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Oct. 16 Mike Matheny pregame interview

MLB.com

Q. Could you just talk a little bit about what you learned about managing a team when you played for Tony La Russa?

MIKE MATHENY: Well, I think everybody that was fortunate to play for Tony took in a lot of things, things he said, how he went about his business. I was in the fortunate position too; even while I was playing, he was kind of always talking to me about the philosophies. After I finished playing I was able to stay involved in the organization to where he was talking to me about managing before I knew that I'd have an opportunity to have this position. So to have a Hall of Famer and someone of Tony's caliber, to be able to sit and just listen to, it's invaluable.

Q. Could you just talk a little bit about what you learned about managing a team when you played for Tony La Russa?

MIKE MATHENY: Well, I think everybody that was fortunate to play for Tony took in a lot of things, things he said, how he went about his business. I was in the fortunate position too; even while I was playing, he was kind of always talking to me about the philosophies. After I finished playing I was able to stay involved in the organization to where he was talking to me about managing before I knew that I'd have an opportunity to have this position. So to have a Hall of Famer and someone of Tony's caliber, to be able to sit and just listen to, it's invaluable.

Q. A year ago at this time you were sitting in this very same position up 3 1. Are there any lessons that you as a manager took from last year? And do you have to relay any of that to your players at this time?

MIKE MATHENY: We're in constant communication in our clubhouse. We have meetings every day with pitchers and hitters and everybody just kind of making the rounds. We've been very clear about the urgency. Not that we had a lack of it last year, as much as just let's remember and a realization of how quickly that can change, not to take anything for granted. Right now, just keep playing the game. Don't get too far ahead, but also don't live in the past, but remember what happened, learn from it, and let's see if we can change the course.

Q. I was wondering if you could describe sort of the mechanics of that pickoff yesterday and how much confidence you must have and Kozma must have to call that play? In that situation, does Yadier have a veto power of any sort if he sees that a play like that is on?

MIKE MATHENY: No, that all happened so fast that I'm not involved; Yadi's not involved. That's Pete Kozma. Really, if Carlos doesn't turn around and take a peak, that is probably an easily stolen base. He needed to make a turn. Nobody could hear anybody at that particular time because the noise was so loud. But Pete saw an opportunity. Really, hat's off to a young player to not just try to get the pitcher to step off but try to create a play. Now after that it goes straight into the hands of Carlos, which more often than not you're going to see even a veteran pitcher who has had a lot of experience step off and just try to stop him from running. But Carlos' athleticism took over. His instincts and aggressiveness and faith and trust in himself turned into an incredible play. I think you really have a handful of guys at most in this league that could pull that play off in any situation, let alone the situation we were in last night.

Q. Are you at liberty to tell us a couple things that La Russa emphasized to you about managing? Obviously it was really helpful being a catcher and knowing the game through the eyes of a catcher?

MIKE MATHENY: Well, we'd be here all day. I mean, the different things I was able to learn from every manager I was able to spend time around let alone one who is investing to you to start thinking on a different level. But you could start with your pitching staff, and even as a player how he would explain what he was thinking and why he would use a guy here and not there. Then everything down to the running game and what he was trying to do to eliminate that, then just the ins and outs of dealing with people. He was an open book in the way that he managed and how he communicated with me, which I know is a gift. It's something I'll always be grateful for. You could go topic to topic all the way across this game and the responsibilities of this job. He made an intentional move to try to help me learn.

Q. During the regular season you were very proactive in using your bench guys keep them fresh. How much more difficult does that role become at this time of year when you don't have the luxury of getting them the spot starts?

MIKE MATHENY: Yeah, the guys are going to have to work hard. We say that a lot. One of the most difficult positions in this game, not the guy that has to go out and gets to go out and grind every day is the guy that tries to stay sharp without having game experience. But you look at Shane Robinson walking into a game last night and being able to do what he did, that just shows the extra effort he's had to put in to try and be ready. But our bench guys have understood their role. I think they accept it, but also they're driven to change that role by making the most of the opportunities that they get, and that's what you want. You don't want anybody complacent with being the guy that's going to be out there every once in a while. They all need to want to be out there. That takes a whole lot of work to try and stay sharp, which, hats off to our staff for the guys and the work they're putting in, Bengie Molina and John Mabry with trying to keep these guys ready to go when the time comes. But right now they get it. We've got to put our best foot forward. If the guys are all performing how they should, there might not be many starts, but when they come in it could be an opportunity to change the game like what happened last night.

Q. Are Freese and/or Kozma in the lineup today?

MIKE MATHENY: Yes, yeah, both.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.