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October 1, 2014

Clint Hurdle


Q.  Hey, Clint.  Obviously, last year's atmosphere for this wild card game was sensational.  Is there a certain way this could possibly match it given, obviously, all the emotions in the city with the long drought?
CLINT HURDLE:  I don't know.  I'm not here to analyze how the crowd's going to show up.  They just show up.  Andrew's reached out to the crowd.  That usually takes care of everything.  He encouraged another blackout.  Our city is a proud city.  It's a Blue collar city.  They've been behind this ball club, a lot of them, for forever.
The resurgence of the club, the buy‑in back, has been significant.¬† There's a vibe in the city again that's real, and I expect a very excited crowd tonight.¬† I expect a very passionate crowd tonight.¬† It will be up to us to go ahead and keep that crowd in play throughout the game.

Q.  How much does the excitement of what's going on help numb the pain that's in your hip?  And how much has it bothered you through this whole stretch?
CLINT HURDLE:¬† You know, I'm good.¬† I'm past the point, it's not a‑‑ it's not an area of concern as getting my job done.¬† My coaching staff have been fantastic.¬† The training staff's been fantastic.¬† The players have been great.
Outside of that, I mean, it's past the point where it just doesn't matter anymore.  It's time to play.  We've got things to do.  The players are going to play the game.  I'm in a good place.  I'm in an excited place.  I believe this is just part of the ride.  I just get some extra stuff along the way.

Q.¬† I believe you said a few days ago that Pedro would be re‑examined on Tuesday.¬† Any word on him and the update?¬† Will he be available if you guys advance past this game?
CLINT HURDLE:  I just saw Pedro earlier today personally.  I haven't sat down with the trainers to discuss that.  I did see him with batting gloves on.  I know the next order of application would be tee work, soft toss work, to get him physically moving again and doing some bike riding, doing some agility stuff.
But I've not sat down with the trainers and mapped anything out.

Q.  What possible role do you see in the bullpen for Jeff Locke and Vance Worley tonight?  Could you explain some of your other moves.
CLINT HURDLE:  You can ask me the questions.  I'm not going to explain each and every move, Tom.

Q.¬† Like someone's who's been in the bull pen move like Gomez‑‑
CLINT HURDLE:  So you're really going to ask about each and every move.

Q.¬† No, but‑‑
CLINT HURDLE:  The volume guys, let's start there.  What happens, there's a line drive hit off Volquez's shin third pitch of the game.  I want a volume guy.  I want a guy who has some pitches that that take the ball.  You saw the capacity for a game to go 13 innings last night.  You saw a starter pitching late even in the American League where you don't have the pitcher hit.
So there could be two options that need to play.¬† That way Gomez doesn't fit for me quite as well for this particular game.¬† I think also we're being game specific here.¬† We look at volume of work, out of the bullpen, ball to strike ratio, walk to strikeout ratio, ground ball ratio, we looked at all the numbers coming in, the fact they're going to push six left‑handed hitters in this lineup and have all the rest of the right‑handed bench players.
So that basically is the criteria we use to look at to match up our bullpen to hand pick the guys we did.¬† That's why Bobby's the third left‑hander available.¬† That's why Gomez isn't included.

Q.  Clint, how would you have characterized Russell Martin's health right now?
CLINT HURDLE:  He's batting fourth, and he's catching.  He took a soccer ball out there earlier this afternoon, which is the first time he's done that in a while.  So I'm in a good place with it, and I think he's in a good place.

Q.  I was just going to ask you, at what point were you aware he was going to be healthy to go today?  Could you just speak to his competitiveness.  He certainly seemed, short of his leg being amputated, he'd be playing today.
CLINT HURDLE:  Yeah, I would agree.  So we wanted to give him the opportunity to actually have some true rest.  As he went through the weekend in Cincinnati, they added the benefit of two off days here, a practice day for him yesterday.  I think he was able to work through some things yesterday as he continued to go through the activation part, the throwing, the hitting.  I think he felt more confident throughout the workout.  By the end of the workout, I think he felt in a very good place.
As I said earlier, one of the things he spent most of the summer doing when he goes out to activate in a very confident place is take that soccer ball out there.  We hadn't seen that in probably 10 or 12 days.  Where that goes, I don't know, but it was good to see him take it out there because he hasn't taken that out there in the past 10 or 12 days.

Q.¬† Can you talk about what you saw in Volquez back in Spring Training, where he is now, and how much his own open‑mindedness about changing things has gotten him to this point?
CLINT HURDLE:¬† I actually first started a relationship with Edinson in 2008 in the All‑Star Game.¬† It was his rookie season, with him and Cueto both were getting out of the chute so quick for Cincinnati, two young arms. ¬†I spent some time in conversation with him there.
He's not a lot different today as far as the personality.  This guy is in a good place.  He has fun.  I don't think he stresses over too much.  He's dealt with some adversity.  He's had some success.  He's matured through the years.  He's been challenged.
It's one of the criteria we love is to have guys that have had success and have come through hard times.  He's been humbled.  Him walking in the door, I felt like he just looked at last year as a very challenging year, not that he couldn't pitch anymore.
What he needed to do to recreate the dynamic of consistent effort off the mound, consistent delivery points off the mound, consistent‑‑ more consistent strike throwing, those were his target points coming in.
Obviously, a conversation he had somewhere with Liriano helped dramatically because Frank was in a similar situation the year before.¬† They're both from the same neighborhood town.¬† He reached out to Frank.¬† Frank shared what had gone on here, his buy‑in.¬† There's usually never going to be a better buy‑in from that than from a player or your PR part of it.
He just worked on putting together a package that he was going to follow and commit to as far as delivery points.¬† And they kind of‑‑ they didn't all come together at once, but he stayed steadfast.¬† He didn't panic when the numbers weren't right.¬† We stayed with him when the numbers weren't right and kept hunting good throughout the process, throughout Spring Training, because we were constantly reminded how bad the numbers were.¬† We were constantly reminded in April how bad the numbers were.
But we try and point some outlier numbers that were good, showed us some success and showed him work to a good place, and then he just found a rhythm and a rhyme that's made nothing but sense for the past‑‑ since the all‑star break.¬† It's been so much fun to watch.
It's basically his commitment, his hard work.  You always find opportunities to coach, but you're never going to get an opportunity to coach until the player is willing to listen.

Q.  Clint, how did you and your staff weigh what Darnell might have provided as a pinch runner and Morel, as you were putting together the roster?
CLINT HURDLE:  Darnell as a pinch runner, we were aware of the leg option, and I think to carry a pinch runner in this, you might even look to a more aggressive pinch runner like a Hamilton, or in the case of Kansas City they've got there.
We ran Darnell a number of times, and I don't know if he's a pure base stealer.  He might be our best base stealer, but he didn't come up with a stolen base in the opportunities here.  He could score from first on a double, no doubt.
In a game like tonight, you start Sanchez at first base, you've got Bumgarner out there, and he could be out there pitching for a while.  There could be a matchup later when Davis comes in.  If Davis gets on base late and I need another first baseman, I've still got Polanco that can run, or some dynamic along that.  I'm going to need another first baseman.
Morel can play first.  He can play third.  To go into this game with only one extra infielder, Clint Barmes, we thought might be challenging.

Q.  In this part of the season, you want to be playing your best baseball at this point heading into a postseason run.  Do you think that's the case for your team?

Q.  I was wondering if you watched last night's game the whole way through, and did you allow yourself to watch that as a fan of a great game, or do you watch that as a tactician trying to think along with the managers as that game sort of spun into the night?
CLINT HURDLE:  I watched six innings.  My dad and I watched the last couple innings together.  My wife watched 11.  She took notes for me.
I watched the game as a fan.  The last thing I'm going to do is get in the manager's head in the wild card game.  There are plenty enough other people that are going to do that.  I watched as a fan because I was a Kansas City Royal way back when, and there's a part of me that's always going to be a Kansas City Royal.
There's a small little part of my heart that was pulling for that team, pulling for that organization for so many years, and to see the flash points, to see George in the stands and that wonderfully hand picked shirt his wife made him wear, the pink shirt, because the George Brett I knew would not have worn a pink shirt to a ball game.  He looked great, the smile, just the drama of the game.
It was kind of funny as it played out because, like I said, sixth inning, I'm out.¬† My wife comes in, hey, honey, what's the score?¬† It's 7‑3.¬† Oh, man.¬† I go back to sleep.¬† Hey, what's the score?¬† Well, they tied it up.
About 6:00 this morning, I finally rolled over.¬† I've got to figure this thing out.¬† It was 9‑8.¬† Since then, I've watched some of the clips.¬† That city, it's another city that's very hungry.¬† 15‑‑ what is it, 29 years since the playoff experience.¬† There was no taking notes or trying to pick managers' brains from my perspective.¬† I was just watching for six innings, pulled for them real hard, said a little prayer when I went to bed, threw it up there, see where it would go.

Q.¬† Clint, managing last year against the Reds in a one‑game elimination wild card scenario, did you learn anything as far as how you have to manage this game throughout the course of it?¬† Or is it like any other elimination game in a DS or CS?
CLINT HURDLE:  By elimination, the things that people grab to and talk about elimination, that's your definition.  I managed about 14 of them in Colorado in 2007.  We had to run the table just to play an elimination game.
I think it was a 13 out of 14 stretch.  This year, there were some games in the stretch down here that weren't, by definition, elimination games, but you obviously push your chips in a little quicker.  You do some things that might have a different sense of urgency.
I do think you've got to just try and let situations present themselves.  I don't think situations need to be forced.  I think you've got to use your eyes, use your heart.  There's a rhythm to the game that's always evident and you can pay attention to.
Outside of that, the more of them you're in‑‑ and we were in 60 one‑run games this year were some type of elimination game.¬† That's kind of the game we play.¬† That's kind of the game we've played since we've been here.¬† It makes you aware that every pitch counts for the manager, for the coach, for the players.¬† You can't take a pitch off.
You've got to be proactive and forward thinking.  Outside of that, I think there's a time you've got to sit back and watch the men play.

Q.  Clint, one more roster question.  Any consideration to putting Liriano on this roster for a short stint?

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