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December 11, 2019

Bud Black

San Diego, California

Q. Buddy, first just a comment from you on the signing of Scott Oberg, locking him up three years, possibly four. How big is this for you guys and where is he healthwise?
BUD BLACK: Well, I'll try to answer all those, Tom. Healthwise I think he's doing well. We spoke a few weeks ago. We've texted lately. He seems to be in a really good spot physically. The doctors are extremely happy with where he is.

As it relates to the signing, we talk about it all the time. Our front office and the coaches in roster construction about getting the right guys, and Scott Oberg is the right type of guy. So I'm happy for him and his family. I'm excited and proud that he wanted to be a Rocky for this coming length of time.

I'm glad this worked out. I know organizationally this is a good fit, and Dick and Jeff felt the same way.

Q. As far as the closer position job, are you going to let that play out?
BUD BLACK: I'm going to let that play out I think with any bullpen set up this time of year, in December. These things have a way of playing themselves out. I think when we get to Spring Training we'll see how our group is. We have some veteran players.

As it relates to Wade, he's been a really, really good closer and last year was a tough one. You've heard me say it before. It's nice to have a dedicated closer and have that happen, but all 30 teams would like that type of situation. Doesn't happen all the time. Happened for us in '17 and '18; last year was a little variable.

We'll see how all these guys are doing, performing, and we'll get an idea through Spring Training, and when the season starts you will be privy to what we're thinking.

Q. You mentioned at the end-of-the-season presser that we had with you and Jeff and Dick, you mentioned - and I'm paraphrasing - we're going to take a look at our pitching techniques, et cetera. Do you remember we were talking about starting pitching and you said there were some things we're going to change up techniquewise, but I'm not going to get into it now. Can you share about that?
BUD BLACK: I can't remember what the question was, but, you know, there is a couple of guys, Kyle for one, we're going to -- Kyle has been a big part of this. He's going to do some things with his delivery that will look a little different than last year. The lengthy pause when he got over the rubber, I think you won't see that happen. He's working on more of a fluid momentum-building delivery.

With John we're thinking deliveriwise there is a couple of things we're thinking about. Peter Lambert, Peter is working on some things this off-season with his lower half, and even his separation when he takes the ball out of the glove. These pitching things, right? I didn't want to...

Q. I understand.
BUD BLACK: And also we're -- as always, we're going to look at some of the data from some of the technology, the reps, the trackman, spin rates and how that relates to the success or lack thereof in certain pitches and identify certain things that we feel we can take into Spring Training and bring in with players.

We have talked about these things with them already, so it won't be new to them. But it's a number of different areas, mechanics, individual pitches, and pitch progression.

Q. To follow-up on that a little, it seems all the best data could be used to pick who your pitchers are going to be, like you could draft them based on it.
BUD BLACK: Out of the amateur draft?

Q. Or even out of free agency. Seems like you guys use it as a coaching tool than just saying, Okay, this is the type of pitcher we want.
BUD BLACK: You know, I think -- again, whether it's player acquisition through the draft or trade, we look at those numbers. Obviously everybody has access to all that stuff, right?

So we know what spin rates are from pitchers from the Blue Jays, Mariners, Red Sox, and they know ours. It's another avenue, and we do that.

But to speak to your question, the pitchers and the 40-man roster, the technology, the reps, trackman, the spin rate stuff and the high camera footage that we get on release points and hand position, we do use that as teaching tools.

Q. One of the things they talked about were mechanical issues with Jeff Hoffman. Is he at all in play for the bullpen?
BUD BLACK: Yeah, and the rotation or the staff. Jeff is definitely in play. And, again, I was proud of Jeff the way he -- in mid-season, sort of, you know, similar, even though Garrett Hampson, position player, what Hampson did with his swing, right, in mid-stream, mid-season and the changes he made.

And Jeff, to really try to shorten his arc, shorten his arm stroke, get the ball out of his glove in a little bit of a different path, that was natural for him and do it in a Big League game where performance counts. That was impressive.

He'll continue to work on that this winter, but he's definitely in the mix to be a member of the 13-man pitching staff. Max 13-man, right, or 14, in September.

Q. Since you mentioned it, because you can't go -- you all have had nine relievers in the past at times.

Q. Are you going to feel limited at all?
BUD BLACK: I can't remember how many days we had 14 pitchers with five starters, but there have been times with off days that we might only use four starters and have nine relievers. But if my math serves me well, 4 plus 9 equals 13.

Q. Yeah, but with the extended injury list day for pitchers, are you going to feel limited?
BUD BLACK: I don't think so. I don't think we -- if teams took advantage of that ten-day window, we were probably down the list of teams who use that as a rest period or, you know, skip a start. We didn't do that.

Q. Buddy, as you look forward to next season and in your postseason evaluations, the crazy year that all of baseball went through with the quote, unquote juice baseballs...
BUD BLACK: What did you find out?

Q. Well, we can talk about that?
BUD BLACK: Sidebar?

Q. Yeah, sidebar. Does that affect at all how you evaluate or how you determine what tweaks to make, et cetera, going forward thinking this guy was better than he showed?
BUD BLACK: It's hard. It's a fair question, but it's hard to answer. I think we all feel something is different. What exactly caused it, I don't know. But, you know, I don't think you can, you know, roster construct or evaluate, you know, based on that.

Again, I think with, you know, with us, a lot of our inefficiency and performance was based on some pitching principles that we didn't adhere to as much as we needed to. First-pitch strikes, get ahead in the count, keep the ball down to certain hitters, elevate the ball to certain hitters, you know, make pitches. We just didn't make enough good pitches.

Again, simple statistics. Too many walks, right? We didn't strikeout a lot of guys either, right? Our strikeout statistically were down per other teams, but I think you could say you could control that, but you can definitely control the walks. We gotta do a better job of that.

Q. Now that you guys are listening to inquiries about Arenado?
BUD BLACK: I would say not very serious. I think it's common practice, especially here in the Winter Meetings or even during the course of the year. I've been around long enough to know when you're talking about great players, right, GMs will talk to each other and say, Hey, if you're ever thinking about doing anything with so and so, we're in line. Give us a call. I think that's sorta what's happened here.

This venue is a natural place for a lot of baseball talk and rumors, for lack of a better word. There is a lot of creativity amongst general managers in this day and age and names are bandied about because we're all in this environment together.

Q. So you expect to see him on your side?

Q. So coming off of the year you guys had, that seems to be driving some of this talk that Rockies had a bad year, they must drive it down. But obviously when I talk to the Rockies, you guys are, Hey, we're a contender. We had a bad year, but...
BUD BLACK: We had a bad year. We had a really hard July, right? I think at some point we got to six games over .500. We're thinking, hey, we're back. We got to July and we didn't hit or pitch, both, right? We went to a slump on both. That had a direct relationship to our win/loss record in July, and that carried into a little bit of August.

Then here comes, you know, Marquez, Marquez's elbow was a little tender; John's foot; Kyle pulled a groin. So that's on top of Chad and Tyler earlier in the year.

But we dug out of that hole early. Dug out of that 3-12 and we were in a position to have a really good second half, and then July got us.

Q. With the addition of the 26-man roster spot, how does that affect your roster in the off-season and moving into next year?
BUD BLACK: It gives you a little room to be, you know, creative with an extra player, how you want to use that, right? There's a lot of different ways: three catchers, pure pinch hitter, speed guy, and we're sorta going through that now.

We're looking at a number of different ways to approach that extra player. And, you know, again, the other 25 -- or I would say the other 12 position players will impact that 13th guy, what type of roster we have.

Q. Do you have a style that leans you toward it?
BUD BLACK: You know what I like? Good players. Guys who help you win.

Q. Buddy, with your fourth and fifth spot in the rotation do you feel like you have candidates in-house?
BUD BLACK: Yeah. I was encouraged by Chi-Chi late in the year. It was good to see him throw the ball like he did. Peter I think with an off-season to reflect on it, his first go at it, Hoffman, Senzatela. Those guys come to the forefront of what you're talking about.

Kyle needs to bounce back, but we feel good about Kyle. Those four guys comprise, right now, an opportunity to make a rotation. Castellani is sort of on the fringe of that group. He's getting closer. He's getting closer, and we had a good talk in Arizona in October.

You know, he's motivated to be in that group, right? He's been around a while now. Maybe the performance hasn't been as expected, and he was hurt last year, but, you know, he's at a point now where he feels as though -- he's been to Big League camp, been around, signed out of high school. He has enough time as a professional to feel as though, hey, I'm close.

I just need an opportunity. So he will get some starts at Training Camp.

Q. Castellani was saying one of the problems he had was he thought he needed to be more overhand, and he finally dropped back down to the three-quarter slot.
BUD BLACK: He's been looking for that right arm slot to where he really feels comfortable. I think he's sorta looking for that right type of breaking ball to make him effective. I think last spring and early in the Triple A season he solidified some things.

I think that should aid him well going into Spring Training. Came back, bounced back, and pitched in the fall league. I think moving the arm up and down a little bit and trying to find the right spot and be comfortable, and hopefully the consistency shows up because I think he zeroed in on his arm slot, the type of spin he wants to create his breaking. So now he's got to execute.

Q. Rob Manfred said this morning it looks like the three-batter minimum is going to be in play for 2020. You're a guy who loves that side of the game. What do you think of that?
BUD BLACK: I think the chess game still is going to be in play but we are going to -- "we" meaning the managers and the pitching coaches, the end-game decisions are going to be drastically different. You'll see from game number one it's going to -- we're all going to have to learn a different type of strategy.

We were talking about it today after our brunch. All the managers got together and we went through a list of things from the Commissioner's office, and that was one of them. Then post meeting we got together and started talking about it.

These are going to be different types of strategies. It's not the traditional, hey, pitcher, come in and get this guy out. Bring in the next guy. You gotta look out there and you've gotta face three guys. I don't want to go into massive detail, but...

Q. I understand.
BUD BLACK: It's going to change how we use our bullpen, for sure.

Q. Will it affect how you set up your bullpen?
BUD BLACK: For sure. Oh, yeah. Let me give you an example. I bring in Thomas Hardy to pitch the seventh inning.

Q. With his pushing ball?
BUD BLACK: Right, on Tuesday night, and he throws 35 pitches. And Thomas comes in the next day and last year I would say, Hey, I can give you one hitter. Get me in and get me out. Those days are gone.

Some of the back-to-back days you might have to use a guy might -- but then you say Buddy, why don't you bring him in to get one out? What if he doesn't get that guy out. I bring Thomas in to get the last out of the 7th inning and he threw 35 pitches last night and I'm crossing my fingers, Tom, get this guy out.

But he might end up throwing another 35 pitches because he has to get three guys out. So I might not even use him just for that fact. There are a lot of ramifications, but it's all going to be strategic.

It's going to be a different dynamic of how a bullpen is used, for sure. You will see it as we go. It's going to be, hey, man, you will be witnessing it.

Q. On the flip side of that, do you think the three-batter limit makes it all the more vital to have that left-right-left construction?
BUD BLACK: Yeah, I think so, for sure.

Q. Quick NL West question for you. Hunter Renfroe, what is he like to face with San Diego?
BUD BLACK: Here is the deal: Guys with power scare you. I mean, that's been -- that's been the history of this game. And Renfroe has power. Renfroe, April, May, June, Hey, heads up. He was dangerous. I mean, he was real! I think he was sort of banged up the second half and the numbers went the other way, but I saw a player sort of mature this year from the other dugout, just the way he was running the bases, the way he was playing defense. He's got a great arm.

You make a mistake and it was a homer. He's got a lot of tools. He's got a lot of tools. He will help the Rays. I know Tommy Pham is a good player, I saw him in St. Louis. We'll see. Right? That was a baseball trade. And the other one the Padres made, Lauer and Urias for Grisham and Davies, baseball trade. Sorta cool.

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