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December 12, 2018

Bruce Bochy

Las Vegas, Nevada

Q. Just alluded to this at lunch that Farhan told us yesterday that he would like the team to be more creative in terms of use of pitching, including openers and tandem starts. It would be a new thing for you. How do you feel about that?
BRUCE BOCHY: Yeah, Farhan and I talked about it last night, and I'm all about being creative, too. I think anytime you could get creative to help win a ballgame, you should do it. I think it's important that you do stay open-minded. And there's been some changes in the game, and of course that's one of them, using an opener, and that's going to be driven by your personnel, your roster. You see where you're at and in your mind if you have to do it to give you a better chance to win a ballgame, I'm all for it. Why we're here, to win.

But again, getting back to what we're talking about, it's about being creative. And we've always tried to be and be open-minded. So it's nice to have new ideas, new thoughts. And so hopefully we can bounce things around to where we can get creative and help win a ballgame.

Q. One thing that seems like players have said for a long time and they appreciate about you is the level of communication, letting people know what their roles are, where you expect them to play, et cetera. Is that going to be more of a challenge, there's going to be so much more flux?
BRUCE BOCHY: Yeah, it probably will be, to be honest. You've got to sit down with the players, say, Listen, we're going to probably do things a little bit different sometimes. Roles won't quite be as defined, possibly. But that's always been the case in baseball. It's probably a little more common today, especially when you're trying to get more versatility, more flexibility on your roster.

So you want them to have a heads up, not be surprised by anything. And also just remind them that the best way to get where we want to go is to have an unselfish attitude. Just do whatever you think or what we think is the best way to win a ballgame, and got to get them to buy into this.

But we have a good group. A good group of character guys. I don't see that being an issue.

Q. You mentioned last night that you guys might be a little creative with Rodriguez and Suarez. What do you think? Both of them got to 180, but you need to make sure they're ready for a full season.
BRUCE BOCHY: Yeah, and these are the things we will talk about as we go into Spring Training, their workload. These two kids did a great job. And they've gotten in an area they haven't been before. It's going to be important we take good care of them. Maybe at times skip them a start or if there's a spot in the game where I can limit some workload, it's something I'd like to do for them, for their future and for ours.

Q. Bumgarner, his velocity is just a shade down. He actually was throwing fewer fastballs last year. Was any of that because of a lingering thing because of the injury he had? This question was asked about Kershaw yesterday with Dave Roberts. Is he doing anything different in his preparation to try to get that fastball back up to 92 so he can use it more?
BRUCE BOCHY: The first part of the question, it's a hard question to answer, because you don't know what played a part in the velocity.

But I'll say this about Madison, he is just amazing on his desire to get better, whether it's tweaking his mechanics. It's hard to get in better shape, but his work ethic is off the chart and that's why he is what he is.

So I can't say there's something definite that he's doing, but I can assure you he is working and he's going to come in, like he did last spring.

Now, I know you're talking about over the season about the velocity. I thought last spring was really -- Madison, from a couple of years ago, and it's just unfortunate what happened there when he broke his hand. Because it looked like he was just primed to go in and have a real nice year.

But he's young. He's strong. He's smart. He has ability to adjust. So I'm not going to be surprised if he's done something to tweak his delivery, whatever. Not that I think he needs to. This guy, he's still really, really good.

Q. I think because of where he's worked and what he's done through his career, Farhan, he's developed a reputation, a new school thinker, an analytical mind, and then you talk with people that worked with him, he does a great job blending old school methods and scouting. Just what stood out to you with your early conversations with him and his approach to building a team?
BRUCE BOCHY: I think what you were just talking about. We all know he's very, very bright. He's got new ideas, he's very creative, very into analytics. But he has deep respect for people in baseball on the scouting side, development side. He's a listener. He's the man in charge but he wants to hear what you have to say and he respects that.

And so I think he keeps a balance and it's not his way or the highway. From what I see in the early go here that he wants to get all the information he can. And some things you can't quantify, whether it's leadership, how you prepare for a game, character, things like that. And these are things he wants to know about, too.

