Oct. 1 Dusty Baker pregame interview
Q. The way you have to manage this game, is it equivalent of Game 7?
DUSTY BAKER: I mean, it's the same as any elimination game because you know the winner takes all and the loser goes home. There is no tomorrow.
The score, the scoreboard, the inning, all that dictates how you manage.
Q. This is the third time in four years you've gone to the post‑season with a club that hasn't gone for about 13 years. How proud are you of that fact?
DUSTY BAKER: Well, I'm very proud of my team. It's not about having pride in myself. I'm proud to have been with these young players from the time a lot of them just got to the big leagues. I've been the only manager that some of them have had.
We have trained these guys. We have tutored them. We're still teaching things from time to time. Probably what I'm most proud of, of me, is the fact that last year at this time I was two weeks removed from my stroke. I wasn't as clear‑headed then as I am now.
It was difficult to come here in this setting, in this interview room, because there were a lot of things I couldn't think of, a lot of times I couldn't put things into word the way I'd like to ordinarily. That's the one thing I'm very thankful for, that last year at this time my family and myself, we were a bit apprehensive and nervous at this time.
Q. The success you've had in the regular season, do you think that's sometimes lost because you haven't had success in the playoffs?
DUSTY BAKER: Yeah, probably so. I don't think there are a lot of people that appreciate what we put together, what we've done.
We're in a society that there's only one room at the top. Again, I would like to think if you keep perservering, you'll get to the top. If you don't get to these settings, you have no chance of being a champion.
It hurts to go home. It hurts to lose. I really can't imagine losing and going home now. So this is a very, very important series for us all, a very important series for our town, and a very important series for our players.
When I got here, a lot were kids, but now they're men.
Q. The challenges of putting together a roster for a one‑game series like this and the expectations for Hamilton tonight?
DUSTY BAKER: It wasn't that big of a challenge to put the roster together for one game. The challenge will be in the ensuing series. Bronson wasn't available because he just pitched. Homer wasn't available because he just pitched. Our decision to start Cueto was made up for us on Latos' injury.
Our expectations of Hamilton is to help us win, and any way he can help us win, we're going to try. The hard part about Hamilton is waiting for the most opportune time to use him and his skills.
Willie McGee came up to the Cardinals as a rookie and they remind me of each other, the different things they do. Also the fact that Willie McGee came unheralded from the Yankees. He was on loan. He ended up being a World Series hero. Didn't have to give him back to the Yankees. Worked out a trade.
I believe in history repeating itself at some point in time.
Q. Did you think about starting him today?
DUSTY BAKER: No, I didn't. I don't think he's ready to start yet. People are making a star out of him ahead of schedule because he's so exciting. But let's not forget he just started switch hitting a year ago. Different things he has to learn. He just started playing centerfield a year ago. He went from shortstop to centerfield. The fact that (indiscernible) because he was hitting .251. So there's some things that aren't great for him.
I try to put guys in a situation where they'll most likely succeed. Also every play, I'm not going to set Choo down, I'm not going to set Bruce down and also I'm not going to set Ludwick down, at least maybe until late in the game, because he needs experience. A lot of times you can say, I'm going to perform, but you don't really know until you get there in the pressure situation.
Q. Do you think this hyped‑up environment gives you a better chance at performing?
DUSTY BAKER: That's a very good question. I've been on both sides. I've seen it happen both ways.
The only thing is that you can be relaxed as possible, but it's in the hands of the pitcher. I repeat, these games here, great‑pitched game you have a great chance to win. The team that hits in the clutch, especially with a two‑out situation, are usually the team that wins.
Q. What do you like the way about the way Hanigan works with Cueto? How big was that in your decision to start Cueto tonight?
DUSTY BAKER: Certain guys, Hanigan has caught over the last couple years. He caught close to 90 games, close to winning 20 last year. He's caught all the Royals games. There's certain guys they think alike because they're on the same page. He's more of a veteran than Rocco. Rocco is still learning how to catch. Like I said, we have a lot of guys still in the process of learning. That was an easy decision, very easy.
Q. Knowing Cueto as well as you do, what do you need to see from him early in the game?
DUSTY BAKER: If you know Johnny Cueto like I know Johnny Cueto, he thrives in this type of environment. Everybody is capable of not having a good game. The one thing about Johnny, he loves pressure. He loves to be in the big games. He was so happy. If you'd seen this guy, the happiness that he exuded when he was told he was starting this game. I mean, let's not forget, he was our number one starter last year when he got hurt. We had to go to our number two, Latos, in San Francisco in Game 5. It would have been Johnny Cueto's game again.
We didn't put him in that position; he put himself in that position.