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10/03/08 7:39 PM ET

Interview with Lou Piniella

Cubs skipper talks about the pressure of facing elimination

After the game yesterday, you said that you would probably either go with DeRosa or Fontenot in right field. Have you made a decision?

LOU PINIELLA: Yeah. DeRosa will be playing right field and Fontenot will be playing second base.

Obviously it looked like there was a lot of doom and gloom at Wrigley the last two days. How does it feel to be away from that?

LOU PINIELLA: I don't know about doom and gloom. We didn't play very well. The two worst games that we've had back to back in the two years I've been here. And the fans want us to win. It's obvious. We want the same thing.

But we just didn't play two good games. It's nice to get away from there and come on the road and hopefully win a ball game tomorrow night and go into Sunday and take it back to Wrigley on Tuesday.

You know, the fans have been very supportive all year. And it's been fun playing in Wrigley field all year. And it just so happened we played two not so good of ball games. And they weren't happy.

How tough is it going to be for the team mentally to regroup after what's happened? Will you do or say anything specifically?

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LOU PINIELLA: I talked to a few of the guys last night. This is not time for words anymore. This is time to go out on the field and play to the best of your ability and relax and get the job done. That's it. It's simple. You go out there and you play the best you possibly can and you win and you play on Sunday. And if you don't, as long as you played a good baseball game, that's all you can expect.

So I've tried to downplay these playoffs, where everybody says World Series and this and the other. I've tried to downplay that. You gotta play on the field. Forget all the talking, pep talks and conversations and everything else.

You go out there and you hit the ball and you get people out, and you play good defense and you win baseball games. That's the way I've always adhered to. When I played with the Yankees as a player, that's what we adhered to over there. So what can I say? I talked to a few of the players last night. I gave them my feelings and that was the end of it.

There was a report on Comcast that after the game last night, and you said just now you talked to some of your players, that you yelled at some players in Spanish. And can you clarify what happened there?

LOU PINIELLA: Nobody yelled at people in Spanish. I don't even know what you're talking about. I talked to players in Spanish all the time. But I didn't yell at them. My Lord.

Carlos yesterday made a statement after the game that he felt that the pressure is on the Dodgers now to close it out. It's always on the team that's closest to to close it out. Do you agree with that type of thinking?

LOU PINIELLA: Look, until you win three games, there's always pressure. Is there more pressure on the Dodgers? More pressure on us? Who knows. Why is it that when you clinch a pennant the last game or two are the ones that are sometimes the hardest? I don't know.

Look, baseball is a game where you go out and you have confidence in your ability and you relax and you play to the best of your ability. That's all you can do with this. And pressure? To me pressure is something that's self invoked. If you have confidence in what you're doing, there shouldn't be pressure. And if you don't have confidence, that's when the pressure creeps in a little bit.

So I don't know if the pressure is on the Dodgers or the pressure is on us. Go out and play tomorrow and play a good baseball game and see what happens and worry about tomorrow and tomorrow only, because the Dodgers have a little leeway. We don't have any.

Is the most encouraging aspect now, Lou, that you have Rich Harden going who could be dominant and then theoretically after that Lilly who has been really good?

LOU PINIELLA: We set up our rotation this way. Harden is a really, really good pitcher. Lilly has been throwing the ball for us as well as anybody lately. We have him set up for Game 4. And then in Game 5 we've got Dempster. We've got Zambrano. They can both pitch in that particular ball game if necessary.

But, look, let's get to tomorrow. Harden, I've got all the confidence in the world in Rich that he'll give us an opportunity to win a baseball game. And that's what we expected from our starters all year. That's not going to change.

Do you feel any pressure on you? You've yet to win a playoff game with the Cubs now?

LOU PINIELLA: What pressure do I have on me? What pressure should I have? What pressure should I put on myself?

I don't know. I'm just asking.

LOU PINIELLA: I don't know. I don't think so. I don't think so. There's no pressure on me.

Why do you think this team has looked so tight and tentative, and is there anything you can do to change that?

LOU PINIELLA: Sir, I don't know. I mean, you think a manager's got all the answers? I don't think so. Players have to play on the field. I've said all the right things as far as not expecting people to say that this team's had a bad year.

Look, one thing that, basically, you know, like a couple of the comments yesterday like it's a do or die. No, it's not a do or die game. Why is it do or die? I don't understand do or die.

Seven teams out of the 54 games or 54 teams have won three in a row. The Cubs have won three in a row many, many times this year. So that statement there, if anything, puts a little pressure on you. You stay away from those type of statements. Look, I'm not getting on the individuals for that. But I just don't understand why you put that type of scrutiny on yourself. There's no need to.

And as far as why we're playing tight, you know, we didn't throw strikes the first night. And yesterday we didn't catch the ball. I mean, what are you going to do? What are you going to do?

Do you think it will be helpful to be out of Chicago?

LOU PINIELLA: You know what, it might. I'll let you know after the game tomorrow night. I mean that sincerely. I'm not trying to be funny or I'm not trying to be evasive. Look, we haven't played I haven't seen this type of baseball all year. And for whatever reason it's come at an inopportune time.

But, look, there is time to rectify it. The Dodgers have not won three ball games. They have to win three to go to the next round. Okay? So we've got an opportunity tomorrow to start with Harden. Assuming that goes well for us, then we've got Lilly. And then we take this thing back home.

We'll see what happens. I'm looking forward to see what happens myself.

You were asked last night about Fukudome and you said that he wasn't going to play anymore. I know you're looking at this series or tomorrow's game only, but is there some long term thing you and the organization are going to have to do about him?

LOU PINIELLA: Let's not worry about Fukudome right now. Let's worry about the team and let's worry about what's best for the team. I think too much is made of the point whether this guy's playing or that guy isn't playing. This is a team. And I'm going to play -- look, I'm going to play Fontenot tomorrow. He's been swinging the bat well. He's been as good a hitter as we've had in the last, I don't know but he's going to play tomorrow. And I'm going to play DeRosa in the right field and we'll go from there.

You're aware how in the playoffs any team can rise up to their game. But how much of a head turning experience has it been to see the Dodgers elevate their game pitching, hitting, something we really

LOU PINIELLA: They've played well. They've played well. They've added some nice pieces since we played them. I said that before the series started. They've added some real nice pieces over there. And, look, they're swinging the bats. I mean, they put runs on the board. I mean, they've scored 17 runs on us in two baseball games. And in post season that's a ton. Now, we've walked a few of them and we've made some errors. But at the same time they've still scored 17 runs.

So that's something that we didn't expect. We've been a pretty good pitching, defensive oriented team all year, and so far it hasn't happened in the post season.

And for us to get back in this thing we're going to have to play good defense and we're going to have to pitch. I mean, I said that coming into this playoff. And so far it hasn't happened. But, look, we got a game tomorrow. And then we got a game Sunday and then we've got a game Tuesday if we keep winning.

So let's see what happens. And I've got confidence in this team that they can bounce back and prolong this thing and give ourselves a chance. So we'll see. That's all I can say.

Might you use the 'pen differently bringing out your late guys earlier tomorrow?

LOU PINIELLA: I'm going to put Dempster in the bullpen tomorrow. We'll have him in the bullpen available tomorrow and Sunday. And if he pitches, we can always start Zambrano on Tuesday, which would be his fifth day. So we have to. We're going to pull out all the stops that we can and do whatever we can to help ourselves win baseball games.

Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.