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10/13/08 2:40 PM ET

Pregame interview with Maddon

Rays manager prepares his team to face Wakefield's knuckleball

I'm not suggesting there's any repertoire similarity or anything, but in terms of youthful presence in the playoffs, Price's debut as opposed to what you saw from Frankie Rodriguez six years ago.

JOE MADDON: Actually, I thought it was a little bit closer to John Lackey in a sense. Johnny although tried to pitch with us longer during the season.

The difference primarily with him and Frankie, Frankie was a relief pitcher. Frankie was a relief pitcher all the way through. I remember he came up in September and we were apprehensive to put him in some games, but then when we did, we kind of liked what we saw. Then eventually he did what he did in the playoffs.

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But I think with David, of course, using him out the pen is one thing, but he resembles John to me more than Frankie. Frankie you could use him on a more consistent basis. He was used to that up and down, that kind of stuff, and with David I want to be a little bit more cautious. But again, having that kind of option is incredibly important for us.

Do you think it helps having Wakefield in your division, that your hitters have seen him more than guys outside of the division?

JOE MADDON: For a long term it hurt us. He was like 17 and 2 or something like that in Tropicana Field. I don't know. When that knuckleball is on, it doesn't matter how often you see him, it's very, very difficult.

We've had a little bit better success more recently against him, and I really don't know why. I have so much respect for that man and how he competes and the consistency of that pitch. And furthermore, the catcher; I know Cashy is catching him, and that's just very difficult.

I don't know the answer with this thing because when that thing is righteous and on, nobody hits it on any given day. We've done a little bit better against it recently.

Speaking of the knuckleball, I was going to ask you, you're a former catcher. Do you have any anecdotes about how difficult that thing is to catch?

JOE MADDON: I only did it once in the Minor Leagues in Santa Clara, with I think the guy's game is Tracy Harris. I used my regular glove just because I didn't want to use a big glove. It's a little bit more difficult, you've got to stay back a little bit more.

Obviously it's very unpredictable. And it makes throwing out runners a lot more difficult because you have to wait so long. Even though Wakefield can be quick to the plate on a clock, from a catcher's perspective, you've got to stay back for that last little moment because it can do absolutely anything.

When you're catching it, there's a lot more angst involved. The knuckleball pitcher understands you're going to miss some things, so thank God that they do have some form of understanding.

But it's not a good feeling, and especially when that thing is moving, it's very, very difficult. But I think also the advantage goes to the running game sometimes because of that.

It's looking a ways ahead a little bit, but who are you going to start pitching wise in Game 5?

JOE MADDON: Today is Game 3, that's we've got Garza, then we've got Andy tomorrow, then we're supposed to pitch Shieldsy on that game.

Any issues with Dan Wheeler today? He's free, ready to go?

JOE MADDON: I have to check in with him. He's been out there running around, trying to flush it all out. He'll be playing catch in a little bit. We will determine that.

That's a lot of pitches in a lot of innings for that, although he had plenty of rest coming into that. It's something he has not done. So you always have to look at the fact that it's unusual for him to do those kind of things.

Primarily my personal history, when guys throw 30 or 40 plus pitches, you normally like to give them two days off as opposed to one. But knowing Danny, I really have to wait and see because I don't want to make this decision well in advance of talking to him.

I have a lot of respect for him as a veteran, and I know he'll be straight up with me, so we'll figure that out right prior to the game.

Taking you back a little bit, years ago you coached for the Boulder Collegians. What is the most striking about those days? I'm from the Denver Post.

JOE MADDON: You are? Did you know Bauldie at all?

No, I didn't.

JOE MADDON: Bauldie Moschetti is the owner of that team.

That's where it all began for me. I played there in 1975, won a national championship, and then I coached for them in 1980. And on that team we had Joe Carter, Spike Owen, Mark Langston, Tony Gwynn. It was a pretty good ballclub.

Bauldie Moschetti owned half of Boulder, which is difficult to do. He started with one coal truck when he was a kid. It was a tremendous experience. What I remember is I had the chance to work with those kind of players.

I don't know how many guys were drafted in the first round out of that particular team. I was a player/coach and actually got a chance to pinch hit for Joe Carter in the NBC World Championship at Wichita that year. Jim Dietz was the manager. I had no idea I would do something like that.

But working with those guys, it really helped me a lot as a young coach. Jim gave me a lot of leeway with it. And eventually when I made it to managing in the Minor Leagues and being a scout with the Angels, it was an invaluable experience for me.

But Boulder, Colorado and I don't want to get too long winded about this, but that part of amateur baseball no longer exists. And that was a tremendous program between Alaska and Kansas and Colorado, and I wish that would come back.

That was really a great training ground for a lot of young players that became very good Major League Baseball players.

How much of a confidence carryover do you think a win like you had in Game 2 can give you, especially coming into an atmosphere like Fenway Park for a young team?

JOE MADDON: Honestly, the confidence drives from the fact that we're 1 and 1, and we feel much better about that as opposed to being 0 and 2. But it comes down to the pitching.

Their guy tonight is very good and he has been very hot. Our guy also has got very good stuff and is very capable of equalling it or surpassing it.

It just comes down to your starting pitching, and that's where momentum lies on any given night in baseball, so we'll just see how this game begins.

We have to pitch equally well with them. And regarding momentum, I just know I'm in for a better plane flight and a better day off.

Do you think that the game has slowed down for your guys with greater intensity in the playoffs, or is that maybe going to take more time?

JOE MADDON: No, I think we did well. I mentioned I agreed with Papi on the first day that maybe we didn't have the right look, but also I said in return I thought they looked a little bit differently, as well. I thought the last game, yesterday's game the day before whenever that was, everybody looked kind of normal.

So I think, again, when you come here, though, for us, they're going to really lay it out there for the opening ceremony here, whatever. Everybody on the line is going to be, I'm sure, quite expressive. So once we get beyond that moment, having played as often as we have, we'll be able to slow the game down a lot more quickly.

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