Wednesday Interviews – La Russa and Mulder

The Cardinals manager and Thursday's starter answer questions from the press on the off-day Wednesday.

Tony La Russa

 

Is this the kind of game that you got Mark Mulder

for? Is that why you went out and got him in the off season?

 

Well, one of them because you don't get here

unless he steps up during the season and pitches a lot of games

like the one he's going to be confronted with tomorrow, but you

know, you don't win many games in a year, you don't get to

October. To win you need to pitch, so -- first -- the first

responsibility goes to Mark.

 

Tony, talk about the differences between a

five-game series and a seven-game series in terms of preparation

and how you have to prepare for different types of series and how

momentum changes.

 

I mean, I think realistically that the two

less games, winning three versus winning four, losing three

versus losing four, there's something there, you know. If you're

in a good position, you want to end it quickly. If you're not,

you want to string it out as long as you can, but technically

there isn't a whole lot of difference. I mean, the way you play

seven is, you know, one game at a time stuff. You're going to

play home and road. You know, one of the factors when you win

the division is you get the day off, you know. That is not like

you play during the season so there's a little adjustment for

that, but it's just very intense and very much each inning and

each at bat, each pitch. You multiply that times three wins and

five losses, hopefully.

 

Tony as a manager you've seen just about

everything in this game, I'm sure. How surprised are you that

Peavy tried to pitch during the game yesterday?

 

You know, I had a real positive experience

meeting him at the all star game, but I also talked to Bruce over

the years. That's exactly what you would expect from him. I

mean, he's not just a great young pitcher, he's just a great

pitcher or he wouldn't have had a year like he had this year. I

read what he said where he had, you know, a good bullpen. It

looked like he was throwing the ball good. It's possible when he

stubbed his toe and tripped he might have tweaked it. I don't

know what he said, but it's possible his control might have not

been the same. He'll take this experience away the whole rest of

his life. If he hadn't tripped, he probably would have been a

very typical game for him.

 

Tony, what's the strongest impression Mulder made

on you when he pitched this year?

 

A bunch of them. He's got the ability to get

outs and get deep in the game. He wasn't too -- in fact, he

wasn't at all affected or different if it was a home game, a road

game. You know, who we were playing, you know, we saw him in a

tough matchup against winning clubs and so forth, but he's got a

good assortment. He's a good athlete. There's a whole bunch of

things that are part of the package.

 

What do you make of the day-night difference in

Mulder's season?

 

I just -- every year you can play around with

stats. That's why they're fun to look at. I mean, his day

record was good in Oakland. I think it's just one of those

things that happens. Sometimes you put together maybe you win

more on the road, at home, day or night. He'll be ready to pitch

tomorrow. If it's kind of between day and night, we're in good

shape.

 

What do you make of his last few starts. Is that

kind of the malaise that Carpenter went through?

 

I think about every one of our starters had a

couple games where they looked different than they did the first

five plus months. The concentration wasn't quite as -- the

comment that I made, I wasn't being -- trying to make a joke. I

don't think they're selfish enough. When they weren't out there

for themselves, they're getting ready for this time, so I expect

them to pitch well.

 

Tony, Jake Peavy just told us in hindsight that

maybe he hurt the team by trying to pitch. That was his words.

As a manager, how much do you expect your players to disclose how

truly hurt they are and is that a little bit of a dilemma for a

manager for a guy like him that wants to play so badly?

 

That's really a tough call, you know. It's

one of those deals, I mean, the question I'd ask is the one I

asked before. When he caught his spike and stumbled, did that

make it worse for him because if he hadn't, he was pitching

really well. You know, we did a good job of fighting him with

two strikes and a ball down the first baseline and a blooper to

left, but I think the club looks to their big pitchers and big

players to go to the post. I think if he had backed out of

there, I think the club would have lost an edge. Now, one of the

things they have going for them, if he couldn't have gone and

that's why, you know, we're not sitting and thinking anything

special good has happened for us is they -- you know, they've got

a young talented arm like Eaton. The next two guys that pitch,

Astacio and Woody, you know, those guys are very good veteran

pitchers, pitch makers, so they've got Lawrence. They've got a

lot of starters left to give us all kind of problems, but

overall, I mean, if he was really not himself, he probably should

say something. If he got a shot at it, I think the club expects

him to go out there.

 

Tony, heading into the spring or into the season,

were you concerned at all about your outfielders age, just the

collective wear and tear they've taken over the year and how they

have kind of withstood it all year?

 

Well, I think you worry if there aren't

options that you can spot in and out. We felt really good. We

had So Taguchi, we had John Mabry. Later on we had a guy like

John Rodriguez, Hector Luna, so we felt all we had to do was talk

to those guys on a series-to-series basis and we could keep them

fresh. What happened is they got hurt, and then it was academic,

but no. I mean, when guys are -- even though they've got some

age, they're all fiercely competitive. You just kind of watch

them physically, you're going to get a lot.

 

Tony, what are your impressions of Bruce Bochy

over the years and how he's dealt with good teams and teams that

weren't as good and just his general managerial style?

 

Well, my opinion is one that's shared by I

guarantee everybody in the National League and the American

League that's ever run across him, that nobody does a better job,

and I say that because, you know, he's had a whole bunch of

different situations, a bunch of pluses, a bunch of adversities.

I don't think it's any accident. I know he's had a great, great

closer in Trevor Hoffman, but he's been able to maneuver the

bullpen to where he gets those last outs. Their save record is

incredible over the years. I think he's got a special feel for

handling the bullpen. He's always been really creative in

manufacturing runs. I've talked to a lot of guys about him. I

think personality is a big thing with managers, you know.

Players trust you, you know. You don't wear them out, and it's

one of the reasons that longevity is there. Players like playing

for him, and it's not because he lets them do anything they want

to. I think he's very good.

 

Tony, how would you define good chemistry and as

you look back over your career, have you had teams that were very

successful who maybe didn't have as good a chemistry as some

others?

 

I think there's only one club all the years I

managed that ended up winning that the chemistry developed late.

The rest of them got it going early, and it was a huge asset.

I've also been on ball clubs that didn't finish first that

chemistry was really good, and it helped us win the games we

should win, so once in a while you'll hear a fan or an expert say

it's one of those buzz things, but these guys spend more time

together than they do with their families for seven and a half,

eight months. If you don't think that enjoying your company or

respecting the guys you're with are important, I mean, I disagree

with you, so we pay a lot of attention to chemistry, and there's

little things you can do to make sure it doesn't get away from

you.

 

Tony, if you could talk a little bit about Jim

Edmonds. You've seen him. You've had him for several years and

seen the kind of things he can do at the plate and in the field.

Yesterday with the home run that really didn't look like it was a

home run, how do you quantify what he does after all these years

and his value to the team in a situation like that?

 

Well, I mean, Jim Edmonds is a great player,

and the way I think a lot of people define great is especially in

times where, you know, the focus is on, the pressure is there or

whatever, Jim will rise to the occasion, but he also -- had some

outstanding regular season years for us, so he grinds it out with

the best of them. It's just that he gets banged up, and you

know, I think he runs a lot on emotion. Once in a while, you

know, his tank gets a little light, and he feels like he can play

and help a game defensively. Look at Scott Rolen. Scott Rolen

will not feel good at the plate because he feels he can win a

game defensively. People see the at bats and say Jim is not

quite himself where he's either physically or mentally fried, but

he's a great player. He's had a great career in St. Louis, and

his teammates enjoy him which I know maybe in California when he

came out when he was younger, I'm not sure, you know, how that

all came together, but he's been a great teammate here.

 

Tony, playing off the Pujols play at first base

yesterday, do you see any room for instant replay or anything

like that in baseball?

 

That's a good question. I mean, I think you

can make an argument and who's to say if somebody really thought

about how you would carefully use it, maybe there's something

there, but generally I think no, it's not necessary. The umpires

get most of the calls right. One thing that we were taught and

we do it, I think, really well. We don't play the umpires. We

play the other side, and if they get a bunch of calls right -- if

they get a call that you disagree with, whether they're right or

you're wrong, you turn the page. I thought yesterday was a key

miss, but what did Chris do? He went out and pitched and our

defense played, so maybe there's something that you get in the

post season because of mistakes, if there's something in the last

three innings that decides a game, I don't know, maybe somebody

would call something like that, but overall, you know, they get

the great, great majority of them right. If it goes wrong, it's

like a bad hopper, the wind is blowing in.

