10/02/08 8:41 PM ET
Mark DeRosa pregame interview
Infielder says tonight's game is do or die
By / MLB.com
MARK DeROSA: You know, the whole Brian Roberts thing, he's such a great player, I never took it personal, but at the same time I knew it would directly impact my playing time. I wasn't for the trade (smiling), and talked with Jim Hendry at length about it, and he was great, keeping me up to date with what was going on. It wasn't something I worried too much about. I went to Spring Training like I always do, prepared to be the everyday second baseman. I knew if we did acquire him, I'd be able to move around and hopefully not lose too many at bats.
As far as the heart situation, it was something I battled with a long time and kept hidden for a long time, and played many games going through breathing techniques that I learned as a kid to take me out of that rhythm. No, I always knew that day would come, I just was hoping it would be sitting on my couch and not out on the field, and made to be a big spectacle like it was that day at Fitch Park.
It's been a great season for me personally and for the team. I enjoy playing in Chicago, I love playing for Lou, and I've got 25 guys who really truly have good chemistry together. It's been an awesome season.
It's not do or die, of course, tonight, but how critical is tonight's game, considering that you don't want to go there 0-2?
MARK DeROSA: Yeah, I think it's pretty do or die (laughter). I do. You don't want to get on that four-and-a-half hour plane flight down 0-2. That being said, you can't go out and put undue pressure on yourself. There's enough pressure involved in being in the postseason to begin with, and if you're trying to hit a three run homer with nobody on base, you're not going to come through too many times.
I felt like that's what we did last night. We fell behind 4-2, and we've come from behind a lot this year, so there was never a doubt that we could score runs. But at the same time, you felt like everyone was trying to do it by themselves. I just think we need to relax a little bit and let our offense flow.
Why do you think the three big hitters, Soriano, Lee and Ramirez, last year and this year in the playoffs are having so much trouble? Are they being pitched tough, getting more breaking pitches? What's going on?
MARK DeROSA: I don't know, Aramis hit a double, D Lee had his base hit to left field, Sori struggled at the plate, but Sori has been a streaky hitter all year. He's one of those guys that can hit seven homers in a week and change the complexion of the game.
That's what's so tough about a short series. You've got to catch teams at the right time. I got asked a lot of questions, who would we rather face coming in, whether it be the Dodgers, Mets or Phillies. They all present tough problems. You don't want to face CC twice. You don't want to face Johan twice. Derek Lowe has been the hottest pitcher in baseball.
The 3-4 guys, even in my times with Atlanta, Chipper Joneses and Gary Sheffields, the teams are not going to let those guys get pitched to in big situations. I thought Ryan did a great job of managing Manny, so to speak. He's a guy who came up quite a bit yesterday with men on base and could have changed the game in a hurry, and we were able to -- I don't want to say not let him beat this, because he ended up hitting a curveball that was a foot off the ground into the seats, but I just think teams game plan not to let the big guys beat them.
A couple of guys said that last night maybe they weren't quite as focused as they need to be. The first question is, was last night a wake up call? And the second question is, since you have so many guys who are part of the core of last year's team, how anxious are you to finally get a playoff win?
MARK DeROSA: If you can't get focused for this, you're in the wrong profession. I think everyone was focused. I just think sometimes you need to live for the moment, whether you fail or whether you get a big hit or whether you strike out with the bases loaded, you want to be in that situation, live to be in that situation. Easier said than done. There's a lot of pressure in this environment and there's a lot of pressure with what's written about on a daily basis with this team.
But a lot of guys, we really don't worry about it. I think Lou has done a great job this year of kind of putting out the fire of the whole 100 year thing. Saying this team needs to stand on its own merit, and I truly believe that. There's not a guy in that clubhouse who really is worried about that. We're just trying to go out there, and we feel like we've been the best team in the National League all year. But we were the best team in the marathon. We need to be the best team in the sprint. I think we need to find a way to get a W tonight and everyone relax a little bit.
How did Lou let you know about the lineup change? And what kind of difference do you think it'll make tonight?
MARK DeROSA: I haven't even looked at the lineup.
Well, you're hitting fifth, Theriot is hitting second and Kosuke is hitting eighth.
MARK DeROSA: You know, I didn't know if I was going to play the outfield and Fontenot was going to play second. I didn't know whether he was going to play Fukudome, whether he was going to go for defense or offense, what he was going to do.
Lou is a guy obviously the top of our order pretty much stays the same. Ryan has batted second I'd say 90% of the time all year. So the front four in our lineup has pretty much stayed the game. As far as me and Geo and Jimmy are concerned, he looks at match ups, what we've done in the past off certain guys, and he kind of goes according to that. So I wasn't surprised that the three of us kind of have been shifted all year.
A lot of people are commenting on the fans last night, that they were quieter than normal. What did you hear on the field, and what do you think about that?
MARK DeROSA: No, they've been great all year. I mean, they'll let you know when you don't do something well. You could have heard a pin drop when James Loney hit the grand slam. I was the same way when it happened. I mean, it's one of those situations where every pitch you're on top, and everyone is expecting great things out of this team. A two-out walk is considered a rally in the postseason.
Our fans have been great. They've been true to us to a fault sometimes. So I've got no complaints with them.
What has Rich Harden done for you guys since he came over, and how much confidence do you have knowing you've got a guy that dominating going in Game 3 of the series?
MARK DeROSA: Well, I mean, he's taken us from a postseason team, to a team that has a shot at winning the whole thing. He solidifies the entire rotation. You've got Dempster and Z who have pitched great, Ted Lilly has won 17 games, Jason Marquis has pitched close to 200 innings the last five years of his career, and then to add Rich Harden, who when he's healthy, he has some of the best stuff in the game, top three or four in the game.
What's impressive to me about Rich is he's able to go out there without his best stuff and go five, six innings, two hits. I constantly ask him how he's able to do that.
You know, I've faced him in the past, and I know match up problems he presents. So hopefully he goes out there and we have a 1-1 tie going out there with him on the mound.
The first half of the season no one spoke more highly of Fukudome and what he brought to the team. As a student of baseball, what are you seeing? What's happened? He's hit around .200 or even worse since then. Do you feel badly for him? Is he maybe that whole pressure thing has maybe gotten to him a little bit?
MARK DeROSA: I don't know, it's such a huge adjustment. I always liken it back to when I played winter ball in Venezuela. If not for the couple of guys I knew who grew up in Venezuela and played there to take care of me, I would have been lost over there. So for him to come over here and try and learn a new language, and fit in with a few team, and have all the expectations placed on him. It had to be tough. He's handled it with class and with grace. He's an unbelievable teammate.
It's just one of those things. I truly believe you don't hit .350 with 30 homers and win battle titles and MVP titles over in Japan and come over here and not succeed. I think he will be able to succeed at this level. I think for whatever reason he got into a funk and wasn't able to get out of it.
I was just curious if Lou said anything to the club last night or today?
MARK DeROSA: No, he didn't say anything. He doesn't have to say anything. You know, the looks on his face and when you look down at the end of the bench, you can tell how we're playing just by how he's sitting on the bench on the look on his face.
He doesn't need to say anything. We police ourselves. We've got a veteran team, so we don't really need any motivational speeches.
I played football a long time, and it's tough. You want to throw on the heavy metal music and get everybody fired up, but baseball is not like that.
Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.