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October 4, 2007

Clint Hurdle


Q. Would you talk about the decision to pull Morales in when you did?
CLINT HURDLE: I felt it was a very pivotal point in the game and I think Franklin was trying to give us everything he had; whether it was adrenaline, plus the mix of the command was a little spotty for me at the time, I just thought it would be better served maybe getting somebody in with just a little more experience.

Q. Could you tell us, those of us who have not seen your ballclub a lot, what Matsui has done since he arrived?
CLINT HURDLE: Well, we've had him at the top of the lineup. He hits second for most of the time that he's been with us and he's been an offensive catalyst as far as barreling the ball up line-to-line. In Taveras's absence, he's moved up to the lead-off spot and been a nice fit for us there. He's been able to run, steal bases and defensively he's been a gem and turning double plays left and right. The team has embraced him and seems to be a very good fit.
He has a very -- a very, very unique personality that has fit in well within the clubhouse and the dynamic of that, and he likes to play and he's a very good player.

Q. Kaz played in New York; do you think he needed to get away from that atmosphere and have a more positive atmosphere to succeed?
CLINT HURDLE: I know some of it. I think we were just talking about a good fit to get him in a different environment. Whether that environment was challenging him in different ways he wasn't used to, I don't know. I know he didn't perform to his skill-set. He's performed to his skill-set here. Whether it was getting out of the fishbowl, letting go of expectations; I do think he got caught up in that a little bit. And when he came to us, the game has a way of humbling you and I think he probably experienced some of that.
And it was a fresh start and with guys that were looking for starts and he found that.

Q. For those of us who have not seen a lot of your club, can you compare it to the 1927 Yankees?
CLINT HURDLE: I think we are far removed from that but shame on you for not seeing our club more. We've been on a nice roll. As I've said earlier in the day, it's been challenging because we didn't start well, we were nine games under .500 midway. We were able to put our foot down and establish some momentum.
Big sweep of the Yankees and we lose eight in a row so we're tough to figure out. But there's never been any doubt within the clubhouse walls about what these guys wanted to get done. They have been able to obviously string a number of good games together.
They rely upon one another. We play good defense, we pitch, we compete and we believe we are going to win every game. I mean, they do. And we've been playing the losers bracket -- I said earlier today, we've been playing the loser's bracket for a month. So we were able to build up callouss through experience in the month of September which has showed up very well for them.
And actually, now, they are very, very excited about being here, but by no means is that it. You know, they have got plans. They want to keep playing.

Q. When you say that Kaz has a unique personality, can you tell us a little bit more about that?
CLINT HURDLE: Well, I think, again, it's something that you would have to be around, and you know, unfortunately not a lot of people have been around, and the people who have been around understand. Some of the beat writers that cover the club every day; he can make you laugh, he can play a joke. He laughs but he can laugh at himself.
But he's very respectful of other people, and he's -- when him and Taveras were ham-and-egging it too much in the lineup, that was as good as you would want to see. For good reason they were kindred spirits and they just fit and they were good for each other on and off the field. Some days I don't think he needs an interpreter.

Q. Now that you guys have won 16 of 17, how has this group of guys been able to enjoy the ride but still maintain the even keel?
CLINT HURDLE: I don't think it's crazy. I think it's a part of sport that's difficult to comprehend when you're not involved in it. We're in a society that's result-oriented and you want more, bigger, faster, quicker. All we did was try to slow down the pace and win today's game and that's what we really held on to, however it sounds. It's been about pure, simple execution, and appreciating the ride along the way.
One of the traps you fall into is not enjoying the ride and here enjoying the ride, up, down, sideways, there have been some games we've had to battle back. But this streak, I've never been involved in anything like this in my life athletically.

Q. Any catalyst you can point to in these last 17 games that maybe got this going?
CLINT HURDLE: There are a lot of little fires that started burning. Helton swinging the bat in L.A. off Saito was a big one but we've had a number of guys -- it's that old saying, when teams play well, different people pick the club up in different times. Holliday has obviously been involved offensively, Tulowitzki, Atkins, in his own quiet way, he keeps punching the clock and you get a guy like Torrealba, with a big swing of the bat today -- Matsui and Torre, gave us a big swing of the bat today, two of the biggest innings of the game today. They are very committed to one another and it's not about who gets the credit. That for me might be the biggest thing. They don't care who gets the credit in the clubhouse.

Q. Not suggesting that you are expecting a grand slam, but when they make a pitching change and Matsui is able to bat left-handed still, do you look at that as a slight edge?
CLINT HURDLE: Well, you know, I don't know. I'm just sitting back. I was just looking for a barrel. I wanted to see something come hot off the bat and fortunately he put a good swing on it. Any time you get four runs with a swing, that's a good thing.

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