 

Tony, are you ready to talk about a game 4 start

or are you going to wait and see how things unfold here?

 

No. If I talk about game 4 right now and I

walk in that clubhouse, I'd be assaulted by the guys. It would

be hypocritical, and that's not how we're approaching this thing.

We're approaching game 2, and you know we're going to play game

3. It's not time to talk about 4.

 

On the decision with Reggie Sanders swinging on

3-0 yesterday, where does that decision come from and was it

influenced at all by Peavy maybe not looking like Peavy?

 

You know, what managers do is they make

choices, they make calls, they make decisions. That's how you

contribute. In the range of decisions, that isn't even close to

a tough call. I mean, that was so easy. You've got a run

producer, bases loaded, against almost everybody, but especially

against a guy like Peavy. You give him strike 1, if he throws

the ball down the middle, that may be the last good pitch you

see. The next one might be something nasty, and now you're

fighting. With the guys we have on this club, we give a 3-0 sign

to hit a lot, but what happens is some guys -- I mean, it

happened yesterday. A couple times a guy took it because

individuals -- some guys get spooked by 3-0. Reggie is one of

the guys that knows how to handle it. It wasn't even a tough

call.

 

In the wake of what happened to Peavy, do you

think Major League Baseball should do anything about the scrums

they have on the field. Eckstein almost got hurt earlier this

season when he got a grand slam and got mobbed. Should you say

no more of that stuff?

 

I think if you ask Peavy would he rather be

healthy right now or watching the game on TV or pitching a

division championship -- you take the risk. It's just a freak

thing that happens. That's all it is. It's just a freak thing.

Didn't Donovan Osborne cut his hand reaching into the champagne

thing? I think it's just -- it's a shame for anybody, but like I

said, he's special, and I would rather have to deal with him

again if we had to face him than him being out of the series.

 

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

 

Mark Mulder

 

Mark, why the difference day versus night, and is

that overblown?

 

I think it's just something, you know,

you guys like to talk about. I mean, I know the stats are

different, but I actually said to some of the reporters after I

pitched in Wrigley when we clinched, I said you guys didn't

write anything about me pitching well during the game, during the

day game, and they laughed and said well, you clinched that day

so we had other things to write about. I know in the past I've

always pitched well in day games, I've always enjoyed day games,

but for some reason this year some have been worse than others.

That's the way it goes sometimes.

 

You had some rough outings early and then you

seemed to kind of settle in at some point during the -- the

spring, early summer. Was there something specifically that you

did that kind of got you over the hump from spring?

 

There wasn't one thing in particular,

you know. There was a lot of things that myself and Dunc were

working on during the season to get my mechanics back to where

they should be and keeping the ball down in the zone and making

better pitches. I left a lot of balls up over the plate early in

the season. You know, they're going to get hit, so I mean, my

strength is to pitch to contact and get ground balls and get

quick outs.

 

Your last two starts weren't too effective. Were

you looking ahead to the post season, or what exactly was it?

 

No. I don't know. I really don't

know what happened. It's not the way you really want to end the

season, but that's the way it goes, you know. I mean, the post

season's here, so you move on and you're ready to go.

 

Mark, in Oakland you had good numbers as a post

season pitcher. I know the one year you couldn't go because you

were hurt. It's a two-part question. How frustrating was that

that you didn't get to pitch the one year? The other is do you

thrive on the post season? Does that bring out the best in you,

generally speaking?

 

I think it should in everybody, you

know. It's a great time of year, man. I know my first

experience in 2001, pitching game 1 in Yankees stadium, the first

pitch I couldn't feel myself. You didn't know what you were

doing, but you get -- there's a different -- if you could

honestly take a post season game into every regular season game,

I think it would be a big difference, you know. I think a lot of

pitchers try to, but it's tough to. It's a different frame of

mind. There's more focus, there's more concentration, and as far

as you know, missing the one year, I hurt my hip. It was kind of

a fluke thing, and it was tough because, you know, it was the

Boston series and obviously we were up again, and you know, we

ended up losing it in 5. That's the way it goes.

 

Some would say the Cardinals traded you for

situations just like tomorrow and however much longer the post

season goes. Do you feel extra pressure knowing that?

