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October 6, 2007

Clint Hurdle


Q. Clint, pregame feeling about the mood of the team and how they're handling the success, et cetera?
CLINT HURDLE: I don't see any difference. It's a very focused team. There were a few things that struck up a bunch of laughter early, and it's been business as usual and fun as usual and they're looking forward to playing the game tonight.

Q. Clint, was there a turning point to the season in your mind?
CLINT HURDLE: Jim, I don't know if there was one turning point. I think there was a number of things that happened. I think when you look back there are always defining moments when a season becomes special. For me personally any questions that I had had about the make-up of the team, the focus of the team was answered in the 1-9 road trip. I just saw a bunch of guys that -- we had just swept the Yankees; we go through Toronto, games get away; Chicago; Houston; and those difficult losses that happened in the bottom of the ninth inning, they didn't point fingers, they didn't feel sorry for themselves. All they did is get angry and try to find a way to get it done better. And they did.
And they never lost sight of the confidence they had in each other and the unselfishness was very -- it stuck out to me, it was very unique and the rest of it we're not going to try to figure out. We're just going to enjoy it.

Q. Clint, what has Matsui done to make himself a wonderful lead-off hitter?
CLINT HURDLE: He's got experience, he'll see some pitches. He hits smart, he doesn't burn up at-bats, even when he has not been swinging well. He's tried to find ways to get on, when he has he's been smart. His stolen bases haven't been what they were earlier, when he was 100%, but he's running smart. He's using his skills to move up bases and take the extra base. He's a good player. He's filled in well and knows what we're asking of him in that one spot and doing a good job for us there.

Q. Clint, are you using your former closer as a set-up man, Herges has come out and been unbelievable. You've been with the franchise for a while; is this the deepest bullpen the Rockies have had?
CLINT HURDLE: It's the best since I've been here. I wasn't here in '95 and that bullpen was pretty special, from what I've heard. But the depth we have, the versatility we have, and actually the four former closers, if you count Julio, he's not on the roster but he's closed. Herges has pitched in every opportunity and they've all complemented each other very well. It's versatile, it's got depth and a lot of good skill sets out there.

Q. Clint, can you talk about the depth of your pitching staff when you lost the starters that you lost in the first week of August and had to rearrange the rotation and then you went on this streak.
CLINT HURDLE: Well, we ran into some adversity like a lot of teams have this year, when you lose 3/5ths of your starting rotation that's a big challenge. But what we continue to do here is look at what we have, not worry about the guys that are out, if any are out, they're out. We were challenged by a lot of different people, we needed to do this and we had to do that. Well, we didn't like the external things that were out there, we didn't like a lot of the -- we felt like some trades that were out there weren't trades, people were trying to take us to task because we were hurt. So we just said, you know what, we have some kids we think that can pitch. And people that have had them think they can pitch so let's give them the opportunity, give 'em the ball and roll from there. We did pick up Redmond, and Dessens when he gave us a shot in the arm when we needed it, and basically Ubaldo Jimenez and Franklin Morales, and who would have thought they would fall into place there this year? But that's the sign of your development program getting better, your Latin America scouting program improving. Your scouts doing all the things they need to do tirelessly. It's been a tribute to the entire organization how we've been able to patch up a lot of holes that have sprung up from within.

Q. Clint, have you had a chance to sit back and kind of think about what's going on here? Or is this just day after day after day and you'll think about it in six months?
CLINT HURDLE: No, there's times -- I am humbled by this entire run. It's something that you do -- I've thought about it many a times in some seasons we've had before because you see other teams go on runs and you think, man, that's got to be great, look at how much fun they're having. I think this run has caught national attention because it doesn't happen very often of this volume. The players deserve the credit, I'm happy to be part of it. I'm happy for the organization and for the fans here in Colorado but, again, we've been professional and businesslike from start till now. We're going to keep our sleeves rolled up and look to take this thing further.
Obviously there will be times when I will slow down a bit more, watch the games on the TV. I look forward to the day I sit down and watch that tie-breaking game, it's a different perspective than the one you have in the dugout I'm sure. And I think that would be a fun one to watch, it's got to be an ESPN Classic, I would think, already.

Q. Sometimes teams get in this situation and they're overwhelmed by the magnitude of the involvement. How has this team kept focus?
CLINT HURDLE: Well, we have got people. We have talked about things in the past, just about poise, professionalism, respect in the game, being in awe of nothing, respect everything, they put a lot of focus into playing the game, the execution of it. The other stuff at the get-go. They don't get caught up in outside opinions, they're more concerned about what they think about themselves and the focus they have upon finding the way to beat the other team that night. They've been very professional. They love hanging around one another, riding one another and they love giving each other a hard time. From that standpoint it's been one of the closest groups I've been associated with. They truly enjoy one another's company.

Q. Clint, how have the conversations gone with your dad lately?
CLINT HURDLE: With my dad?

Q. Yes.
CLINT HURDLE: Interesting, very interesting. You know, we kick around a lot of things. Not much of it has had to do with baseball, it's more about Christian. He's getting a kick watching Christian run around the house. In fact I have a another man at my house, it's been funny around my house lately, my oldest daughter and then my wife and then Madi, and Madi and I go and visit Starbucks every Saturday and we had to make him sit in time-out until we got home, and he's truly enjoying this baseball.
I don't know if it's beyond his wildest dreams but the key things is enjoying each other and during my career we didn't embrace it, we didn't enjoy it. I probably didn't embrace it, I didn't enjoy it. When I didn't do well he would worry and I would fret. When I would do good, I expected it of myself and he expected it of me and we didn't enjoy it. When I got the opportunity to come back here in '97 as a coach we were going to embrace the time and that ride and truly enjoy it and he is enjoying it and I am truly enjoying it.

Q. Skip, I just got here a second ago, but can you compare postseason as a player, you went through it as a player, now as a manager; which one did you relish more? Which one means more to you?
CLINT HURDLE: You know, I don't know if one means more. As a player, you have your individual focus and you match that up with the team concept. So you've got one backyard that you're kinda keeping your eye on as a manager. You've got like 25, 30 backyards you're trying to keep an eye on but not get too involved in. The challenges are different. I'm more humbled by this one because I really feel the players are the ones that deserve the credit. The players are the ones that fueled us to get here. I'm fortunate enough to be the manager, fortunate enough to be here with them. I'm so very proud of them. This is probably more meaningful for me, all I've been through in my career.

Again, one of the things I've held on to since May when I was given the opportunity to do this, was getting to this place to be in a baseball town again, hoping to be here when it happened and the last weekend of the season was very special for me, to see the fan support. They had no idea -- maybe they do have an idea the difference they can make and they did make that last weekend and we're looking forward to it again tonight.

Q. You mentioned your Starbucks Saturday. A number of times during the season you've talked about your reaction from the patrons at Starbucks. What's the reaction these days and what's this ride been like for Madi?
CLINT HURDLE: I get a lot of high five's, a lot of them are shaking their heads and a lot of them are happy, they're truly happy. I think they're like a lot of people. We had a lot of baseball fans here for a long time that lost interest and in a lot of cases rightfully so, and we've had a lot of true baseball fans that have not lost interest through it all that have not lost interest. So it's like anything else, you know? No bandwagon is too big. These guys, you know, they're acting a little different now than they did in May. It's okay, it's no big deal, I'm not here to analyze, I just enjoy seeing them and enjoy seeing them smile. For Madi I don't think it's been a lot of difference for Madi, I think she's enjoying her time in the nursery a little bit more.
Dinger shows up a little more often and I think she'll appreciate it -- Chris won't take his Jersey off right now, the Jersey is on 24/7 but it's been a tremendous ride for Karla, myself, and my family, I have her folks out and my mom and dad out and Ash is flying in today so it's a unique opportunity to spare with your family.

Q. Clint, this is pretty rare, developing young players and sticking with them when would you have got through lean times. Does that mean more to you because you've been preaching taking little steps through the last three or four years than maybe if you were with a club that was put together through free agency?
CLINT HURDLE: I think so. You believe in what you believe in and there were times when only a handful of us who believed in it. As you said, challenging times, trying times and it took courage to remain patient at times. But we believed in the players and we believed in our scouts and we believed in our minor league development people and that's what we're holding on to. To see the way things have turned out, the unselfish play by this team, the values they hold, good old-fashioned baseball, it's execution. That is rewarding, it's priceless for me, and to be part of it is equally rewarding.
As I've said earlier, this isn't about me, it's their time. It's not about the coaching staff. They've worked so very hard. They've enjoyed this. To see the players pop -- because that was the one unknown in all of this, the pace of the players development. You don't know that, you know you have good people, good, long talent, maybe one will pop in May, maybe one this year, one next year but we were fortunate in areas a lot of them came together, you got Troy Tulowitzki, Corpas, Franklin Morales, at Atkins, all coming together, Hawpe, it's very special.

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