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July 14, 2014
THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon. Hi, I'm Brian Kenny from MLB Network.
Welcome to the 85th Midsummer Classic, the third in Minnesota. I am sure you are all up on the history of this. The first All‑Star Game here in Minnesota was 1965. That was at the Metropolitan Stadium, then 20 years later, 1985, at the Metrodome, which also had the first Home Run Derby.
These festivities the next two nights will be a tremendous showcase for the next phase of baseball here in Minnesota. And I know that everybody here is excited about it. Welcome to Minnesota. I am sure if you are like me coming into town, you are not here all that often and you get a tremendous welcome from the wonderful people here in Minneapolis and in the Twin Cities.
So Target Field is the place for the Midsummer Classic this year. We're thrilled to be here. Of course we'll have the top stars in the game. Of course, the best baseball players in the world in one spot. It's always a thrill. And also it will be the last All‑Star Game for one of the all‑time greats, Derek Jeter, playing in his 14th All‑Star Game. That will be exciting as well.
Another special feature of the 2014 All‑Star Game is the focus on distinguished members of our communities, our teachers, who you can see right here in their uniforms, in their baseball uniforms. As part of the Target Presents People All‑Star Teachers Program developed by Major League Baseball, Target, and People Magazine, 30 teachers, one representing each Major League club, elected by fans for making an impact on the lives of students and their communities.
So these are truly special people who are helping our children, helping our country. Let's hear it. They joined us here today. It is our privilege to celebrate the All‑Star Teachers who are joining us here today. Welcome aboard.
THE MODERATOR: All right, we are here for the All‑Star announcements. I am sure there has been plenty of tweeting already, as you might recognize some of the people here on the dais.
To start things off, our Honorary President of the American League, the long‑time member of the Angels family, we welcome Jackie Autry. Jackie?
JACKIE AUTRY: It is a pleasure to be here again with all of you. I know when the season starts all of you in this room, and those fans at home trying to figure out who has the best lineup on paper. Unfortunately, paper doesn't always win the playoffs or World Series. And I'm sure that a lot of us were very excited when the Boston Red Sox put together a quality team last year, both ownership and the players and the manager sitting to my right deserve their due credit. And I am proud to have John represent the American League All‑Stars this year. He is a wonderful. He worked under Terry Francona and Ron Washington, so he has a good deal of baseball experience and he's not afraid to tackle an ugly job.
So John Farrell, welcome to the All‑Star Game for 2014.
JOHN FARRELL: Thanks, Jackie.
Good afternoon everyone. I wouldn't necessarily call this an "ugly job" because it is quite an honor to be sitting here, and certainly an honor to be managing in this game.
But I have to say that arriving at our final roster was a difficult process. Very tough, very deserving players that did not make it.
But that being said, the lineup will go as follows: With Derek Jeter playing shortstop and leading off; Mike Trout will hit second and play left field; Robinson Cano will be at second base, hitting third; Miggy Cabrera will be at first and hitting in the cleanup spot; Jose Bautista, who was the overall vote‑getter, leading vote‑getter for the American League, will be in right field, batting fifth; Nelson Cruz will be at the DH spot in the 6‑hole; Adam Jones will hit seventh and in center field; Josh Donaldson will be at third base in the 8‑hole; and Salvador Perez will do the catching, hitting ninth.
Obviously you see Felix, King Felix, sitting next to me. And there are many deserving candidates to be the starting pitcher for this team, but given what he's done over a long successful career, what he's doing this year, it's an honor to name Felix our starter for tomorrow night.
THE MODERATOR: Felix, tell us your feelings on getting this honor to start the All‑Star Game.
FELIX HERNANDEZ: John, thank you. (Laughter.) It is an honor to be here and be part of the Classic. It's always fun. Just have to go out there and do what I have to do. Just throw zeros out there and get my team to win, that's all I got to do.
THE MODERATOR: Congratulations. Felix will be here for questions from the media when we are all done.
Now getting down to the National League and the Honorary President of the National League, the chairman of the Philadelphia Phillies, Bill Giles.
BILL GILES: Thank you. I would like to remind my friend Jackie the National League has won three of the last four All‑Star Games.
JACKIE AUTRY: I was nice.
BILL GILES: Overall the National League has won 43 and the American League won 39.
I am here not to kid my friend Jackie, but to introduce a very great human being and a great manager. Mike Matheny was born 43 years ago in Columbus, Ohio. He's a graduate of the University of Michigan. He was signed in 1991 by the Milwaukee Brewers, played 13 years, some with Toronto, San Francisco and St. Louis. He won four Gold Gloves. He is in only his third time as a manager; in the first year he got the Cardinals to the playoffs in 2012, and won the National League pennant in 2013. The 19th time the St. Louis Cardinals won the National League pennant, which is a record.
So it's my honor to introduce the National League manager, Mike Matheny.
MIKE MATHENY: Thank you, Mr.Giles. It is a great honor to be a part of this event.
And just trying to put this together and be actively involved in going through the selection process, I got to tell you, I had no idea what we were getting into. I went to some great resources. They tried to prepare me, but I guess it's very similar to the millions of people all over this world that are playing fantasy baseball, except the fact I get to do it with real people. (Laughter.)
And just the talent that was available and so many guys having great seasons, you hate to slight anybody, but I do know that we are very well represented. And looking at this lineup, the fans did a terrific job selecting a team that's going to represent our league well.
Leading off will be Andrew McCutchen, playing center field; Yasiel Puig, who is batting second, playing right field; Troy Tulowitzki batting third, playing shortstop; Paul Goldschmidt playing first base and batting cleanup; Giancarlo Stanton will be the DH, batting fifth; Aramis Ramirez playing third base, batting sixth; Chase Utley will be batting seventh and playing second base; Jonathan Lucroy catching and batting eighth; and batting ninth is Carlos Gomez and playing left field.
And it is also a great honor to be able to name the starting pitcher, which once again was not an easy task even though it may look that way. A lot of talent in our pitching in the National League right now, and very, very deserving pitchers out there. But I believe none more so than our starter, Adam Wainwright.
THE MODERATOR: Adam? What does this mean to you? Congratulations.
ADAM WAINWRIGHT: Thank you. Aside from having the ability to win two World Series with the St. Louis Cardinals, I think this has to be one of the highlights of my baseball career to this point. One of the coolest things I can say I did is to start a big league All‑Star Game. And I am incredibly happy, fortunate to be placed in this situation. I can't wait to go out and hopefully lead our National League squad to a victory.
THE MODERATOR: Congratulations, Adam.
We have our two All‑Star starters. We are here for questions now if you want to ask of the managers or the starters.
Q. So guys, both managers this would be for. The last five All‑Star Game winners have gone on to have their pennant winners win the World Series of that same year. How important is this game to get a victory?
JOHN FARRELL: I don't think you can every underestimate the home‑field advantage in a postseason, certainly a 7‑game series. Typically you're going to go up against an outstanding club, as we did last year in St. Louis. And to have that final game potentially in your home ballpark, that goes a long way to affecting the outcome.
MIKE MATHENY: Likewise. We headed into Boston last year realizing we had our hands full already with a very good team. Any time you get in front of that home fan base there's an edge. Statistics show it, but you can sense it in the field, you can sense it as you compete. And that's an advantage I think every team wants to have.
Q. The starting pitching decision, Wainwright your guy and Kershaw, can you talk a little bit about that and what went into that?
MIKE MATHENY: A tough decision, there is no question about it. (Laughter.) We have seen a lot of Clayton and it's not just narrowed down to the two. We have quite a few guys who could absolutely be considered. And have the utmost respect for Clayton, as well as the others that were options. But to the degree of what we were able to see on a consistent basis from the leadership, right down to the execution and the day‑in/day‑out performance of what Adam has been able to do really is kind of an unfair advantage to the others.
The numbers line up, and it's obvious that this is a high‑caliber pitcher who I believe to some degree has never even been given the amount of respect that he's due. So I'm honored to be able to put this title on him and watch what he does. Not just with this, but with the remainder of our season.
Q. Mike, just wanted to follow‑up. You mentioned all of the qualities you see in Adam every day that maybe you wouldn't see if he wasn't on the Cardinals. If Adam had the same numbers he did for another team, would he be starting tomorrow?
MIKE MATHENY: I believe if the manager wasn't a Dodger, then yeah. I think there's a great opportunity. And once again, never to slight what these guys have been able to do. And there's been some conversation that I had with some other players that are deserving just to be on this team. And they're never fun conversations. You think making these decisions is just pretty cut and dry and black and white, but it never is because you're impacting people, as well as impacting the game. And something we don't take lightly, but something we have to be very honest with ourselves. I believe if you trust your heart and you trust your gut, you can't go wrong.
