October 10, 2021
Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Tampa Bay Rays
Pregame 3 Press Conference
Q. Can you just speak to the importance of getting the left handers back in the lineup today with the right-hander going, Nate Eovaldi, and especially what you saw from Ji-Man in the at-bat at Game 2 going deep, how ready he is to get back in there.
KEVIN CASH: Both of them are antsy -- well, all three of them, Joey, Austin, and Ji-Man. Big parts of our team, big parts of our lineup. Fortunately for us, we're built where we have some versatility and we can go back and forth with righty-lefty. The way it worked out in games 1 and 2 with Sale and Rodriguez starting with the more right-handed lineup.
But with Nate and the power that he features, it felt like to get our lefties in there, that I'll have a decent amount of reps facing Nate for many years, whether it's here, our ballpark, Spring Training. There's a lot of at-bats in there. Hopefully, that familiarity helps us tonight.
Q. I know you guys have a lot of confidence in Drew and rightfully so the way he's emerged. How do you kind of balance his workload and also Drew, always thinking about tomorrow too and how you use guys then. How do you balance that as the game unfolds?
KEVIN CASH: We're going to do everything we can to prioritize today, and that would make the most sense. Game 3, they're big games certainly in a five-game series where it's 1-1, kind of that swing game.
So we're going to do everything we can to prioritize the usage, the outings today, and we'll see where we get for Monday's game.
Q. Alex spoke today about hearing from Bill Belichick, wishing him luck. I was wondering if you'd heard from Tom Brady at all? (Laughter).
KEVIN CASH: No, but if I do, I'm going to ask if I can go on his boat. (Laughter).
Q. Kevin, I know you spoke about the plan for Drew, but can you just speak to your confidence in him and what he's been able to do for you guys this season coming into that starting role after being in the bullpen to start the year with you guys.
KEVIN CASH: He's given us every reason to have a lot of confidence. His efficiency, the way that he's kind of built himself up and give a lot of credit to Drew, but also Kyle for mapping out that plan with him.
I feel like we did it the right way. We did not overwork him. For a guy that only got to five innings last year at the alt site one time, to be able to build him up on a very cautious pace has helped. I think we feel better about where he's at now, and he should be very fresh and ready to go.
I know he's fresh coming off of six, seven, eight days since his last outing, but even with the amount of innings he threw this year, that's always been in the back of our mind, but we tried to cap it at that five-inning mark once he got to that point and felt good about it.
Q. I know this is a story line you've talked about numerous times already, and I apologize, but going back to the days in Pawtucket, if somebody said to you, this was going to be your career path, what would you have thought back then?
KEVIN CASH: I would have signed up for it because I knew my career path was getting close to the end when I was in Pawtucket. But you have passion, love for the game, you want to stay involved in the game in whatever capacity. I think this opportunity you couldn't beyond in your wildest dreams, imagination, but a lot of people have certainly helped and supported me through the way, and I'm fortunate to be working with a really special organization and group.
Q. Was it Tito, or who was that person then that said, you know what, Kevin, this is something you should focus on moving forward?
KEVIN CASH: So many people. Definitely Tito is at the top of the list, but the entire Cleveland Indian group, Chris Antonetti and his staff. Once I was hired there with Tito being the manager, things really started to evolve. They let me under the hood on a lot of things that I had no perspective on as a player or even as an advanced scout.
Then you get that much more passion for doing this, and then going through the interview process with the Rangers and now the Rays, you get excited about the challenges.
Q. With Drew going today, the fact that you've started this series with not just three rookies but three rookies with a record low number of career starts between them to start a playoff series, what is it that you think you all have done to be able to have such a young, relatively inexperienced group of starters able to handle this environment?
KEVIN CASH: Well, it's what the organization has done top to bottom from scouts to player development. They find the right guys. We get them into the system. Whether they come straight to the Big Leagues and there's still development left, great. Kyle's outstanding. Stan's outstanding at that.
The messages, our player development in AA, AAA, all the way down. They've done a really good job of finding what you would think is a very detailed message but simplifying it for the players. Go harp on this. Let's find a way to get better at A and B. Let's not try to find a way to get better at eight or nine different things. That's very challenging to any player, certainly a young one.
I think the simple messages and allowing them to make adjustments and develop on the fly has helped a lot.
Q. What about Austin Meadows, the season he's had, and to get to the RBI total. Kiermaier was joking they joke all the time he's a sure thing with guys on base?
KEVIN CASH: It feels that way, he gives us reason to, the 103 RBIs. I think the thing about Austin Meadows and his season, two things: Number one, there hasn't been a guy to do in a long time. I think Longo was the last to do it many years ago. And you look at Austin Meadows who ranks up against the other 100 RBI guys, Meadows wasn't out there as much. We prioritized the matchup and the platoon a little bit, so there were opportunities that weren't presented to him against left-handed pitching. He certainly made the most of it when he was in the lineup that day.
Q. It's obviously unusual scheduling, tomorrow's the marathon day, to be having a playoff game. You've been here. You know it's a special day here in Boston. As an aside, I know you used to run. Have you thought about running the Boston Marathon?
KEVIN CASH: I pulled my calf the other day. I was in line to do it, but I figured I'd stay back, just observe it.
No, it's exciting for Boston. It's fitting how it's being done now. Normally that game is at 11:00 or noon, but it should be just fun all the way around.
Boston is packed. We flew in yesterday. The amount of people where we're staying, the city has certainly got a lot of life going right now.
Q. How many miles could you make it?
KEVIN CASH: About three, when healthy (laughter).
Q. Kevin, you know David Robertson well. You played with him, I think, in '09, and now he's here. What role is he serving for you guys in terms of what did you like about him that you can use to your advantage? How has he been for you?
KEVIN CASH: It's more what role am I providing? I babysat his kid last night for four hours with my son. So as long as Robbie can take his wife out to dinner, I guess that works. If he keeps pitching good, then I don't care.
We did play together. We had a good experience in Scranton and briefly in New York. Look, Robbie has been there and done it all. He's pitched in the biggest stage, biggest moments, White Sox, Yankees. Certainly my experience with the Yankees.
I think his veteran knowledge of how to navigate through challenging times and challenging venues has been a big benefit to our entire roster, and certainly to some of the youth or lack of experienced pitchers in our bullpen.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports