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October 10, 2007

Clint Hurdle



Q. Just a few minutes ago, Jeff said that he had nothing electric as a starting pitcher. Maybe he was being a bit humble what do you think he does well as a pitcher?
CLINT HURDLE: Well, I think he studies very well. He prepares very well. He reads swings extremely well. He has the ability to win a ball game without his best stuff. Obviously he's like a high percent of pitchers in Major League: Fastball demands critical. Down in the zone. He can mix in a good curveball. He can back foot it. He can back-door it. He can throw changeups and offensive count. He has some weapons.

Q. How are you feeling?
CLINT HURDLE: Great, really good.

Q. Compared to the last few days or great?
CLINT HURDLE: No, great. Really good.

Q. And considering how long it's taken to get here and the road you guys had to take over the past few years to get to this point, even though the series hasn't started yet, was it worth the wait?
CLINT HURDLE: We're here. And it's priceless. So worth the wait, some of the times these questions, you guys really confuse me.
Because there's been a lot of effort put into it. Yes, there's been a lot of patience, encouragement with that patience. There's been some lonely days. But all said and done, I guess, you know, now that I've worked my way through it, yes. Had to work my way through it.
It's been worth the wait. Because you don't ever know if you're going to get there. But you gotta keep following the course. You gotta have faith. You gotta have faith that sometimes is blind and you just keep holding on and you keep moving forward and maybe there's only a small group of you still doing it.
So I'm proud of the way our team's handled the ride so far, from the 163rd game until now. It's been a great experience for everybody in our organization. And we're looking forward to some more.

Q. Did Aaron Cook throw today and if so how did he do and what's the possibility of having him pitch post-season?
CLINT HURDLE: He pitched seven innings, I heard he threw around 90, 90-plus pitches. And he shows himself to be healthy. That's the conversation I had with Dan. My next conversation will be with Aaron. No decisions have made. We haven't set our roster. Willy Taveras initiated some workout running routines today. He's got some more to go through. Obviously we've still got some people we still need to talk to set the roster. So we hope to have a statement maybe later after the workout. Maybe, possibly.

Q. When Eric Byrnes left your organization after a short stay, did you expect to see him return as a front line, Big League outfielder?
CLINT HURDLE: I thought better days were before him. I liked Eric Byrnes. We traded him in the middle of the night. I called him in the middle of the night. He tried so hard to do things well for us and nothing seemed to work. He brought a special type of energy and passion that our team didn't have at the time I thought could fit very well.
And I saw him play -- he had some good years in Oakland, some good productive years. I didn't think he was finished by any means. Unfortunately he didn't fit for us at the time. And I'm not surprised what he's done. He brings it. He brings what he brings every day.

Q. Clint, you talked about how worth the wait it is for you as you work through. Todd Helton seems to be really enjoying this entire experience. I mean, he usually -- out publicly he keeps a pretty straight face. Now he's walking around with a smile all the time.
CLINT HURDLE: The game brings out the kid in you. He's a guy that pretty much punched the clock and was stoic, and he was more of a gladiator mentality 98 percent of the time, the last 2 percent coming in the last, what, week.
It has been extremely joyful to watch his emotion come out the way he's been able to embrace the finish of the season and embrace the tie-breaking game, embrace the first round of the playoffs.
As much as anything, there's a big part of this team and a big heartbeat going to push him into the World Series.
I mean, that's a big want-to for all the men in there. And I think there's a lot of men that have been in the Rockies uniform in the past that are pulling for Todd Helton to get in the World Series, just by the way he's gone about his work. The job that he's done and the way he's played the game.

Q. Has your infield defense improved throughout the year or has it been kind of solid from the beginning?
CLINT HURDLE: It's been solid from the start. It's something we highlighted the '06 spring training and we've been able to carry through, and the guys have become prideful with it and they've taken it to heart. They've seen the difference it can make over time. The importance of 27 outs, the importance of finishing plays, just the simple execution of hitting cut-off men. Keeping the ball off the ground. It's played to our advantage dramatically over the course of this season. It's showed up a lot in the games that we played in September. Many times.

Q. One loss in 18 games against Webb and the D-Backs, what do you remember about that night? Jeff said he was the losing pitcher, that it was awful because he felt that you guys were out of it after that game. What do you remember about it?
CLINT HURDLE: I remember Jeff giving us a very professional outing. I think he gave up four runs in six innings. Conor clicked him for the homer. We had a couple of opportunities against Brandon, didn't get it done, which is very difficult to swallow against a guy his caliber.
And it was by far and away I think the nastiest stuff we'd seen from him in some time. He got better as the game went on. He kept rolling the sinkers we kept rolling the ball on the ground.
So it was a well-pitched game by both teams. Obviously better pitched by their side. We were able to wash it off and move on.

Q. Based on success or lack thereof by your players against Arizona this season or in recent history, might we expect any change in the lineups over the first couple of games or are we going to see pretty much who we saw in the first round?
CLINT HURDLE: I think it's going to depend on the final read what we get from Willy Taveras if he's going to be a factor to be put into play. It's a dynamic. It's pretty special to have in your lineup when he's healthy. Any time you can implement speed in your lineup it puts pressure on a pitcher, puts pressure on the defense and the offense. We've got a good run with the players we've had in play.
Are we superstitious to that effect? I think there's a little -- not superstition, but there's a mojo that's playing out, you want to be respectful of. But you have to put your best team on the field that you have available to you.
So we'll see how it plays out.

Q. Clint, as a guy who has been around a long time I know you can appreciate rivalries. I know it's two West teams that have matched up in a LCS. This team does not have a natural rivalry right now. Is this where it can begin for franchises, for fans, so on and so forth?
CLINT HURDLE: It sure seems a lot of people are talking about us developing one. At least from my awareness on being on the inside and the outside, some of the questions that have come my way and some of the questions I've heard players asked. I think we're mindful of it. I think competitive rivalry is good.
We are very respectful of the Diamondbacks organization. They've accomplished some very heady things in a short period of time. And the team they put over -- the team they have right now they've played good baseball from start to finish.
We're not in all of them by any means. We're respectful of them. And they have been probably as good a definition as you want to come up with about being a baseball team as anybody that's playing now will ask for teams. They find ways to win games. The staple of starting pitching. The health and continued success of their bullpen. Different bats showing up during the course of the season. They play a pretty good defensive game themselves.
Healthy, rivalry? We'll see. We'll see how it develops. But I think it's very -- I think it's very encouraging that the NL West had the success it had this year. And you can't forget the season the Padres were able to put together and the run the three teams had in the West.
So it was a challenging division. It's good for baseball. I think it earned us some more respect throughout the League.

Q. The bullpens of both teams have been stellar throughout the season and down the stretch you locked down your opponents in the first round. Does that change the way these games have to be played and make it more important to not fall behind in the middle of the game?
CLINT HURDLE: Well, it all depends on the other pitcher's starting effort. We fell behind the game in Philly and swung the bat, got back on top. We're not going to change our approach too much. There's a couple guys we bump with. We'll bump with our pitcher. We don't bump much early. We try and swing the bat. That's one of our strengths but obviously the team that gets the lead, you're looking at the 7th inning, you'd have to like things working their way just because the way the season has played out for both teams.
That being said, I don't think they think they're ever out of a game. I know our guys don't think they're ever out of a game.

Q. For the first time in years -- that night you guys did lose the one game in the last 18 to the Diamondbacks, it obviously was a crushing loss at the time because San Diego was still ahead of you. You were still only two games to play. What was the feeling like knowing that you still had to be perfect and still had to have help?
CLINT HURDLE: Well, crushing is a big term for me. And for a lot of guys in that clubhouse it wasn't crushing; it was disappointing.
We had a couple of games to play. We had to take care of our own business. We had to look for some craziness on the outside. We're fortunate to get the craziness on the outside. We won our two games. We felt as long as there was an opportunity, we just needed to stay focused on our next game. That's what we held onto from the start of this season until now. We don't try and get too smart. We don't try and figure a lot of things out. Emotionally we don't get too high and we definitely don't get too low.
We've been pretty good about keeping an even keel, and breaking things down after a win or a loss and then just moving on.

Q. Have you determined your rotation after Game 2 and can you talk about how Jason Hirsh's session went today in Tucson?
CLINT HURDLE: We haven't. I'm keep reading who is going to pitch. I'm appreciate of that. Jason Hirsh I didn't get a report on yet. I did get a report, like I said, on Aaron Cook. I've not got one on Jason.

Q. (No microphone.)
CLINT HURDLE: That was my understanding. That wasn't the focus. We were trying to check on Aaron. He's definitely part of what we're doing, but I didn't get a report on him.
And I'm sure we'll have the Game 3 and 4 starters here for you sooner than later.

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