Q. For the five or six months you had McCutchen on the team, how would you describe his leadership style and impacts he had on the clubhouse for you guys?
BRUCE BOCHY: What a great job he did for us. He was really a pleasure to manage. He's just so professional how he goes about his business. Shows up every day. Plays every day. He leads by example, how he plays the game, how hard he plays. He gives you everything he's got when he's out there. But in the clubhouse he's very well respected. He's a guy to have all the fun with.

He brought a lot to our club. I know it wasn't a great year for us, but you look at what he did, his body of work, we hung in there, despite a lot of things that happened, and I think that was because of him.

Q. Lots of obviously change between now and spring, but did Will Smith do enough to earn the incumbent closer status?
BRUCE BOCHY: Yeah, you know, I think we're going to stay open-minded on this, too. I'll sit down with the pen, Will in particular, but right now we don't have any roles that are defined, so to speak. I think it's a little early for that. But he has shown he can close, like Lance and Dyson. We have a few guys that are going to be involved late in the ballgame and watching -- sorry about forgetting him. But I think I'd like to keep open-minded about this and our options from all these guys.

Q. You guys in the past have made moves after the Winter Meetings, but I don't recall an offseason where potentially so much was going to change because of the positions you need to fill and different philosophy of the new administration. Is it disconcerting at all to be, I guess what we are, two months away from Spring Training and not really have a sense of what your team is going to look like?
BRUCE BOCHY: No, I've been up in the war room, so to speak. We've been meeting about different possibilities. I don't think there's a rush on some things. The thing you don't want to do is feel like you have a sense of urgency that something has to be done now to show that you're doing something. You want to go about it in the right way and that's what I think we're doing. I think that's what he's doing, getting all the information he can. And there's some pretty good options out there. It could be a trade, free agency.

So, no, I'm not concerned right now.

Q. Just as a follow-up, when you sit in the war room and hear the conversations you get a definitive sense of what direction he's trying to push the team in terms of which acquisitions he makes?
BRUCE BOCHY: Yeah -- well, I mean he's trying to get us more athletic, more versatile. He's trying to give me more options during the game. So he's trying to do all those things that you do with a club. It's probably gotten a little bit older and come off-the-cuff here that we need to add some offense here. But also have some versatility where we have a little more depth than we had last year. I think that showed. That hurt us with the injuries. We just didn't quite have the depth that you need.

Q. It's been a long time since you had power. Can you make that a priority along with other things being a priority?
BRUCE BOCHY: We've talked about that, yeah. I think that's a priority, the power, the slugging, as you say, because the doubles and triples. You hear me talk about that, and that was missing, too.

And you look at where we were as far as in the league, we're at the bottom with the offense. I mean 29th or 30th in a lot of these areas, we've got some work to do. But as he has mentioned, when you have spots in the outfield where you find that, it's a little bit easier.

So that's what I'm encouraged about, that we can add some offense in that outfield and help in other areas, on the bench, for example. Again, I talk about depth. But it's a need, no question.

Q. Farhan indicated that keeping players fresh and keeping bench players involved is important. The by-products of that can be guys starters throughout their career sitting a few more days, how do you anticipate having a conversation with veterans who are accustomed to playing every day, and maybe their roles do shift a little bit?
BRUCE BOCHY: Yeah, it's really something we've talked about the last couple of years. You look at the second halves of what happened last year, year before, and this year. I mean, the numbers, they go down. You look at, well, why? Is it conditioning? Do they need more rest? Yeah, I'm a believer in that.

I think if you look at the games played, we don't have guys that are going out there 150-plus games. So I think we're doing a pretty good job of giving them rest. Some of that is forced because of injuries, no question. But he's the one guy I know that we work him pretty good.

But really, besides that, you know, last time a guy played every game was Hunter Pence. I can't remember what year that was, but probably six, seven years ago. But beside that we really haven't had a guy out there grinding it for 150 or so. And it does keep them fresh, it keeps everybody involved. And I totally agree in that.

Q. Update on Posey, everybody expects him to be a hundred percent, he may be limited a little bit in how much he catches in the spring and early on, but are you pretty encouraged?
BRUCE BOCHY: I am. Just looking at him, talking to him, I think he's really encouraged. Early go, that's a pretty tough readout. And I know he's feeling really good about where he's at right now. Come January, around the middle of the month he can start running sprints. And that's the big test, there. And of course getting down and catching pitchers. We normally work him in easy in Spring Training. But this will be a spring I'll rely on him, how he feels. And we expect him to be ready to go.

