© 2008 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.
You've pitched in a lot of post season games as a starter and reliever. What's the significance to you to be asked to be the Game 1 starter now for the second series?
Try to do the same thing we were able to do in Chicago, get us off to a 1 0 lead. It's going to be just the same challenge as we had in Chicago. We have to pitch good, and we all know that. And they are extremely potent offense.
And I think maybe what separates them from Chicago is they have a lot more left-handers. Chicago was pretty much right-handed predominantly through the lineup.
But we have to win four games. And that's the ultimate goal. But Game 1 there's always a different type of excitement.
Kind of a philosophical question, but from your experience and those pitchers you've played with in the post season, can you kind of define what it takes to make a great playoff pitcher and what the difference is, what the X factor is of the guys who dominated post season play?
It's the ability to -- just pitch the same way you did throughout the season. And I think it's how you deal with pressure. I think the only reason why you would be nervous is if you're not prepared. And I think I've always prided myself on being prepared.
And you want to be in those situations. I think being with Boston all those years we made the playoffs, it seemed like every year, so you got so much playoff experience that there's nothing that really is going to be thrown at you tomorrow that you haven't dealt with before.
And I think it makes it easier, but to say there's one thing, maybe being able to slow the game down, not letting the game get too fast and not trying to do too much. But, again, I can't say one thing.
Could you talk about the addition of Casey Blake, getting him when you did, and what he's brought to this team?
Well, he solidified third base. Seemed like it was a merry go round for a long time. And every day you got to the park, you didn't kind of know who was going to play almost anywhere. And he solidified third base. He's kind of hit all over the lineup, which shows his versatility.
But a guy that's been there. He's been in playoff races before. And that is -- this time of year you can't have enough of those guys, especially the way our team is pretty much built around youth, and to bring in a few old timers, it definitely helps to calm them down, maybe put the pressure on the Casey Blakes and Manny, which they have no problem taking, and we just really took off over the last six weeks.
So you guys obviously beat the Phillies four times at your place and then they returned the favor when you came out this way. Does that give them a slight advantage because they have home field advantage in the series?
I don't know. I think this time of year when you're down to four teams, I don't know if anybody can say they have an advantage over the next team. They played well in Milwaukee, we played good in Chicago. And I think I know we were definitely underdogs.
But it's a tough place to play, no doubt about it. The crowd's here. Every time we come here have been fantastic. But you're going to have to win on the road to win this thing. And so it's definitely going to be a challenge. But I've always said this time of the year should be a challenge.
It should be hard. It should be -- test every part of your game. And I think that's what makes this time of the year fun.
This is a notoriously hitter friendly park, but if you were pitching your game, you should be able to neutralize that factor.
You would hope. I think it was kind of the same question when we were in Chicago. They were talking about the wind and how it's going to affect the way you pitch. And I'll say the same thing I said back then: If you go into a game worrying about elements that you can't control, you're setting yourself up for a negative mind set already.
I think everybody knows this is a hitter friendly park, but there's been a lot of good games pitched here, too. So it's the same for both sides. I think both teams have the ability to hit home runs and both teams have good enough pitching to shut it down.
I think the only difference is maybe in this park you can't get away with maybe as many mistakes. But, again, for me to come in this park tomorrow night worrying about the dimensions, you know, pretty much sets me up to fail.
When most pitchers on the day that they start, they're quiet, they listen to music. They kind of don't want to be around anybody. You seem like you're the exact opposite, you're outgoing and want to talk to even more people. What is it about that that makes you feel more comfortable going into a start that way?
I just tried the other way earlier in my career, and I found myself being very uncomfortable because it's not who you are. I think you have to continue to be who you are on game days or you can psych yourself up to just nothing but negative results.
So I try to act exactly the same. It's not a tactic to kind of calm myself down. I just believe in being yourself. And I've already done all the preparation and all the off the field stuff the days before.
So game days is the fun day. Game day is the day you can go out there and execute the plan that you have come up with and there's nothing wrong with talking to people and just being yourself.
I think once you get out of your comfort zone is when bad things happen.
Manny obviously had a big impact on the field but off the field in the clubhouse has he changed things? If so, what has been his impact in that area?
He's brought music back in. I know we weren't supposed to have any. But he's livened it up from that standpoint.
But I've known Manny for a long time, and I know the type of guy he is behind closed doors when you guys aren't there. And I knew going into the talks of him getting traded, no matter where he was going to go he was going to make an impact.
I think he fit us perfectly, because of our youth, and I think it was great for our young hitters to see how a superstar goes about his daily business, how hard he works, how he prepares, how he doesn't let one pitch or one at bat affect the next one.
And he's a great teammate. And I don't think people give him enough credit for that. I know his time in Boston got kind of sour. But I saw him the other years and -- but how do you say there's only one thing he's helped our team with. I can't say there's one thing.
But, again, it's been a refreshing time for us to get him and, again, to have the young kids see this guy on a daily basis I think has really lifted their game to another level.
To follow up on that, though, do you think Manny has been on his best behavior here? Like you said, things weren't well in Boston at the end there. Do you think
This is how he acted the whole time. The whole years in Boston. And I think the media is no different here than in Boston. I think sometimes they search for things, and I think sometimes they make stories up that necessarily aren't true. To say he's on his best behavior, I wouldn't say that.
This is how he acted all the years I played with him. Now, that's not to say that some things this year that happened probably he wishes maybe didn't happen, but he's not trying to play for a contract next year. He's not trying to prove to people that he is a different person. This is who he is. And he's a tremendous hitter and a tremendous teammate.
Aside from the mood for Manny, you said towards the end of his tenure in Boston things had kind of soured, do you sense some relief for him that he got out, now that he can just put that behind him and play for the Dodgers and see what happens?
Absolutely. Again, I wasn't there. I just looked from the outside and having played in that arena you could kind of sense what was going on.
But I think it was, again, yeah, a relief to kind of just get out of the microscope. And I know he didn't necessarily like everywhere he went 24/7 people are talking baseball. It didn't seem like, I think, he felt he had any time to escape from the game. And, again, I don't know what was going on with him and the front office.
But it just seemed like there was nothing positive that was going to come out of him staying there and, you know, obviously felt it was best to move him.
You talked earlier about playing a lot of big playoff games in Boston. Now you're going through the same thing in Los Angeles. Is it different going through it with a West Coast team? Is it a different atmosphere? Fans, media different, how do the two experiences compare?
They are definitely different. The times that we were going through it we were trying to break the curse. There's no doubt that there was more media coverage, more -- I don't want to say there was more pressure to win. You look at our franchise. We have, coming up to this season, one playoff game in 20 years. And when you think of the Dodgers you don't think of that.
But this year has been very, very gratifying from the sense that in Boston everyone expected us to win. We were loaded with talent every single year. This year it was kind of you didn't kind of know what was going to happen.
And to make it and to get this far, of all the years I've made it, this is right up there towards the top as far as self gratification, finding a way to win.