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10/02/08 8:46 PM ET

Russell Martin pregame interview

Catcher feels Billingsley is most consistent pitcher this year

When you're preparing to face someone like Zambrano, who's been so erratic in his last few starts, how do you approach that?

RUSSELL MARTIN: I think most of the guys, we just look at video over past at bats against that guy, and just try and build an approach that way. That's probably the easiest way to do it. That's the way I do it.

I know you guys as players don't really think much about curses, but did you hear about the Cubs last night before the game bringing in an Orthodox Greek priest to spray some holy water in the dugout? And what are some of your thoughts on that?

RUSSELL MARTIN: I think they're just trying to have fun with it and trying to loosen the mood. You know, I'm not in that clubhouse, so I don't really know how they're approaching it. I don't really know if there's such a thing as a curse or not, but a lot of people here feel like it exists.

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Tonight catching Billingsley, what will be the keys for you to know that he's on?

RUSSELL MARTIN: Billingsley, he's been tremendous, probably the most consistent pitcher for the whole year. When he's pounding the strike zone and he's getting his breaking pitch over, he's got a good cutter and a good curveball. When he's getting all his pitches over, that's when he's on. Hopefully we can just attack their hitters and stay in the strike zone for most of the game.

I'm just wondering, what's it been like playing for Joe Torre? And do you think that sort of his experience as a catcher has helped him in dealing with you in terms of playing time and things of that nature?

RUSSELL MARTIN: Joe, he's great. I mean, he treats everybody the same. He has a really consistent attitude. Every day he's the same guy, whether we're playing good or not so good. He has the same character. You can't ever really tell what he's thinking when he's managing, too. He really keeps his emotions in check, and I think he has kind of a calming effect on a lot of our younger players. He's been great the whole year, and he's a real easy guy to get along with.

As far as being a catcher, we're pretty vocal. I'll let him know how I feel on certain days and stuff, and that's the way it's been the whole year. So he's taken care of me pretty good. Played some third base this year and kind of helped me out.

Can you explain the difference in Dodger Stadium for the hitters, how hard it is to hit in that place, low runs scored and stuff like that, as compared to Wrigley Field?

RUSSELL MARTIN: Yeah, Wrigley is a little bit different. It's a smaller yard compared to Dodger Stadium. Sometimes the wind can help you as a pitcher here, but it can hurt you, as well. Every day it's kind of a coin flip. You don't really know how the elements are going to play out. But Dodger Stadium, you know what you're getting. You don't have many winds over there. You're probably going to have a nice day to pitch in, and it's a big yard. It's favorable for the pitchers.

Along the Joe Torre lines, I think he said earlier in this series that he had way more meetings this year with this team than he could remember with the Yankees. Was there a specific recurring theme to those meetings or were they all diverse?

RUSSELL MARTIN: I think he just, you know, the main thing was just to keep reminding us to keep playing as a team and things of that nature. We never really had super long meetings of any kind. He never really had to raise his tone. He just kept us in check, kept reminding us what we were playing for, and pretty much just kept telling us to keep believing, because we have a good team. Our pitching has been consistent, and that's been our strength the whole year. With the addition of Casey Blake and Manny and everybody else contributing, it's been great.

Can you kind of pinpoint when the confidence turned around for this team? You finished the season strong. Was it Manny? Did it come before that? When did it kind of turn around and start the other way?

RUSSELL MARTIN: I think Manny took a lot of pressure away from a lot of players, including myself. Just the way he goes about his business, he goes out there, plays hard every day and enjoys it, too. He'll crack some jokes in the dugout, in the clubhouse, hit some home runs, and when he comes in the dugout, it feels like it's his first one every time, just laughing it up with everybody.

I think our biggest turning point this year was when we lost eight in a row, and we had a big series against the Diamondbacks. We lost the first game against them and came back and beat Brandon Webb and Danny Haren. From then on I don't know how many games we won, but we started playing better baseball, and I think that was a turning point.

When you game plan for the Cubs, where does Soriano fit in? Does it start with him as a guy who kind of makes them go?

RUSSELL MARTIN: Well, he's their lead off guy. He's the first guy you have to worry about. Soriano, he's a power threat every time he comes up there, so you've got to be careful with that guy. He's got a few holes, and you've just got to attack them the right way. You can't really make mistakes with that guy. I think that's our mindset.

Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports.

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