BOBBY COX: He's meant everything, really, ever since he went into the rotation. We got him as a power reliever. We had too many starters to go down; we had three of them, that we tapped into him to get into the rotation. He took right off. His first outing, I think, was in Texas. He went five innings, struck out five or six guys and gave up a couple runs but looked good.
We eventually let him go more and more pitches, and I think he may have had one bad ballgame in all those starts. So he's meant a lot. Without him, we wouldn't have recovered, I don't think. He pitched like a guy that was in the rotation, one of those guys making, you know, seven, $8 million.
The kid (Brian) McCann comes through last night. You mentioned the "Baby Braves." What kind of energy does that bring to a veteran club when all these kids come up from within the organization and give you so much?
COX: Well, I think it changed the atmosphere in the city a little bit. We've always had good clubs, not always veterans, we've always had young kids but nothing to this extent during my tenure. Six of those kids are from the area. It really caught on. It energized the town, created a tremendous amount of interest in the team. You know, they were kind of the underdog kids, and people root for that. You know, last night, that was a big home run and it did create a lot of energy.
Kind of following up on that, did you wonder at all when you had to bring all these kids up whether they'd be able to handle some of this pressure in the pennant race?
COX: What happened really, and I've repeated this story many times, the other guys in the lineup picked it up a notch as soon as all these kids came up, their games got elevated Andruw Jones, (Rafael) Furcal, (Marcus) Giles, Chipper (Jones) was still out at the time, and (Adam) LaRoche and (Julio) Franco got hot at first base. The young kids just followed suit, actually.
Can you talk about Furcal as a leadoff hitter. A lot of the leadoff hitters in the NL East didn't have great on base percentages, but he picked it up at the end of the year.
COX: He really picked it up. I don't know what he's hit in the last 60, 70 ballgames, but he's up there. His onbase was way below average. He got off slow but he picked it up. At the right time he picked it up. He's been dynamite.
He's as good a fielding shortstop as there is in baseball right now for me. He's got tremendous range, a great arm. Right now he's one of the better leadoff hitters. I know he hasn't been on base much these two games, but he has been up till now. He's a free agent this year and we're hoping to keep him.
Do you have a Game 4 starter?
COX: I'm not going to announce that until after the press conference tomorrow night probably. We'll see. We'll see how tomorrow goes, and I'll talk to all the pitchers today, and, again, tomorrow see how they're feeling. There's so many combinations that we can go to.
I think John Smoltz woke up early this morning and felt pretty darn good. That doesn't mean he could start Game 5 by any means but he could be available for Game 5, I think. And if we wanted to move (Tim) Hudson up, we could, and pitch (John) Thompson or (Horacio) Ramirez in Atlanta. Huddie is (inaudible). I don't know. It depends how they're feeling tomorrow, actually.
Even though these two teams played last year, does it feel very different, given a lot of different players on both teams?
COX: Well, the one missing guy in the Astros' lineup is old Bags (Bagwell). Basically, well, they had Beltran last year, and that made a wealth of difference, that's for sure.
But, yeah, the teams are a little bit different. They had great pitching last year and they still have it, top to bottom they're strong. We have a lot of different faces on the 25 man roster. You know, we're basically the same team, too. Pretty good pitching and pretty good hitting and great defense.
How good is Roy Oswalt? Are you amused at times when people say he's the No. 3 starter for the Astros?
COX: Well, Oswalt could be a No. 1 on any team in baseball for me. He's got, as they say, electric stuff, I guess. He's got a number of pitches that are they're all above average. He's a great competitor. He does a lot of things to help himself win games.
You know, he's the No. 1 in my book.
Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.