2006 NEWS

2006 News > 10/4/06


Original Article HERE.

Did they ask you about pitching today? Was your name brought up, did you discuss it with them?
No, they didn't ask me. I told them I would if they wanted me to, but that was the extent of it, you know.

When I left yesterday, I just knocked on Willie's door and told him if they wanted me to pitch, I would pitch, I would be available to pitch, that I was going home, and somebody would call me if I was pitching. That was it. They called me later and said I wasn't gonna, so...

Do you feel any additional pressure with Pedro out and now El Duque out that the team is leaning on you even more?
Uhm, to a degree, but not a lot, you know. I mean, I don't think enough to make me go out there and try and do anything differently or try and do anything that I'm not capable of doing. I mean, when you lose Pedro and you lose El Duque now, I mean, it puts a lot of pressure on everybody. It's not going to be up to John Maine or myself or, you know, one or two guys. I mean, everybody's gonna have to step up and try and pick up the slack and make the loss of those guys have less of an effect than it otherwise might.

So, I mean, the best thing we can do to make the absence of those guys less is to go out there and score a bunch of runs and take all the pressure we can off our pitchers. We'll do what happens, but I think everybody's looking forward to the opportunity.

How feasible would it have been for you to pitch? I know you had a light side session before then. Would you have been fine? Would it have been a sacrifice for you to try to do that?
I mean, it would have been I don't know if I want to use the word "sacrifice," but it would have been an adjustment, yeah. I mean, so much of that, when you come back on early rest, is based on, for me personally, based on the physical side of it and how you feel. I mean, I feel fine. I feel physically as though I could do it.

But, you know, I think that they made the right decision, you know. If you bump me up a day, now you're pitching me on a day's early rest and you're compromising Game 1 and now you're compromising Game 2. It's kind of the same situation we had in Atlanta when Pedro got hurt and we were trying to figure out if I was pitching Game 1 or El Duque was gonna pitch Game 1. I think the decision ultimately ended up being made on what made the most sense. It made the most sense for me to stay on turn and pitch Game 2 and El Duque to stay on turn and pitch Game 1. I think this situation was very similar. By having John pitching Game 1, he stays relatively on turn, I stay on turn and you're not having to mess anybody's schedule to pitch any game. It just keeps everybody flowing in the same spot.

When you signed with the Mets, did you put on a time frame on how long it would be until you beat the Braves?
I don't know what time frame I put on finally beating the Braves or somebody finally beating the Braves. When you're a free agent and you're picking a team that you're ultimately gonna play for, you pick a team that you think is going to give you an opportunity to win. There's no question I felt the opportunity to win here in New York would take place within the four years that I was here. You know, I can't say that I wanted to wait this long or that I haven't had more opportunities before now, but, I mean, that's just the way things have played out.

You know, we've obviously gone through some changes since I've been here. We've put together a real good team this year, so, you know, it's something that I knew was gonna happen and, you know, ultimately, like I say, I wish I didn't have to wait this long but I did and it's been worth the wait and it's been fun. You know, from my standpoint, I'm just looking forward to getting back out there and pitching in the postseason again. I mean, I've missed that, so I'm looking forward to it.

Having been in so many postseasons with the Braves, have you talked to a lot of players who have not been in postseason, or have any of them asked you for advice or just thinking?
I mean, I can't say that I've talked a lot. Indirectly, I guess. If we've had, you know, meetings going into a series or, you know, having a team meeting or a pitchers' meeting, that kind of thing, maybe in that atmosphere I've given a little bit of advice, but not a lot. It's not like I've gone around and counseled everybody or anything like that. Everybody kind of deals with this in their own way, and I think that, you know, as a player that's been through the postseason a lot, I guess, you know, the main message you try and get across to guys is, number one, understanding that there's a whole lot more attention on these games and more media and because of that there can be a lot more distractions and you have to be prepared to deal with that. Secondly, to try and encourage guys to relax. We all tend to get in this atmosphere early on and we start trying too hard and start trying to do things that we're not capable of doing and we end up getting ourselves in trouble. It's the same game. We all have to do the same things to be successful. We tend to put too much pressure on ourselves when we get in this atmosphere. You just try to caution guys not to do that.

What are some of the things you like about John Maine?
I like his make up. He's a tough kid mentally. You know, he doesn't get intimidated a whole lot by what's going on. You know, as the season has gone on, he's gotten more and more aggressive as a pitcher. He's gone after hitters more and more, and I think because of that it's no coincidence he's had more success.

But, I mean, he's got good stuff, you know. He's got a sneaky fastball. He's got a good changeup. His breaking ball has continued to improve. He's a battler. He's going to go out there and give us a chance to win the game and I think we're all confident that he's gonna do that.

You know, he's a typical young pitcher that's trying to find his groove in terms of consistency. I mean, he has the stuff to be good and he has the stuff to be successful at this level, but like all of us early on, you're trying to find the ability to go out there and pitch that way four out of five times instead of two out of five times or three out of five times.

Hong-Chih Kuo has one career win. Can you think back 289, 290 wins ago, what it might have been like for you standing out there tomorrow night in a similar situation?
It would be nerve wracking to say the least, I'm sure. You know, I mean, everybody's different. I don't know his make up. I don't know his personality or anything like that. You know, looking back at my career, at that point in time, I mean, you know, I would have been nervous, no question about it. I like to believe that mentally I could have handled it. But I look at it more from a standpoint of where I was as a pitcher and it's hard to imagine that one career win ago that I would have been the kind of pitcher that could have physically gone out there and pitched a good game. I mean, my mind looking back, I wasn't that good then, you know. But mentally, I like to believe I could have handled it.

He's obviously got good stuff, and that's why he's here. He pitched a great game against us. He has the ability to do it, but there's no question that tomorrow night will be a little bit probably different atmosphere than he's been accustomed to.

Can you talk about how Shea Stadium is different from anyplace else, and what that does for you guys.
Well, I mean, it's crazy here, you know. I mean, you play a game here in front of a packed house or you play a game at Yankee Stadium in front of a packed house, it's the epitome of New York; There's energy, excitement, craziness, all that is boiled into what's going on.

You know, our fans here have been great all year long. You know, they have the ability to, you know, make a 25 or 27,000 crowd sound like the place is sold out. I can't imagine how loud it's going to be here the next couple days. It's just a great atmosphere. They're into it. They know what's going on. They understand the game. They understand the situations. You know, if the true meaning of fan is a fanatic, that's what these people are, they're fanatic about their baseball and certainly about their baseball teams.

You said when you signed here, you thought that eventually the team would get here. Have there been times in the last three and a half years where you had doubts about whether you'd ever pitch in the playoffs again?
Maybe, you know. I mean, I guess it's probably fair to say I had concerns about how long it was gonna take more so whether or not I was ever gonna do it, you know. I mean, looking back at where we were my first year here and the changes that we made during that season and going into that winter and again the following season, you know, at the time, it seemed like it was a long ways off. But I think that's one of the benefits of being in an organization like this where you know they're gonna be aggressive in going out, trying to get players, whether it's through free agency or through trades. You know, large market teams can't afford to sit still very long. I think because of that as a player you recognize that in down times, those teams are gonna be aggressive and try to get better. We certainly did that each and every year. Finally got the final pieces of the puzzle that we needed this past off season and going into spring training.

Like I say, I still believe in my heart of hearts it was something I knew was gonna happen, but, you know, the wait, I don't know, you're never quite sure how long it's gonna take. But, you know, like they say, good things come to those who wait, and it's certainly been worth the wait.

After your injury scare, did you change anything in your approach, your preparation, leading up to your next start?
No, I just take a lot more pills now. I take a lot more St. Joseph's aspirin all the time. Aside from that, no. I mean, that was the kind of thing that I guess I'm more conscious of it now. I'm probably -- not probably, definitely -- a lot less scared of my symptoms now because when your fingers get cold, you don't know what's going on. At least now I know what's going on. I know what I'm dealing with. I know the severity of it and the things I need to be concerned about.

But, you know, more than anything else, I guess it's just eased my mind and made me understand that this is something I have to keep an eye on. But in terms of the physical side of things, no, I mean, my routine has stayed the same, my throwing programs have stayed the same. You know, aside from that, it's been a really healthy year for me so I've been fortunate in that regard.

Do you think or have you thought about the last time that you were in the playoffs? Obviously, it didn't go as well...
God, I thought I'd get out of here without having to answer that.

No, I mean, you know, I think about it in terms of I know it's been a while since I've been in the postseason and I know that I'm obviously excited about getting back out there. You know, sure, I mean, you don't if that was gonna be my last playoff experience, then it certainly wasn't the way I would have wanted it or wanted to remember it. Sure, I want to go out there and pitch well. If this happens to be my last postseason, at least I have a good feeling about it.

I'm not gonna go out there tomorrow and try and undo what happened in 2002 or whatever it was, you know. I mean, you can't go back, you can only go forward and try and do a better job.

You know, that year, playoffs didn't go well for me. I wasn't pitching well at the time. I feel a lot better about where I am as a pitcher right now going into this postseason. Having said that, you never know what's gonna happen when you get out there. You try and put past experiences, I think good or bad, out of your mind and just focus on what you're trying to do and what you've done well leading up to this opportunity and try and continue to do that.