Can you talk about that?

KEN MACHA: I think that'll be fun, just my four years over there playing. There's a lot of people that I haven't seen for a while; Good to be going back there.

But really, probably the highlight of my playing career was over there, and going back there will be special for me. It's nice that Major League Baseball chose me to go over there and represent us over there. It's going to be fun.

You guys took off in August when Esteban started pitching really well, too. How big a part of that was Loaiza? And also, how big a concern was it that first month when nothing was going right for him?

KEN MACHA: So you want me just to focus on Esteban then (laughter)? Well, to judge what he was doing in April and May is unfair. You know, he had a problem with his -- actually it was his left shoulder, and it wasn't freeing him up to be able to throw the ball when he came. So we pulled him out of the rotation, put him on the DL.

The duration of the DL was probably lengthy. He went through a rehabilitation similar to what you would do in a spring training situation, a couple times on the side, doing his long toss. We had the fitness coach in there, you know, giving him a pretty good workout as far as lifting the weights and all that kind of stuff. I give Esteban credit. He was there on time. He did everything to the letter and to the tee.

We got him some simulated games and some rehab starts, and he started throwing the ball like he was capable of. I had mentioned before that talking to Don Cooper, the pitching coach of the White Sox, while Esteban was out throwing a simulated game one day in Chicago, and Cooper told me that this guy really likes to compete. Those are the kind of guys you want on your side, you know.

I know some fierce competitors I've been around in this game and coached or managed, and those guys are the guys that step forward when everything is on the line. That's the kind of guy you want out there.

He could have easily just gone through the motions, but he wants to compete. He's a competitor, and he's showing that by the performance he had in the last two months of the season.

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What do you need to see out of your double play combination to win this series?

KEN MACHA: Oh, my goodness. That question was asked before. I really haven't seen D'Angelo play that much, so it would be unfair for me to judge one way or the other to know what we're going to get out of him. I know Scutaro is going to make the plays.

One nice thing, D'Angelo has been up here for a month with Ron Washington who just does a tremendous job with our infielders. You want to see a guy that has passion for the game, it's Ron Washington. He doesn't care who you are, he takes you out there. If you're just a September call-up he takes you out there and you get the full Monty. He's been through that, and I have confidence that D'Angelo will do fine, and hopefully it's no problem.

Knowing how good the Tigers are, do you find it strange that there had to be a press conference in New York today to basically say Joe Torre still has his job?

KEN MACHA: No matter what job you have, expectations are placed for your team. The true reality or the stark reality is you have to go out on the field and play the game. The Detroit Tigers proved to everybody what they did during the regular season, got off to a tremendous start, led by a wide margin and were able to overcome a little bit of a shaky September. But they got healthy, and Jim Leyland did a tremendous job of getting them the focus.

The talent that they have in that club can be documented. Verlander is going to go out there and he's going to throw high 90s; Kenny Rogers has been a very fine pitcher for a long time. Bonderman has come into his own. Todd Jones is a bona fide closer.

I mean, the setup guys have done great. Robertson has pitched well this year, okay? We have our hands full tonight. I don't like some of the match-ups that we have with some of our players. They send out five strong starting pitchers; they've got a strong bullpen. For the people who are baseball people and observe that, they know how strong their team is, and I'm sure Joe Torre was well aware of what he was up against when he was playing the Tigers. I know I am, too.

So when you go out there and you play a short series and you get that pitching locked in, that's what happens. I've got a lot of respect for Joe. I'm glad he's back. He's in a tough situation over there. The expectations are out of this world every year, so I'm glad Joe is going to be back. He's a gentleman and a class guy, and baseball needs him.

Have you named your game's three and four starters in stone, and what went into that?

KEN MACHA: Well, Harden is going to pitch Game Three. We specifically limited the number of pitches he threw yesterday for that purpose.

We sent Curt Young down there to monitor what was going on. Billy Owens went down there, also. They feel good about how the ball was coming out of his hand. We are, I think, 9-0 in his starts this season.

Pushing Dan Haren back a day is a tough decision, and he has pitched a lot of big ball games for us and pitched very well. But we just feel at this particular time that Rich is going to be the guy in that spot.

Over the past few years you've expressed some envy about the way the Angels' bullpen could shorten the game to six innings. Do you feel like you guys have almost reached that point where you get six good out of your starter and you feel pretty good the rest of the way?

KEN MACHA: You know, it's a little different. We've got a little different bullpen than the Angels do. They've got some power guys out there that they bring in. Justin Duchscherer was a huge influence on what happened the last series, pitching the four innings.

We've got some guys to get right-handers out. We've got some guys to get left-handers out. It's kind of a mix and match, but yeah, I've got a lot of confidence in those guys out there. I don't think there's been too many bullpens in the major leagues that have seven different pitchers that have gotten saves this year. I don't think there's one.

Those guys realize they could be in the game at any time, and they have been, all of them. It's nice to have Blanton out there. He gives us length; Saarloos gives us length. Gaudin has come in and got some saves. Joe Kennedy has got some saves. He didn't get to pitch in the last series, but I guarantee he's going to be in there this series.

We've got a lot of guys out there that can give us quality innings and confidence in all of them. That should just -- having seven guys out there having gotten saves should dictate some of that confidence.

You talked a minute ago about the expectations that Joe Torre has in New York. You guys and the Twins especially have been the epitome of the lower budget teams that have been reasonably successful. What are the expectations on you, and which way do you think is a better way to go?

KEN MACHA: It doesn't necessarily mean just because you have a payroll or what city you're in that the expectations aren't there. The people that I work for and I answer to, they expect us to go out there and compete and compete well. We have expectations here, also, as do the Twins, okay? The similarity between the two organizations is that we bring young guys up here and we develop them, and we've developed young pitchers, and we kind of do it a little bit under the radar because we don't have the star power or the bling that the other clubs do.

Really if you look at it, I always kid people when I go home and I say, Who's your favorite player on the A's? And they've got to think a lot about that. We brought Frank in this year, and of course that increased the expectations here. I was very happy when we clinched the division, so we reached one of the expectations.

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