Piniella pregame interview
Manager talks about going with a three-man rotation
You've been through this postseason stuff many times before. Is it still exciting for you? Postseason baseball is still really exciting, isn't it?
LOU PINIELLA: Yeah, it really is. If this doesn't excite you, you don't belong in uniform. It never gets old, it really doesn't. This is your chance to go to the World Series, and that's what we're all here for.
You were very aggressive in the early months, a lot of changes, double switches and things like that. Is it difficult to go back to managing with the 25-man roster, or you've been through it enough that you know what you're doing here and it's not that hard?
LOU PINIELLA: No, we basically have stayed fairly constant with our lineup for quite a while, and we do have to make a few moves during the course of a ballgame, depending on the score. But I've got the right people out on the field, and we'll let them play.
What are the concerns, if there are any, with going with a three-man rotation in the postseason?
LOU PINIELLA: I don't have any concerns about anything. Marquis is on the roster and he's in the bullpen. There is a possibility, I'm keeping the door open, that he can pitch Sunday. So we'll just see how things go. But our initial plans are to go with three.
That means probably that we won't let Zambrano throw all that many pitches tonight, 105, 110, we'll shorten him up, 100 pitches, whatever it is. We've got a good bullpen; we believe in it. I don't have any concerns.
What makes Brandon Webb's sinker so hard to hit?
LOU PINIELLA: You know, I haven't faced him (laughing.) He's good, there's no question. You've got to make him get the ball up. I don't know, I really don't. You've got to talk to the hitters. They'll give you a much better explanation than I.
But I know that when I played sinker ballers that really pitch well, I tried to move up in the box a little bit and tried to get the pitcher to get them up, get the ball up. It's easier said than done.
How tough is it for you to leave Jason Kendall's experience on the bench in a postseason game?
LOU PINIELLA: Look, none of these decisions are easy. And this is the first game, and we'll see how the youngster responds. But it's not easy. It's not an easy decision. We'll have a better idea after tonight.
How big of an edge do the fans that follow you all over, and there will be a lot here obviously in this series, how much of an edge does that give you?
LOU PINIELLA: Well, there are Cub fans all over. It reminds me of my days when I played with the New York Yankees. There were Yankee fans all over there, too. It's an edge. You're not always playing in front of a home crowd exclusively, and I would think tonight you'll hear a portion of this crowd cheering for the Cubs.
You're obviously confident in Soto enough to start him. Explain why.
LOU PINIELLA: He's done a good job in September. I think he's about shared the duties. He can pop the ball. He throws relatively well. And at the same time he's caught all these pitchers, including way back when in spring training. We're comfortable with him, but we'll see. He's young, we know it.
But Arizona is playing a lot of young people.
Three starts ago Carlos got off to a real good start, struck out the first four by pitching real quickly. Would you like to see him do that? Is it a way for him to be consistent and successful?
LOU PINIELLA: I don't really have an answer to that. I think a pitcher needs to get into a rhythm, but pitching fast, you know, I don't know if that's the answer. Zambrano will find his own rhythm out there. He's a professional. I don't know. You can ask Carlos about that.
I don't know, I don't have an answer for you. Whatever answer I give you would just be a stab in the dark, and there's no need doing that.
Your starting pitchers, you started getting them out of there early in mid-season as far as pitch count wise, and you don't have any reliever in the top ten in appearances. Is this part of the reason for your success, the way that you've watched your starting pitchers and the way you've taken care of your relievers?
LOU PINIELLA: Well, starting pitching wise, we've watched pitch counts very carefully all summer. Whenever we had an opportunity to give a pitcher an extra day, we would do that, and we staggered it pretty well.
As far as the relievers, we look at it, we look at the appearances and the number of pitches that they're throwing appearance wise. If a pitcher in our bullpen has used more than what we want, we'll just give him a few days off. And we've been able to do that all summer, only because we have depth. If you don't have depth, you can't do it.
But bringing up Marmol, Wood, throwing the ball the way he has, it's allowed us to do some things. The kid, Hart, that we brought up in September, some of the guys that we had in our bullpen early in the year, they're not here now.
To have a rested pitching staff for this time of the year, whether it's starters or relievers, you have to watch their use, and we've been able to do that. It's functioned pretty well.
In what way do you think your postseason experience helps you either in the dugout or in the clubhouse?
LOU PINIELLA: The players play on the field, I've always said that. My job basically is to steer the game, make some pitching changes if I have to, pinch hit. I like to stay away from double switches as much as I possibly can in postseason, because I want my better players on the field.
I want my team to relax and just let them play and have fun and play hard, and that's my that was my message to them a little while ago.
You know, the manager having experience, the players have to play well on the field. I put out a lineup and make the changes that I have to, but the players get it done.
Does the history of this franchise, does that add an extra burden to these players, or is playing for a World Series, a chance to go there, all the pressure, enough?
LOU PINIELLA: I think that's enough. I don't need -- this is the 2007 Cubs, and we should just be concerned about the 2007 Cubs, nothing more, nothing less. What's transpired in the past is really of no significance now. We've got an opportunity ahead of us to win these next two series and go on to the World Series.
We're going to give it every effort; that's all we can do. Play as hard as we can and try as hard as we can, and I think what's happened in the past has happened. I don't think it has any bearing, and it shouldn't.
Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.