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10/27/08 12:30 AM ET

A postgame interview with Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins

Phillies infielders talk about being a win away from World Series title

Ryan, I do a sports talk show and some of the callers were basically suggesting that you were watching the strike zone more than adjusting your swing along the way. What do you have to say to them now?

RYAN HOWARD: Nothing, because everybody, they're entitled to their opinion. For me I know what it takes for me to get right. Sometimes you've got to step back and take pitches and get yourself back to where you want to be.

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Can you talk about what a night like this means to you? You've had some great moments in your career, but a multi home run game in the World Series, what it means to you? And secondly, can you talk about how you feel about your team's position right now?

RYAN HOWARD: To be able to have two home runs in the World Series, that's the kind of stuff you dream of when you're a teenager, getting to the game obviously you want to win, also, but being able to do something like that and just to help my team win, it's a great feeling. I don't know, I mean I've just been kind of hanging with it the entire time and been working with the doctor, over here, as well, Mr. Rollins. So I'll just take it one day at a time.

Your thoughts about the position your team is in right now?

RYAN HOWARD: Right now this is where we want to be, up three games to one at home, got a chance to try to close it out here in Philadelphia we enjoy it right now, but come out refocused and ready to go.

Ryan, when you do go through a cool spell, how do you stay mentally strong? And Jimmy, what's your observation of why Ryan just remains the top hitter in baseball?

RYAN HOWARD: When you do go through a cool spell, that's part of game. You have your ups and downs, your good days and bad days. It's just about staying on the same plane. You're going to go through those runs. And unfortunately for me it started out early in the playoffs, but I think everybody right now would rather have me hot right now.

JIMMY ROLLINS: What was your question?

Why is Ryan able to remain year after year the dominant power?

JIMMY ROLLINS: Because he's good. People don't see the work that Ryan Howard puts in. Power is part of it, having a natural ability is another part. But he's in the cage, sometimes he does his one hand drill, sometimes he's hitting off the tee, other times hitting off the machine, and that's trying to find a consistent stroke. And that's not for power, he's just trying to find the stroke that keeps his bat in the zone. And when you have hands and arms as big and strong as his, all he has to do is hit the barrel. Every once in a while he'll get away from it and wants to hit the home run, but when he's hitting line drives, they're going to go out of the ballpark as we've seen tonight?

Ryan, your manager has absolute unswerving confidence to you, what does that mean to you to know the guy is in your corner?

RYAN HOWARD: It means a lot. Charlie is a player's manager. To know that he has confidence in me, I think that breeds more confidence. You just want to go out there and just play hard and try and prove him right.

Jimmy, you joined this organization when it was in kind of a downtime. To be on the brink of a championship right now, what are you feeling? And how do you think this city will react if you guys win this at home tomorrow?

JIMMY ROLLINS: You know, actually it's been a fun time since I've gotten to this organization. I was drafted back in '96, and things were definitely a little different. The Phils weren't used to winning. But Ed Wade did a good job drafting guys that were built to win, built to be good players and stay for the long run. And we are now seeing that work that Ed Wade put in and Pat Gillick going out and making some good trades and picking guys up. So it's a combination of everything. And it started with just the mental part of the organization changing, not just going out there to compete. And we were for years, just going out and trying to compete. I think the organization, the players got tired of that, and we want to win. We just don't want to get here and compete. Things look good.

So to be at this point now is something we all wanted, something, like Ryan said, you dreamt about as a kid. We didn't know how to do it in this organization, but now we do. It's a good start in the right direction. We're one game away, but we're still one game away.

So if we get that game, I believe we will be happy, the city will be happy, there will be a big parade and kind of, I guess, getting that monkey off our back for that drought of a championship.

Jimmy or Ryan or both, what was the reaction to Joe Blanton's home run, when he got back to the dugout?

JIMMY ROLLINS: I'll answer first, because I was on deck. I was like "I'm in trouble." Ed went up bringing the noise and Blanton turned the ball around and hit it on the barrel. I seen it, and he's jogging and I was like, he knows he got that, doesn't he? And I'm watching, everything is going in slow motion, and I'm just, wow. His first home run in the World Series. I'm like, I don't even do that.

But it was great. And Joe, he's a big, strong guy. If he gets the bat to the ball in BP, the way he does, if you've seen him, he hits the ball way out. So it is surprising that he got the barrel to the ball on a guy throwing that hard. But anything can happen when you're swinging a piece of wood. Your take?

RYAN HOWARD: I jumped up too fast, I almost passed out. Honestly, I saw it off the bat and I jumped up, and I thought, wow, that ball has a chance. As soon as it left, I had to grab on to the rail, because I just jumped up too fast.

Like Jimmy said Joe's been putting in work in BP and just watching him take BP, and to be able to get the barrel on the ball, from a guy like Edwin Jackson, it's pretty impressive. And to have your first big league home run be in the World Series, I don't think you can draw it up any better.

I have one for Jimmy and for Ryan: Jimmy, from watching this team all year, it seems back to the regular season, you guys always found a way, regardless of who it was. And even tonight reaching on errors and getting a big hit from Feliz and Blanton and Ryan, of course. Would you say that's kind of that X factor in this team, that that is the reason why you guys are here right now?

