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October 4, 2014

Buck Showalter


THE MODERATOR:  Questions for Buck.

Q.  Buck, obviously you and the Royals are up 2‑0, and you're two teams with outstanding bullpens.  Is the bullpen more important in the postseason than the regular season?
BUCK SHOWALTER:  No, I think it's obviously very important during the season.  It's been a strength for us.  You know, when they look at pitching and they have, okay, your pitching improvement from one year to the next, it encompasses all that.
I think the thing that allows you to be consistently competitive is starting pitching because if guys are spitting the bit in the third, fourth inning for multiple times during a stretch, it's hard to, one, keep a bullpen healthy and put them in situation that best suits their skills.
It's hard to say.  One doesn't happen without the other.  It really doesn't.  I've said many times the greatest team game ever invented because you can score enough to overcome something or defend well enough to overcome something, defend the bases enough that might make a difference.
But over the season, consistency has to come from starting pitching.  That's kind of where it starts.  But I know there is a mentality with making runs matter, and on a given night when you don't score many runs against a good pitcher and your bullpen can make that stand up, there is a real mental‑‑ it's a good feeling to a clubhouse when you feel you've got that dynamic, too.

Q.  Is the bullpen maybe more important now than it was 25, 30 years ago because starters are throwing fewer pitches in fewer innings?
BUCK SHOWALTER:  I'd have to think about that.  What do you think?  Was I there 25, 30 years ago?  Was I?  Seems like it (Laughter.)
I would have to go back to the minor leagues, I guess.
I think because of the challenge and the job description part of a manager is keeping people healthy, you're caretakers of investments for the fans and for your team, your organization.  The more information we have on how you keep people healthy and trying to keep that on the field is‑‑ I've said many times, you ask one manager, GM, in Spring Training what you wish you could have for, sure it would be to keep the health of everybody you break camp with.  We know that's not going to happen.
So I think a lot of it, the bullpens have come more into play because of the knowledge that we have on what causes injuries and how important it is.
It's hard to do.  Chris Tillman pitched well, but he threw 100‑some pitches and the duress in which you do 'em in.
All of the time people talk about, boy, they threw 140 pitches.  There were no pitch counts.  Well, take a look at when their careers ended.  There were breaks of normalcy.
With Randy Johnson, I had to throw out the book of conventionality.  He was just getting warmed up with 90 pitches.  All these guys that talked about back when we played, God bless them, but take a look at when a lot of those careers, alla Sandy Koufax and those guys, take a look at when their careers ended.
We're trying to protect the investments and the investment of the fans, because our bullpens do play a lot more important role because we have more information.  It's tough on managers when you have to make those decisions because everybody wants that guy to keep on pitching, but you're trying to keep him healthy, too.

Q.  When you guys were trying to decide whether to sign Delmon Young, how much was his postseason record and his ability to hit off the bench, how big of considerations were those for you?
BUCK SHOWALTER:  The first part of that question is for Dan.  Dan brought that possibility to me and had been talking to his agent and we talked about it and looked at the track record and what he had done.
If you look at Delmon, he would be the first to tell you that some of his challenges have been self‑inflicted.  But you look at him just purely statistically, and you go, Why is this guy available?
So as most clubs do or all clubs do, you go, What are we missing here?
And you kinda went through the reasons why he was available at the terms he was available at.
I spent a lot of time with him in the mini camp when he came in, and did a lot of homework on him.  The one thing we felt like was the actual performance in games we felt like would be there.
It was the other things that, you know, we had to get our arms around, and that's been solid since day one.
A lot of guys at 28, which he was at the time‑‑ a lot of people think this guy is 40 years old.  He's 28, just turned 29.  I think the maturity‑‑ and we're always one bad decision away from something, you know?
Like I told him, none of us like to have our lives judged by our worst decision.  And the big thing is if you get an opportunity, you better run through that door, and he has.  I'm proud of him.

Q.  Do you feel like one of the qualities that Bud brings to this occasions is kind of a toughness or attitude or something that's beneficial beyond the victories he's given you?  Is there an intangible there that makes him valuable?
BUCK SHOWALTER:  Bud is a very competitive, athletic guy.  He fills the position well.  There is nobody that watches the game more than him.  You watch him between starts, you can tell he's a fan of the game.  He likes baseball!  He likes the competitive part of it.
He's one of those guys on game day when he's pitching, he's not a real pleasant guy to be around.  But he likes to compete.  He likes the competition.  I'm not saying this is something new for him being in the playoffs because it's all relative in your life and things that you've had to be competitive at.  It's just a different stage.
I told you guys the state championship that we won in high school, I couldn't imagine anything more anxiety, pressure‑packed for me.  But it was just all relative where you were in your life at that point.  Bud likes to compete and he doesn't handle‑‑ I mean, he handles adversity well, he doesn't handle not being a contributor very well.

Q.  Tomorrow, Buck, is the 20th game that you will have played without Rajai Davis.  Have you guys decided what comes next for Chris?
BUCK SHOWALTER:  Well, if we don't win one more game against Detroit, nothing is going to come next.  That's something we will turn our attention to if and when his days are up.  Right now we're focused on trying to figure out a way to win another game from these guys, and that's going to be enough to take up our full plate.
I talk with Chris as often as possible.  We've admitted that texting is talking, right?  So we were texting last night.  He's engaged in every pitch, I think he's headed back to Sarasota here shortly.

