10/21/06 6:18 PM ET
Jeff Weaver pregame interview
Credits La Russa, Duncan's confidence in him for turnaround
By / MLB.com
JEFF WEAVER:Well, I liked it a lot better when the bullpens were down the right field line, but still very spacious ballpark. But, yeah, I mean I've got some experience pitching here and always felt comfortable and definitely looking forward to the opportunity to come back where it started for me and have a chance to win a championship. It's kind of surreal, but at the same time very exciting and looking forward to it.
I don't know if you saw the paper
today, but Todd Jones said some sort of
unkind things about you, basically a good
riddance situation. Why doesn't he like you, do
you have any idea? What's your sense of
some of the other guys over there?
JEFF WEAVER:Well, first of all, I don't read the papers and didn't hear of any of this. If that's the case, I would figure that some of it got twisted. Todd Jones is one of nicest guys I've ever run across. If he's got unkind words for me, I don't know what they're stemming from, and it's the World Series, maybe he's just trying to get a little jab in here and there. But it doesn't really affect me at all. I've got nothing but good things to say about him.
We know that your Anaheim
experience this year was a disappointment.
Could you tell us or try to put your finger on
why the difference in St. Louis, what has
happened to you there that has led you to
being here now, pitching so well?
JEFF WEAVER:Well, it's hard to say exactly. If I had stayed there the whole year who would say it wouldn't have turned out the same way for me. I've always been the kind of a guy that after a certain amount of time getting situated after I've kind of gone through teams before, seen hitters and established some sort of knowledge on guys, I've always seemed to do better. But when things are immediate success or move on, I think that has been evident in New York, it's been evident in Anaheim. I just knew when I came to St. Louis it was a fresh start. I was going to be out there every five days. They were going to let me work through whatever troubles I had. And I had always stayed confident through the whole experience, it was just a matter of getting in that groove and getting comfortable. And La Russa and Duncan have been great about being big supporters and they told me from the get-go they loved the way I competed, and they didn't want to change a thing, just go out there and, "We believe in you and things will turn." When you have that support behind you, it's that much easier not to be looking over your shoulder when you make mistakes. Baseball season you just never really know, some people have slow starts and finish up strong, and some people start out fast and finish slow. It was just one of those years and I'm just very fortunate it ended up the way it has.
Detroit, what was your high point
here and what was your low point? What do
you remember about the last time you were in
the World Series?
JEFF WEAVER:You never forget your first start. Old Tiger Stadium facing Minnesota, my first start was something I'll never forget. Not only that, but just the whole season, being the last year in old Tiger Stadium was a lot of electricity, it was packed, people were there. And the final game at old Tiger Stadium was one of the most unbelievable games that I've ever been a part of. And then you never forget opening day of the new stadium, other than it was freezing cold. It was a good experience. This is where it started for me. So I have nothing but good things to say. I owe them the opportunity and I always look forward to coming back here, the fans have been great to me. It will always be a spot in my heart here in Detroit. But my last World Series experience it was just great to be a part of. Obviously people look at the result when I was out there and some people forget that I hadn't pitched for 33 days before I went out there. I had pitched an inning before and got three guys out in a row, but the next guy the following inning happened to hit a 3-2 fastball over the fence. And it's one game in the World Series. It's the first time I ever got to get out there and compete. Regardless of the result it's one of my special moments. And I think all those things that I went through at that time have just helped me to understand what it's about, when we got here this postseason, to use those experiences to help me.
How do you think you've changed
as a player and as a pitcher since you left
JEFF WEAVER:Well, I mean tremendously. When you go from Detroit to New York, small market to the biggest market in baseball, you see a lot, you go through a lot, you get to know a lot of players, coaches. I went to the bullpen. My first experience pitching out of the pen. So you get a better understanding of what those guys go through. You just understand the game a little bit better when you go through not only the good times but the bad times. I think because of that it enabled me to continue to work through the struggles I had earlier this year because I had worked myself out of them before and when you do it once you know you can do it again. So it just keeps your head up and looking towards the future. I think just a better understanding overall of what a team is, knowing what it's like to be a part of a good one.
A moment ago you mentioned Dave
Duncan and gave him some credit for the way
your year turned around. Could you
specifically talk about what he did when you
and him started working together for the first
time this year, because he is, after all, one of
the better pitching coaches of all time?
JEFF WEAVER:Yeah, I mean, I think it starts from day one, when he kind of pulls you aside and you sit and talk to him about his thoughts. I think not only his thoughts but he wanted to know what my thoughts were, who I was as a pitcher. He wasn't really looking to change anything. He wanted just to iterate what my strengths are so I'm speaking of them and knowing what they are. And then to execute and go out there and perform doing those, and not try to change, that was the other thing. Some people when you go through struggles, they want to change everything and do things that they know and that wasn't the case here. They said they loved the way I competed. They loved the stuff I had, it was just a matter of finding it and getting back out there and doing it. And also, like I said, to know that you're going to have the ball every five days and no questions, it makes it that much easier to just go out there and get in the groove and try to rattle it off a little bit. Mechanically there was a few times in the bullpen where we just worked on getting my release point back out in front, getting my angles out more towards home, because I do throw three-quarters, a lot of times you get in trouble being too rotational left and right, which causes you to fly open a bit and balls stay up and you're not getting that sink, like is my strength. So mechanically that was the major thing that we worked on, just getting back out in front with pitches and that's about it.
When the Cardinals went to the
World Series in 2004 it was a quick turnaround,
just like it has been this year. I know you
weren't there, but did you have time to digest
this process and move on? La Russa felt that
was a factor in the sweep against the Red Sox?
JEFF WEAVER:Yeah, when it happens last minute and you've got all the excitement going on of winning the series and then the immediate turnaround to the World Series, it can get a little can chaotic and fast-moving. Sometimes your head is spinning and you're not concentrating fully on what you should be on the task at hand and putting those things behind you and starting fresh and moving in the right direction. So he did a good thing of slowing things down for us a bit, getting over to the ballpark early today so we had plenty of time to get everything out of the way and get our head on for the game in front of us. He tried his best to slow it down a bit so we wouldn't be scrambling to get things done and get out there. Like I said, being through that experience before you can make some adjustments, so hopefully they work in our favor.
What were your emotions about the
trade from here and of your impressions of
Dave Dombrowski at the time, and have those
things change over time?
JEFF WEAVER:I mean it was very emotional for me, something not expected. I just signed that year an extension to be around and to be a part of the team, hopefully moving in the right direction. And it was the first team that I played for, so obviously I would have liked to have stuck around and stuck through the tough times, and who knows, I might still have been involved and be part of this. So it was emotional. All those guys I was really close with, and your first change is obviously the one that affects you the most. But now it is what it is and I moved on. It's been a few years now and there's nothing I would have changed from what I've gone through.
Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.