NLDS Pre-Game One: Jake Peavy Interview

San Diego Padres right-hander Jake Peavy is confident. He will come into the series healthy and he believes this 2006 team is better than its predecessor.

Jake, starting game one, again, same matchup as last year, hopefully no injuries for you. How are you feeling heading into this one?

Jake Peavy: I'm feeling a lot better than I was last year. You know, no excuses. This time out I feel as good as I've felt all year, you know. The first was a little bit of a struggle, but the second half, I've been healthy, making my starts without any interference physically. Mentally I'm as good as I can be going into the start.

Jake, is the team mentally more confident this year going into the St. Louis series than last year or were you just as confident last year, it just didn't happen?

Jake Peavy: I think we're more strong mentally this year simply because the way we played down the stretch. We just won 20 games in September. And I've played very well. We took the season series 4-2, this year just went St. Louis, took 2-3 in all type games, all playoff atmosphere because obviously they were playing, you know, for, you know, their division title. We were doing the same. So it was big games. Now I think the team mentally knows we have what it takes to play and win this Division Series and even take it beyond this.

So we're just going to go out tomorrow and empty the tank as a 25-man team and see where we stand. I think this year we were definitely more confident going in than we were last year. Last year it was a long shot. We just didn't have the personnel. But this year, you know, National League-wise, I think we're as good as anybody in the playoffs and we'll see how the next couple of games go.

Jake, not only are you guys better, but the Cardinals, through both personnel losses and injuries, seem to be down. You're talking about the changing, shifting dynamic of the series?

Jake Peavy: Well, I wouldn't necessarily say that they're down. You know, they haven't played the way they're capable of playing the last couple of weeks. You know, losing 7-10 I read today. But personnel-wise, they've still got David Eckstein, is going to be leading off. And Pujols is obviously not human. And we have Scott Rolen and Jimmy Edmonds and Juan Encarnacion. These are a very good ball club. Chris Carpenter, obviously, could win the Cy Young this year. They're as good as anybody personnel-wise. They haven't been playing the they're capable of the last couple weeks. They won't do that to each other in the series. Still the same team that went to the World Series a couple years ago, still same team that went to the NLCS last year. Lot of confidence and playoff experience. We know we have to be at the top of our game to play with these guys.

Jake, you've now pitched in the playoffs, All-Star game, other big games, how will that experience benefit you tomorrow and you kind of know where you need to dial your adrenalin level into now that you've gone through some big games like that?

Jake Peavy: No doubt. Experience means a lot. What I just got done saying. Us being above and having myself experience what the atmosphere is like is different because every atmosphere is different. The playoffs are different. Little bit different than the All-Star game and vice versa. These games down the stretch are huge. We played some big games in Dodger Stadium a few weeks ago. That atmosphere was as electric as any atmosphere I've been in. WBC, incredible atmosphere and a lot of emotions and tomorrow will be no different. But as a starting pitcher, I got to find a happy medium where I got the throttle pinned down, but it's not, you know, you know, find somewhere a happy medium, put my RPMs where I can still have the same intensity and life on my pitches in the seventh and eighth inning tomorrow. I definitely, being in big games before, is going to help me tomorrow and you'll have a little extra adrenalin going into games like this.

Jake, how big is home field advantage?

Jake Peavy: It's big. Being the home team, you know, I love being the home team and going out there being able to hopefully set the tone and letting us have a last crack at it. These games hopefully are, and most times are close baseball games and always being in the home team. And us playing close ball games in this ballpark, we always seem to find a way to squeak it out. You know, I think our pitching, feels very comfortable pitching in this ballpark, starters and relievers, playing in front of hometown fans is big. Home field advantage is not as big in this sport as maybe football or basketball, I don't believe. But it's always fun playing in familiar, tomorrow when we come to the field it's a normal day for us. So everybody is at ease and we're familiar with faces, familiar sights. I think that has a lot to do with you staying in your routine. So I think home field advantage is big. And you know, we need to get the series off to a good start these first two games and hopefully get into St. Louis with a chance to clinch it.

Jake, wondered if you could speak to the idea of how vital it is to keep Pujols under control and if Bruce decided he wanted to put him on every time, would you object?

Jake Peavy: Absolutely not. I mean Pujols is the guy, as you guys just seen in the last series, you cannot let beat you in this lineup. That's not to take anything away from anybody getting in front of him or behind him but he is the best hitter in this lineup. He's maybe the best hitter in the National League, and everybody knows that. So every lineup has a guy that you say going into the game, hey, this guy cannot beat us in a big situation. You know, and it's no different. I've used to doing it with Barry Bonds for five years, since I've been in the league, you can't let him beat you when the game is on the line. Early in the game you're going to have to pitch to Albert and make good pitches. You can get him out. My game versus the Cardinals this year I struck him out first two at bats made a bad pitch at the seventh, three run homer and puts the game at that time it was a big moment. We ended up coming back to win that game. But you just can't let him beat you. Late in the ball game especially. I'm sure if we have chances to pitch to him with runners on that's not going to happen. So you gotta take your chances with Scotty Rolen. He's an all star as well. You have to pick your poison. But you have to take your chances with the guys behind him.

Jake, I imagine your strategy gets under more than the post-season. Can you talk about your level of confidence in Bochy and how he matches up to a veteran manager in the series?

Jake Peavy: He's as good as anybody in the league. Anytime he's ever had a chance to have the personnel to win, he's found a way to get his team in the playoffs. And I think the absolute world of Boch. I promise you we have 25 guys that believe in our manager and he has the qualifications and the game plan and mind set to win us a big game, and that's if it means pitching out here, if it means bunting or not bunting, hitting and running, I think our guy's as good as anybody in the business, and I know La Russa obviously has some very high merits as well. But I'll take a chance with our guy any day of the week.

Jake, given your history of freak injuries, are you going to take any special precautions tonight and put yourself in Saranwrap or anything?

Jake Peavy: I'm going to go say hello to the fans tonight in the rally out here about 5:00 and thank them for their support. And I got my wife coming in with my parents and a few other family members I'm going to pick up at 7:00, some dinner, haven't decided where yet. Have some dinner and lock ourselves in the room at the Marriott until about 9:00 in the morning and come here, get ready. So hopefully I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we can go into the start healthy. I promise you that.

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