Q. John, can you talk what it is like to put together a lineup with this many great players and also the decision to lead Jeter off?
JOHN FARRELL: I think any time that you're surrounded by the caliber of players and you get the opportunity to see them across the field or compete on the field with them, and assembled in one clubhouse, it's a rare opportunity. But when you think of the depth and when you're looking at a third baseman with Oakland who's hitting in the 8‑hole and has nearly 20 home runs, you know just by position in the lineup reflects the caliber of players, the depth of it. And the reserves that will be coming in behind these guys are deserving to start in their own right.
So it's a rare and unique opportunity. And at the same time we are able to celebrate a player who is not only a champion, but a guy that sets the bar that I think all players should aspire to. The way he has handled himself with class, with performance. No doubt a Hall of Famer.
This will be a day that I think many baseball fans that are either in the ballpark or watching will remember Derek's last All‑Star Game.
Q. Mike and John both, is it surprising there is only one left‑handed hitter in each lineup?
JOHN FARRELL: From my perspective, yes. As much talk within our industry as right‑handed power is so hard to find, there's eight in each lineup. And pretty unique set of circumstances.
Q. Mike, you as a former catcher, you picked Devin Mesoraco as one of your selections. What is it about his season that impressed you the most and a guy you wanted to add to the roster?
MIKE MATHENY: I think first of all, you can't deny what kind of season Devin is having. And in the Central we get a close look, but outside of the division just in baseball we see that he's putting up exemplary numbers all the way through. And I believe he has improved also on the defensive side, which I can't help but watch pretty close. And I think that goes on to adding on to Miguel Montero, a very good defender.
As we put this club together, try to recognize the people that are having the kind of seasons that are worthy to be here and guys that put us in a position to compete well and try to win this game.
Q. For Mike. What led you to put Clippard up on team and how important was it on the team after Zimmermann was hurt to play?
MIKE MATHENY: Can you repeat part of that?
Q. Why did you put Clippard on the team?
MIKE MATHENY: Clippard is one of the Nationals that is having a good season obviously. And there were a couple of Nationals that were not available. But really wanted each team to be represented and Tyler was one of the pitchers who has had an outstanding season and should represent that team well.
Q. Mike, when you have two outstanding center fielders like Gomez and McCutchen, how do you pick who would play center and who would play left?
MIKE MATHENY: I think we're just going off experience. We're talking an M.V.P. player, and Andrew McCutchen is definitely one of those standout players defensively, as well as Carlos Gomez. Not an easy decision, realizing that you couldn't go wrong either way, Tom, really.
Understanding that we've got a great opportunity to have not just a good offensive outfielder, but also very, very good defensive team as well.
JOHN FARRELL: If I understand you correct, Tanaka not making the game here unfortunately because of the injury. We had an opportunity to go up against him twice and to see a pitcher come from Japan and transition to the major leagues as quickly as he's done and to be as dominant as he's done, he's a guy I know we will have to contend with for a number of years.
But unfortunately, the injury has kept him out. And I think when we look at the closing candidates for our National League squad, we have five very capable, very successful closers, Koji being one of them. We have yet to determine and name internally who we would build back to, but Koji has had a phenomenal year and a half since he has been moved into our closer role.
Q. John, for those who aren't closers, it's typically tougher to get them on an All‑Star team. I was just curious, Wade Davis and Jake McGee, in light of Price not being eligible to pitch, if you have given them much thought.
JOHN FARRELL: Both guys were given consideration and recognized where they originate from. You know, Wade, I don't believe, has given up an extra base hit all year. And Ned Yost made that claim, and I appreciate every manager supporting his own player.
As I mentioned at the outset, there are a number of guys that could be on this roster and which we could take all of them. They are all deserving. And even though David Price is unavailable to pitch, it felt like the player that was already in place to take that roster spot was Fernando Rodney, who is leading the American League in saves. So I don't know you can necessarily go wrong with the selections. The players themselves would certainly disagree, so that's where there's some empathy towards those who haven't made the roster.
Q. Mike, what drew you to Tony Watson?
MIKE MATHENY: I do believe that many times the middle relievers, like Tony Watson and Pat Neshek don't receive the credit they are due. And sometimes they are coming in in roles that are as tough, if not tougher, than that of a closer that seems to get more attention.
