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10/25/05 7:07 PM ET

Phil Garner pregame interview

Manager says focus is on baseball game, not roof

For those of us from out of town, looking around and see all the banners and everything, you talked about it before, how big is this for Houston and the State of Texas to have a World Series here?

PHIL GARNER: I think this is large. Forty-four years of the organization and we've done a lot of things good. Our organization has done a lot of things good in the last 12 years.

I want to say we've been the fourth best winning percentage in baseball. And I think that people talk very kindly about us, but I think this really validates what the organization has accomplished over the years.

But let's face it, you have to get to the World Series to say things have gone well. The excitement in the city and around the state and for the people that work in our organization that don't get noticed a lot, this is a lot of fun, and I think it validates a job well done for a number of years for a lot of people.

MLB has rendered their decision about the roof. How disappointed are you, how vociferously did you lobby for having it closed?

GARNER: I think our general manager Tim worked real hard. We've been consistent all year long with what we've done. We'll play with the roof open if that's what the decision is, we'll go with it, we have a game to play tonight.

In Chicago you said you weren't sure about Roger, yesterday you said he will start Game 5. What have you seen that makes you think that, outside of -- is there any improvement, in other words?

GARNER: Let me make that perfectly clear. I thought what I said yesterday was that I had him penciled in for 5, and that somebody had asked what the options were, we said Wandy and Ezequiel were the options. If I misspoke yesterday, let me clarify that. He's still sore. I still have him penciled in for 5. I have not said definitely one way or another that he is starting or not starting. We're still day to day with him.

I have not spoken with him today so I don't know what to tell you today, if we're a whole lot better, if we're further on that or not.

Your players were very vocal yesterday about their preference, too, to have the roof closed. Do you need to say something to them, similar to what you said here?

GARNER: We have a game to play today, let's get on with it. I haven't said anything to any of the players. Let's get on with it, don't worry about it.

A.J. Pierzynski is a lightning rod for distraction, has been his whole career. Is that something you talked about not being distracted by a guy like him? He seems to be able to take people out of their game sometimes.

GARNER: I'm not aware of that. I don't feel like he's taken us out of our game, and I'm not aware of any discussions going on about that.

Your club has been so good at home, with the roof closed, the players seem to believe that that gives them an edge. Do you lose any of that edge at all tonight or the next few games with the roof open?

GARNER: We have a game to play tonight, closed, whatever, open, whatever, we're going to play the game tonight. We need to focus on what we do which is play the game, leave all that other stuff alone. We're going to play tonight.

Does Roger have to have a throw day before the start or this time of year does he go without one?

GARNER: He does have a throw day. I wouldn't think that he had to. I have not addressed that with him.

You were talking about how disappointed you've been with the way you guys pitched in Chicago, how much of that has to do with tenacity of the White Sox at bats, fouling out pitches, getting your pitchers deeper in the pitch count than they normally would?

GARNER: They did a good job at that. I would have to say they stayed into the counts a lot of times. But I felt we haven't pitched our best, either, we haven't made the quality of pitches that we're capable of doing yet. So it's been a combination of both. They've had some good at bats, we haven't pitched as well as we can.

Given Roger's status is day to day, how much input from him will you take? He'll say he wants to go, even if it is still bothering him. How much credence will you give that vs. what your trainers tell you?

GARNER: We'll listen to Roger.

How much communication have you had with Roger these last few days and what exactly has he been doing to try to get better?

GARNER: He's been doing -- he's iced it. He's had some rubdowns, I think done some things in the swimming pool, those are the kind of things to do to try to get himself ready. I have not talked to him today so I don't know what all he's been doing today. I don't know where he is today -- where he is in virtue of the injury. He's in Houston (laughter.)

I read that your wife was on the commission to help design this place. What was your role and what do you think about what they came up with? What do you think about this place, its design?

