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10/05/11 7:26 PM ET

Workout Day Interview With Joe Girardi

Q. Joe, we obviously were just asking Ivan a lot about how he feels, how do you feel about putting him on the mound?

JOE GIRARDI: I feel good. He's been successful for us all year long. He threw well the first playoff game. A lot of times that's the one that you worry about the most.

The bottom line is you have to go out and make your pitches. If you make your pitches, we're going to have a shot.

Q. Joe, just wondering what you've seen from Nova compared to when you first saw him when he first came into the organization, how much he's grown into sort of what he is now.

JOE GIRARDI: I got my first good look at him last year when he came up. What I've seen is a pitcher who has added a pitch, a slider, which has been really beneficial. He's learned to mix his pitches better. And he's learned to manage innings, where it seemed in his first experience last year in August and September, tough month to pitch in our division, innings would sometimes get away from him. That's been the biggest progress I've seen. The added slider, his ability to manage innings now.

Q. He just told us he's not nervous at all. You're around the guy all the time, does that surprise you at all?

JOE GIRARDI: You know, I'm sure tomorrow he'll have a few butterflies. But it's an off day. Guys are relaxed. A lot of times on an off day, you turn your mind off, in a sense. You try to get away from the game. We've been going at it hard and getting into cities late. So I'm not surprised that he's relaxed.

I've seen him relaxed all year. That's just kind of his personality. He's kind of a laid back kid.

Q. Even in light of that, maybe that laid back attitude, in Spring Training he was adamant he was going to win a job in the rotation. When you had to send him down, he was pretty adamant he didn't like that decision. He doesn't seem to concede on his talent at all. Is that an attitude you like? Do you agree? What do you see in the way he feels about himself and his stuff?

JOE GIRARDI: When I say he's laid back, I don't mean there's not fire inside of him. There's not the desire to be the best that you can be. His personality is just not loud, it's not boisterous, it's not real emotional. He'll show a little emotion on the mound, but not a whole lot. I love this kid's determination. His determination to get better. His determination to be a part of this staff. To never go down again. To win. That's what I see from he's a very hard worker. And it's paid off.

Q. Joe, what went into the decision to send him down? Just a numbers thing?

JOE GIRARDI: It was a numbers thing, really. We had an 18 game winner coming off the DL, basically. That's not something that happens very often. I've talked about it a number of times. I've told him, "Look, this is a tough decision, because you are pitching so well. But go down and work on a few things and make it so that we can never send you down again." He went down with the right attitude. He did.

A lot of times you'll hear through the grapevine a guy complaining through friends or other people. I never heard him complain. He just went about his business. You know what, he's made it so we can't send him down.

Q. Joe, this is the second time he's going to see them. He hadn't seen them before. How much adjustment is he going to have to make? And do you expect them to adjust to him?

JOE GIRARDI: A pitcher is who he is. I don't think you abandon who you are because a team is seeing you again. You go through that all the time when you are playing your own division. Everybody knows what he's got. The bottom line is he has to make his pitches. He's got to use them all. He's got to pitch inside. He's got to get a breaking ball going and use both sides of the plate and elevate and throw down in the zone. But I don't think you have to abandon what you did the time before. If you make your pitches, most of the time you're going to get people out.

Q. Joe, can you just talk about just the scenario. I mean it's one game for it all here.

JOE GIRARDI: This is what we fought so hard for during the course of the season. You have two very good teams playing tomorrow night. Unfortunately, one of us is going to go home. And that's the hard part about this game, because your season is going to end so abruptly, in a sense. But we've worked hard to get to this point. We feel good about our starter. They probably feel good about their starter. And time is going to tell.

Q. Was there a start this year with Nova where you said, boy, maybe we've got a front end of the rotation guy?

JOE GIRARDI: Cincinnati.

