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October 8, 2015

Joe Maddon

St. Louis, Missouri - Workout Day

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Joe, how proud are you of this team for the job that they've done to get you to where they've brought you here to St. Louis?

JOE MADDON: To get us, it's always about us, and those are the real pronouns. The fact that we're in this particular position right now started in spring training. The guys that have been around have seen it evolve. There's different things we had to get done at that particular time to get us to this moment of our journey.

Listen, to be with our guys every day, you see a lot young guys. We've talked about that a lot. I don't think the veterans have been given enough credit. The coaching staff has been fabulous. It was demonstrated on the field last night when our guys came together for a brief moment visually. So I'm a big believer in chemistry within the team. I know some people don't get that or believe that, and I believe chemistry can be created when you can follow it, and I think that's what you're seeing right now.

Q. At which point in your life did you cease becoming a Cardinals fan?
JOE MADDON: You know, there's still that part of me that -- I just walked by the '64 photograph and almost named everybody, almost. Excluding Eddie Spiezio in the background because when Scott came to the Angels several years ago, I wanted to meet his dad. That's who I wanted to meet was Eddie Spiezio. Phil Gagliano, those kind of guys, Jerry Buchek.

All those guys, were the kind of guys that -- besides the obvious. So when you're a Cub, though, you can't necessarily be a Cardinal fan. But I have a lot of respect for the organization, always have. Timmy McCarver and I are good buddies. Always have been. I love Mike Shannon. The whole group wreaks of tremendous. I'm a big Branch Rickey guy. But right now I'm a Cub and hopefully will be a Cub for a long time.

Q. The Cardinals have earned a lot of respect because they've won a lot. This is a historic playoff, because for, various reasons, these two teams have never met in the post season. Do you feel that it might be time for a changing of the guard in this division with the Cubs rising and taking nothing away from them?
JOE MADDON: I didn't even realize this was the first time we had met in the postseason. I thought that was kind of interesting, but then again, it's believable if you look at how this thing plays out. Of course we're ready for some kind of a changing of the guard. But I don't expect the Cardinals to go away. The whole division I think is very competitive. I know Cincinnati and Milwaukee did not have years that they would like but they have some really nice players in both places.

So next year it could be rather interesting with all the teams, I think. But again, at the end of the day I always preach about warning about us and ourselves only first, and I would like to believe that the Cubs are going to get better, too, next year. I think the experience that our young guys are gaining right now is invaluable. I mean it just is. I mean to play in that game last night, how loud it was, whatever the sixth or seventh inning. Louder than that in an open-aired stadium. I've been to Seattle and seen the Seahawks. It was that loud. To have our guys go through that moment is something that you're absolutely going to grow from and, so when I'm looking at all this, my mind goes to the fact, you know, obviously trying to take care of business right now, but I'm also looking at the future and what these moments mean for '16, '17, '18, et cetera.

Q. You manage against Mike Matheny. I know you've managed against the lineup and the people he has. What have you learned about managing against him for 19 games this season, this season, about him and the type of baseball man he is?
JOE MADDON: He's outstanding. I get to talk to him. I've often enjoyed my conversations with him by the batting cage and I've told him in the past I thought he's done a great job, a good job here. Following Tony is not an easy act, and so he's done that. It appears almost seamlessly, to win 100 games, that's incredible, in spite of all the problems that they've had this year. I just see a consistent, really -- imagewise it stands up there really well. You know, he really stands up there really well, and I know his players have a ton of respect for him. I mean game in progress, it's just, again, you have to -- it's not just him. It's every team you play against, you're attempting to at least guess what the other guy might do but playing 19 times in a year and all the information out there it's hard to really be surprised by anything. He's not going to be surprised by anything that I do. The one that comes to mind with me about him is consistency. I see him as being rock solid and I think the team reflects that.

Q. Starlin made some really smooth and clean turns yesterday at second base. Can you tell us about how that progression has been for him having two short stops up the middle that way?
JOE MADDON: He's done a wonderful job. The thing about Starlin, if you can imagine in your mind's eye the way he throws the baseball. That kind of ^ like, thing from the side a little bit that you've seen at shortstop, so it really plays well on second base on turning a double play.

The second one I think was really spectacular the way it turned it. The ball that was hit hard at KB. He just has a natural arm stroke to play that position, the way his arm works, so it doesn't surprise. The biggest thing was how comfortable is the guy going over there and having his back to a runner. That's what it really comes down to, and he seems to be really comfortable with that. So the fact once you get over that and then you have this natural throwing stroke that benefits that position, he's done it really well.

Q. You have encouraged your team to live in the moment to have fun; they certainly did that last night. It was well earned. But what kind of sense did you get today in terms of a hangover, either real or imagined?
JOE MADDON: It wasn't imagined, man. (Laughs).

Q. It was the real deal. And how they could recover quickly for another daunting task with the Cardinals?
JOE MADDON: I really have a lot of faith in our guys. I know we will be ready tomorrow. Truly when you go through a moment like we did yesterday, we played Game 7 already. Think about it. So you go through that moment where you have to win in order to advance. That's the most intense game you're going to play all year. Hopefully we're going to play that, maybe not. I mean, we'll do well in less than five or less than seven games, but to play a one-and-go-home game, we've done it and we've come out on top. We know we can do things like that. So when you get that out of the way early, I think that actually helps you. It's no fun -- the thought of having to play that game is not necessarily fun because of what I just said, but then to win it could really build your confidence.

We've been playing really well for over a week now. We've been playing well all season, but for over a week we've been playing really good. I don't anticipate anything different. No speeches. I don't get a team together and talk to them. I want them to show up tomorrow. It'll be Friday, play Friday's game. BP is going to be optional. Go through your regular mechanics prior to the game. No more information, no less. No whatever. Just play the game.

Q. Can you tell us who's starting Game 2 and 3 and 4?
JOE MADDON: Yeah. Two is Kyle Hendricks, 3 is Jake, and 4 there's a possibility it's going to be Jason Hammel, but we don't know that yet. A lot of it's going to depend on how the first three games go. He'll be out of the bullpen early, and then we'll see what's available by Game 4.

Q. (No microphone)?
JOE MADDON: I mean Kyle's been -- you saw the last couple of games and the fact that he's really -- I think been really sharp. The fact that he could put the ball on the ground matters a lot, too, keep the ball out of the air. He's just been very sharp, so we just chose to do that, and then of course, we're not going to skip Jake. And then it's going to get back to the idea of if, we don't use Jason Hammel before that, you probably will see him in Game 4, but if we need him sooner than that, you'll see him sooner than that, and then we'll have to make an adjustment for Game 4.

Q. Joe, Jon was 1 and 4 against the Cardinals, but in the last four outings he had against them he went into seven innings. How do you feel about his confidence going into this game tomorrow? Going from regular season to a post-season game?
JOE MADDON: Well, I know he's -- I know he's going to be ready. He loves this kind of stuff. He's not going to be taken by a large crowd or whatever. I think he's been throwing the ball really well. His last start was very good. 1 and 4 could be confusing also based on the number of runs that we've scored. I think he's pitched really well against this group, but he's pitched well against them in the past. So I have all the confidence in the world in Jon going into that game tomorrow and if we need him at the end, we have him at the end, also.

Q. Your roster, do you plan any tweaking, any significant changes from the --
JOE MADDON: Nothing significant. We have to do something, though, because you can't have the same configuration based on a five-game series over a one-game series. So it's going to be close. I think we announce -- when do we have to announce it, Peter? Tomorrow. We'll announce it at that particular time. But it's not dramatically different, honestly. But you had to do a couple of different things based on the numbers. We needed more pitchers, legitimate bullpen guys, couple more starters. All that stuff had to be involved. The position players we had to cull down just a little bit. So those are the different areas we looked at, but it's not going to be dramatically different, promise you.

Q. What conclusions have you drawn from hitting the pitcher eighth this year and might you do that in the playoffs?
JOE MADDON: The conclusions, I mean I give you the overarching philosophy from the beginning was, A, I wanted to try to develop Addison as a hitter so I thought by hitting him ninth as opposed to eighth he's going to see better pitches and also bled into the top of the batting order, which makes number two more significant, regarding having runners on base. Batting the pitcher eighth also permits you to hit for that pitcher sooner in the course of a game. You have that spot coming up a little bit earlier. I think if you have a really good bench and options, left to right-hand options. We have a really good switch-hitter on the bench. The eight hole is really attractive to have your pitcher in the eight hole game in progress, and the final point would be to hit him ninth, which I'm considering doing tomorrow.