JIMMY ROLLINS: I think that's the reason why a lot of teams have gotten to this point. They have something go their way and are able to take advantage of it. We are able to steal bases, we get good pitching, we play good defense and we have Ryan Howard to hit home runs. You put all that together, if you give us extra outs, we have multiple ways of hurting you and we've been able to capitalize on that this year. We have had chances like this in the past and weren't able to. But the characters, the players we have, everybody looking to do something, not relying on one guy being a hero. Good things can happen and that's what we're having.

Ryan, I was talking to Hank Aaron before the game and he said that he would vote for you anytime as an MVP and what have you. Have you had a chance to meet with Hank Aaron at any point?

RYAN HOWARD: Yes, I did. I had the honor to meet him in 2006 when I got the Hank Aaron Award in St. Louis in Game 3 of the World Series there. And it was just a distinct honor, for him to say something like that it really means a lot to me.

Ryan, when you've put up the numbers you have so far in your career, does that make it a little easier to go through the down times like you did in the first few weeks of the postseason? Or do you have your doubts at times like mortal hitters have?

RYAN HOWARD: I'm mortal. I bleed, just like everybody else bleeds. But it's just one of those things. That's the entire game. Everybody goes through hot streaks and cool streaks, and it's just making the adjustments to be able to get out of them. Sometimes you'll make the adjustment quick, sometimes it takes a little bit longer, but as long as you get back at the right time and get things going, I think that's what matters.

How much does it add to your confidence knowing that Cole Hamels is on the mound tomorrow?

JIMMY ROLLINS: Well, looking at his record it means a lot. But with a team like that, you know they're going to go out there and try to make adjustments. It's hard to beat a team the second time around. They've seen you once and now they have a better idea of how to approach you. So it's going to be up to Cole to make adjustments. But we feel pretty confident. Cole looks for these moments. I call him Hollywood, because when the lights are on, that's when he's at his best. And tomorrow night the lights will definitely be on and he will be ready. Ryan?

RYAN HOWARD: I think like Jimmy said, it's a little bit tougher the second time around because the adjustments are made. And if Cole goes out there and makes his adjustments and just does what he's been doing, I think we'll be fine. The team has the utmost confidence in him. But at the same time we as hitters have to go out there and put up runs for him. So if Cole just goes out there and be Cole, or Hollywood, then, hey, we're looking pretty good.

Ryan, Jimmy has never wanted to toot his own horn, but he spent a lot of time in the batting cage the other day. Can you talk about the kind of work that Jimmy puts in?

RYAN HOWARD: Yeah, people don't see the work that Jimmy puts in. And going into the cage and watching video, doing whatever it takes to get his swing right. He has the utmost confidence in his abilities and in his swing. He's in there working, I don't even know it's too long. He's going in there doing one hand drills, doing stuff off the tee, doing stuff, getting flips, front side toss, all kind of stuff. But people don't see that. Tonight he went out there and he led the way for us.

After almost a month without a homer, had it affected your confidence at all?

RYAN HOWARD: No. We were winning. When you get to the playoffs it's not about individual goals or individual stats and stuff like that, it's a team effort. And the automatic thing is you're trying to win a championship. And we had guys like Shane stepping up. We had guys, Pedro, Carlos Ruiz, different guys stepping up on different nights. I don't care if I had hit a home run the entire thing. I don't care if I went 0 for 4 or 0 for the entire postseason. You win that ring, you can say whatever you want, but at the end of the day you're still a champion.

Neither one of you guys is from around here, obviously. Ryan you grew up watching the Cardinals and Jimmy the A's. But from your time in the city, do you feel it at all the talk that you're out and the fact that the Phillies haven't won since 1980. Is that something you've bought into a little bit?

JIMMY ROLLINS: No, I never bought into it. You hear about it and, shoot, most of the time the time has passed. I was growing up in California, like you say, watching the A's, and when I first got drafted to this organization I kind of vowed to myself that I was going to try to change the face of it and change the way people think about the Phillies and note them as winners. And it's just taken a whole bunch of years. It's taken a lot of players, a lot of good players have come and gone and a lot of us are still here. So a championship is the only way to fully reverse that thought of how the Phillies are portrayed. It starts with us, then it carries down to the minor league guys. Therefore, when they come up here they know they're playing for a winning team, not an organization that is looking for guys to fill spots. If you're up here, you have a job to do and that's to help us win. That's a good feeling coming into Spring Training, coming into the season every year, knowing that you're expected to win and not just compete.

RYAN HOWARD: Basically with what Jimmy said, me coming in, I grew up watching the Cardinals for the most part. I didn't really buy into the whole thing about the city and the drought and all that kind of stuff because basically I came in with the same mindset as Jimmy. I've heard about it and heard about all the losing and all that kind of stuff but wanted to help change the face of this organization and change the basis of the organization as far as trying to make it a winner, because I didn't want to be associated as a loser. I don't think anybody in that locker room upstairs wanted to be associated with that type of a label.

So like Jimmy said before, with what Ed Wade did earlier, with the moves Pat Gillick did, the team that we have right now, I mean, we're in that position to change the label and change the face and achieve the goal that we both had set out when we first got to this organization, and I'm sure if you ask anybody else upstairs, that they would probably say the same thing and that's make this organization a winner.

Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports.

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