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September 30, 2008

Cole Hamels

Charlie Manuel


THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Charlie and Cole, for being here. Questions.

Q. Charlie and Cole, respectively, we know you had a real turning-point moment the last time the Brewers came to this ballpark. But they're throwing two pitchers at you in Games 1 and 2 you haven't seen yet. To what extent does that make for a tougher road to home given the fact that you're getting two pitchers you haven't seen this year?
CHARLIE MANUEL: First of all, we have seen the guy pitching tomorrow he pitched against us last year. And good fastball. Curveball, changeup, slider. He can throw the ball pretty hard. Goes set anywhere from 91, 95 miles an hour.
He's got overhand curveball. I was just down there in the video room watching him today. And looks like he had pretty good command of his curveball. He pitched four innings against Pittsburgh.
And we do know quite a bit about him. He's young, and he's got a good arm. And C.C., I had C.C. Sabathia in Cleveland when he first came to the Big Leagues. Dick Pole was my pitching coach who almost got fired and we had to fight for him, bringing him to the Big Leagues, end up 17-5. I do know quite a bit about him.
And he's a good pitcher, but at the same time I feel like we still have a chance to score some runs on him.

Q. Cole, what will be different in this start than last year, what have you learned since starting in the first game of the NLDS last year and what will you be bringing to this game?
COLE HAMELS: I think, number one, I have playoff experience checked off next to my name. I don't know, for some odd reason, being able to experience something for the very first time, there's a lot of nerves, just because of the unexpected. And so you just have to really go out there and I guess treat it as something that's not as foreign as it was last year.
I think this year it's trying to keep the same routine that I've had throughout the year, just because I knew I was going to be in this same place from the beginning of spring training, because that was our ultimate goal to go to the playoffs.
So it's something I've been preparing ever since we've entered spring training and throughout the season.

Q. It's been a while since you pitched. You've had a couple days off. Health-wise, has this been important to you? Because for most of the season they tried to give you every extra day off they could. You've gotten plenty of rest this time. Do you think this will benefit you come tomorrow?
COLE HAMELS: I think that has to do with your routine. I definitely had to change it up a little bit with just the extra days of rest. But when you allow your body to fully recover and heal, it can be a good thing and it can be a bad thing, I think because mentally your body is always aware and always ready to go out on day five, just because that's something that we've been doing ever since I've gotten into pro ball.
So with the extra days off, just trying to treat it as though they didn't really mean anything, just trying to I guess mentally forget about it so that my body will not really think that it had the extra time off.

Q. Charlie, I was talking to Geoff Jenkins who obviously knows Milwaukee, and he sees a lot of similarities between Milwaukee and Philadelphia. And for Cole, how do you look at it at their starting lineup? Do you see similarities between what they have and you have?
CHARLIE MANUEL: First of all, like Milwaukee's primarily a run and hit ball club. And Fielder is their big left-handed hitter. And he has tremendous talent. Hits the ball pretty hard. And like they've got some guys also from right side who have gotten quite a bit of power. Braun, left fielder, he's a very good hitter.
And they can definitely hurt you with the long ball. And I think we've basically got a game plan, and Cole's got his plan, and we know how to go about it. There's no sense in us saying what we're going to do because we're not going to say that. But at the same time I think if you look and we can do -- if we play the way that we're capable of playing, we've got to outplay them, what it boils down to. If we can outplay them, play the way we're capable of playing, then everything should be okay for us.
COLE HAMELS: I know with facing them twice this year and facing them a couple times last year, they've got tremendous talent, great players, great young players. And so I think with the way their approach is to most pitchers, kind of like the Marlins, and kind of being able to I guess kind of get the help from the Marlins because they're very similar players, similar in age, same in talent.
It's just going to be going after them, just being smart. I know they can hit the long ball and they can really get after you with a few hits here and there and all of a sudden hit the home run and can definitely change the aspect of the game.
It's just -- I know with the amount of home runs I do give up every year, it's something where I think in the post-season you definitely want to minimize the damage.

