10/11/05 4:55 PM ET
La Russa workout day interview
Cardinals manager talks about facing Astros again in the NLCS
By / MLB.com
LaRUSSA: I guess he had a positive throw today and we're going to wait and see how he feels tomorrow, if he comes out of the throw in good shape, then he would be number 2, and then Matt would go 3.
Still haven't talked to Jason and Jeff about 4, but I think if Mark did not feel good enough tomorrow, we may not push Matt to 2 and just leave him at 3 which complicates things a little bit. Right now, I'm hoping and I think there's a chance that Mark is going to pitch Game 2.
You guys have not seen a lefty in ten days at least; does that matter or how do you change things tomorrow?
LaRUSSA: Well, we saw quite a few in the last three weeks. We just haven't seen them lately. You know, I don't even think of Andy Pettitte as a lefty. I just think he's an outstanding pitcher. He gets righties out, he gets lefties out. The one thing we'll do probably is move Reggie to the 4 spot and move Larry to 5. Other than that, it will be the same lineup. Move Yadier to hit 7.
This year, unlike last year, the Astros have their big three pitchers lined up on full rest, how formidable are those three guys at top form?
LaRUSSA: Well, they are outstanding. They are every bit worth the reputation they have earned. All three are very different, so they present different problems for you. But we look at it two ways. One; we're going to match up each of those guys with an outstanding pitcher of our own, so it's not like Houston is going to have a lot of fun hitting against our pitchers. And what we've done over and over again for a while now is the eight guys that have played, whoever they are, they are going to take their at bats. If they are really sharp, it will be hard to score and if they make a mistake or two, maybe we'll break through, but that's the way you play the games.
How is Larry doing after taking that spill in San Diego?
LaRUSSA: Well, I can tell by how much he's cutting up, so he must feel great. He's driving everybody crazy, so he's ready to go.
What have you seen from Carpenter this year, what has made him so much better than any other season?
LaRUSSA: Well, the only thing we have to compare with as far as our own observation is last year. And for the entire season, he had all of his pitches working, I think last year, the second half, he started really adding to what he was going out there with. But when he has all of his pitches, you're talking about four or five things he can do to get hitters out, he can go against righties and lefties, and what we've seen, he's a terrific competitor. The guy tomorrow is an outstanding competitor, he isn't going to compete any harder than Chris is. I mean, he's really capable of concentrating, tuning all of the distractions out. He's been pitching big games all year long. Tomorrow will be another big one.
This is a rematch of last year but both teams have undergone a lot of changes, can you talk about your changes specifically up the middle and also the job that Núñez has done?
LaRUSSA: Well, it's really been a fun club to watch. You know a lot of what we do starts at pitching and defense, and there were a lot of questions, we lost Mike, Tony and Edgar and we go to spring training and Núñez is looking great and we see Mark and David and they have been consistently outstanding. The double plays are a good example.
So we thought we were a strong defensive club last year and we are this year again with different pep. We were really concerned. We had a huge hole to fill with Scott Rolen, and if Abe had to play second and short a lot, then that would have been a fair challenge, which he's played third, less than two handfuls of games. And he's played outstanding and he's also contributed offensively, and the thing about him is, he's exactly the same every day. There's no up and down, they have been very consistent, very reliable.
What's the biggest thing that Abe had to learn about third base, the biggest adjustment?
LaRUSSA: That's a good question for him. I have not heard him answer that question. My guess would just be reading the ball off the bat. You play the middle between second and short, you see the ball in and then you see the ball off. When you're on the corners, it's a different angle. My guess would be that; not the throwing, because he's got a good, quick arm. He would be better to answer that question.
How is the state of your bullpen? You did a lot of pitching changes in all of the San Diego games, and the bullpen allowed the Padres back into almost every one of the games.
LaRUSSA: Well, I've answered this question every time exactly how I believe it, and that is that we had the luxury of a crooked number lead, and the responsibility of our relievers were No. 1, get outs, but No. 2, don't give them any cheap opportunities, which means walking guys because you're being too fine.
So several times, I mean, the last game we played, Brad got behind, threw him a fastball and he hit a home run. I feel like in that series, just like all year long, when things got tense, each of those guys made pitches and we kept the lead.
When you look at the changes from last year, you guys added starting pitching and lost a couple of big boppers with Scott and Beltran. That seems to be a fair trade off for the Cardinals, would you agree with that?
LaRUSSA: Not really. They have Pettitte this year and they didn't have him last year. They lost Beltran and Kent and got Ensberg now, as big a bopper as there in our league. Like anything else, a spot opens up. Jason Lane comes along, given them a lot of big production. They are a lot like they were last year. Maybe if they were I don't know, I wouldn't even argue if there was one hitter less, but they have one pitcher more. The center fielder is just a different, good player than Beltran, so I think they are really good.
Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.