NLDS Game Two Interviews – Tony La Russa

From San Diego's Petco Park following the Cardinals NLDS Game Two victory, manager Tony La Russa took questions. La Russa's pre-game remarks are also included.

Tony La Russa – Post-Game

Tony, going into the game, was it your idea to get Jeff through five innings or what went into that decision at that point in time?

I thought he threw the ball really well, but the lineup is getting ready to see him again and, you know, we had a lot of weapons in the bullpen. I just felt like, you know, he wasn't going to pitch into the eighth inning, so you try to give the bullpen a chance to come in and create a problem or not have a problem without waiting until there's some guys on base. So it was more of that than anything else.

Does Duncan ever ask you to bring a finished product in that he can work with or does he like the reclamation products?

I think in all the years, I think Duncan enjoys it all. He enjoys the young talents we have, watching Adam grow. He enjoys whether it's a starting pitcher or reliever. He enjoys veterans that he respects the way they go about their business, and that's one reason why right away he and Jeff hit it off real well.

But I mean, everything that we do in this -- it's been true, I've been sitting in this organization since I've been here, since Oakland going back, if it has anything to do with pitching, it centers on Duncan. Duncan is the guy that's figuring things out and, I mean, he's amazing.

Tony, this is the chance, this is the last game that David Wells will pitch. If so, how will you remember him?

I remember when he was young and crazy in Toronto. And then I've watched him mature over the years, and he's still -- he's got a lot of life, but early on, you know, he had a lot of talent. And a little wild and woolly, but he's a better pitcher than people thought. Over the years he's become a good pitcher. He has a feel for what he does out there. That post-season record is no accident. He's got a lot of cool.

So I mean he's, you know, there's not many that bold in that ways, pitcher or personality. But I mean, I have to pull against him, I hope, as far as that this year.

Tony, as important as the games were last week in St. Louis, is there anything you saved in terms of pitch sequences or trying to set up these hitters, knowing the possibility that you might face them in the playoffs?

Actually not. We were working as hard as we could. But it's the same thing for them. I think we both came into this series with fresh knowledge. That's different. We played LA back in July, and, you know, if you play them, they play you, you're going back for what you saw in person several months ago and you're watching tape. So I mean, we've had both the Padres and the Cardinals, we've just seen each other but we definitely didn't pull any punches. They beat us 2 out of 3. They beat us 2 out of 3.

Seemed like your point of attack in the first and second game was at the end of the fourth inning. The second batter was Duncan with a single, then Pujols with a home run, almost the same situation with the double. Is that just a credit to you guys making the adjustments to the Padres starters?

I think it's a just a freaky way, the way these two games have played because we got 2 and 2, got three more yesterday, didn't get anymore. But I got particular pleasure yesterday because it was Chris's (Duncan) first post-season game and he looked just as excited and competitive. And today was Preston Wilson, terrific career, first post-season game. He starts out what turns out to be the winning rally. Those are extra special when you look back on the game. But the fact that they both happened in that inning after one out, just can't figure it.

Tony, you had a pitching change that worked out very well for you when you had to go with Kinney, and my thought was you had Bard coming up, Gonzales was on first base. What made you go to the right-hander and bring in Kinney and take the left-hander out?

You flip the coin whichever way it comes up. In a lot of ways, Bard is a switch hitter, hurt us on both sides playing. What I looked at there, if we don't get Bard out, Kinney is going to face Cameron, and, you know, sometimes if you have to get somebody out of the inning, if you have given them one hitter, find the mound, get rid of some of the jitters, you -- I think you pick up a little edge.

You weren't thinking --

I was thinking Bard is tough on either of our two guys, but I thought Kinney would have a chance to see him get used to the mound and if Bard gets a hit, he's already been in there a little. Cameron is not so new.

Tony La Russa – Pre-Game

Tony, I know you have respect for all the Padres players, but how big of a miss is it to not have Khalil Greene at shortstop as good as a player he is?

I think it's a big miss for Khalil, because he's a terrific young player and would be a second post-season experience. But Blum has really given him you know the replacement they need, and they were able to finish in first place because he came in there. And Blum is a solid player. So I think personally for Greene it's a tough, they can't be 100 percent, but for the Padres, they're covered.

How did you end up ordering your lineup for today and what went into the couple of decisions you may have had to make there?

Well, easy one, Wilson just slides in the 2 spot for Chris. I think you need to protect Albert with a right-hander and Scott's got the most success against Wells. So he hits fourth and Encarnacion fifth and Jimmy sixth.

Imagine it's safe to assume that Jimmy checked out okay. But was there a conversation with him on how he's feeling?

Yeah, it was kind of neat. I actually called him last night and left him a message. I was walking down the street with my wife, walked right by the restaurant where he was having dinner. So I got to ask him in person. And he feels ready to go.

These couple of games have been, you know, I think the second or third time you've had all these guys available. Putting aside the offense, what's the value defensively of having everybody in there, of having Jimmy, of having Ronnie and Eckstein in your middle, just having your whole defensive line in the middle there?

I'll be careful talking about the infield, I don't want to disrespect -- Aaron Miles did really an outstanding job for us. And considered he had mostly second basemen do what he did, he deserves a ton of credit. I'd be careful anything I said. David has more experience more at shortstop. We did fine with Aaron. Our outfield, that was a problem. And Encarnacion filled in and he did a good enough job and So and whoever played. Set up right now with Jimmy in the middle, it's outstanding.

Tony, I know that you've said, that it's a good problem to have. I'm wondering how you look at trying to get Spiezio involved in some way, there's maybe an interest in starting him again more at bats but also need to keep him as a threat off the bench. How do you weigh those?

I think a lot of those considerations are the ones you face during the season. You work really hard to balance getting the guys off the bench, with enough playing time and keeping the core guys fresh. When you get into October, it's all about, you know, what's the best you can do to win today. I mean every game has so much importance by itself. So from my point is when you look at our three outfield choices, we're picking from some really good options there, and I mean I really don't feel like I can go wrong. But I'm not thinking I've gotta get Scott a start, because he's gotta be better than one of the other games for that game.

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