Albert Pujols, Scott Rolen pregame interview
Cardinals sluggers talk about St. Louis fans, '04 Series
This is for both players, people talk
about the fans in St. Louis a lot, how would you
describe baseball fans here?
ALBERT PUJOLS:Best fans in baseball. Since being in the Big Leagues six years, the support they show to us every year is amazing. I think they like to see us win, but if you go out there and play hard and just give a hundred percent, you give all your got, it seems like it doesn't matter if you hit .300 or .200, they're always going to love you and respect you for that. It's good to see when you see the opposite team come and say, hey, you guys are lucky you play in St. Louis. They're definitely the best fans. And you see how they treat the other team, it's just unbelievable.
SCOTT ROLEN: Obviously like Albert said they love to see the team win, but they have a way of -- the history, I think, here in St. Louis, they have a way of celebrating baseball, itself. They love coming to the ballpark. It's a family affair still and they come here to watch baseball, to interact with the players and try to relate to everybody on the team, and they really have a lot of respect for the game and they believe that their team, it gives them something to talk about, and they really enjoy baseball, not just the outcome of the game on that night.
Albert, you guys right now have
David healthy and looks like he's getting going.
You've got the two guys behind you healthy
and going well, really as much as we've seen in
a couple of months. How much easier does is
that make your job and how much stronger
does this make that offense when you've got all
those guys healthy and going pretty well?
ALBERT PUJOLS:I won't use that word "easy," I mean these game is not easy. Definitely it's good to see those guys like they've been doing all year. Davey had a great night last night. He's been hitting great in the World Series. And Jimmy. I know what my job is and my job is to try to get on base, to try to create something and help my team out to win, no matter if there's guys on base or nobody on base, I just want to try to do my best. And like those guys, they've got their game plan. Dave and Dunc and Rolen and Jimmy, they've got their game plan and they know what to do to help us win. And they're going to take it out there on the field. I can't think about what they're going through, I have to worry about myself and just make sure I'm ready for the game.
Albert, Scott, I was wondering if
both you guys could compare what the
experience has been this postseason as
opposed to '04 against Boston, just basically
the amount of pressure, the way the games
have gone, any comparisons or contrast
between the two years?
SCOTT ROLEN:To me, you've heard it a thousand times, everybody talks about being rushed in '04. And I think that's a mental state more than it is anything physically when you show up at the ballpark. I think we celebrated a Game 7 win, which felt like the World Series to us, to go to the World Series. And when we looked up, we were down 2-0 and coming back home and facing Pedro Martinez. So that was what was tough for us. I think at that time we played hard, we did everything we could. I'm not saying we were complacent by making it to the World Series, but we had such a rush in winning the NLCS, winning the pennant, that it crept up on us a little bit and you're excited to just be there, you're kind of taking the whole thing in and I think this time through some guys who had been on that team -- I personally felt like, hey, we have nothing to lose right now. Let's go out. Let's play as hard as we can. Let's play baseball. Let's concentrate on baseball on the field and not worry about all the distractions and other things that are going on that kind of overwhelmed us last time.
ALBERT PUJOLS: Well, I just think like Scott said, everything just happened so quick. And seems like maybe the team, we beat Houston in seven games in the NLCS and we might be caught up with we were a little bit satisfied maybe from winning the National League Championship and we probably lost our edge at the World Series. And you got caught with Boston Red Sox, they were just swinging the bat great at that time. And by that time we woke up it was two games, we were down two games coming here. And obviously we thought we were going to have the fans and everything involved. But seems like they were clicking right away and just jumped and took that lead. But that was then and this is now. And obviously we've been there before and this year our preparation was so much different. And it seems like instead of trying to make everything go fast, we kind of back down and say, just make sure we stay focused and we make sure we take one game at a time. We don't think about tomorrow. We think about what we're going to do today and the preparation. I think that's why we have so much success since the first round of the postseason this year.
Albert, the Cardinals have been so
good under La Russa, even before you got
here. Now that you're closer than ever to
winning that championship, how much do you
think it has frustrated Tony to have had so
many good teams and not gotten to this point?
And how rewarding do you think it will be for
him to finally get there with this group?
ALBERT PUJOLS:I'm not going to stick up for our manager. I think everybody points the finger at him. All he does is just write the lineup and put the players up there and we need to go out and perform. We are the one that make the big money. It seems like every time something happens to the team, everybody point out to Tony La Russa. It's not sticking up for him, that's the way it is. He's not going out there and playing for us. We are the one, we need to be ready and play hard for nine innings. All he asks us to is be ready for the game, try to do your best and if we do that and our result is great, it's awesome, we have a good year. If that doesn't happen, you can't blame the manager for that. In the past we have some great teammates, great group of guys in the locker room. But what is meant to be was meant to be. '04 wasn't for us, last year, and hopefully this year is our opportunity. But we can't take things for granted. We need to finish our job. We need to finish what we want to accomplish, and that's to be a world champion. But you have a great group of guys on the other side, they don't want to hand it to us, we need to be ready to play.
