Wed. WS Pre-G4 Interviews –TLR/Reyes/Weaver

St. Louis Cardinals World Series Game Five probable pitchers Anthony Reyes and Jeff Weaver plus manager Tony La Russa spoke from Busch Stadium before Wednesday's rain out.

Tony La Russa

Can you speak about the impact that Dave Duncan has had in particular on Suppan and Carpenter after last night's win. Both of them have talked at length about the impact he's had on a one-on-one situation working with them, if you would comment on that.

Well, it would be up to me to comment, because Dave wouldn't. He's got the right coaching philosophy and that it's about the pitchers, and coaches just try to put them in a good position.

I think, what I say is that Dave is a complete coach and whatever pitcher shows up, it could be a young pitcher like Reyes or a veteran, starter or reliever, he looks at the pitcher and if the guy needs mechanics, confidence, improve his assortment, and he's done a little bit of all that with each of the guys that comes in here. But with Carp he's got different weapons than Supp, so he coaches them different ways.

You've got both Reyes and Weaver coming to the podium next, what's your thought process on Game 5?

Well, what Dave and I talked about was keeping our options open and that includes getting through Game 4 and that's just consistent with we don't want to decide, we don't know what the outcome of Game 4 will be, don't know when Game 4 is going to be played. And just the reality is, one of those two guys are going to start the fifth game. I don't know which it's going to be so they're both getting ready.

Jeff Suppan has taped a political advertisement here for Missouri, I'm wondering if you have any policy or preference regarding your players when it comes to this kind of area?

Our policy is you recognize each person as -- the professional side and personal side, and you respect both sides of them. Actually our organization encourages guys to get involved in something beyond just baseball. Whether you agree with the choice or whatever, I just like the fact that guys make a commitment and they get involved.

In the LCS you seemed very hesitant to wait until the last minute to decide on the starter for the next day and you didn't want to put the guys through that. What's different about this situation from that time around?

Well, that's spelling out how the LCS differs. We're in this series now. Anthony did a great job. Our three best starters are lined up to pitch the last three games and they all come back with short rests, so that's something you consider. And maybe you wouldn't have a chance to consider it, that's why we want to keep the options open. Jeff and Carp have had two games. If you're going to pitch a guy with a day short, you'd pitch the guy that had 80 pitches and had good games.

I just think our experience, there's no formula, there's no series the same. You play the one you're playing and you see how things were. Just like the Mets series, we had two rainouts so you don't get locked in.

What kind of evolution did you see in Anthony Reyes through the season that led to his Game 1 performance?

Last year we had an emergency start in Milwaukee and we pulled him out and he pitched an outstanding game, low-hit game, winning game in Milwaukee, and we were all impressed. We always knew his stuff. We were really impressed with how he kept his composure and concentrated. I remember in the first inning, somebody hit a fastball out of the park, that scares young pitchers and veteran pitchers, too, but he kept charging. He had more starts this year.

He had a real difficult assignment in the American League park in Chicago and he responded. So he's got talent and when he gets it rolling, he keeps it rolling and other times you can tell he's still learning. So that's part of this decision about does he pitch again or does someone else pitch.

Reyes, Rogers and Carpenter have all pitched great games in the World Series, and certainly not detracting from that, but how much tougher is it for hitters when it's 42 degrees?

I'm not sure. I said to somebody before the Tiger game, I think normally we all think that the pitcher has the benefit because he's working hard and other guys are standing around. But sometimes in a lot of cold games you see the hitters' advantage because the balls are slick, and command is the problem for pitchers, it has to do with the grip.

I don't know, I saw each of those guys pitch games like that right in the middle of the summer, I just think they're really talented guys. You mentioned Carpenter, Rogers, who else?

Reyes.

I included Weaver, I thought he pitched a game to win. So it's not easy to hit in conditions like that, either, and you're facing good pitching, so I'm not sure where the balance is.

If you're bringing Reyes and Weaver in here, when you make that decision can we assume that the other guy will be available in relief or would you be elected to use either of those guys in relief depending on how the series goes?

