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Johnny Damon pregame quotes
10/24/2004 5:45 PM ET
Q. How do you describe Dave Ortiz's leadership?

JOHNNY DAMON: Well, I think David's been very awesome. I mean, when he first came over to us last year, you know, he was just a fun and jovial type of guy. He makes people around him happy.

That's the kind of person he is. He's very appreciative of everything that he has gotten in life. He's been working hard to become a better ballplayer. You know, it shows. Our team without David Ortiz, we would have been home about three weeks ago.

Q. We had asked Terry a little earlier, just the different looks of some of the players on your team, you've kind of got the longer hair, David has a little bit of a beard going, Pedro has the hair kind of poofing out underneath his cap, just the different look of your club; and Terry said if this was Cub Scouts we would have them cut their hair but it isn't, how does that translate into the personality of the team?

JOHNNY DAMON:I think what the Red Sox are letting us do is letting us be men and letting us be our own individual people.

I mean, Terry and Theo (Epstein) have said it all along, just go out there and make sure you play well, and you guys can grow whatever hair you want, grow whatever kind of beards you want. But it's been fun. You know, it's something that the whole nation has taken watch of. In no way was it ever to disrespect the Yankees or whatnot, which a bunch of the writers over there had said. But we're just being ourselves and having fun playing baseball. The biggest thing is when people look at our team, they can see that we're having a lot of fun.

Q. Are you surprised that Mark Bellhorn has not gotten more attention for his ability to get on base, as opposed to being asked more about the strikeouts?

JOHNNY DAMON: Absolutely. This whole season, I was Mark Bellhorn's biggest believer. Yeah, he strikes out a lot, but when I get on base and when he got on base after me, I mean, our offense really took off. This is pretty much his first big year being in that spotlight. Yeah, he hit 27 home runs with the Cubs, but being in Boston, everything gets magnified. But unfortunately, his runs produced didn't.

As teammates of his, we're very happy with the way he approaches the game, the way he works, and just the kind of person he is. I'm very happy for him getting in those last three games, getting three home runs, three big home runs. Hopefully people start to take notice a bit more.

Q. About the depth and versatility of some of the players on your team, do you think of your club as being well suited to play the National League rules when it's time to play there?

JOHNNY DAMON: Yes, I do. I mean, I'm not really sure what we're going to do about the David Ortiz situation; if he's going to be playing first or if he's going to be coming off the bench as a pinch-hitter. So we definitely want David Ortiz in the lineup, but I think we are very well suited. I mean, we have Dave Roberts and Gabe Kapler who can spell the outfielders if we have to do a double switch or whatnot, Kevin Youkilis coming off the bench, Pokey Reese. But I think we are suited very well.

Then again, so are they. They have been doing it all year. So it's going to be interesting how we approach it. Like I said, we definitely do not want David Ortiz out of the lineup, but that's something that Terry is going to have to figure out.

Q. Have you ever met another player or person like Manny Ramirez?

JOHNNY DAMON: Well, not really. (Laughter.) But I think that's a special thing to say. You know, Manny is the happiest guy on the face of the earth. I mean, we've never seen a bad day from him. In the past have always heard about, "this has been going on," or whatnot but it's never gone on with us. Manny has always been a great teammate. He's always there to pat you on the back. It does seem like he's a lot happier this year than in the past, but that's because he knows he has teammates that are backing him and supporting him through everything possible.

Q. How did you feel the team played defensively last night, and just your feelings on where the Red Sox are as a club in the field.

JOHNNY DAMON: We didn't play well defensively. I mean, the four errors, showed, but we are better than that. I think we have a very good defensive team. That's one game, if it continues, we'll have something to worry about.

But we played bad in the field, we got a win and now hopefully we can tighten up and go out there and make some great plays.

Q. How do you compare the atmosphere in your clubhouse now to when you first joined the team in 2002 and how responsible has that been for the success you've had the last couple of years?

JOHNNY DAMON: The attitude is definitely different. My first day being in the Red Sox clubhouse, it was weird. You know, no one was playing cards, no one was playing video games. No one was really talking to each other. Everyone was on their own. But I think you can see some change going on my first year here, which was 2002, and then it got better last year when we brought Kevin Millar here and Gabe Kapler was great to bring along.

And it's getting better and better. You know, more guys are feeling more comfortable and they are not afraid to speak up and be a leader. I mean, our team, we have 25 players, we have about 25 leaders there, too. So whatever someone says, people listen.

Q. Last night I think Game 1 was the highest-scoring Game 1 in series history. Was this just one of those nights, or do you think this is an indication that this is going to be a high-scoring series?

JOHNNY DAMON: Well, it's definitely possible to be a very, very high-scoring series. Look at our teams, the Cardinals and ourselves, top run producers in both leagues. We are hoping we can keep them to a minimum, and like I said in the past, if myself and Bellhorn got going, our team is capable of scoring a lot of runs, and hopefully that continues. We know they are going to make some adjustments and we have to make some adjustments, too. You know last night just worked out well and hopefully tonight will be the same way.

Q. You had talked about the changes in the clubhouse since you arrived. How much of an influence were you in those changes, and then just secondly, if you could talk about your impressions of what Curt Schilling has been able to do?

JOHNNY DAMON: I think me coming over here from Oakland, especially, was a huge asset to this team. I mean, I learned from some of the best, Jason Giambi was a great vocal leader in that Oakland clubhouse and I fed off of that. When you stepped off the field, you didn't think about baseball anymore, but every time you crossed the line, that's when you had to step up and get your job done.

But we had a lot of fun. I learned a lot from him, so I brought a lot of the fun back over here.

About your questions about Curt Schilling, he's been a godsend. He's a pitcher who works hard, who is very prepared, and he also helps the hitters prepare. During the course of a game, we'll ask him, okay, what does a power pitcher do in this situation, and he'll let us know. You know, he picks our brain just as much as we pick his. So he's definitely been very awesome to have.

Q. Last year it was the "Cowboy Up" and shaved heads. This year it seems to be the idiots and "why not us?" and the choker chains. What's the significance been of the choker chains and how important is it to have a rallying cry like that and to have a symbol?

JOHNNY DAMON: I wish I could really answer this, but I think our team, you know, we just go out and we have fun. Last year it was a big rah-rah situation. A first time a lot of us had been that far in the postseason. You know, with a guy helping us lead the charge last year in Kevin Millar, "Cowboy up" was definitely huge. Now overcoming that deficit from the Yankees, us not being very smart, us just playing baseball, I mean, that's the bottom line. I mean, we try to eliminate the thinking, and we've tried to let our natural abilities take over. So I think that's why the phrase about the idiots kind of took off. But we don't think. If we use our brains, we're only hurting the team. (Laughter.)

Q. Could you talk about Schilling's performance in Game 6 last week with the ankle and all.

JOHNNY DAMON: That performance was awesome. Without him stepping up and grinding through that game, we'll be back at home right now. We needed him. He was the only pitcher that can go for us, because obviously, Game 4 and Game 5, we had to throw every single pitcher that we had, and for him to step up like that, I mean, he definitely needs to be commended, and I know that the Red Sox fans are very appreciative, just like our team is.

So tonight is another night. Hopefully we'll get that same kind of Curt Schilling. Hopefully he's not in much pain today and hopefully he can go out and give his best stuff.

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