Q. What was it about that?

JOE GIRARDI: His slider was dominant. And we saw it a couple more times during the course of the season when it was dominant. And it's a pitch for him that some days he's really got it. Those days are the days you see the seven, eight, nine strikeouts. Other days he has it and he doesn't have it. But it's a work in progress. My hope is that he's got it tomorrow.

Q. Joe, is there any connection, as much as the media would like to think so, between the criticism your hitters get after a Game 3 and the bats coming alive in Game 4?

JOE GIRARDI: No, I don't think so. I don't. I think whenever you're in a short series, everything is magnified. If a guy starts off 0 for 8 during the season, I don't think people are going to say a whole lot, if he's a guy that has a big track record. But when it's the postseason, you're supposed to get a hit every time. The superstars are supposed to do no wrong, and you're supposed to be able to ride on their backs. But that's not the way the game works.

The other side is paid to get you out. The other side is paid to get hits off of you. That's the bottom line. So I don't think there's any correlation, but I think what happens is if you continue to have good at bats, you're going to get your hits. And I talked about, I thought our guys were having some pretty good at bats and not a whole lot of luck. And it will change.

Q. Joe, going into of course winner take all, you have a pitcher who has done nothing but win for you, your hitting came alive last night, your team is playing defense, and you're playing at home. Going into that game, how do you feel just about where your team is facing this game?

JOE GIRARDI: I think you can ask both sides you feel good about your opportunity. I felt good about last night's game. Because I know these guys. I know their hearts, I know how hard they play, I know how hard they work, and their ability to get things done, and their resiliency. But we have to go out and play. That's the bottom line. Tomorrow there's going to be a lot of excitement on both sides and in both cities. And I'm looking forward to it.

Q. Joe, at what point in September did you know you wanted Jesus Montero on your playoff roster or was that a thought on your mind when he came up?

JOE GIRARDI: That was a thought in our mind when he came up; we could use him off left handers and he could provide some big offense. But we had to watch him play. We had to see how he handled the situation. I thought he handled it pretty good.

I go back to his first start in Boston against Jon Lester, his first AB, bases loaded. That's a tough situation. I'm not sure what the standings were at that time. That's a pretty tough situation. His first swing was kind of wild. He swung at a pitch over his head. Then he seemed to really bear down. That game told me something, even though I don't think he got a base hit that day. But that game told me something about him, that he was able to relax in the moment.

Q. Joe, given the expectations around here, would the season be considered a disappointment if you don't win tomorrow?

JOE GIRARDI: I think we're all going to be disappointed if we don't win tomorrow. This team has played hard all year long, and I'm proud of what they've done to this point. We all understand what the goal is here, and that's no secret. I would say for any team that's in the playoffs or not in the playoffs, if you don't win the World Series, it's disappointing. You can have good years, but this is why we play. This is why guys go to work in November and start conditioning and doing all the things, and they start hitting in December. We play to win a trophy. So it is disappointing.

Q. Joe, because of the Game 1 rainout and suspension, do you feel like you got a big break not having to face Verlander tomorrow in this game?

JOE GIRARDI: The one thing that you can't predict is what would have happened in Game 1 if it was Verlander against CC. Who knows where we would have stood. So it is what it is. Is it a break? I don't know. I really don't. Because we can't go back in time and say what would have happened.

Q. But you can look ahead at where you are right now. And you have your guy going, you scheduled out to go and they don't.

JOE GIRARDI: I can't tell you what would have happened. If Verlander would have pitched that game, would they have won that game? I don't know. So to me it's a hypothetical question, and you know how I feel about those.

Q. Joe, can you walk through what your bullpen strategy is going to be for tomorrow's game? And on top of that, when you talk about having guys ready from your perspective, does that mean having guys in spikes as the first pitch of the game is being thrown?

JOE GIRARDI: Yeah. I can't tell you what my bullpen strategy is going to be because I can't tell you how my starter is going to be, and I can't tell you if he does get in trouble where he's going to be in the lineup. Because there are certain match ups you look for. Spikes, yes. Have your spikes on and be ready to go. That's the bottom line.