Q.  You have a 2‑0 lead coming to Detroit.  What will be the toughest part about getting that third win in a short series?
BUCK SHOWALTER:  Many things.  It's hard to pinpoint one.  One, their pitching.  It's like I talked to y'all in September, that Septemberis an eternity.  Trying to close out a good season is a real challenge and nothing is handed to you this time of year and we know that.
The only thing that we've gained is we know there is going to be another game played in Baltimore, that's it.  We think it's a given that we're going to have a real challenge to win another game, and I think our guys respect how hard this is to do.

Q.  Kevin Gausman yesterday giving you 3 2/3rds innings.  How important was that, not just yesterday, but as far as setting your bullpen?  And what do you think of him in a role where he's not used to pitching in that role?
BUCK SHOWALTER:  I don't know which question you want me to jump in, but I don't think there is a saving your bullpen.  With two games on and four days off before you get there, everybody was available yesterday.
I kept trying to figure out where his dent may come and it was pretty good.  You don't watch him as much as you watch the other team.  They tell you how the other guy's is doing.  I don't think any hitter standing in the box is going to say, Remember the Kevin Gausman job he did in Detroit in Game2?
It's a constant proving ground, but it's a part of the process, another part of the equation, that he can put into his memory bank and hopefully reach back for as we go forward.
More than anything, these guys have fun with that.  We talk to them before, Throw yourself into the competition and go enjoy it!  You know, this, too, shall pass.
I want them to have fun with the things that they've earned and Kevin has earned it.  He looked at us a couple of times when we sent him out trying to manage innings and do some things with him in the spring.  I think now you would like to go up and say, I told you so, this is why we did all those things, so we wouldn't have to be counting those innings and those pitches this time of year.

Q.  What went into your decision to start Bud Norris instead of Miguel Gonzalez?  And also, do you think it gives you an edge for the Tigers not to know who your starter is about 24 hours before?
BUCK SHOWALTER:  No, they knew.  They knew who our starters were going to be and prepared for them.  They're prepared for everybody we got, and probably guys we got down in Sarasota right now.  This time of year, there is games like that being played this time of year.
I told them exactly ‑‑ we're going to go day‑to‑day, but here is the four guys we're picking.  You don't get any edge from that.  We knew if certain things happened the first two games, Bud would pitch.  If things happened the first two games, Miguel would and that gives us a chance to bring Bud back in Game5 and satisfy a lot of "what ifs," whether it's getting weather reports, start times, information we didn't have at that time and y'all didn't have either.
There were a lot of things that went into it and it wasn't for some competitive edge, necessarily.  Just didn't to want commit to something until we got Game 1 under our belt and Game 2 under our belt and get to the off‑day today and everybody was what we remembered.
So if it creates some doubt, Wally and I had, and Dom had, it lined up.  If this happens, we're going to do this and if this happens, we're going to do that.  And the players most importantly knew where we were going.

Q.  Nelson Cruz was saying how important it is to get past Detroit's starter, whether it's David Price or anybody else, and get to the bullpen.  Obviously they have struggled the last two games.  Can you talk about that Detroit's bullpen, and do you change your approach at all to get them out quicker to get to that pen?
BUCK SHOWALTER:  No, no, I'm not going to reflect on somebody else's abilities or what have you.  They won the American League Central, and they did some really good things with all their players.
I said before when this thing is over, the team that wins is going to have weaknesses, and teams that are eliminated are going to have strengths.
But it's a cold world this time of year.  I don't care who starts for anybody, you know.  If he pitches nine innings, you're probably going to lose.  And pitch counts this time of year, if we can get this guy to X‑number of pitches, you know, it's about‑‑ Brad and their pitching people do a great job of monitoring and looking at things.  That's the reason why their people stayed healthy for so long.
As far as what we're trying to do, we've got to take or see X‑number of pitches per at‑bat, no, you can't get involved in that.
THE MODERATOR:  Last question for today.
BUCK SHOWALTER:  Even better!

Q.  Buck, over the last few days of the ALDS and back to the Wild Card games, you told your players at one point, Be ready for anything!  Your role is not set like it would be in the regular season.  Kansas City won a Wild Card game stealing bases in a deficit.  Is the current format of the playoffs, does it create an additional unpredictability to what's going on?  Both you and the Royals are up 2‑0, but were not favorites in the series.
BUCK SHOWALTER:  Peter, I think you're going to see the same type of thing in a seven‑game series.  With the off‑days and the grasping the sense of urgency each inning and at‑bat and play, it's impossible for each human being to do it.  But you would love to bottle the concentration level of every pitch.  If you did that, you would win 150 games a season if you were a real good team and it's impossible to ask human beings to do that.
I think everybody knows who they are and who they're not.  We're not going to steal four bases down 4, but who knows?  Because personnel is different, you're carrying 10, 11 pitchers.  You've got extra pieces there.  I think to stop and look at each opponent and here's where their strengths and weaknesses are, here is where we should be in our bullpen, here's where we are off the bench.  What are you really going to do?  During the season you might pinch‑hit a guy to get him an at‑bat, play him in left field just to keep everybody fresh, you don't do that.
I wish I could come up with a better explanation than "sense of urgency."  Yesterday I had to pull Jimmy Paredes back from the batter's box because the dynamic changed with Delmon and I didn't want to change three for one.  Probably during the season I wouldn't have jerked him out of the batter's box because that was a little‑‑ I didn't feel comfortable about that.
But we're trying to deliver three wins in this thing.  I've told 'em before, I said, Listen, don't carry your ego around feelings‑wise, you see our bullpen guys, they get down there a little earlier and you try to give them as much heads up as possible.  But if they haven't figured out what's going on, they haven't been watching the first two games.
THE MODERATOR:  Thank you very much. 

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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