Q. Charlie, what about Brad Lidge, what has he done for your team as far as stabilizing the 9th inning?
CHARLIE MANUEL: He's our closer. He's perfect. He's 41 and 41. Where could we go get anybody better? He's been that good. If we want to talk about Brad, he's perfect.
But the biggest thing about Brad is to me is he has a lot of talent. I say talent, he's got two big out pitches; that means he can strike you out. And he can get out of trouble and he can wheel out of jams because he does strike people out. And that's big.
That's what a closer to me in the Major Leagues, that's to me what I like. I like a big -- a guy with big talent who can finish off a game. I like hard throwers at the end of the game unless you have a tremendous trick pitch. Lidge, he brings that. And to me that's the biggest thing about him and that's a very good trait to have.

Q. His two out pitches are slider and --
COLE HAMELS: Knuckle ball. (Laughter).
CHARLIE MANUEL: Slider fastball. He can change speeds off the slider. And people talk about him having a split and all this, whatever, they can talk whatever. Whatever they want him to have is fine. (Laughter).

Q. Charlie, Cole, either of you, do you think the teams that succeed most in the playoffs are the ones that cannot worry about all of us, and then experience everything else people throw at you, just go out and play and pretend it's another game?
COLE HAMELS: I think ever since you've come up in baseball, you don't have the media aspect. And so you learn how to play the game for, I guess, the way the game is meant to be played.
But you learn how to adapt. And I think with being Philadelphia or any big-time city, you're able to adapt throughout spring training, throughout the season. So when the post-season really does come, it's not as new or foreign, just because you've had to deal with it throughout the year, because no person -- well, excluding Brad Lidge, is going to be perfect. So you're going to have the tough times and you're going to have the good times. So you learn how to deal with certain aspects of not being perfect.
And people either cheering you or booing you. So I think when post-season comes, the closeness that all of the players have developed, we're able to feed off each other and comfort each other. So that's something where, when we go out there on the field, we're as one team. When we're off the field we're as one team.
I think it's something that helps us because we've had 162 days to prepare for these very moments.

Q. How important is getting Game 1, that first playoff win, to move on and have high expectations getting that first playoff win, whether it's Game 1 or 2, how important is it?
COLE HAMELS: I think it would be pretty nice. We didn't get any last year. I think this year we definitely want to get off on the right page and start off the way we know we're capable of doing. Last year we just weren't able to do it. That was in the past and this year is a completely new year.
And the way that we came into spring training, and we started playing from the very beginning, we knew we were going to do something tremendous and spectacular. And I think this is the very moment that we've built ourselves up to going out there and playing our game as best we possibly can.
We do have a tough competitor over on the other side, and I know they're going to try to go out there and beat us too. But just have the confidence that when we go out there, and especially to have the home field advantage, being able to take in I guess that 10th man on the field with all the fans out there and all the support, we're going to be able to go out there and have success.
CHARLIE MANUEL: Five game series, three out of five, it's a short series. It's very important. Game 1 definitely is big but at the same time we talk every day about how big the game is ever since the season started.
And to me, like if you get the jump in Game 1, like you're ahead, but also just if something happens and you don't, I mean, you still can win the series but it becomes much easier, of course, if you win Game 1. That's how I look at it.

Q. Charlie or Cole, do you expect a different Milwaukee team since they made the managerial change, or basically expect the same?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think when Milwaukee came here and played us, I think -- actually I think about that series a lot because we swept that series.
But I think that at that time they were not -- definitely offensive-wise actually they weren't hitting the ball real good. They were having problems. And that doesn't -- but at the same time I also look at how we pitched and when we did a good job.
If we do that same job of pitching, well, maybe that's why they weren't hitting. But I do look at them as they're a dangerous team. I agree with what Cole says about the type of hitters they are. They like to swing and they like to try to hit the ball out of the yard. And they are very dangerous and they can score runs.
Like it's kind of up to us, if we make the pitches that we're supposed to make and we play the right kind of baseball we're supposed to play, well, then, I don't see no reason why that we can't come out on top.
But do I expect them to play better? I think they're definitely capable of playing better than they did those four games because they lost them. But at the same time we also played good. And I think it's going to be a good series. Just because we won those games, to me, you can throw that out the window. Now, you know like we're playing for bigger marbles, and we've got to play better.