GARNER: Well, I honestly do like it (laughter). But the Sports Authority Board was -- is the public entity that has the authority to create the bond issues and receive the money to fund the stadiums, did this stadium, reliant, and Toyota Center. And she was on the original Sports Authority Board that did Minute Maid and there are a lot of people that spent a lot of time, pro bono, worked very hard, to build this stadium for the city, for the players, for everybody.

I like it and I appreciate having seen it firsthand and the amount of work that a lot of people did to do this. A lot of people had full time jobs. I don't know how they did it. Because my wife had to work very hard daily for several years to do this.

Willy seems to be back in the lineup full time now. Is that in part because he can run a little better on Pierzynski than he could on Molina, and how much better do you think your guys are with him in the lineup?

GARNER: Well, he's playing very well. I thought Chris Burke was swinging a hot bat. And I played Chris in that role, not because Willy wasn't doing anything, it just looked like Chris was on a hot streak. It wasn't because I think he could run on Molina, and I put him back in the lineup and he's swinging the bat pretty good, so we're going to stay with that.

Have you thought back at all about '79 and where you guys were as players back then, any reflection on that?

GARNER: Yes, I've thought about it. We won that series.

Yes, you did.

GARNER: Yeah. We were down in that series, too. So you can draw on that. It's a good analogy. It was actually colder and wetter and rainier in that series than it was in Chicago the other night. I don't think my players believe me when I told them it was colder and rainier and I played without any shoes (laughter) because the mud kept getting on my spikes. In any rate, we managed to come back and win that series and so it gives you something to draw on.

Knowing that many ex-catchers go on to become managers, do you see that kind of as a future for Brad if he chooses to do that?

GARNER: I'm convinced that Brad on several occasions has tried to get me fired so he could take over the team this year. Fortunately he hasn't succeeded just yet. I just absolutely think Brad would make a terrific manager. I rely on him a great deal. I trust his judgment. His judgment is good now. I can only imagine it would get better if he decides to stay in the game and go on and coach and manage.

Would you discuss Roy's just being with Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte, what you think he's learned from those guys?

GARNER: Well, I think he's probably learned a few things. I'm not sure how much he might have learned from them, but I think what he already knew is probably confirmed. I think Roy -- a lot of times young kids, and a lot of things have come fairly natural to Roy, he's a good worker. But I think when you see what Pettitte and Clemens do on a daily basis, the work habits they have, the discipline they have, the set regimen, that coincides with longevity, I think those are probably things that will sit home with Roy. And they're probably a good influence for him.

But you won't notice it immediately; it's probably something that will happen down the road a little bit. But Roy was a pretty good pitcher in his own right before those guys got here. It's nothing but positive influence, but it will show up later.

Having gone behind 0-2 to the Cardinals in the LCS and come back and won the next three at home, does that give you any added confidence in a situation like this?

GARNER: It does. That was a strange coincidence last year, because the team won all the home games. We don't want that to happen again, but we wouldn't mind the middle portion of that happening, certainly. But we were talking about the '79 World Series, it's just one of those things that says it's possible. And I think all of our players -- I don't think any of them have gotten here thinking about what's impossible or what might not happen. They all think in terms of what can happen and what we can do.

So certainly we're not in good shape, being down two games, but that's why it's a seven game series, still a lot of baseball to play.

Lidge's last three have not been clean, and he got beat on a fastball last night. Is something off with his slider that makes him go away from that pitch a little?

GARNER: No, it was a slider that (Albert) Pujols hit out of the park the other night. I think it's all about the release point. When he has the fastball, when he wants to, then his slider is where it wants to be. If he's off on the fastball then his slider tends to be erratic. It's a question of his release point. He's healthy, but as is the case in a lot of times, what we didn't see last year was an unusual year in my opinion for a guy that throws the ball 95 to 97 miles an hour consistently, he was paying with his fastball all year. When you're throwing a ball where you want to with that speed and that's the release point for your slider, so his slider is outstanding. He was consistent all last year. He's had points this year where he's been as brilliant as last year, and times where he's not been as consistent. And that's more what you see with a guy that throws this kind of velocity. He'll be fine. He'll do just fine.

Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.