The one thing about using starters out of the bullpen, you have to understand you have to give them a little bit more time to get ready. So you have to look a little bit further ahead.

As far as bullpen strategy, it would be what it would be any other day. Hope your bullpen shuts the other team down. That's the bottom line.

Q. Joe, I'm wondering is the true value of Larry on your staff sort of the little things he does, like what he did with A.J. settling him down after the first inning last night, that maybe go unnoticed but your pitching staff certainly notices them?

JOE GIRARDI: It doesn't go unnoticed in our clubhouse, because we're with him every day and we understand the value of him every day and the job that he's done this year. When there were so many question marks about who was going to pitch and who were going to be our starters and you look up and I think we ended up third in ERA in the American League, in a tough division and in a ballpark that can be tough to pitch in sometimes, too.

So we understand his value. And he's been extremely valuable to us.

Q. Joe, I assume you're going to have to check with guys tomorrow, but do you have any indication right now as to whether you'll have CC out of the pen?

JOE GIRARDI: I would think that I would, but as you said, I have to check with him. I can check with him today, it doesn't matter how he feels today, it matters how he feels tomorrow. I would expect I would have him.

Q. Is there anyone you know right now who won't be available tomorrow?

JOE GIRARDI: A.J. would probably be the one guy you would have to be careful. But I would say in case of emergency he's available, too.

Q. Joe, can you speak a little bit about Jorge Posada? What do you think it means to him to have a role in these playoffs and be producing? And considering he was out of your lineup for a while, what ultimately made you decide that he could be productive for you in the playoffs?

JOE GIRARDI: I mean, we looked at what he had done against right handers during the course of the season. We looked at Jorge's experience in these type of situations and how he's been productive. I'm sure it means a lot to him. I know it means a lot to all of us. I'm sure it means a lot to him what he's done these first four games. We all want it to continue.

As I said, Jorge has been through this so many times in his career. And understands the magnitude of each at bat and how to approach each at bat. That's why we went with him.

Q. Joe, one of the first guys to congratulate A.J. Burnett when he came into the dugout was Ivan Nova. Has it been noticed how much he has helped these young pitchers, maybe not on the mound but has helped them out?

JOE GIRARDI: Yeah. A.J. and Ivan, their relationship has taken off this year and they do a lot of things together at the ballpark. The running and the working out. It's good, because A.J. has been a guy that has logged a lot of innings in his career in the Big Leagues and understands what it physically takes to get through that.

To me it's always important in life that you have a partner, because I think a partner can get the best out of you. I think A.J. has done a very good job with Ivan.

Q. Joe, in specifics with your bullpen in terms of Mariano, do you expect him to be available to go multiple innings if needed?

JOE GIRARDI: He's the one plus guy tomorrow. Yes.

THE MODERATOR: We'll let you go.

An Interview With Ivan Nova

Q. Ivan, it seems you've been pretty much unflappable all year. What is it about tomorrow that will allow you to be as unflappable and as calm as you've been?

IVAN NOVA: Tomorrow I got the most important game in my life. I think tomorrow is the time to do what I've been doing the whole year. Tomorrow is the time to step up for the team, because that's the game that we'll, you know, we keep in the playoffs or we go home.

Q. Ivan, how aggressive were the Tigers in Game 1, and how much of an adjustment do you expect them to make tomorrow?

IVAN NOVA: They were real aggressive. They don't have the chance they don't see me before. It was different. I know, like, they see me the other day they got another mindset. It's going to be a good day. I know more the hitters now, and I got late chance to make mistake. I'm waiting to see tomorrow how they come.

Q. Ivan, you went home early to watch the game. You went ahead of the team?

IVAN NOVA: No, no. I came with the team. I don't want to lose last night's game.

Q. So you stayed there in case you were needed?


Q. Are you tired at all?

IVAN NOVA: No, no, no. I'm good.

Q. Ivan, a few times as you were coming up through the minor leagues the Yankees maybe didn't treat you like their top prospect. How does it feel now to have the season you had and now be pitching this very important game after all that?

IVAN NOVA: I really think this game is not about prospect. It's all about doing your job. I don't want worry too much about that, being top prospect. I work all the time to do my job. Thanks God and thanks what I did I'm in this position right now.

Q. Ivan, can you remember the last time you were nervous about anything?

IVAN NOVA: I told a couple of days ago, the first time when I get called up and the second time when Bautista come to me. After that, no.

Q. Ivan, do you have a pre game routine? Do you eat the same meal? Can you sort of run through what you do on the days that you pitch?

IVAN NOVA: I don't really have something special to do. I eat what I feel that day what I want to eat, and the more important thing get to rest and that's what I do. I enjoy my family. I play with my kid before I come out, and be ready when I get here.

Q. Ivan, you've had a bit of of a roller coaster season from coming into Spring Training, competing for a starting job, going down to the minors mid season for a little bit. Are you at all surprised the way everything has turned out to find yourself pitching in an elimination game in the playoffs tomorrow?

IVAN NOVA: Maybe. I could be surprised. Right now that's the most important situation right now in this team. Came a long way to today. I'm happy with what happened. I got to enjoy tomorrow's game.

Q. Ivan, can you talk about Andy Pettitte's influence on you, please.

IVAN NOVA: He's a really good guy. I talked to him the day before I pitched my first playoff. He really helped me a lot. He's a tremendous person. That's the example that you got to take. Who got more success than him in the playoffs? I choose him like that's the guy that can help me in this process. He really do that the last game.

Q. How do you feel the weight of the moment being the guy who has the season in his hands for tomorrow night?

IVAN NOVA: Well, we got to wait till tomorrow to see how it feels. Right now I feel really good. We have to wait tomorrow and let's see what it's going to be tomorrow.

Q. Ivan, I'm just wondering how much influence has Larry Rothschild had on you since you came up, whether it's mechanics, mental, anything like that. We saw what he did with A.J. last night in settling him down. I'm wondering if there's anything like that he's done with you.

IVAN NOVA: He's a tremendous pitching coach. Since Spring Training he's been like a daddy for me. He helped me in Spring Training. He helped me throughout the season all the way. When you have a guy like that, like Larry, he knows a lot of things about this game, he's a guy with a lot of experience, you feel more comfortable. Sometimes you losing the game or you not feel good that day, he found a way to help you out, to keep fighting.

Q. Ivan, you said you talked to Andy before you pitched Game 1. Did he tell you anything about pitching in the playoffs?

IVAN NOVA: One thing he told me was if you got trouble in one inning, any inning, to get in mind one pitch can take you out of the game. One pitch can finish that inning, one pitch can take you out of the game. You have to try to execute that pitch.

Q. Ivan, you called this the most important game of your life. You said you're not nervous. Do you feel pressure?


Q. Why not?

IVAN NOVA: Because like I said, I don't see the reason to feel pressure. It's another game. Of course, it's the most important game of the season now, but that's the game that right now a lot of people is waiting for that game. From that game, everybody, like my family, everybody wants to see that game. Everybody want to see me do a really good job. Like I always say, if you get nervous, you're going to be in trouble, because you can't control yourself. You can't control what you got to do. I don't see the reason why.

Q. Even in Spring Training you were completely convinced you were going to make the rotation, and you said that out loud, "I'm going to win my job." What made you believe so strongly? Where does that confidence come from? What made you believe?

IVAN NOVA: I got the chance. I know everybody that played this game in the Minor Leagues want to play in the Big Leagues. Not everybody had the chance to play in the Big Leagues. So I had the chance last year, and this year I had the chance to start in the rotation. So what you got to do is put all your focus, your energy and try to win your spot. Try to win. And I think that's why I won the spot. I was so confident the whole Spring Training. If you want to play in the Big Leagues, you have to be confident in yourself. You have to fight it, and I think that's what I did.

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