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October 18, 2015

Joe Maddon

Flushing, New York - Pregame two

Q. Can you talk a little about how Jorge Soler's pitch selection has improved and how that's helped him with his maturity as a hitter?
JOE MADDON: Yeah, when I first saw him in Spring Training that's all I heard about is how good he was at pitch selection, and he was. During the course of the season it kind of went away a little bit, and then when he got injured and came back, it got a lot better. That's a big part of his success. If he can hit for power like he's capable of, he just can't be up there swinging at everything. So more recently he's been much, much more selective.

That's definitely within his hitting DNA. That's who he is. That's the kind of hitter that he is, extraordinary power. But I think a big part of his success now and in the future is going to be the fact that he's not just going to swing at everything. But he's shown that to us more recently that it's coming back to him, yes.

Q. How you feeling, Joe?
JOE MADDON: Little bit better, thank you.

Q. You have a Game 3 and 4 pitcher?
JOE MADDON: 3 for sure is Kyle. Number 4 is more than likely going to be Jason Hammel. I'm still going to talk to him about it. If we need to use him between now and then, you still may see him utilized, but we might have to do something differently.

For sure Kyle 3, and we'll discuss 4. If we don't have to use Jason, it will be him.

Q. The Commissioner has said he would be open to the idea of changing the seeding after the Wild Card round, so the Wild Card team could have home field advantage. Would you be in favor of something like that?
JOE MADDON: Whatever the rules are at the beginning of the year, that's what you go by that. This year was kind of awkward. We won 97, Pirates 98 and then the Cardinals, and of course you're going to get the clamoring for the readjustment at the conclusion of the year like that.

For me the home field really is necessary when it comes down to the fans more than anything. I was asked about that question, I've been asked about that the last several years with Tampa Bay also regarding home field advantage, and I used to think it was such a big deal, but I don't see it as being as big of a deal as I had in the past.

So that's part of the discussion that, for me, if you're to talk about it, primarily for me it's about your fans more than anything.

I can understand why he would choose to do something like that. Again, but this is such an anomaly year, it's almost one of those things you may want to wait a little bit to see if there's any kind of consistency over a couple years regarding that factor that point. This year we were faced with a very strange moment having to play the Pirates. Now they won 98 games and didn't win the division. That's even worse than winning 97.

So playing that particular game like that and one of us having to go home, it's kind of tough, based on the body of work during the course of the year. I absolutely agree with that. So I guess what I'm saying is if they were to choose to do it, I'd be fine with it. If they chose not to, I'd also be fine with it. I think this year might have been one of those anomaly years.

Q. Two questions, where does Arrieta stack up with the great pitchers you've had like Price and Shields? And second question, his second half, where do you rate that in comparison to all the baseball you've ever watched?
JOE MADDON: Stuff wise, it's different. I mean, Jake's stuff among those three guys probably the whole, everything considered together, Jake's probably got a little bit of an edge. David's got a really good fastball, developed the changeup and that cutter, and James always had the great changeup. They're close, man, but I mean, overall body if I'm a scout going out to watch all three on their best day, probably Jake might get a little bit of an edge, but they're all three spectacular.

The other part with Jake was the body of work?

Q. His second half, where does that stack up with all the baseball you've watched in your life?
JOE MADDON: Nobody's seen it. Nobody's seen it. To watch this on an everyday basis, it's almost unreal sometimes. It's been going on for a couple of months. What am I talking about? You watch from the side and the finish on his pitches to the hitters is different. I mean, the hitter's reaction to the pitch is different. They're uncomfortable. Really good hitters are uncomfortable. Primarily set up by fastball command, and then beyond that this extraordinary slider/cutter thing he's got, then he started throwing his changeup for the last couple weeks, and I think he's got a great curveball. I love his curveball, too.

So the body of work, what I'm seeing, eyeball test, it's never really been done before, obviously. Mr. Gibson was my favorite pitcher growing up, and just to see Jake pitch like this I would imagine Gibson looked a lot like this or vice versa. It's extraordinary.

Q. You've had a full season in Chicago. What have you found to be the most difficult to acclimate to about Chicago? And on the other hand, what has spoken to you about Chicago, your favorite stuff about it?
JOE MADDON: Difficult part, there really wasn't, honestly. I don't want to sound driving to the ballpark early on. I'm going down Clark Street, I had to put up with the traffic a little bit because I chose not to take Lake Shore Drive. I wanted to drive through the city. I just wanted to. Plus I had the '72 Chevelle there, and to shift it, it was much more fun to shift it on Clark as opposed to putting it in fifth gear on Lake Shore, so that was a big part of it.

In the beginning I thought to myself the biggest difference was driving to the ballpark, but once you walk in the door it became baseball again, so that was like very, very similar. The other part

Q. What about the city speaks to you? What do you love?
JOE MADDON: Well, the first thing that comes to my mind, which I normally go through, are the people. The people have been very, very open and kind and embracing. They really are Cubs fans, my God. I mean, I live downtown and I walk around a lot and get in a lot of conversations. And you heard in the beginning a lot about how parents and grandparents never saw a World Series, and then it would always be followed with "no pressure", and I always enjoyed that conversation. I assured them absolutely there is none. I don't feel that, but hopefully for you we'll be able to do this at some point. But that's been the primary conversation, bringing up the past. The fact that we had not won the World Series in a long time.

The city itself, obviously, the restaurants and just the vibe in the place, it's a big city, but you don't get overwhelmed by the traffic whatever. It's really different. Plus we have our own ocean there, which is kind of neat right there. I ride my bike along Lake Michigan there, and it's tremendous. The bike trail is awesome, and that's part of it. It was very rewarding to me, also.

Honestly, the transition not that difficult, man. It was pretty simple.

Q. We can all see Schwarber's physical tools and what he brings to the game. What is it about his personality and make up that's allowing him to have this much success in the playoffs at his age?
JOE MADDON: He's not pretty much overwhelmed by anything. I don't think he takes himself too seriously. Have you all seen that YouTube video with him dancing with was it his high school group? He's like part of The Temptations or The Spinners or The Four Tops. He's like the lead dancer. I love that. That speaks to everything for me. The fact that he'd have the nerve to be out front like that and going through this whole routine, front guy. I think that speaks a lot of him walking out here last night and being very comfortable and making two great plays, hitting a ball 459 feet, whatever. He's just very comfortable in his own skin.

He's a good baseball player. Don't be deceived by maybe body structure, whatever. This guy's a good athlete, and he's a good baseball player. He's got a good mind for the game. He asks good questions. His work ethic is unbelievable.

Last year I saw in Spring Training where he must be catcher. And he and Borzello and Mike would work every day, Cossins, our minor league guy would work diligently every day relentlessly, and then he'd go do his hitting. So he's a different cat. He's got a tremendous motor, and he's not overwhelmed by anything. I think he's definitely a present tense guy. He doesn't get caught up in all the minutiae. He's pretty solid.

Q. Just your thoughts on Chris Coghlan tonight in right field? Is it his history against Syndergaard and what went into that?
JOE MADDON: A little bit of that. He hit the home run at our place earlier in the year. I just need to keep him solvent. I need to keep him out there a little bit. Jorge has done a nice job, obviously. He's done a wonderful job, and Jorge will be back out there. But you ask these guys to pinch hit or come off the bench or play, and if you don't give them an opportunity to play, why would I expect a good result when you ask him to come off the bench?

Last night Tommy got two at bats in the latter part of that game, which I definitely take that into consideration. Because we could have put Tommy at third, could have put KB in the outfield and gotten Tommy involved that way.

So just looking at all of our work, Coghlan versus La Stella is very similar. So I wanted to get one of the two in the game. Tommy had two ABs last night. Let's get CC out there today.

Q. I don't know if you saw him live or not, but any early impressions on Conforto with the Mets?
JOE MADDON: I haven't. I haven't seen him, man. I've just seen him on TV a little bit. Reminds me of Schwarber a little bit when I watch the stroke, I watch his approach at the plate. But I have no strong opinion. I have not really seen him.

Q. Kyle Hendricks is such a different pitcher than a guy like Arrieta, who blows players away with stuff. What do you like about Hendricks and how does he keep hitters off balance?
JOE MADDON: Just like he is, he's definitely a student. He really dissects everything, so he knows exactly what he wants to do and it's up to execution. What he does, he really creates when he's right, it's a good angle to the plate and the ball really moves off that angle and has a lot of sink to it. He's able to dot outside corners to right handed hitters. He can make the plate really wide, and then he plays with the bottom half of the plate in a good way.

So I think the hitters, when he's on, don't get a real good look at him. He elicits a lot of weak contact, and when the other pitches are on, that's when the strikeouts show up. He needs to get strikes. He needs to be able to get called strikes from an umpire. He's not going to get a lot of swing and misses early in the count, so he needs, I don't want to say cooperation. He just needs to be on those edges to the point where he gets called strikes, and then after that the stuff plays bigger because the deception involved.

Definitely knows what he's doing out there. Great kid, man. He's going to keep getting better, also. Not a flamethrower, but when it comes to moving, it's well above average.

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