Halladay vs. Lincecum dominates players' session with reporters

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Shane Victorino talks with Roy Halladay. Speaking with reporters about Game 1's hurlers, Victorino said: "What about the hitters?"

In a parking lot out past right field at Citizens Bank Park, a tent set up for postgame revelry was converted into a news-conference room, with tables for all the Phillies, name plates in front. Before Friday afternoon's workout, each player showed up, available for 45 minutes' worth of questions.

When the Phillies were done, the San Francisco Giants took over for their 45 minutes. If you timed it right, you could walk around the tent for the hour and a half and hear nothing but Tim Lincecum vs. Roy Halladay questions and answers.

Shane Victorino answered his share, but with a Victorino spin.

"Why show up?" Victorino said, down at the far end of the tent. "The way you guys keep talking - what about the hitters?"

Victorino understood the story line for Saturday night's Game 1 of the National League Championship Series.

"Those two guys are probably the best two pitchers in the National League, if not in baseball," Victorino said. "But let's not forget about what it's all about. It's about scoring runs. You can't defeat yourself. If I go to the plate thinking Lincecum is the best thing ever, I've already defeated myself. I know he's good. But I've got to get hits."

There were, in fact, several other story lines. Camera crews immediately engulfed Pat Burrell when the Giants' media session began. The "Prodigal Son Returns" angle is a big one, especially when Burrell's career looked over after his failed stint as a designated hitter with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Burrell joked about how friends called him after he was cut by the Rays saying they knew he wasn't the type to be a designated hitter.

"Where were they when I was taking my physical?" Burrell said.

Burrell said he had tried everything to adjust to being a DH, hitting between at-bats, not hitting, even standing in the clubhouse watching the game, acting like he was in the field, getting in his outfield stance. Burrell made a face like he knew how goofy that must have looked.

The resurrected Giants leftfielder said he's always appreciated the fan reactions he's gotten coming back to Philadelphia, but doesn't know what to expect Saturday night. He brought up how the Phillies faithful serenaded Evan Longoria during the '08 Series.

"That's something no player forgets," Burrell said of how all of Citizens Bank Park chanted, "Eva!" at Longoria, exploiting his name's resemblance to the Desperate Housewives star.

The homecoming isn't first on his mind, Burrell said.

"This is down to it," he said. "This is business."

A couple of tables away from Victorino, Brad Lidge had talked about one relaxation technique, his fantasy football team in a league for Phillies players.

"Right now, I'm in first place, proud to say," Lidge said. "We play doubleheaders every week. I'm 7-3 right now. There are some other teams that are 7-3. I had the first pick this year in the draft, so that's sort of an advantage. Guys are pretty fired up."

His first pick was Chris Johnson from Tennessee.

"I like my team. Favre is my backup quarterback, so I'm kind of waiting it out. I think he's going to end up having a real strong year."

Worst team?

"No doubt, Kyle Kendrick," Lidge deadpanned. "Awful draft, awful management. But we love the guy, so we're hoping for the best. He's 1-9, by the way."

That is all taking a backseat right now, obviously, Lidge hastened to point out, but the closer added: "One thing in baseball is, you're so focused when you're playing the game. It's nice when you're not playing to not be thinking about it. I think you can definitely think about it too much. So it's good to have things that take your mind off it."

Asked to take a swing at the old question, "Who owns the city, Eagles or Phillies?" Jimmy Rollins obliged.

"If you have a good game, it's an Eagles-Phillies town - it might be split right down the middle," Rollins said. He knows the Eagles' fan base is rabid and loyal, but noted the "100-something" Phillies sellouts in a row. He was told it was up to 133.

"Wow," Rollins said with that knowing smile he flashes. "Things may be changing. I don't know."

There was no real craziness, mostly serious questions before a crucial game featuring the dream pitching matchup.

"I've answered that question three times," Giants first baseman Aubrey Huff, in his first postseason after 11 big-league seasons, said in response to a Halladay/Lincecum question. "But I'll answer it a fourth time."

He answered in great detail, realizing the territory the questions came with.

"We've worked our entire lives to play right now," Giants closer Brian Wilson said at the other end of the tent.

 


Contact staff writer Mike Jensen at 215-854-4489 or mjensen@phillynews.com