I think there's a difference with it with a different guy. If you go Reyes, I think you can expect Weaver to pitch Game 6, and you'd hold Carpenter back for 7. That's part of it. If you pitch Weaver, it could be that Reyes pitches Game 6 or he could pitch in the bullpen. So Dave and I have talked a lot about this, talked a lot about it today, have talked about it in years past, it doesn't seem to make sense to get locked in. Unless like if I'm the Tigers, and that's one of the challenges we face to get two more wins, they know their four starting pitches. And if that was set up like that we'd do it, but we're in a different situation.

Your lineup, please, and any significant changes?

Well, Duncan will hit second and play right field, Albert, Jimmy hits fourth, Scott fifth, Wilson is going to play leftfield and hit sixth, Molina and Miles will play second base and bat eighth.

Tony, Derek Jeter has often mentioned, he feels the presence of the ghosts of past Yankee greatness and draws inspiration from that. Do you feel anything like that given the history of this franchise?

Yeah, I mean I don't think of it as ghosts, to me it's something that is more tangible. Maybe ghosts are tangible to Derek, because great things happened to the Yankees in games they played in the postseason. But I think you definitely feel the weight, the positive weight, of the history of this organization. I think they do a terrific job of making sure that all the guys are a part of it, continue to be welcome and they go out of their way to bring them around Spring Training during the season. Neatest thing about that is the guys they bring around, Red is 83 years young, Stan, Gibby, Brock, all those guys. They come in, and the guys enjoy seeing them. They don't sit around and just talk about, this is how I did it and we were great and you're not. They pull so hard for you that it is really a very special kind of connection that we all feel, which I think is good for us. It adds to the responsibility every year. You know you're trying to fit into that kind of history, so I think it gets your attention and gets our guys paying attention, trying harder, whether it works out or not.

There hasn't been a stolen base in the series, not a lot of what you'd call little ball. Is that the circumstances, is it something you'd like to get more in your game in the rest of the series?

Well, stolen bases is only one part of it. When you've got two catchers like Rodriguez and Molina, I think we're all very careful about trying to run into a suicidal out. But I think the neat thing that's happened -- the other point, before I mention a couple of them, when offenses are having trouble producing runners, nobody is on, you're behind, you've got two outs, what are you going to do? You don't want to steal. But yesterday Scott Rolen did a terrific job of getting up to second and third. Game 1, we had Jimmy at third base, a ball was hit to third base, he got a great jump, and forced Inge to hurry a little bit, the ball hopped up and got a throw-away for two runs. There haven't been a lot of chances, but I know how Jim teaches, they are execution-type clubs. You have to watch more carefully, because some of the dramatic stuff is not happening.

What do you see differently in Molina's approach to the postseason compared to what he did most of the regular season?

I do think the most important thing is that he's a hitter. He's always hit. Last year he got off to a bad start and came off and hit .250.

This year he struggled and as he got into the second half of the year, he's a proud guy and he got into human nature, every game he wanted to get three hits, sometimes in two at-bats. You can't force results, I don't care who you are. I think when he got to the postseason it was 0-0, he started fresh. As I heard him explain one time, he had good conversations with -- Oquendo is very, very sharp, helps everybody. Albert gives some good -- and Hal McRae. So I think starting fresh, and he had the season where he tried and overtried and it didn't work, he just relaxed and got off to a good start and he's a tough out.

With the conditions you're going to be playing in tonight, will that affect the way you approach or handle the game?

You know, most of the time the game dictates how you try to approach or what you do. One of the realities is that the guys are out there playing and pitching, and just like you'd like to run, and nobody gets on base, stuff like that. I think the one thing, we had a question about who plays the outfield today, and it's a little treacherous out there, we were thinking about getting an extra left-hand hitter in there against Bonderman, and we went with an extra right-hander, just to make sure we had a better outfield defense.

Other than that, you don't try to pick ground balls and throw ground balls away. You don't try to get cute. You just are aware of it and you deal with it.