And the opportunity to acknowledge what Tony has been able to do, what Pat has been able to do, and the level at which they have done it, to me is really easy, especially as we're trying to put this together as to how we can compete in this game and have someone who can come in the middle innings and be comfortable with that role. More importantly, you look at the numbers, you look at what they have done, both Pat and Tony have had outstanding years. And they need to be acknowledged for that.
Q. Felix, I will ask it both in Spanish and English. Felix, I believe you're the first Venezuelan pitcher to start an All‑Star Game. What does that mean for you in terms of how difficult a time for Venezuela right now, how special is this for you? And in Spanish‑‑
FELIX HERNANDEZ: It is an honor to be part of it. And to be the first Venezuelan guy, I mean it is something special. And for the Hispanic people [speaking in Spanish].
Q. Mike, watching Pat Neshek up close all season, what impressed you and is it fair to say you will get him in front of a game in his hometown?
MIKE MATHENY: That added to it, this being his home. But it comes down straight to numbers, production, what he has been able to do in this season. And what impressed us, we brought in a guy we expected to do a completely different role than what he's doing right now. Right‑handed specialist as he has been used in the American League before. And watched him develop into a leader on our team. Watched him develop into one of the best setup men in the game that comes in for not just a right‑handed batter for an inning‑plus. And how he has been able to do it on a consistent basis and alter his repertoire of pitches to pitch in that role is absolutely amazing.
Just his story all together made it an honor, and keep using that word, "an honor," but to watch Pat Neshek and watch his face when he made this club, probably the best memory without a doubt so far.
Q. John, I am wondering if you can share your thoughts on having Jose Bautista back in one of your lineups.
JOHN FARRELL: Having the fortunate ability to be with him two years in Toronto, you gain such an appreciation of a player that never takes a play off. His work ethic, certainly his talents and his performance. Being able to witness players like that daily is one of the huge benefits of being in a role or on a coaching staff at the minor league level.
To see Jose among this group, he'll stand out among this group as well and to see him in that role, knowing that he has been the leader of the vote‑getting, or vote‑receiving, very worthy of it and I know he and his teammates are having a heck of a year in Toronto.
Q. Mike, obviously you had plenty of selection for the DH position. Why did you go with Stanton?
MIKE MATHENY: He is a pretty impressive guy. And I think anybody who has to deal with him and watch the impact that he has on the game, impact he has on that lineup, you have to give a great deal of respect to not just the power, but the average, the eye, the ability to get on base, and the ability that he has to turn a game around in one pitch.
I don't think I've seen anybody maybe since McGwire that hits the ball as hard as Stanton does, and it's nice to have him on our side for once.
Q. John, this is Yu Darvish's third consecutive All‑Star Game. He has not appeared in the first two. Will that figure in your decision whether you get him in this game or not?
JOHN FARRELL: I think the approach taken with every pitcher on our roster is that we know they're all available. There'll be conversations with each guy over the course of today to get a better sense of what they might be dealing with physically. We know all are available, as I mentioned.
And I look at this game as two main obligations. One, we have an obligation to do whatever we can to win it for the American League. The other one to try to get as many players on the field or to the mound as we can within a 9‑inning game.
Q. Adam, Derek Jeter moment, a lot of excitement about it. He is a special player on a special stage in his final All‑Star Game. He's leading off and taking to the mound, you get to face him. That moment to you means what? (Laughter.)
SCHOOLTEACHER: Let him hit it.
THE MODERATOR: That was a teacher that said that. (Laughter.)
ADAM WAINWRIGHT: He has proved to be good enough you don't have to let him hit anything. But you know what, I was telling my wife yesterday that this will be something I can always remember because I have never faced Derek in the regular season before. This will be the first time I ever face him.
Spring training, big leagues, I have been in the big leagues for nine years, I've never faced him. I'm very excited about it, just to say I faced the best. And he is undoubtedly one of the best to ever play his position. One of the greatest Yankees of all time. And I'm very fortunate and I feel very proud to be able to say I am going to face Derek Jeter.
THE MODERATOR: It was a teacher in a Red Sox uniform, one of yours. Way to rise above, look at that. (Laughter.)
The American League All‑Stars will be available to media next door shortly and then we'll be back in the room for the Gillette Home Run Derby press conference.
Thank you for coming everybody, Jackie and Bill, great being back with you. Mike and John, King Felix, Adam Wainwright, congratulations. Thanks everybody.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports