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October 1, 2014

Buck Showalter


THE MODERATOR:  Questions for Buck.  We have mics on both sides.

Q.  Buck, do you have a starting rotation beyond Chris Tillman for Game 1?
BUCK SHOWALTER:  We have one, we're not going to announce it today.  Obviously Tilly is going on to throw tomorrow night.  Players know what's going on, but we will see how things go out of our bullpen Game 1.
But guys all know what we're probably going to do, but I'll give it to you after the game tomorrow.  In fact, I will probably able to do it, yeah, tomorrow after the game.  I'm going to let Brad know what's going on so it's not cloak and dagger.  Just a couple of things we're waiting on, especially before 10:00 tomorrow morning.
Did Brad announce his roster?
THE MODERATOR:  I don't believe he did.

Q.  And that would be our question?
BUCK SHOWALTER:  I'm not sure why they wait until 10:00 the day of the game.  I guess with guys like Rajai, because if you start the game with a player and you have to replace him, you have to have the approval of the MLB doctor, but then he's not eligible for the next round.
So it's a tough decision for guys to take an injured player out during the series because then he would not be eligible for the next round.

Q.  As far as your roster is concerned, any thoughts?  Can you tell us anymore specifically?  Are you going 11 and 14 or have you decided what you're doing yet?
BUCK SHOWALTER:  We decided going into the workout today, we're going to look the a couple of things today.  Pretty sure where we're going, Dan, but obviously I want the players to hear.  We have talked to everybody that needs to.  I'm going to have a couple of conversations during the workout.
I'll probably be able to give you a better idea after we get through working Game 1.  Want to see a couple of things that we're kinda waitin' on, without going into a lot of detail.  You know, the decision for us is going with 10 or 11, and we've kicked it around until we're blue in the face like everybody does.  If you knew exactly what was going to be needed for each game, it would be real easy to do.
But the game has a way of exposing needs, and I think each club that you might play, or if you're fortunate enough to continue, things change with 7 and 5 and 1.  I thought it was fascinating last night looking at the roster that those guys‑‑ I remember having to do that in 2012, it was a different dynamic to each challenge.

Q.  Do you feel, now that you're getting closer to Game 1, the intensity level is picking up now and guys are anxious to start this "new" season?
BUCK SHOWALTER:  I don't feel like it's picking up.  I mean, I got to tell you, two of the more, I guess, not fun, just good days are some of the first couple days of Spring Training, and the workout days in the playoffs where the cup is half full.  You're looking at everything, it's a comfortableness of certain accomplishment, now you move on to another stage.
So just the quietness of the park and how beautiful...
I called Nicole and her ground crew with the players yesterday, because we've been around some of these fields late in the season, how great the condition and things that they have done with our field.  And I'm completely off subject, but so many things that change as the season goes on.
Our guys, the intensity level has been there.  There were certain things that we needed to accomplish as a team the last 10 days and why it always didn't show up in the "W" column.  There were some things that we were able to benefit from, but it all gets thrown out the window.  Detroit is rested, we're rested, we had off days and everybody is ready to do what they do.
There is a fine line between anxiety and anticipation and I don't care how many times you've been to the postseason, there's still a certain "newness" about it.  Because there are really four seasons that you play.  You play Spring Training, it's completely different, regular season is completely different, Septemberbaseball with the roster, that's a whole different gig and the postseason is different.
It's a challenge as a manager always trying to prepare them for everything that might be coming at them, and the only way you can do that is from experience.

Q.  Buck, you guys have never backed down from a challenge all year, but now you face a team that can throw the kind of pitching that they can throw out there.  A few Cy Young Award winners, but your staff has pitched just as well, if not better, all year long.  Can you address what that might mean in this series?
BUCK SHOWALTER:  Probably nothing, maybe from their standpoint because of the track record and things you have to do.  Those things come from longevity and being a proven commodity over a long period of time, which their starters and a lot of the players are able to do.
We can get Miggy up here to comment on it.  I think he's lost, what do you think?  Come up here and sit with me, we'll talk about it!  (Laughter.)
I think we all know what it looks like on paper.  There's a lot of things that look a certain way on paper for us that we were able to overcome, so thank goodness it's not played by, you know, in fantasy league.  I know where we hope our fantasy takes us.
I've said many times during the year, you grind like heck for seven, eight, nine months, whatever it is, to have a chance to roll the dice in October.  And the cool thing is only one team is going to be happy once it's all said and done.  That's what separates these guys and the coaches is they're willing to be put in that cooker.  That's what separates them.
I tell 'em all the time, what do you bring that we can't get off every street corner to be sure your teammates can count on you to bring that.  There is a real trust involved, me and them, them and me, me and the coaching staff, because there are too many things going and you have to delegate around and you have to trust people and that trust continues starting tomorrow.

Q.  There have been challenges at third base the last couple of weeks defensively.  Obviously it's tough to replace Manny Machado and Chris Davis, but who do you see getting the playing time at third base?
BUCK SHOWALTER:  Well, we were trying to do a lot of things there at the end to make a good evaluation, not just for the playoffs, but from a future standpoint, whether it be Christian Walker, Jimmy Paredes, whether it be a lot of guys, familiarizing ourselves with Alejandro and some guys that haven't been here all year.
I feel confident in the people that will be playing and they've got a good track record.  I don't think anybody is trying to be as good as Manny.  Manny had a historical year defensively, but we've been able to present ourselves well over there and I feel confident that we will continue to do that.

Q.  I realize both teams have to deal with the situation on Friday, but what impact, what variables are involved in not knowing the start time for Friday, depending on what occurs tonight between SanFrancisco and Pittsburgh?
BUCK SHOWALTER:  I look at it like this, there is a lot of people at home right now that aren't concerned at all about the start time.  I'm okay with that.  We have had, as you all know, experience with starting at stage times.  We've play at 11 a.m., and if anything, that's prepared us.
And during the baseball season sleep is overrated.  Adrenaline is an amazing thing.  When the season is over, all of us talk about you go home for about four or five days and your body just rebels on you and let's us know how much you have played the season on adrenaline.  But it's part of the challenge.
We'll know tonight.  And I'll betcha guys watch the game and we know it's 12:07 or 3:07, I think I'm right, but it beats knowing what time the tee time is.

Q.  From the first time you guys introduced Nelson Cruz, I think you talked about his experience in the postseason and his success in the postseason.  Obviously last time he faced the Tigers' he had a really big series.  How much of an edge is it to have a guy like that?  Obviously he's done a lot for you in the regular season, but someone with that experience and has that kind of success?
BUCK SHOWALTER:  You know, Ed, I don't beat 'em up every day.  A lot of the time I say, Stay together, bounce things off each other, managers and coaches, you're a ship passing in the night.
It's about the players.  I know privately in some conversations they pick each other's brain and talk about it on the back of a plane or bus ride or even in the locker room before the doors open up.  Those are precious moments that I have a lot of confidence that‑‑ Nelson is not a guy that ever is tooting his own horn.  It's pretty hard for other people not to toot it for him and I think that's what you respect about him.
He realizes how much everybody has to have a contribution.  I've said many times it's the greatest team game ever invented because you can't make the ball be hit to your best defender.  You can't make the bat always fall to your best hitter.  You can't have a base‑stealing thing be created if somebody is not on first base.  So many variables to it.
So I think Nelson realizes that he's a‑‑ you want to be a "sum of the parts" and that's what‑‑ these are the best teams baseball has to offer.  These are the best players in the world.  There is a fine line.  Paul Azinger was talking about it yesterday, there is a razor thin line between the Europeans and the Americans.  There are always ebbs and flows and momentum swings in series, and I think the teams that are able to withstand those momentum swings that happen during the course of a game and get back on track and try to stay engaged and have a chance to win some games late.
It will be fun.  I can't promise you we will do anything as entertaining as the game last night, from a manager's standpoint, I hope not.

Q.  How does managing a pitching staff differ in a postseason, especially a five‑game series compared to the regular season, especially when you have games that are do or die toward the back end of the series?
BUCK SHOWALTER:  There is a fine line about not getting too far into that do or die, especially imparting that feeling with players.  Very few times do you reach a point in a season where it is do or die.
I hate that expression because this isn't‑‑ while we think it's important for this period of time, I'm careful about using military comparisons, this is baseball.  Let's keep in mind what reality is and what kind of fathers and husband's and things like that, that's what's going to impact their lives.  But for those three hours or for this series, you know, that's important.  They will have a sense of urgency about it.
As far as the pitching, I think grasping that there are different‑‑ there are some things and our players have been prepared, but there are things that are going to be different.  Darren O'Day, Tommy Hunter, whatever, you pitch 'em in an inning and try to keep 'em in a routine so they can be there over the long haul, but now that changes.
There is a finite number of opportunities you have and you have to grasp that.  Fortunately for me, I've got a lot of good guys to pick from, just like Brad does.  So you can make a case for both clubs.  We always know our curiosity is going to be satisfied when we play games.  Eventually they will let us play these games and we will find out.
I've been okay in my life knowing about something when it happens and I think a lot of people in this room have to prognosticate, and thank God you do.  It makes our game popular.
But I'm okay about knowing about it when it happens.  I don't need to know about it beforehand.  Look at the spreads for college football, I don't know if Mississippi State is going to beat Texas a.m.  It's a one‑point favorite though (Laughter.)

Q.  We saw the dynamic impact that the Royals running game had on last night's game, haven't seen that in a playoff game in a long time.  You have more speed available to you today than you had three months ago.  Do you anticipate being more aggressive on the bases?  And being on the other side of the ledger, you've been a home run‑oriented team.  Do you think that chemistry changes with the quality of the pitching in this series?
BUCK SHOWALTER:  Potentially.  We all know the pedigree and the background of the pitchers we're going to be facing here, including Joe Nathan, a lot of their guys.  So there is nothing more precious in our games than outs.  If I had been at ESPN last night, the key part of that game was losing Soto, as good as Norris is.
So there are different parts of it.  You take your strengths and their strengths and take whatever weakness you perceive they may have.  The last team standing is going to have weaknesses at the end of the season and the first team to get eliminated is going to have strengths.  It can be cruel from that standpoint, but, you know, you try to put your players in a position that best suits their abilities, if the opposition cooperates.  A lot of time they don't.
That's what's beautiful about this time of year.  A lot of times something that should happen on paper a lot of times doesn't happen and that's what's great about this game.  I'm going to stay out of the way and let our guys play and not become prisoners to what you or they have done all year.
I tell the guys all the time, I want you to go for it.  I don't want you to go back to the hotel and say, Geez, I wish I had trusted my instincts, I should have been a little more aggressive with this, or I felt this 3‑2 change‑up and I didn't throw it.  Go for it.
That's got to come from your teammates and your coaching staff.  You gotta know who you are.  We try to talk a lot about who are we and what's the correct phrase, who we're not, okay?
But you never underestimate.  It's like my little sister says all the time, Every once in a while a little spontaneity is okay, Buck.  So I try to keep that in mind.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you, Buck. 

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