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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Tony, if you could talk a little bit about Jim
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
his teammates enjoy him which I know maybe in
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
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, why the difference day versus night, and is
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
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.
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,
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
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
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
you came from in
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
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
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
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
I haven't read it yet.
Are you a little homesick? Do you miss your
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
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.