 

No. I mean, that's the way it is. I'm

going out there to win a ball game. I think every pitcher, if

you don't go out there expecting to win, expecting to do well,

then you shouldn't be going out there, you know. You've got to

be ready for these situations and you've got to it thrive on it.

You want to go out there for the big game. You want to be out

there in a big situation, you know. I know I do, and I hope

everybody else does.

 

Mark, what is it like to pitch with outfielders

like you've got who have been there before who are healthy now

and are producing?

 

That's kind of our whole team. We

have a veteran team. That's different for me. I've been on a

younger team that doesn't always know what's going on. This is a

team that always knows what they're doing, how to prepare, how to

prepare themselves for each game, each situation, you know, and

our outfielders have been, with the way Jimmy runs things down

and Larry, the catch he made yesterday. I know sitting in the

dugout we all thought the pitchers thought it was over his head.

Obviously Reggie is healthy now so that's a big relief for us.

 

What goes into your decision as a pitcher when

it's time to try to overcome an injury and keep pitching and when

it's time to shut it down and say I can't go into it? Obviously

I'm thinking about what happened with Jake Peavy yesterday.

 

The only time that ever happened was

when I hurt my hip a couple years ago. I made three starts with

it hurting, and what's funny is at that time I couldn't run, jog,

or anything. During those games I didn't have to cover first, I

didn't have to field a bunt. I guess I just got lucky.

Obviously I didn't pitch that great in those three starts. The

fourth one was in Boston. You try to tough it out, but if it's

hurting that bad, you're not going to help the team. You're only

going to hurt the team. It's a tough situation that he was in

obviously if he was hurt.

 

The Padres right-handed lineup is different than

their left-handed lineup. Does that pose a problem for you, or

do you go over that sort of thing carefully?

 

I'm prepared whether they put lefties

in there or not. Obviously the more lefties, the better for me,

but the righties -- when they throw an all right-handed lineup

out there like some teams do -- I don't think the Padres will

throw all righties but you can kind of get in the groove with

certain pitches. You don't have the different sides of the box.

You don't have -- sometimes it helps, you know. It just depends

how you're doing out there, if you're keeping the ball down which

is a key for me.

 

You talked about the different environments and

mentalities that you came from in Oakland with the younger team

to this very professional, mature team. What kind of an

adjustment has that been for you?

 

It hasn't been that much of an

adjustment. It's the guys I play with, you see the way they

approach the game every day. It's not that it's that much

different, but you can see a difference. Guys know when to back

down a little bit and take it a little easier on some days. With

only Oakland we had an young team. We were out there for early

BP every day. It was a good time. These guys are just very

prepared on this team, and you can see that right away.

 

Mark, you and Duncan have both talked about

working on your delivery early in the season and Duncan just

spoke to us about how you got your delivery going as he wanted to

do it. Has that success you had here in the middle of the

season, these two starts excluded, different than what you had in

Oakland, or is it the same type of delivery, or what did you hit

upon there?

 

I got into some bad habits at the end

of last season and was working my way to get out of it, and I

did. You know, with a lot of -- obviously with Dunc's help,

things have gone a lot better, and you know, I feel really good

out on the mound with everything that I'm throwing and everything

that I'm doing out there.

 

Mark, what's it been like for you off the field?

I was reading the ESPN The Magazine piece about you and Hudson

and Zito.

 

I haven't read it yet.

 

Are you a little homesick? Do you miss your

friends?

 

That was a little blown out. That was

made up. It wasn't made up. It was just made to go a little bit

bigger than it was. When I was talking to Michael Irvin I think

who was the guy who was writing it, I was saying to him when I

got over here is all these guys are married, so when the game's

done, it's sorry, guys, see you tomorrow because they're going

home to their families. In Oakland we were young a bunch guys

who after the game said where are we going to dinner, where are

we going out tonight? Like I said, everybody is married so

there's not as much to do. That's all.

 

I think now that Maddux has fallen by the

wayside, you have the most 15 win seasons in a row. Is that a

point of pride for you, or do you even think about that?

 

I'm not thinking about it when the

season's going on, but when you get it and his is over now, I

mean, sure. I take pride in that. You know, it's consistency,

and I think every pitcher strives for that. Everyone wants to be

consistent and he's the perfect example of that.


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