I can't tell you how much we can catch him but that's a tough one to answer, but my hope is that he's going to be able to maintain his strength during the course of a season, and not just a season, a game. Last year you could see it catch up with him in the sixth, seventh inning where he wore down. So I think he's excited about that.

Q. My question was also a-bout Posey, really a two-part question: First of all, are your expectations going to change based on your conversations with Farhan on his catching versus first base? And the second half of the question is, I think he's going to be healthier because of the surgery, but he's also going to be 32. Do you have expectations that a healthy Posey at 32 can return to sort of the form, slugging form that would enable him to be a bona fide 3, 4 hitter?
BRUCE BOCHY: Yeah, I think this surgery has all given us, including Buster, a little bit more hope on the hitting side. That now he's going to be able to fire those hips like he used to. He just wasn't able to do it. As you get older, especially for a catcher, it's hard to say, well, he's going to get back to what he was at 23, 24. But I think they'll get very close to what he normally does with the bat. And that's with the catching part, too, holding up.

I think we're going to see a different player, because we're going to see a healthy Posey. If you're a catcher and you've got a bad hip, the game is hard enough to play. And he had a micro fracture there, too, and we didn't know that until he went in there. It was a little worse than we thought.

Q. The part about the catching versus first base?
BRUCE BOCHY: You know what, that's my job, is to keep this guy fresh. And so he probably will play a little bit more first base, especially with the left-handers. I can't tell you what the team's going to be right now. We need another catcher. But I think between playing first base and getting his days off. If you look at his track record he's usually around 120 games, 125 when he's healthy. So we'll keep him probably in that ballpark. But he may need a few more days off.

Q. What was your sort of reaction to Panik being tendered a contract or bringing you a contract. And how do you project him going forward, as you've seen him a productive player and last year was more of a struggle for you?
BRUCE BOCHY: I think you look at Joe and what he had to battle last year, with the injuries, really the last couple of years, between the hip, I know his back and his thumb he broke.

So the great thing about our game, it's a new slate. And that's what Joe's got to be excited about. Last year is behind him and he's come in fresh. This guy can hit. And he's got to be excited about just being healthy again. So this is a big year for Joe, I think. It can show he can get back to being the player that we know, and that's being a healthy guy that can play second base and swing the bat well.

Q. Somebody reported that you guys looked at the Japanese pitcher Kikuchi. What would you say you guys think about him?
BRUCE BOCHY: I think anytime you have a great player or pitcher, you have to have a high level of interest. This is a name that they know about. He's been discussed. So just like a lot of clubs, you know, probably most clubs there's a high level of interest because of the talent of this pitcher. We're in that mix, too, as far as how good we feel about him.

Q. Would you like to have him?
BRUCE BOCHY: Would I? You look at the talent, yeah. Pitcher like this, he's going to make you a better club. But, again, these are not my decisions.

Q. Is it different managing a team coming off a World Series championship than it would be otherwise as opposed to just a regular season?
BRUCE BOCHY: Yeah, to be honest, it is a little bit. I mean there's some things you've got to think about. Playing the World Series you're playing in November. So it gives a little concern about the fatigue. You've got to be a little concerned about sometimes maybe a little complacency, guys took it easy in the winter because it was a short winter. And you've got to be concerned about pitchers' arms and things like that.

So I think it is a little bit different. And believe me, we talk about all these things, but the following year, for some reason, we had a tough year. And then we would bounce back. But that's a grind of a season when you go to the World Series.

Q. Not just repeating, just even getting back to the World Series, do you think that's the design of the postseason?
BRUCE BOCHY: I think so, yeah. It's a long postseason, longer than it used to be. And every year is different, what you're going to get from your players. Just like last year, we felt good going into the season. And if our guys are having their normal years and stay healthy, we would have a nice year. That didn't happen. Some years everything goes your way, the ball could bounce your way or calls or guys just get those two-out hits that you need. So it shows you how balance -- how tough this game is.

Q. Just going back to the openers for a second, if it does go that way, is it realistic to assume that Bumgarner might be exempt from something like that?
BRUCE BOCHY: I would say yeah, yeah. Might pinch-hit him first.

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