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10/04/08 5:09 PM ET

An interview with Joe Maddon

Rays manager gets his team ready to try and close out the White Sox

Joe, White Sox had to win three elimination games to get here and that's the position they're in now. How dangerous is a ball club in that spot?

MANAGER MADDON: I don't know that the word's dangerous, I just know they're motivated. Every team has won probably more than likely three games in a row during the course of a season, so it happens to everybody. But we can't be focused on that. We're just about one game at a time.

We won two very hard fought games at home. We're coming here and I have nothing but the world of respect for this organization, Ozzie and the entire group. A bunch of great veteran players on their team so I know they're going be ready tomorrow. I don't necessarily look at all that other good stuff. It's just how we control what we do. And that's to play our game tomorrow.

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Can you talk about Matt on the mound tomorrow in a potential clinching game? What do you look for in a young guy like that?

MANAGER MADDON: It's going to be emotional in the beginning or maybe a little amped up, as he gets through that first part of the game. He's had plenty of rest. I really like to believe he is going to pitch his typical game. The thing I always look for him when he has his down angle fastball working for a strike. When you see him throwing strikes down in the zone your gun should read probably 94, 95. Sometimes your gun is a little hot here. You should see a good number coming out of his hand. When you see that for a strikeout we take that as a good sign. He has good other pitches too, his slider and curve and change up. But I like when he pitches primarily with his fastball. Actually I like when most of our pitchers pitch with their fastball. I think the baseball pitching world is all about fastball command. If he has that, I'm sure he is going to pitch very well.

Do you think Longoria and Ramirez are two of the best players in the league right now and what's your take on each of their style of play?

MANAGER MADDON: Longo I get to watch him every day and again he's -- I love the way he approaches the day. Beyond all of his physical skills he approaches the day the right way; under control, not overwhelmed, confident, but not arrogant. And then he's good on top of that. So offensively you've seen his power, his ability to hit in clutch situations. Defensively he is capable of making fantastic plays with a very accurate arm. He is a complete player. He is also a pretty good base runner.

Ramirez I'm getting to see more consistently. Didn't see much in the beginning. I am impressed with him also. He is another young man that I think stays in the moment. I don't think he's overwhelmed by anything. I think he's got several grand slams this year to prove that. Most recently against Gary Glover and the hanging slider. I saw that one too. I like the way he plays defense. He is a baseball player. He is playing a game. It's not life and death to him. He is playing a game and I think that's part of the reason why he is so good.

Joe, I know you've been asked about this a fair amount in recent months but given that it's topical again would you just touch on Matt Garza's personal growth this season.

MANAGER MADDON: Sure. For the people what have seen us all year we had a little bit of a problem earlier in the game. Actually came down to a confrontation in our dugout in Texas among all of us. Matt was in there and Navy was in there we all were there. We did a lot of work with Garz prior to the incident. Post the incident I've been impressed and pleased and proud of him. Here is a guy that really knew he needed help, he sought the help out and he is an entirely different person. Best way I can describe it.

Always liked him but now he's more under control. He does not get emotionally bound up or in regard to baseball taking him out of the game if something were to go wrong. Because of that he's been a better teammate. He is just -- he is really at 24 or however old he is right now, has done something kind of unusual. And kind of changed his personality and the way he is in though middle of a baseball season. To his credit, for the better.

So you look at him physically, this guy's one of the most gifted pitchers in the American league in regard to stuff. And now you are getting a guy maturing in regard to how to handle all of these tools that he has. So for me it's been a tremendous growth year for him?

For the longest time Carl Crawford was one of the few players worth watching in Tampa Bay. Now that the team is better we don't seem to talk about him as much. Could you put into perspective what impact he still has on this franchise?

MANAGER MADDON: Yeah, I mean, you put Carl out there and I think we take on a whole different shade of success. Tremendous outfielder, great range, and he's been -- he'll be the first one to tell you he is still learning the game and has done a nice job in improving in several areas since I've been here.

Offensively he's quite a force. The thing about Carl that I think goes undervalued or not talked about enough and you've seen it twice in the last two games the RBI singles and I love that. Ground ball up the middle, soft line drive to left field. I believe this about Carl. I think Carl's got the propensity for the RBI as he gets older and understands more I think he's going to drive in more runs. Because he puts the ball in play and he really fights the pitcher in those moments and I like that about him.

You look at his base running skills, the stolen base, when he is on base the whole game changes for them. Throwing over pitch every's split concentration. The catcher has more angst placed upon him. It's just a different vibe when he is on the base. I know what it's like to face somebody when that person's out there against you. Among all the Major League Baseball players today, he probably provides as much concern for the opposition on the bases as anybody.

So Carl in regard to us, we've missed him. The you can see the difference in how we look when he's out there now even for a couple games. He's quite a talent. Again, the thing about Carl I think you don't really understand is he is getting better. He is not a finished product yet. He is going to continue to get better. And he wants to get better. He is really driven and I really appreciate that about him also.

Before the workout today Carlos said he was feeling fine, feels like he is ready to go. The how did you assess him today and is there a chance tomorrow you'll still wait to see if he plays?

MANAGER MADDON: I'm really anticipating he is playing right now. I watched him today hit the ball very well. Being outside in the middle of the day there was no kind of discomfort with the eye. I think I really believe he is going to be well. Right now I'm anticipating he'll be hitting third tomorrow.

Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports.

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