10/07/2004 4:35 PM ET
Garner pregame quotes
Astros manager says Backe will start Game 3
Q. How is Beltran?
PHIL GARNER: He's getting some treatment as we speak. He's going to hit some in the cage. I've encouraged him, if he feels pretty good in the cage, let's go ahead and do BP. Right now I have him in the lineup.
Q. Now that you have one victory, what are your thoughts about your rotation?
PHIL GARNER: I continue only to look through Saturday, or to Saturday. Right now, Backe will start Saturday, and that's as far as I've gone in consideration of the rotation. We're going to do everything we can to do what we can through Saturday and then we'll see what happens after that.
Q. Does Clemens pitching depend on whether you are up 2 games or down 2 games to 1?
PHIL GARNER: I have not even -- I had given it some thought, but I have not come to any decision on it yet. Probably won't until after Saturday.
Q. Given Backe's positive performance in the last game, have you given any thought to how that might affect him to going back to start at home?
PHIL GARNER: I think that obviously has given him a lot of courage and confidence, is the word I really wanted. Because he has pitched well at home, and, obviously, the last game that he pitched at home is without question the biggest game he's ever been involved in in his life and career. For him to pitch well, drive in the first two runs of the ballgame with a base hit on an 0-2 count, I think that's fantastic for him. There's just no question in my mind that he's feeling real confident right now. I think that's good for him coming into Saturday's game.
Obviously, to pitch at home, where he's pitched his absolute best.
Q. Is he one of the more pleasant surprises you've ever had as a manager? As an infielder a few years ago, you'd never seen him pitch?
PHIL GARNER: Yes, he is. Not only is he a surprise, because you do take him as an infielder and turn him into a pitcher, but he really wasn't on the radar screen when I came on. I just saw the name and it was mentioned. We had several other guys ahead of him and he was down in the depth chart a little bit. But obviously he stepped up. The big thing everybody says, you're going to like this guy's energy, and you do. He comes to the ballpark full of energy, he can never stand still. Watch him during batting practice, he's running all over the place. He does that game days, too, he goes crazy.
So he's a lot of fun to have on the team because he does have all this youthful exuberance. He's also a kid that I think is a good study. He pays attention, he tries to learn, and what he's done is he's made some changes, and I think they're changes that are going to help him and going to work well for him.
He's pitched a little better in the strike zone than he did when he first started and I think that's helped with his success some.
So we're excited to have him. He has been a great surprise for me.
Q. Two-part question regarding Beltran. When you guys were not doing well in July and August there was speculation he might be traded, and now during the offseason what priority is he to keep?
PHIL GARNER: The first part of the question, there was never a conversation about unloading Beltran or breaking the team up that went on ?? that went beyond saying, "There will be a time we might have to consider it." Gerry Hunsicker, our general manager, never said to me, even in our darkest hour, if you look on the schedule, I don't remember the dates we were in Philadelphia, we had dinner, I said that this looks pretty bad. I said, "Gerry, I'm not giving up on the team but we're not turning this thing around. I thought by now we would have turned it around." He gave no comment, no consideration to breaking the team up. His only comment was that he was going to give this club every chance it could to succeed, and I'll give him credit because I would think that most people, if you're under the gun and you know the team's probably got a chance of losing a bunch of money, you might have looked at it a little bit differently.
But never to me did he ever discuss breaking this ballclub up. It's always been "we were going to keep it together." I've got to hand him ?? give Gerry credit for that. That of course helps me because it keeps me on task. I don't have to look at it differently.
As far as Carlos in the off?season, I have not thought about the off?season. I would just tell you that as a Houston fan ? and I've been living in Houston for a long time now ? I would hope Houston signs him. He's a great player to watch play, certainly one of the most talented, if not the most talented player, I've ever had the pleasure of being around. He's a terrific all?around player and he's a good young man in addition to all that.
If you're going to make a big investment, we've had some terrific players in Houston, those good all?around, Bagwell and Biggio, we put investments in, he's the kind of kid you want to put an investment in. I would hope that from the fan's perspective, me being a fan in Houston, they would get it done and could get it done.
Q. If Beltran is not able to play, what will you do?
PHIL GARNER: Jason Lane will bat second, play rightfield, Berkman go to center.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.