Last night the situation with Carpenter, obviously the win is the most important thing, going about the business of picking up the win, finishing the game the way you did, the decision you made becomes another part of it. Have you or can you even allow yourself as a manager to get emotional even for a second about a guy, complete game, World Series shutout, have you done that in the past and do you almost have to eliminate that thought process pretty quickly if it does pop into your mind?

You're more likely to allow yourself if it's a seventh game, the fourth win. We're only halfway there. But he was going out for the ninth. I'd pinch-hit, I wouldn't have bunted him. He was pitching effectively, he was still strong. But two things happened: We got an extra run, and secondly, and more importantly, because we were never comfortable. You just can't take anything for granted. The Tigers have come back too many times. The longer he sat there and as cold as it is, the more likely sending him out there was going to create problems for him. Even if he gets through it, all of a sudden what became a really good game, he made a bunch of good throws, he gets out a little of whack, he is more sore today, he's going to pitch again in this series. So it really wasn't a tough call. When it's over, then you start realizing that however many, 10, 15, 20 pitches might have saved him in the ninth has something to do with when he goes out again.

Given the importance of starting pitching related to the weather, is there concern on your part tonight Suppan going, say, four or five innings and then the game is delayed? Have you had any conversations yet with baseball officials or will you regarding that subject?

Well, the decision makers are baseball people. They know what's involved. It's not Suppan, it's Suppan and Bonderman. We're both in the same boat. You can try and play it.

I mean, I just had a friend of mine who is a pilot and called with the forecast, and he said it's uglier than we thought. They get all that information. And whatever happens, if we play and it gets stopped, Tigers get stopped, too, we both have bullpens. We'll just deal with it. You're glad you're here, and whatever happens, happens.

This is a couple in a off for Encarnacion, is he doing anything off the field or is he out of the games to get straightened out? Is there a conversation you have to have with him when a guy who's been a regular sits out two games in a row? What are the sort of aspects and complications of sitting a starter two games in a row?

One of the nice things going through the year, you have a feeling when a guy is just not having success and when he's struggling. And looks to me like he's struggling. And I read and heard some of his comments and he admits he's struggling. So you play him, if you don't have a good option. We have other options. I think Juan will play again before the series is over, and what he is doing, I watched him yesterday in the practice, he's in a cage trying to get it right, I thought he had a good BP yesterday. But you've got 25 guys in there trying to get that ring and I think he understands. He walked by me yesterday and he wasn't cursing and he said hello and I said hello, let's go get them.

A lot of people seem puzzled, obviously, that a team that only won 83 games in the regular season can have the success you've had in October. Is it possible that, especially given the way Suppan has become almost a second No. 1 for you, that you're a team that's perhaps built for the postseason, so to speak, or at least more built for the postseason perhaps than for the regular season?

It didn't start out that way. Losing Mark was a big hit for us. Jason Marquis had a bunch of wins, where he got in position. We picked up a real edge because Suppan got hot in the second half, and he's carried it over.

We were really good and we were not good in the first part of the season. But the unit we're putting out there is a well-rounded position player, and when that team plays, the regular season and postseason, it can do a lot of things. Jeff Weaver has been very tough towards the end of the season and in the postseason. So we were a club that had potential to play better during the regular season.

I just know that we felt coming in that in a short series we could be tough to play against. That's where we are today as we start. We've been going out there ready to play and playing, and that's what we have to continue doing. When you look at the stars they have lined up against us, I don't think we're an overwhelming underdog anymore, but I don't think we're the favorite to win the series. I think we fought ourselves into a heck of a chance. We've had years where our guys have stayed healthier and we've been more like that during the season. And we've just -- we're fortunate with guys like Jimmy, what Jimmy has done in the regular season is what he's done in the postseason. This year he was hampered.



Anthony Reyes and Jeff Weaver

This is actually for both of you, how does it affect you the fact that you don't really know if you're going to start next? How do you prepare differently or don't you?

ANTHONY REYES: I always go at it like I'm going to pitch, so I just do everything I was going to do before, like I am going to pitch and if it's not my time, I just try to prepare for the next one.

JEFF WEAVER: That's exactly right. We're all ready to go. We've all done our work to get ready for the possibility, and this is what it's all about, everybody is on call whenever you need it.