With the way Reyes pitched earlier
in the series, how much confidence would you
have if Game 6 was necessary and he got the
SCOTT ROLEN:We have confidence in everybody that goes out there. Hopefully we can finish tonight and there won't be a Game 6. If Reyes pitches Game 6 in Detroit, and that's the way it is, we're going to try to win the thing. When he's on the mound, he threw great last start. When he gets the ball, we're going to go out and it's not going to change our preparation one bit. We're going to go out and do what we have to do.
Even with the guys back in the
lineup clearly the Tigers are pitching you very
carefully. Just wondering how many strikes
you're seeing to hit every night and what kind
of adjustments you've had to make because of
ALBERT PUJOLS:Obviously I've seen some good pitches. I've been getting some good pitches. I probably try to do a little too much. Yesterday with my second at-bat I got some good pitches to hit. I think they're being real careful, but I think that's the way they look at everybody in the lineup. There's not an easy out in the Big Leagues. When you try to concentrate on me then you forget about Rolen and Jimmy, you have to pitch to those guys, too. If you make a mistake, they're going to make you pay. The same thing with Dave. You see last night maybe they weren't concentrating on the pitch to him, they leave a pitch up and he can make them pay. I know my game plan. I try to look for a zone out there. If the ball is in that zone I'm going to try to do the best I can to put my best swing of the night.
Both you guys talked about the
frustration of '04. If you were to win one more
game, how much would that erase that
ALBERT PUJOLS:I think that frustration was erased when we showed up for spring training in '05. I know I was hurt maybe a month after that. You can't live forever. You're going to have hopefully another opportunity. There you go, this is our opportunity in '06 to forget about all that. I don't think there's anybody that played in 2004 that really feels frustration about it. We had a great year, obviously. Our job was to get the opportunity to play in the World Series, we did. We didn't get a great result. We got swept. And that's it. But we put that in the past. We can't plan our career thinking about, oh, man, we wish we would have done this, we wish we would have done that, because that's going to affect your career and the postseason. So that's in the past. We now concentrating on '06 and trying to finish strong, and hopefully we'll be a world champion.
SCOTT ROLEN: You always hear the ultimate goal is the World Series ring, but I think before that is the opportunity to play for a World Series ring. And in '04 we had the opportunity. You tip your cap to the Boston Red Sox, but we had an opportunity -- I had one opportunity as a player to play for a World Series ring and I went 0-for-everything. I didn't get a hit, big goose egg. I was able to flush that one pretty quick (laughter.)
Albert, you and Placido are such
good friends, and I know you want to beat his
team, but does part of you feel sorry for him
that he's struggling so much?
ALBERT PUJOLS:This is tough. It's tough. Because I've been through that before. Obviously I feel like I'm not swinging the bat the way that I wanted to swing in this World Series, but we're winning. It looks more easy when your team is winning, and it seems like I'm forgetting about things. But he's my best friend, and I told him when they won and advanced to the World Series, hey, you're my best friend. I wish you the best, and whatever happens we both going to be happy with the result, hopefully after the World Series. If he gets the ring and if I get the ring because we know how hard we work in the off-season to get ourself ready to help our team out to win. He's just had bad luck. He swung the bat pretty good the last three games and he hit the ball right on the nose last night, and that's the way it it. He can't control anything else.
Everybody knows, Albert, you swing
at strikes and don't strike out much. The other
night against Robertson you kind of expanded,
went after an outside pitch. Do you think that
surprises pitchers sometimes and how often
will you do that to kind of keep them honest?
ALBERT PUJOLS:I don't think I try to -- obviously last night my first at-bat I swing at some bad pitches. But I try to see the ball. Like I say, when I think too much about what am I going to do at the plate, it seems like that's when I struggle a little bit because I am forgetting about that I need to see the ball and put a good swing. And I'm thinking about where's my hands, where's my lower body, if I'm jumping, and I am forgetting about concentrating on the ball and put my best swing. And obviously it was a good pitch that he threw outside. At that time I just tried to see the ball. I knew that the runner was going from first base, and just try to put the ball in play. I'm not going to expand my strike zone, I'm going to take my walk if I had to take it and look for that zone, like I say, and try to put my best swing and hopefully connect it good like I did last night.
Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.