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July 10, 2017
MATT VASGERSIAN: Welcome everybody. It's time to get us started since we got off to a slightly delayed start. Welcome to Marlins Park.
As you know, incredibly, this is the first time the Mid-Summer Classic has come to the state of Florida. So on behalf of the Marlins and Major League Baseball, welcome to Marlins Park.
As is the case of course with a lot of things that happen here because of the strong Latin influence and the international presence in the city, it's wonderful that we welcome 23 foreign-born All Stars to the 88th annual Mid-Summer Classic. Thirty-three players age 27 or younger. Some of the particulars, some of the numbers you may have heard at this point.
Before we get into anything else I want to introduce our distinguished dais here. Starting on my left, the National League contingent, Max Scherzer is just the fifth All-Star to start for both the American and National League making his fifth All-Star appearance. Max Scherzer everybody, (applause). Media can clap at this. Ramp up the energy.
Joe Maddon, back managing the All-Star team, and Joe will have a few words for everybody as well. Joe Maddon, (applause).
Brad Mills is here. In addition to being of course the long-time associate and friend of Terry Francona, he has a distinguished baseball rÃ©sumÃ© of his own. It's wonderful to have Brad here. Brad will pass along well wishes to Tito as he continues to recover. Brad Mills, (applause).
And making his sixth All-Star appearance and the first American Leaguer to start back-to-back All-Star games since Dave Stieb in '83 and '84 native Floridian, Chris Sale, (applause).
We have lineups to announce. Knowing that Joe Maddon is occasionally fond of the unconventional, we are curious to see what treats he has in store for us in terms of a National League lineup. I give you Joe Maddon.
JOE MADDON: Good afternoon. Is this working? Really great to be here. Quite an honor to me personally. Coming off a magical year last year with the Chicago Cubs. Given this great opportunity, I'm very honored by that. I want to make sure that I put that out front.
Next, my first duty is to name the starting pitcher for tomorrow night. We saw him recently. I've seen him in the past. I saw him when he was with the Diamondbacks. My first chance to meet Max personally. Been a big fan for a long time; we all have.
Wanted to let him know my own personal scouting report, beyond all the really big numbers that you see on the scoreboard, regarding his velocity, this guy is old school in a lot of ways. The delivery, the deception, how he intimidates the hitter. To me I think is very impressive. And I think as scouts today we really try to get into this cookie-cutter kind of approach to deliveries. He has a throwback kind of delivery that I really respect and enjoy. I think it's a big part of his success.
So anyway, we're going to announce for tomorrow our starting pitcher is going to be Mr. Max Scherzer, (applause).
I'll give the rest in a second. I guess you want the lineup? This is not very difficult. Young man in Colorado is having a pretty good season. Charlie Blackmon is going to lead off. We got to see him already. This guy is having a devastatingly great season. Regardless we have the fact we have a wonderful left-handed pitcher starting for the other side, we're going with Charlie in the one hole.
No. 2, you know how much I like power in the two-hole. Got to see the Marlins more recently. And Giancarlo is sitting at 2. I dug on that. So we will be having 2 and DHing.
No. 3, got to meet him for the first time standing by the bus a couple of days ago in Washington. KB and him, both from the great state of Nevada. So we're going to have Bryce hit third, Mr. Harper.
Next you have a guy I admire a lot and respect from a distance what he has done out West with that team. The Giants have been pretty successful over the last several years. I think obviously this guy is the linchpin to all their success. Got a chance to write his name down on the board, buster Posey.
Next guy pretty much kept the Cubs out of the World Series in 2015. Mr. (Daniel) Murphy hitting fifth.
The next guy saw his first game with the Rockies. This is another part about it, it's difficult to really create a lineup with all these great hitters. It's kind of fun writing their names down. Mr. (Nolan) Arenado playing third base hitting sixth.
Mr. (Ryan) Zimmerman will hit seventh and play first base. Coming off a great season.
The next thing about the No. 8 hitter (Marcell) Ozuna, got to watch him this year up in Chicago and here in Miami. Really done a great job. He's got one of the most technically sound swings I think in all of Major League Baseball. Really appreciate his approach at the plate. This kid is outstanding. It really difficult but he's hitting eighth, which tells you the strength of the lineup.
And finally in the nine hole, Zack Cozart. I get to see him a lot in Cincinnati. I think he's a really under-the-radar guy. This guy is one of the best offensive shortstops in all of baseball. To put him in the nine hole, awkward but nevertheless great. There you go.
MATT VASGERSIAN: Love it. We'll give you a chance to ask questions of Joe and all you Sabermetrics guys can criticize his lineup choices.
JOE MADDON: Please do.
MATT VASGERSIAN: All that in a little bit.
We also want to have Max say a few words. Back in the All-Star Game once again. Very distinguished company as mentioned previously. Just the fifth All-Star to start for both the American and National League. Actually, that's -- yeah. That's you, Max. Way to go. A few word on being named All-Star starter for the Senior Circuit?
MAX SCHERZER: It's unbelievable to get the nod. This is such an incredible accomplishment. When you walk in this clubhouse and you're with all the All Stars, you're tickled to be in that clubhouse with that recognition. When you have a manager say, "We're going to give you the ball, " it's icing on the cake. For me to have the opportunity to go out there and represent the National League, this is stuff you never forget. And when you get the opportunity -- I'm kicking at the dirt to be able to go out there and pitch.
MATT VASGERSIAN: Thank you. Time for the American League unveiling of their lineup tomorrow for the 88th Mid-Summer Classic. For that I give you Brad Mills.
BRAD MILLS: It's a pleasure to be here for myself. But under the circumstances I'm sure T would love to be here. He wants to give his best wishes to everyone as well. He's resting and doing well. We have not talked this morning, but at the same time he came in yesterday. We got to spend some time.
Going over our lineup real quick, when he did come in the clubhouse yesterday he sat down and the first thing he said to me is, "Okay, who is hitting second?" And the reason he said that is because he knows my fondness for Joss Altuve. So he's going to lead off for us. And the numbers that he's had in his recent success and the way he's put things together he's going to lead off.
Second is our guy in Cleveland, JosÃ© Ramirez. What an outstanding first half he's put together. Hitting another home run yesterday and last night for us. And he's put together a good year on both sides of the ball. Defensively and also offensively, obviously.
Hitting third is one of the best stories in Major League Baseball I think so far in the first half, Aaron Judge. Where was I going to hit him in the lineup? It was a situation you wanted him to hit in the first inning because of the story he's been all year long.
We want to get him in the first inning. Mr. (George) Springer, from Houston. We're going to have three guys out of our first five from Houston. That kind of shows what they've been able to do the first half of the season in the American League. He's hitting fourth.
Carlos Correa is going to play shortstop and hit fifth. Again, especially the runs they scored the last two days, to have those guys at the top of the order is going to be really nice.
Justin Smoak, 23 home runs. He's one of the top in slugging in the American League. He'll be at first base.
For us. Mr. (Corey) Dickerson from Tampa. He's going to be our DH. His ability to lengthen out at-bats, takes the ball the other way. Been pretty special. Even though he's a lead-off guy, nice to have him.
Salvador Perez, our catcher. We didn't get to see him too much. What a great guy behind the plate to have to lead the pitchers, and the way he's going to put things together offensively. This year he's been great.
Mookie Betts is hitting ninth. Somebody has to hit ninth. What a talent this guy is, from both sides of the ball. And all the cools that he has. And it's a treat to be able to have that guy in the ninth. So that's our lineup.
And with Mr. Chris Sale, how nice it is to have a guy that's had the first half he has. I'm glad to see he's awarded for the second straight year.
MATT VASGERSIAN: And Chris is making his sixth All-Star appearance tomorrow. It includes having started back-to-back All-Star Games as of tomorrow night. And Chris a few words from you on being named American League starter once again?
CHRIS SALE: I'm very appreciative of it. I love -- a lot of hard work and dedication goes into this, not only on my end but the people I'm surrounded by. The people in corner, my catchers, my teammates, my coaching staff. I've been very lucky to be where I'm at right now with the Boston Red Sox, have that transition going as smoothly as it has been.
This is a fun time. I love coming to the All-Star Game. Being down in Miami about an hour and a half from where I live, that's better. To have my family and friends come and watch it, my college coach is coming down, which is special. I'm excited for it. It's a big deal. There's a lot going on. I would like to sit back and be able to soak this in as well.
MATT VASGERSIAN: Thank you. We do have time for questions. We ask that you wait until we get a microphone to you. We are most decidedly acoustically challenged today in our confines.
Q. Joe, a no-brainer to make Stanton your DH where the game is and what kind of player he is?
JOE MADDON: I thought that was a pretty easy decision. Looking at the breakdown of the team positionally, I thought to draw a DH out of the outfield was smart, or possibly a first baseman, having three outstanding first baseman. (Justin) Turner being added more late in the selection process, but I thought the DH for those two spots. And furthermore playing here under the circumstances I thought it was the right thing to do.
Q. Brad, you touched on it a little bit about the Astros. Tell us about their representation. Plus their pitching, and also if you could in your answered through what you know about Lance McCullers availability.
BRAD MILLS: I'm going to address the last question first. Lance McCullers he's going to be -- his ability to be able to throw a few innings for us is going to be key, at the back end. I have not had a chance to visit with him yet. Today, I will as he comes in.
Like I said earlier, the three guys they've got on this roster with Altuve, Springer and Correa, the year they have had and where we're hitting them in the lineup and three out of the top five is huge. But their ability to get on base, hit home runs and be right in the middle of that lineup they are able to put together down in Houston is crucial.
Q. Max, you'll be facing Judge. What are your thoughts on him?
MAX SCHERZER: I mean, it's impressive. I mean, I've seen it from afar, the year he's had so far. Obviously been the best hitter there in the American League. I think they will all agree with that. I enjoy facing the best. It's what you look for. I mean, you get a chance to obviously be in the All-Star Game to face the best hitter in the game, potentially, that's what you look for. So it will be fun.
Q. Yes, Max and Chris, if you could answer this: You guys have watched each other a lot over the years, I'm sure. What do you guys admire about each other?
MAX SCHERZER: I love the way Chris goes out and competes. Going against him when he was with the White Sox, he always brought the best out of me every time I faced him. He's a guy that goes deep into a game. He'll do anything to win. He makes big-time pitches all the way -- even if he takes 120 pitches. By far he's been one of my favorite players, pitchers to watch. It's even better to compete against him.
CHRIS SALE: I could almost say the same thing. I don't know if I've seen a guy compete as hard as he competes day in and day out. Playing in the same division you see obviously more of the guys in your division. You grow little more appreciation for those guys because they are around more. The fire, the intensity, the role model he can be for kids coming up to kind of take the bull by the horns and just compete. It's fun.
And another thing that I like to add is he and I both played in the same summer league team, up in La Crosse. So that's pretty interesting too. We've had some ties for a while and played against each other for a while, too.
MAX SCHERZER: Representing La Crosse Luggers pretty well.
Q. For Joe and Brad, you guys are both involved in the All-Star Game, before there was the rule of the winner who got home-field advantage during the World Series for that league. Now that rule is gone. Will you manage this thing any differently than previously?
BRAD MILLS: From my point of view, we're here to see these guys and celebrate these players. Celebrate this game and what they have done the first half of this season. I think the biggest thing for me is to get everybody in the ballgame and let everyone see them and see the things they've done and see what type of player they are.
JOE MADDON: I concur. 2009 having to do this in St. Louis under National League rules was kind of difficult, to satisfy a lot of different levels regarding players playing, keeping guys back for innings, all those different nuances of the game.
At that time a little bit more difficult to contend with prior to the game. I kind of like this format right now. I do. Under these circumstances I'm attempting to choreograph it in advance who is going to play when, position players as well as pitchers. Of course, the object is always to really to win the game and get that National League pride going regarding winning for the sake of winning, which is a wonderful method.
But entirely different thought process for me coming into this game than the last one. I'm pleased with it. I'm good with it. So yeah, it's easier to choreograph.
Q. A question for both managers and both pitchers: How excited are you for the Home Run Derby? There seems to be an elevated level of excitement, especially Stanton and Judge. What to expect tonight?
JOE MADDON: You don't want to talk to the pitchers about that (laughter).
MAX SCHERZER: I love the Home Run Derby. You said it best. Watching Stanton win it last year was impressive enough, to have basically his new counterpart come up and look the exact same, I don't know how else you can draw it better.
Q. Brad, could you talk a little bit about what this means to you personally, this opportunity if that's the word. I know it's an awkward situation. Do you take time to reflect on your career coming to this point? What is your thought process?
BRAD MILLS: Well, I understand the question. I think it's not really on myself as much as it is really what the organization is able to accomplish last year. Being with Terry as long as I have and knowing him for as long as I have and the individual he is, the manager he is, and getting this is very humbling. Getting this responsibility is very humbling. I'm thrilled to be here. I definitely would love to have him sitting here in this chair. But we're supporting him. It's good for our staff and I'm glad our whole staff is able to be recognized.
Q. This is for Joe and Chris: Chris, being a Lakeland guy and Joe having so much of your career been spent in the state of Florida, to be a part of the first All-Star Game in this state, what does it mean to you guys?
CHRIS SALE: Like I said, I'm appreciative of it. All my family lives here, brothers, sisters, in-laws, parents, even my aunts and uncles and cousins. So to be able to be here not too far from where I live now is nice. I can have my family, extended family come down and experience this with me. At the end of the day this is something I'll never forget. This is something I'll be hopefully sitting in a rocking chair when I'm 80 years old telling my grand kids and great-grand kids and things like that.
To be able to experience this and have a few friends come down as well is nice. It's awesome.
JOE MADDON: More for me it's about the state and getting the All-Star Game down here, I think that's the primary takeaway. For me personally I got to cut my teeth in Tampa Bay. I'm eternally grateful to that group for making that happen. I'm here based on the efforts of the 2016 Chicago Cub players.
Yesterday was an awkward moment for me accepting my jersey in front of our entire team in Wrigley Field. I'm only standing here because of the players. Really good players. And players of Chicago, great players in Tampa Bay. I'm eternally grateful to the players to be in this position actually.
But when it comes down to the state of Florida, at this moment I think it's great.
Q. Brad, just going back to the uniqueness of the situation, how will you make use of Kevin Cash? And will you make as much fun of him as Tito would?
BRAD MILLS: I'm going to try to. He's going to reverse it on me as much as we can. We've known him for quite some time. But, yeah, it's very humbling to be able to be here and be involved in it.
But I will be able to use him as much because of our friendship. His knowledge of a lot of guys who have been in the Eastern division. We've only played a few teams in the Eastern division. So we'll be talking about that and talk about one or two things. It's a treat and a pleasure to be able to have him there as well.
Q. Joe, you talked just a minute ago about being so grateful to the players who got you in this position. Is it awkward to not have any of them here with you? Were you hoping to get some of them on this team?
JOE MADDON: That was the awkward moment yesterday, talking about it. To be presented a jersey on our field in front of all of our fans and have none of our players out there was different. It was difficult. I actually talked to Zo (Zobrist) about it before this ever occurred just to let him know how much I respect and appreciate what they had done for us, and how awkward it was for me personally to accept this jersey while they're all sitting in the dugout.
It's a little bit different. I guess this really never happened before. I'm really looking forward to our second half. I have a strong belief system in our guys. I really do. I'm not just saying that. It's not lip service. Believe me, yesterday was kind of different, and uncomfortable only because of that.
We get to represent here because of the efforts of our players, players what they did last year, but I wanted it to be passed among the players how I felt.
Q. This one is for Brad: Yu Darvish, four-time All-Star, I understand he's not going to be pitching in this All-Star Game. What's your impression of him? And where would you rank him among American League starters? Is he in the top five?
BRAD MILLS: I think his been selected to this ballclub puts him at the top because of the starters we have. The situation with him throwing recently, but his ability to throw, the command of his pitches and keep them around the zone with the effectiveness and the late movement has put him where he is.
I know he's not a comfortable at-bat for anybody. He's got to be right at the top, there's no doubt.
Q. This is for both managers: How difficult is it to construct a lineup when you have so many quality players?
JOE MADDON: Very difficult. When I sat down on the plane yesterday on the ride down, to really attempt to figure the whole thing out. I normally want to go back and forth left, right, left, right, left, right kind of thing. I always want to make it difficult for the other side's bullpen possibly. So I did as well as I can. Even though Chris is starting the game, these guys will get more than one at-bat. That was part of my construction. Like I said, I do like pop at the top of the lineup. But when you get to the bottom you still got it.
It was difficult. I don't know how well I did or how poorly I did. It was just such great names. If you had this chance to do this exercise on a daily basis, it would be rather fun.
BRAD MILLS: There's no doubt. With Terry coming in yesterday, being able to spend some time with him, asking some coaches of their ideas and trying to balance it out. In the long run it was a story. It was a story that each guys have been able to -- I've talked about the Houston Astros, and I've talked about Aaron Judge. You really couldn't do wrong with putting them anybody anywhere in the lineup that we have. But at the same time it was more about this being a show, let these guys show what they can do. Up and down the lineup we can shuffle it, put anybody in there.
But getting Judge, like I said, get him an at-bat the first inning, those types of things went into it.
MATT VASGERSIAN: We have time for two more questions.
Q. Just wanted to ask was there any sense of relief on your part when you found out that Kershaw would be ineligible and you didn't have to choose between him and Max?
JOE MADDON: Well, truth be told, I looked at it pretty closely. I have a ton of respect for Mr. Kershaw, also. But if you just broke down the numbers, I am being honest, I had already chosen Max, based on what I had just read numerically. It's hard to argue, Kershaw has had a wonderful year. This guy is a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer, just as this guy is probably going to be, too.
But if you want to know my honest opinion, I'm giving it to you right now, based on the numbers, I thought this was the right way to go.
Q. For both Max and Chris: Given the way the ball is flying out this year and given the power numbers of both rosters, is your approach any different now for these guys than it might be three or four years ago?
CHRIS SALE: I'm gonna grip it as usual. I give up my fair share of homers. You can check the book. It happens. If you let that creep in your mind, it's going to be a long night. I'm going to do the same thing I always have.
MAX SCHERZER: I agree. The way I've been looking at it, ball is flying for whatever reason. I really don't care. I've given up a lot of homers over the past year and a half. That's really been something that's been a thorn in my side. I've had to become a better pitcher, locate better. Because of the home run spike, I've dialed it in even more to try to make my location better to try to prevent them. I think I have a hand in it, in not letting them hit as many homers out, and that's made me a better pitcher.
MATT VASGERSIAN: We have run out of time here as far as Q and A. There is media availability coming up on the warning track for the National League All Stars at 2:50 and then the American League All Stars will be out there at 3:50. The T-Mobile Home Run press conference will take place at 10 after 5 in the press conference room on the surface level. I would like to thank all of our speakers here Brad and Joe and certainly Max and Chris who always make themselves available for this. Thank you for your time. We appreciate it a lot.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports