Taking care of business
Another postseason, my fourth, and it?s as exciting as ever. It was a good season, despite some unexpected obstacles that we had to deal with. But we got through everything, and here we are at Fenway Park, hoping to take advantage of this opportunity and play the game the way we always do, aggressively and intelligently.
I?m confident in our starting pitchers, all of them. They can all get the job done. I go back to 2002 with John Lackey, our Game 1 starter. When I got traded to the Angels from the Rockies in ’01, he had just been promoted from Double-A Arkansas to Triple-A Salt Lake. We went on to win the championship in 2001, and then we were together at Salt Lake the following year. We had a dynamite team that year, and John got called up to the Angels. I did, too, a month or so later.
I could see right away that he had what it took. It was his work ethic, the way he went after it. He just had that something special that you look for in a guy. He had the athletic talent -? the guy was a good high school quarterback in Abilene, Texas -? and he also had the desire.
You?ve got a lot of respect for a guy like John, the way he gets after it. It?s been that way from Day 1. When you have the competitive edge that he has, you?re able to overcome adversity and dig deep. Whether you?re a hitter or a pitcher, you?re not always going to have your "A" game. The real test is how you respond when things aren?t going your way. That’s where his mental toughness comes into play.
The guys are feeling pretty good, confident. We know we can play with anybody. We just have to get into our game and make things happen. Just play the way we always play, and we?ll be OK.
Garret Anderson has a swollen eye from an infection, but he said he can see fine. Garret?s a gamer, a great pro and great player. He’s always sets the tone around here with his even-keel attitude. He?s everything you want in a leader.
It’s a shame that Junior, Gary Matthews, can’t play in this series with his left knee bothering him. We have a lot of depth, with guys like Reggie Willits and Nate Haynes, but I know how much it means to Junior to be in the postseason for the first time after all these years. He?s meant so much to us all year — his defense in center, his ability to hit in different parts of the lineup and have an impact.
Whether I?m in right field or at third base, it?s not a big deal. I?ve always been pretty adaptable, going back to my early years when I moved from position to position. As long as I?m in the lineup, I?m content.
That?s why this was such a strange year, missing the first month with two broken fingertips. I never had a hand injury before. After I got through that, I went into a good groove with the bat, but I then injured my left wrist swinging from the right side against the Yankees. That set me back a little, trying to regain strength in my hand.
We?ve had a lot of injury problems, but this is a tough-minded team. Our depth has been a huge part of our success. Our young guys and role players have consistently done the job.
Now it?s time to take care of our business. It?s all about winning now. We have tremendous respect for the Red Sox. It should be a great series.