By hitting him ninth, we did it yesterday you, extend to making a decision to a pitcher. So those are the kind of things that I've thought about, but primarily this year the primary reason to do it was to benefit Addison Russell.

Q. And it did?
JOE MADDON: I think it did. I think -- I don't think you'd have seen the same kind of development offensively from him had he been hitting in front of a pitcher all year. He'd been walked a lot. You'd expand the strike zone more often because you don't care, and you get to the pitcher next. So again, moving forward the rest of this playoff series you might see the pitcher at eighth, you might see him hit ninth, just depends on a couple of different variables but the overarching philosophy contains all of those different components.

Q. One of your early visits here to Busch Stadium said it was important for your team to win here and during that series last month at Wrigley you felt it was important either for the media or for your team to feel they could not just compete with the Cardinals but no longer an underdog to them. I wonder how much you wanted your team to measure itself against the Cardinals this season and also how you saw that evolve this season? Do you think part of the improvement in your team can be measured against how they did against the Cardinals?
JOE MADDON: You can measure yourself against the better teams, and also Pittsburgh was pretty good, too. There's a lot of other good teams in the National League. Coming from where I'd come from in the American League, I'd gone through that whole process, and it's really important that you know that you can beat somebody that's really good in their ballpark, and especially a team like St. Louis or a team like Pittsburgh. You gotta be able to know that. Until you actually know that it's very difficult to get it done. You're going to be intimidated. You're going to expect something bad to happen. Whatever, especially if you're young. So the fact that we actually played pretty good in Pittsburgh all year, we played better in St. Louis, it matters. Not a little bit. A lot.

It gets to the point where both teams know the other team could beat the other team. So they know we could beat us. We know we could beat them. And you have to be able to have that thought. If you don't have that thought, if you don't have that thought, that belief system it's not going to happen. It can't. Impossible. So the fact that we played better against St. Louis season in progress, which I thought that we would, matters a lot, not a little bit.

Q. Couple of bullpen questions. Motte's status going into this series whether he's possible on the roster. Strop, the struggles he's had against this team and particularly here and where you think he is now and just overall the bullpen's influence?
JOE MADDON: Sure. Motte we're trying to set up. We're still trying to get him ready to be able to pitch for us. I'm going to tell you that, he's not going to be on the roster right now. So we're trying to get creative in regards to getting him well and healthy so if we continue we can make an informed decision whether to use him or get him on the roster or not. So you'll see that all unfold during the course of this week. Strop, I'm not worried. I mean that sincerely. I mean the guy's got great stuff. You're right. He has had some problems here. I cannot deny that, but at the end of the day, man, it just takes one really good outing to get you over the top, just not unlike what I'm talking about winning in this particular ballpark. The stuff's fabulous.

There's really good match-ups for him versus this team. Just gotta go out there and process it slowly, and that's what we'll ask him to do, but I'm not going to run away from him in this ballpark or against this team if it's the right situation.

Q. And Joe, you stress so much how your team, you want them to have a lot of fun during this process, and we've seen the fun that they've had. What's this whole thing been like for you since you signed on as Cub manager? How much fun have you had developing this whole thing?
JOE MADDON: Well, I think it's obvious. I do enjoy this, and I enjoy it here a lot. What you're seeing, I mean I've had the benefit of training for this moment for many years. A lot of what you see here is rooted specifically in the mid-80s when I was running the Angel Minor League system, coordinator. It's not different. It's no different at all, man. It's almost exactly the same, the way we go about playing the game, the fundamentals that are being emphasized, the fun component, I did the same thing back there in the mid-80s in the instructional leagues. We used to have kind of Olympic events and actually had a Weimaraner race where fastest guy. We did things like that, and the dog did win. It was Devon. He might have run against Devon White. So no, I really feel like I've benefited, and I'm very appreciative of all the years I spent to get to this particular moment because to be able to do the stuff we do, and I feel like I'd like to do with the confidence that we do it would be impossible without having all those out posts to make mistakes in first.

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