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10/06/08 8:50 PM ET

A postgame interview with Joe Maddon

Rays manager talks about the importance of his pitching staff

JOE MADDON: Before I start just want to say to the White Sox. Ozzie already came over and congratulated us. Was extremely classy on his part. I appreciate that very much. It was a very classy move on Ozzie's part. Absolutely.

You said last week when you drive into a game you envision what it would be like. Was this what you envisioned, a game like that?

JOE MADDON: Wow it was a good game. You are -- yes. I mean, we pitched well. We caught the ball on defense once again. We had some timely hits. B.J. really rose to the occasion. If you have seen us play all year we've played that game a lot. That's what's so nice. When you keep things simple and you just play the fundamentals of the game appropriately and then good things can happen. Especially when you are playing with a bunch of skillful young men like we have.

So, again, it was that kind of story's played out for us a lot this year and it was fantastic. Did I envision it, have I absolutely got to see it first before it ever happens.

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Joe, when people look at your rotation Andy usually tends to get overlooked. Was this kind of like your typified Andy Sonnanstine game attacking hitters in the strike zone?

JOE MADDON: That is typical. He's been a winner his entire life. He is the kind of guy when he is coming up. First of all to get signs is not easy but he is not throwing 90 something miles an hour then he's got to move his way through the minor leagues just by winning. Years ago Marcel Lacheman told me pay attention to those guys also and not just be concerned about a radar gun reading. If a guy wins consistently, pay attention to him. That's what he has done. He is a winner. Pitching today did not surprise me. He had great composure from the fist pitch. He made two mistakes with the fastball and they were both hit out. He is a winner. He is well thought out. And again you have a lot of faith in him. The guys love playing behind him.

When he have extra batting practice Sonni comes out and shags for the guy. He is a total team guy and everybody really respects him.

Dealing with your division as you did, was that almost a sort of preparation for this?

JOE MADDON: I've spoken about that for a couple years now. People when I first came along said we should get out of the American League East. I'm asking why. What a better -- what better battle testing can you possibly get than going to Fenway often and going to Yankee Stadium often and of course Baltimore and Toronto.

Really we play almost 80 games against these people and you play it under very difficult conditions. Like your ballpark tonight, that is about as severe as it gets with the blackout. I think that's fantastic what the people of Chicago do.

But having played in Fenway as often as we have and a full Yankee Stadium it prepares you for these moments. I love playing in the American League East. To be able to represent them as Division Champs and now get to the Championship Series is a great feeling for all of us.

Joe, everyone knows about the effectiveness of your pitching rotation. But still not many folks were necessarily expecting a four hit game. Was there something different your pitchers did to achieve such a feat here?

JOE MADDON: Again, we talk about it a lot, what I want us to do and our entire minor league system to do is pitch with fastball command. The best pitch is a strike and also with your fastball.

You saw Sonni predominantly pitch with his fastball again tonight. You'll see Shieldsy do it and Kaz do it and Garza do it. I love it. We just attack the hitters. We are aggressive. You are looking for them to put the ball in play and you have to have good deputies behind them.

I think the fact our defense is so good encourages our pitchers to do that. When you know the ball is going to be covered nicely behind you are more apt to want to throw the ball within the zone. That's a basic tenent philosophy we have and we want to nurture it and have it grow even further.

But that's what you saw tonight. You saw Sonni do it then you saw J.P. who has been magnificent all year then of course grabbed at the very end. Nothing fancy just pretty basic.

Joe, B.J.'s performance tonight you have, Evan's performance early hitting two home runs. With these guys they've been highly touted, whatever, when it comes to the post season it doesn't always come through. Can you talk about their performance in the series and looking ahead to what they can do in the Championship Series?

JOE MADDON: Yeah I mean they're really talented young men. I know everybody knows that. That's not a profound statement by me. They're very talented. And both of them are really in the moment. They go out and they play baseball and they're not concerned or worried about everything that's going on around them.

That's the beauty of these guys. And furthermore they're going to keep getting better. I mean, this is just the beginning for these guys also. I mean, there's a lot left for both of these guys, areas to improve in and they know it. They'll be the first to tell you that.

And doesn't surprise me. Because of their skill level and the way they handle the moment. They're very under control all the time.

Did you expect this kind of response from B.J. that night in Texas when you jerked him off the field?

JOE MADDON: B.J., yeah, B.J., don't mistake this whole situation. B.J. is a wonderful young man. He's a great teammate. And he's going to be a spectacular baseball player.

When we did that that night it was just, you know, at some point you preach so long then you have to do it. No different than being a father with your kid at curfew whatever I've already used the analogies. You got to be more demonstrative and that's all it was.

I like the young man a lot. I could use the word love. And I know he has a lot of respect coming back towards me also.

Sometimes you got to do those things. Again, it's no different than parenting. Its the same principles. He responded great. Didn't make excuses, didn't push it off on somebody else. And he is really made a difference I think in his baseball career right now. And like I said he is going to keep getting better. This is just the beginning for a lot of our guys and that's the impressive part to maintain this kind of focus and intensity. That's going to be the challenge as they move down the road in the years to come.

Joe, does the champagne taste sweeter tonight than it did last week at the Trop?

JOE MADDON: I don't know it's always tasted pretty sweet. That never gets old right there, man. When you get an at any time to celebrate and our guys are really good celebrators by the way. Very proud of them in that regard. You got to go for it. These things -- and the one thing I told our players post All Star break is to treat this situation with respect. And they have. We have. In other words, you are not going to be in this situation on an annual basis. You work to try to be but it's very difficult to be in this position on an annual basis. We happen to be here right now. Let's treat it with respect and learn some lessons from this whole thing so we can repeat it in a positive ways in years to come.

Joe, first in the setting do you feel like you are a professor teaching study hall?

JOE MADDON: I kind of dig it here. (Laughter.) I've done a lot of clinics in Europe and all over the place. We've had all these kind of rooms. This would be a great clinic room here. This would be awesome.

Talk about treating it with respect, what do you mean by that?

JOE MADDON: To not take it for granted that it's going to occur all the time. To treat this moment with respect, treat the game with respect. Play it right. I mean, too many times I think this game is evolved to the point where everybody just notices the statistical information based on hitting and, of course, pitching. But nobody really -- I know I shouldn't say nobody. The nuances of the game, the secondary league, hitting the cutoff man, taking the extra base. Your team here the White Sox great on tagging up. Believe me they're one of the best. Griffey showed it last night. All the nuances of the game, treat it with respect and play the game right.

And that way you don't have to be concerned about playing the Yankees or the Red Sox or the White Sox whomever. Beat the game through execution that's the way it comes down to. That's the part I want us to understand when it comes to the respectful part of playing baseball. It's not just about making money or about hitting .300 or whatever. It's about playing the game properly.

We have a bunch of guys starting to understand that. I want to move this thing forward next Spring training I'm already thinking about that is to really get even better fundamentally. That's the part that sees you through on an annual basis. Right now I think more that happen ever just playing the game fundamentally sound gives you a chance to stay afloat. And I really -- that's the point -- when you talk about the Ray way that's the part I really want to be able to pound home in the future.

Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports.

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