Jeff, unless there's a rainout it would be going on a short rest for you. How are you dealing with the situation where you may start on short rest but you may have to prepare to start the next day, does that change much of your routine between starts?

JEFF WEAVER: If there's any positives to the rainout in New York, then this is one of them. This is the same situation where I was ready to go and a rainout pushes you back a day and gives you another day's rest. Another day of rest always helps, but I feel good right now, physically I've done my preparation for a short rest to start and everything feels good. So either way I feel like it's not going to matter.

Anthony, the Rams practiced today and Brett Romberg was saying you got him some tickets for Game 5, he said, "Thanks for the tickets but I'm coming in my Tigers' colors." Are you okay with a buddy of yours using you for tickets but coming in the Tigers' colors?

ANTHONY REYES: He might be doing that just to get at me. I've met him. He's a cool guy, so whatever he wants to do.

Anthony, there was a lot of talk after your last start about how you pitched effectively up in the zone at times. You got a lot of fly ball outs, popup outs. There was also talk afterward about how they tried to get you to pitch down in the zone a little more consistently. Can you talk about how you go through that, what that process is for you, just trying to become the pitcher who is a little more consistent?

ANTHONY REYES: I work on everything in the bullpen and when it comes to game time, then I go out there and I try to battle as much as I can. Hopefully if you keep working on something in the bullpen it will translate in the game. Once game time comes, I'm out competing the best I can, I try to be as aggressive as I can, and pitch effectively with what I have.

I'm curious, is that a mechanical thing for you, is it a release point thing? What is your key on the ball down in the zone versus up?

ANTHONY REYES: I think I've pitched up in the zone all my life. It's one of those things that it might take me a little more time to get the adjustment for keeping the ball down.

I thought I've done a better job this year of doing it than years previous.

Jeff, with your brother in town, do you ever use him as a resource, since obviously he's faced the Tigers, too, on different ways you want to pitch certain guys?

JEFF WEAVER: No, not particularly. He's just here enjoying the festivities. We got great information here within -- we sit down with Duncan and both our catchers and go over the game plan ourselves. We both have faced him this year and have a good idea of what we are trying to accomplish out there. He doesn't want to add any extra information if he doesn't have to. So we're all set with what we've got here and feel good about it within.

Anthony, after pitching so well in Game 1 are you kind of surprised that you're kind of in limbo right now for Game 5?

ANTHONY REYES: No. It's all strategies, and it's what's best for the team, and it's just -- it's one of those things where we're just trying to get the most out of our pitchers, and whoever Tony feels is best capable of pitching against these guys that's what we're going to do.

And like I said before, just stay ready because you never know what's going to happen and that's what I'm doing.

Jeff, I know the goal hasn't been accomplished yet, so maybe you just can't afford to do this. But have you taken a minute to think back how this season turned to the point where people are saying, man, I hope Weaver gets the baseball in the World Series in October?

JEFF WEAVER: There's been a crazy year, there's no doubt about that, but once I had come to St. Louis, one of my major thought processes was everything kind of happens for a reason, and it continues to work and who knows, maybe we'll end up in postseason and have a chance to erase everything that happened prior. And once we got to the postseason, I mean that just kind of brought everything to fruition with me and everything has happened for a reason. And to have the opportunity to pitch in the postseason and help this team win some games, it's been a dream come true.

I've always been, in the postseason, had a chance to start before, but never had an opportunity to win and help contribute. So it's been that much easier to put what happened the first half of the season behind and just enjoy what we're going through right now and try to keep it going.

Anthony, Tony spoke earlier about an emergency start you made in Milwaukee last year and how well you handled that and of course you had that performance in Game 1. I'm wondering whether the way you've handled the jitters has been based on experiences you've had? Is it your nature? How have you been able to remain calm in those situations?

ANTHONY REYES: I've always been a day-to-day person, so I try not to think about anything I can't control. So I always go in there and I try to not think about it, and whatever I have to do is what I get prepared for and I try not to think about it too much other than the game plan I have set for that day or just trying to prepare the best I can.


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