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December 6, 2006

Fredi Gonzalez


Q. Bobby said that you've been ready for about three years as a manager, I mean, has it sunk in yet that you are a manager?
FREDI GONZALEZ: Yes. Yes. And I get up in the middle of the night, I'm sure like he did, and I'm excited to start spring training.

Q. Do you get up in the middle of the night to think about baseball?
FREDI GONZALEZ: I think about baseball, pitching staff situations, you know, all kinds of stuff.

Q. When is the last time you did that, Fredi?
FREDI GONZALEZ: Last time I did that was -- when I got up in the middle of the night? Oh, well, I haven't slept good the last couple of days, because you get excited.
There are baseball people around here. And I just see, you know, big-league managers, Hall-of-Fame managers. You see former, a little bit, Tommy Lasorda and the guys. They get some of the blood flowing a little bit.

Q. What is the number one piece of advice? Is there one piece of advice you get just talking to managers?
FREDI GONZALEZ: Bobby said don't read what you guys write and don't listen to the talk shows. They all said that, per man.

Q. They all said that, per man?
FREDI GONZALEZ: Every single one of them. Hey, that's part of the job.

Q. Another thing that both Ed and Bobby said, you have to be yourself. Don't manage like them. How tough is that going to be?
FREDI GONZALEZ: I don't think that's tough. I think you take from people that are professional and take what they do, and, you know, incorporate it into your own style, but I'm gonna be my guy. There is a lot of stuff that I like, you know, from Bobby, and I will take some of that stuff and from Bochy when he was a manager and guys other side of the dugout, other side of the field, La Russa, Leyland, all those kinds of guys. See the manager, they were on the field.

Q. But you don't sit there and say, well, in this situation, Bobby does this?
FREDI GONZALEZ: No, I don't think anybody does that.

Q. You say you do take things from Bobby or La. Russa, give me an example of something you take from Bobby and use?
FREDI GONZALEZ: Well, I love the way everybody talks about the way he handles the pitching staff. And I think he has got a great idea. And you know, I've never handled a pitching staff, and I'm not going to put myself in his class or anybody in his class, but there's a way to do it and I think I'm gonna follow that a little bit. And it all depends on, you know, what you have, as far as opening stuff and your starting rotation.

Q. How much talk have you had with (inaudible)?
FREDI GONZALEZ: I haven't talked to him about that much. Yesterday when -- talked about the pitching staff. Obviously, seen those guys 17, 18 times, but you know, you don't live with them. You see them out there and you got to like what you saw across the diamond. But you know, it's going to be a learning experience. And I've told him that I'm going to lean on him a lot. He knows these guys personally. And you know, everybody, to the man, everybody from our scouts, got a great pitching staff, got a great bunch of great young pitchers. So, it is going to be tough.

Q. This is your first managerial job and replacing a guy that won the National League Manager of the Year award. Is that -- can you talk about the tall order? Is that any pressure you feel?
FREDI GONZALEZ: Oh, I don't feel any pressure, you know? Somebody's got to replace somebody all the time, you know? It's like who is going to replace that guy who just finished leaving there or Don Shula or Bear Bryant, you know? It is going to be tough. I don't -- I don't even look at that. I haven't even thought about that, Joe, but thank you for bringing that up.

Q. Last year's team, a lot of people think maybe they overachieved, the kids did so well. Now, everybody is going to be looking at you to take them to the next level.
FREDI GONZALEZ: Well, you know, I don't hit for them. I don't pitch for them. I hope they all do well. You know, there's going to be some slumps, of course. The league has known some of the hitters and the pitchers and stuff like that. There's adjustments that have got to be made. Everybody has got to make those adjustments, but there's going to be -- that is one of the things I get up in the middle of the night.
What happens if 22 guys go on sophomore slumps -- so-called sophomore slumps? Well, I've never been through it, and they've never been through it, but I think we learn together. I feel strongly that these guys are going to continue to get better.

Q. Are you doing going tell them first day of spring training you expect them to win the world series?
FREDI GONZALEZ: No. No. No. The only expectation I'm going to tell them is go out and play the game hard, you know, and leave it on the field every day. And, you know, the wins and losses, that stuff gonna come.
We are trying to, you know, build from last year, but I'm not gonna put any number on the team as far as wins. I'm not gonna do that. You know, it's hard in any team to win, to improve ten games. I mean, that's hard. There's teams that get right there to .500, say, well, you know, we got all the guys coming back, we can improve, you know, another ten games to get to 90 wins or something, you know? It is hard. Got to be injury-free, got to be lucky, guys having a good year. I'm not going to put any number on how many wins we are going to have. We are just going to go out and compete.

Q. Where were you when you found out you were going to be the manager?
FREDI GONZALEZ: Where was I? I was in Atlanta.

Q. Managing particularly young guys, is that one of the things you want? Bobby seemed to have incredible patience with young guys. They went in a slump, he trotted them out there every day.
FREDI GONZALEZ: That is one of the things, the patience and the confidence he had on those young guys and that's hard to do. That's hard to do, but I mean, he is successful. He is successful with every type of club he's had, and that's the one thing that, you know, never been put in that situation where you're the head guy.
I think sometimes you got to make a knee-jerk reactions, you know, switching the lineup because the guy's 0-12 or something, you know? Show patience. Say, "Hey, go get them, because you are going to go 0-50 before I take you out." And I think that the players appreciate that, and you know, I think we will play for you at the end.
And if you look at the -- I was reading one of the Bill James' abstracts. You know, those 0-20, somebody has them during the course of the year. The great players, they have an 0-20 or 1-35 or something. So, we've got to live with it.

Q. The Braves obviously built a winning culture. What is the secret? The talent is obvious, but to have a winning culture?
FREDI GONZALEZ: Consistency, the patience that the organization shows with the players. Like you said, good, young players and pitching. To me, that's one of the number one things that they've had successfully. The Braves have been successful is the pitching. Every year they went out with great pitching.
You know, at times, you score three runs or two runs and you lose, you know? And hopefully we can create that, and I think we are doing that as an organization with the pitching end of it, create that, keep going.

Q. Fredi, you talked about coming here. A couple of things, one was that all the people, shaking their hand, wanting to wish you well. And then coming here, you were asking, "Where do I sit? How do I" --
You talked about earlier, it has hitting. Now that you are a manager, how is the learning curve going on? You feeling that this week, with all the other stuff you got to do? You know how to do the managing of the game, but all this other stuff?
FREDI GONZALEZ: Well, I think everything is new. Everything is new, whether, you know, like I asked Bobby this morning at 7, met with him for coffee. "Hey, what should I wear," you know, and that kind of stuff. Everything is new, but you know, you learn. And the whole process of the trade talks and, you know, what's going on in the lobby and that kind of stuff. So, you know, everything is new and the game is probably going to be the easiest thing of the whole thing.
We just sat upstairs with Matt, the PR guy and BJ and we talked about times for the media, what time you guys were coming in, you know, radio, TV. I've never done that. If I've done it, it has been one guy in AAA, you know, that type of environment, not a big environment. So, every day is something new.

Q. How is the situation with all the handshakes and stuff like that?
FREDI GONZALEZ: It is going good. It is something you have to do and you just rather get to that lobby pretty quickly.

Q. You're going through new experiences here. How about being in the room when trade talks are going on? How is that dynamic?
FREDI GONZALEZ: That is fun. That is fun. Everybody wants to get a good deal. Everybody wants to make good deals, so it has been fun.

Q. Seeing that as just a different side of baseball, negotiating with other clubs?
FREDI GONZALEZ: Yeah, it's fun. Nobody want -- everybody wants to make the best deal he can for their own organization. So, it's fun. It's a fun thing.

Q. So, you've kicked around lineups in your head or you see the lineup changing dramatically or --
FREDI GONZALEZ: You know what, not really. I mean the lineup is a pretty good lineup for a bunch of young guys. And no, I really haven't changed it, kicked it around too much.

Q. So, barring a move by the front office, maybe Hanley, Uggla, Miguel, Hermida?
FREDI GONZALEZ: Yeah. Yeah. Pretty much. Pretty much. And you can take it here or there during the course of the year, but position-wise, those are the guys.

Q. Bill James' abstracts that you read, did you read that because you like reading baseball or you are a manager now and starting to read and study?
FREDI GONZALEZ: I've always read some of his stuff and some of -- just this summer, I picked up Alan Short's stuff and there's a lot of history stuff in there, you know, and then there's some stuff that, you know, traditionally, you'll be reading your best hitter is your leadoff, because in the course of the year, he gets another 70 at-bats.
But I'm thinking to myself, I don't know if I want Pujols and Cabrera leading off or Adam Dunn, you know, but his stuff makes sense, but I've always read that kind of stuff. There was a play-by-play guy here, and we used to fight on the plane when I was back on the third base coach in Florida about stuff like that, about range, you know? The book says that this guy has more range than Luis Castillo. I'm thinking, I'm watching Luis every day, and Luis is coming from second base to third base. How can he say this guy has more range? He to would argue and fight and that kind of stuff.
So, it is good to have a little bit of that stuff, you know, some of that Bill James' stuff. You know, it is good to manage, you know, by the numbers and it is great. You know, sometimes, it is just gut instincts.

Q. A guy like Andy Ramirez, what he can offer at the leadoff spot? How do you see him, a Soriano-type guy? There maybe not a 40-run guy, but he is a --
FREDI GONZALEZ: He's great-looking player, you know, and he may, you know, without putting any pressure on him or anything like that, and I'm not doing that, but you know, later on in his career, he might be a .300 hitter. This guy can rock it. And if he continues to do that, he can do whatever he wants. You can put him wherever you want. He can field bases. This guy is gonna be a good hitter.

Q. Have you provided a different type of leadoff hitter because of his power?
FREDI GONZALEZ: Oh, yeah. Yeah. He could a first at-bat home run. Got to run the board or runs whenever he gets on board. He could steal second. So, he is a very good player.

Q. Fredi, you going to be like manager that keeps a computer laptop in his office and use the technology?
FREDI GONZALEZ: I think everybody does that. There's so much good stuff out there, you know, that you can get through the -- I won't read any of you guys' articles, but there's a lot of stats out there, you know? ESPN.COM, you can get into their Web site and look at charts and stuff like that.
So, yeah, I think it is a good tool to use. Ed Fox has the same deal, and you got left, rights and you know, stuff you need to look at and you use and utilize. You know, you got to do both. You got to use the numbers for your advantage, and sometimes you just got to go with gut instincts and go from there.

Q. What if we make a mistake and actually write a good article about you?
FREDI GONZALEZ: No, I won't read it either.

Q. Did you read it as a coach?
FREDI GONZALEZ: No. No. I used to read it and stuff like that, and then you know what, I scan. Now, I scan. I will pick up and I will scan. I read more the other teams' stuff, because you can find injuries, you know? Say we go to St. Louis and read the "St. Louis Dispatch." Is that it? And you pick that up and you read who's hot and this guy may not play because he got injured.

Q. Have you talked to all of your players, each of them?
FREDI GONZALEZ: Yes. Yes. I called them right after I got the job.

Q. How long did that take?
FREDI GONZALEZ: Three to four days to get them. The guys were in Venezuela. It was hard to get to. But I talked to all of them and I told them that I would leave them alone for at least a month. Call them again see how it is going, and got to do it again, this week.

Q. Have you spoken with Girardi at all, get his input?

Q. What are the things you face or anybody, Bobby Cox or a new manager is second-guessing? And is something that goes with the territory? Is that something that you're mentally ready for, you think? I mean, it is part of the job?
FREDI GONZALEZ: No. My wife second-guesses me. So, yeah, it's part of the job. It's part of the job. You got guys that are Hall-of-Fame managers. They second-guess all the time. That's what makes this game what it is, you know? It's part of second-guessing. And you know, the hard thing is doing it, you know, making a decision right now, don't wait after the game or, you know, three hours. It's time to make a decision right now. Do it now, you know. Don't second-guess. It's part of the game, you know? You got to live with it.

Q. Do you feel your learning curve will be shorter because of your eight years man managing in the minors, got all that experience behind you?
FREDI GONZALEZ: No, I managed a lot of games in the minor leagues, but you know, every game was different in the minor leagues. I don't know. I don't know how to answer your question. I think the other stuff is gonna be more of a learning curve than the actual game.

Q. You've been watching Marlins' games on video or anything like that?
FREDI GONZALEZ: I've got some tapes. Yeah. I've got tapes on all of the players and Cullen McCree, our video guy, will send us the tapes. And I've watched -- and I don't know if he did it as a joke or not, but he put a lot of Braves' stuff in there, a lot of the guys from the Marlins going deep on some of the Braves guys. But I've seen all of the guys on video.

Q. Do they help -- the videos help you at all?
FREDI GONZALEZ: Yeah. It's good. I saw them like I said, 18, 19 times, but it's good. See guys you know and some of the guys you get to see a little more, because you know, might have been a reliever you saw for two-thirds of an inning or something like that, but now you get to see maybe five innings' worth of film on him, highlights.

Q. Is it going to be weird, trying to beat Bobby Cox?
FREDI GONZALEZ: You can't beat him.

Q. I mean the team, beat the team?
FREDI GONZALEZ: Yeah, it will be weird, but you know what, it was weird my first spring training after I got -- we left the Marlins and went to Atlanta, going to spring training, that was weird, but it's part of the game and we go on. And you know, I still call him or he will call me and we will spend some time together.

Q. He said you guys had a cup of coffee together a few times together to talk managing?
FREDI GONZALEZ: Yeah, every morning we talk. The great thing about it, he makes me feel so comfortable. I ask him questions and he would answer them and he's a great person.

Q. During the season?
FREDI GONZALEZ: I will call him and we will get to see each other. It is a great relationship, and there's a couple of -- I've said it a few times. A couple of men in my life that, he is one of them, that's been outstanding, he and my father, you know, John Boles, Carlos Casco and --

Q. You had a chance to see Boles at the meeting this week?
FREDI GONZALEZ: I've spoken to him in the hallway, he is going to his room and I'm going to my room. And he's got the Seattle people and we've spoken a few times. Yeah.

Q. See managing people as the role of a major league manager as well as a --
FREDI GONZALEZ: I think that is almost 80 percent of the game, managing people, managing personalities. Managing that clubhouse is probably the most important thing than actually the game, because you know, in the game, you steal, hit and run, you bunt. You bring the lefty in this situation, but I think handling that clubhouse, handling those personalities is probably the biggest part of the whole thing. The guys I think that can do it do it well. And good players that do it well are successful.

Q. How do you deal with -- you know the Marlins have a good season now, you come in as a new manager. Would it be tempting not to change, make any changes?
FREDI GONZALEZ: That personnel on field?

Q. No, just the way you go about things, the type of team they are and how you use everything?
FREDI GONZALEZ: I don't see very many changes I'm going to see on the field. I mean, I'm going to let these guys play. There is always little stuff that one manager likes, another manager doesn't like, but they are real subtle stuff. As far as on the field, it is all of a sudden I'm not going to make Cabrera be a bunter. He is a hell of a player, Uggla, not going to try to steal bases with him. Go out and play your game. Do what you can do, do it well and go on.

Q. I don't mean to suggest that if future candidates did come up and you don't want that job, but the fact a Miami boy coming back, you are going to be an inspiration, I think, to the Cuban-American community. How much does that mean to you to manage in front of your family?
FREDI GONZALEZ: It is a double-edged sword, I was talking to (inaudible) about 11:00 and talking about his experiences coming home and being the guy with, you know, all the pressure. And he had a different experience, because you know, he was there to -- he almost had to carry the whole team, you know, basically when he was there. And we were just going back and forth.
It's great, you know to come back home, come back to the organization that gave me an opportunity to start. I thought I would never, you know, go to another organization before the whole ownership change and the whole thing, but I'm glad I'm back in the organization and I'm glad I'm home. But I know it is going to be tough, going to be a tough situation where, you know, people know you and you lose five, six in a row, and, you know, you are going to get hammered. But hey, that is what we get the big bucks for.

Q. Would you feel optimistic that south Florida is --
FREDI GONZALEZ: I hope so. I think the fans there deserve it. I hope it works out.

Q. Are you going to ride your motorcycle to spring training from wherever you are going to stay to the ballpark?
FREDI GONZALEZ: You know, Jeffrey hasn't told me no, but he has suggested maybe not. So, you know, I've always worked. This is the way I feel about that. I've always worked to come to this situation here, to be a big-league, major league manager. And you know, I -- obviously the financial end of it with your family, it's great, and I hate to lose my career because I had a motorcycle accident, you know? So, I don't think I'm going to bring it to spring training or to Florida.
Tough decision. I like it. It is a great release, but you know, I think you got to look into the family situation and, you know, unless I get -- if you ride in packs, it is safer. Maybe I can get you guys to ride, we will go out one day, you know?

Q. Carlos Delgado rode a bike two years ago, a bicycle. Jeffrey wouldn't allow that.
FREDI GONZALEZ: He hasn't said no, but he's kind of, you know, "Hey, you got a good future ahead of you."

Q. No Ben Roethlisberger?
FREDI GONZALEZ: Yeah, but that was a different bike.

Q. Being practically neighbors with Jeremy Hermida, have you gotten to spend --
FREDI GONZALEZ: I talked to him on the phone a couple of times, I haven't been in a face-to-face. When I get back to Atlanta, I'm going to try to get together with him. I know his rehab is going pretty good. I think he will be ready to go in spring training 100 percent.

Q. Have you gotten a sense of just how hungry he is after last season, being able to kind of ride that wave with the rest of the rookies maybe the way he would have wanted to?
FREDI GONZALEZ: No, I haven't, but I hope he is hungry. I think he will be.

Q. Do you have a place in Miami? You going to stay with your parents?
FREDI GONZALEZ: You know what, I may have to do both, you know? I got my family to come down. My mom and dad have got the house by themselves.

Q. What would it be like coming out of your boyhood bedroom and driving to the stadium?
FREDI GONZALEZ: Coming back would be hard. Talk about second-guessing with my dad, you know? But he promised me he won't say a word. Might not even come to the stadium and watch it, stay home and watch it.

Q. How much have you talked to Cabrera?
FREDI GONZALEZ: I spoke to him a couple of times. He is back in the United States. I'm gonna go down to after I leave here. I'm going down Friday/Saturday, something going on Friday/Saturday, during that time, just go have a cup of coffee.

Q. What do you tell him? Like superstars, you know, whatever he wants to be ahead of him? What do you talk to him about?
FREDI GONZALEZ: Well, I think he knows that -- hopefully he knows he will be a helluva player in this game. By the end of his career, he could be up there, you know, one of the five best players that can play. What he is doing, he has got stuff that he has done in his young career, but we're talking.

Q. Staying in focus is that one of those things. Atlanta players had a guy stay focused to become perennial stars.
FREDI GONZALEZ: I think -- I've lived with him for 162 games, but I tell you what, I don't -- I hope he doesn't change much, but the more you live with a guy, the more you know what's going on. As far as right now, I think he is pretty attractive.

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