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October 11, 2007

Clint Hurdle



Q. Your thoughts on putting Taveras in the lineup, how tough a decision was it considering how well you guys have been playing to make any kind of change right now?
CLINT HURDLE: Well, I think our main objective tonight is find a way to beat the Diamondbacks and provide some challenges for Brandon Webb. And you don't like to change some dynamics that are in place. And Willy's had some success against Webb. Kaz is comfortable and familiar and in the two slot, Tulo (Tulowitzki) has hit in the seven slot. He provides great protection for Hawpe there. And it's another barrel to the bat. It lengthens our lineup out, stretches it out, provides more challenge from top to bottom. And it's a lineup that we've used before. So it's not like an unfamiliar lineup that we're putting out there.

Q. How is your perspective or attitude changed now since when you were a player?
CLINT HURDLE: My attitude, well, hopefully I've gotten a little bit smarter as I've gotten older. Through experience, we all should grow and develop. Early in my career, I was in a hurry.
I've had to learn patience through challenging times. That's been good. It's proved to become an asset, especially in this profession.
Some of the challenges I had as a player I've been able to put into play from a managerial aspect, where my demands aren't the same demands I felt that were upon me. I have the freedom to go play, figure out what kind of player you are, your actions will show us.
There was a lot of hype surrounding me, just the way it happened. So I try and free my players, the young players up from that.
I try and communicate, be honest, not as honest as I can be. I had that dropped on me a couple times as a player. I could never figure that one out. When somebody would tell me they're going to be as honest as they could be with me.
You just and try and treat people the way you wanted to be treated. I think through experience you get better at it.

Q. The second thing, life experiences you had, the good and bad, are you able to use those when you're dealing with the young guys?
CLINT HURDLE: I think so. We're prepared for our future through our paths. I've been given a lot of preparation for different situations. One of the most challenging moments for me came earlier in this year when one of our guys in Denver dropped the words crushing and debilitating upon me after a loss. And it was just kind of funny at that time because that day I had gotten a call from a mother at Children's Hospital that wanted me to come by see her son before he was going to pass that night. That was debilitating.
Crushing was when a doctor told me my little girl was born with a birth defect. Baseball is a game. And I've learned that. And I've embraced that and I've tried to share that with my players. It's a great challenge and a great opportunity for a lot of things.
Let's keep it a game. And let's not take the end result and wear it like an anchor around our neck afterwards. Man, let's just figure it out. See where we can get better and get ready to play the next one.

Q. You've got one fewer pitcher on your staff for this series. Does that send a message as to how much you believe in this bullpen and does that kind of let everybody know that you guys trust in this bullpen the guys you have back there? And how tough was it to not include Aaron Cook on the roster?
CLINT HURDLE: The first question, I feel very comfortable with the way we've pitched out of the bullpen. They've done an outstanding job. We don't have more than two games in a row. So as far as getting stretched out with three or four games, there won't be the volume of work in case things wouldn't work our way. We're comfortable with the people we have, the seven-man staff that we have out there.
I said yesterday, it's as difficult, maybe the most difficult decision I've had to make just because of the character of the person involved that you're talking to.
He's worked very hard to get in this position for an opportunity to possibly be there. And Dan and I talking and even talking to Aaron, we kept trying to find a fit. Seemed to me the more we talked it was more like we were trying to force something to happen because he was such a good man I tried to remove myself from it as we always try and do. I try and do what's best for the team at the moment. And I explained that to Aaron and professionally. I think he understood it and respected it. Did he like it? I wouldn't like the fact you tell them you're not going to be on the roster, we're making this decision. But he's added value to everything we've done. He's one of the reasons why we are where we are and we'll try and keep him pace on and in rhythm and see what the future holds for him, if we're fortunate to get to the next round.

Q. Are your scouting meetings a lot shorter since you guys played these guys so much?
CLINT HURDLE: Our scouting meeting, we revisited some things. It wasn't a lot shorter, no. We wanted to make sure we were on top of some things. But we know them. They know us. There's not a lot of hidden agendas on either club.
The beauty of the game at this point in time in the season will come down to who plays better, who executes better.

Q. You talked about the confidence you have in your bullpen. Guy like Matt Herges is somebody you didn't count on at the beginning of the season arguably the best performance of the year the three innings against San Diego. How big has he been for you?
CLINT HURDLE: Any time in this profession you want to think how smart you are, you go back and look at a guy that nobody didn't call and didn't have a job was kind of a fit for us to come in spring training and have the kind of year. This is a humbling game and I think he got humbled a bit by not getting a call, got an opportunity. He got a brief look early. It wasn't a good situation. I had to use him more than I wanted to, and he wasn't on top of his game. He went back down. He has done nothing but get out since he's been back. It's a great story. He's a good man.
He can pitch and change speeds. He's been a very steady influence in our clubhouse. So those are the kind of things you really like to be a part of in the game.

Q. Even though this is the NLCS, does it feel like this series is under the radar a little bit, as far as the average fan or people who might not know as many of your players or as much of the two teams involved?
CLINT HURDLE: Those kind of things are out of our control. I grew up in Cape Canaveral, a lot of radar going on over there (Laughter). My dad had a lot of radar in his life, looking out in the Cape. That's really not a focus, really not a concern. One of the things this club's been very good at is paying attention to what we need to pay attention to.

Q. The working adjective for Stephen Drew is laid back. What's the best way to describe your shortstop?
CLINT HURDLE: Not laid back. (Laughter).

Q. Can you expand on that?
CLINT HURDLE: If you'd like me to. You just asked me for a term.

Q. Can you expand on that?
CLINT HURDLE: He comes with an edge. He comes with a great passion to compete. He's been able to get a little something out of everybody that was there that might not have been gotten out before. And we had a lot of pieces in place in the puzzle. You can kind of tell what it looked like and what it was going to become, maybe. It's like that old show Concentration, you put that one piece in and you go, aha, this could be it. And that's kind of the direction the team has taken.
A lot of people deserve credit. But he's been a special player. And not -- I've not seen a first-year player bring the intangibles and the skills that this young man has brought to our team, ever before.

Q. Have the butterflies set in and if not when do you think it might hit you, what you're playing for tonight and for the next week or so?
CLINT HURDLE: You know, so far so good. Actually there was a little more anxiety down the stretch. As I said before, we felt like we were playing the loser's bracket for a long, long time. And there was a little anxiety sitting in that chair watching the game when Gwynn was down to two strikes and two outs, and you get through that. So we're all of the same mind-set. We have to go play a game tonight.
We've got to find a way to beat the Diamondbacks. Get some runs off Brandon Webb. Francis is going to try to pitch good, and that's it. And hopefully, through experience, we've put ourselves in a good place. I think one of the biggest things I've seen I'm most proud of this club is the poise they've shown from start of the season through the month of September and into the post-season.
And I'm just enjoying being a part of it.

Q. The term used for the Diamondbacks closer is theatrical, what would be the term for your guys and elaborate on that, too?
CLINT HURDLE: Manny to me is -- he's a burglar. He is there and he's gone. And then the job's done. But he has a real good foundation. And obviously he can make pitches and change speeds and he's got a power sinker. He's shown remarkable poise himself for a young man that's been put in this position about the All-Star break. And obviously the results we've gotten from him have been pretty special.

Q. You've developed a friendship with Bob Melvin at all, or do you guys go back?
CLINT HURDLE: Professionally, we have. We talk. We don't go back. We've talked and shared things. You know from his days in Milwaukee as a coach and my days of coaching Colorado. There's a professional respect there, no doubt about that. And the job he's done speaks for itself. Tremendous job. Diamondbacks organization, Bob and his coaching staff have done. The players have responded well.
And you like to see that in the game. You like to see anybody have some success in the game that works hard and seems to come with no ego is all about promoting his team. Happy to see where he is. No doubt about that.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, Coach.

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