Q. Unlike their guy, you faced this lineup twice this year with mixed results. How does that help in terms of going into tomorrow knowing what you have to do to retire their guys and have success?
COLE HAMELS: I think it's just being smart. Making the pitches the right time and not missing my spots. I think I've pitched against some the past couple of times I've really gotten hurt by one or two guys.
So if I can minimize I guess the success that those two guys have, then I think I can go up put a nice quality start. Any time you're able to at least go deep in the game and minimize the amount of runs and allow our offense to go out there and do their job, then we'll be able to come away with a victory.

Q. Earlier in your career, when the games, the stakes kind of got higher in some big games you admitted you had maybe a little trouble controlling your emotions and pitched differently. Do you feel now as you've been in that situation more often you feel more comfortable not changing your approach as the games become bigger?
COLE HAMELS: Of course. It's I guess the type of stage you get in. You want to be that sort of guy that everybody can obviously look for to come out ahead and be able to pitch that big game.
And I've had a few blunders here and there. But I think from your failures, I think you learn more. And I think that's something that Charlie and I have definitely talked about and our teammates have talked about. With your failures you learn how to deal with it and hopefully you can change things so you can have success.
I think that's something where through the games that I've pitched and I haven't been able to come out ahead, I've taken a few pieces here and there, and going into the post-season, with everything that's escalated and expected, I just truly have to realize that I have eight guys behind me that believe in me and are going to back me up and all I have to really do is go out there and throw strikes.

Q. From an individual standpoint, how would you assess your season? One loss record isn't always indicative. You had some stretches where you didn't get as much support and that happens. But in terms of when you came into this season hoping to do, how did you feel your season went?
COLE HAMELS: I feel I had success. I think going out there being able to pitch every five days, have the 33 starts, pitch 200-something innings, I've done well with the strikeouts to balls, or walks, and so I've minimized guys' batting averages against me. I think wins and losses, that's irrelevant sometimes.
But I think that's what everybody looks at when they see a successful pitcher is just the big W and the big L. But I think this year I've hopefully proven a point that's not necessarily the way you can really define a pitcher.
I think when you're able to go out there and pitch quality start after quality start, that really helps the team stay in the game and allows your team to possibly win.

Q. Do you find it's more effective to treat the playoffs as another game in a way to help stay relaxed or do you find it's important to use the advantage or the excitement of the playoffs, it's important to not ignore that? Is it better to stay relaxed and treat it like game 163, or do you think it's better to -- can you talk about the emotions of tricking your body like physically if you have too much time off, that sort of thing. Mentally I'm talking about.
COLE HAMELS: I don't know, for some reason we play better in September. That's when the emotions are high. If you're at the border of having your back against the wall of either making or breaking it, we've always seemed to do well as a team.
That's something we definitely have to feed off of going into this year's playoffs. I think we still have the same mind-set that we had. We still believe we can go all the way, and I think that's something that was different from last year. I think we were just so excited that we got into the playoffs we forgot what we really had to do. And I think we also ran into a hot team. I think we're the hot team this year. I think we've been able to prove ourselves numerous times, and for the whole team and myself I'm going to use the excitement. I love pitching at home. I love having the crowd that we have here and having the sell-outs and the crowd on their feet. I definitely feel that I can play better and I always, I guess, take that in.

Q. Charlie, talk about why you set up the rotation the way you did, and as far as after Game 4 is Cole a candidate to come back on short rest there?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Basically, to me, a rotation, the way we set it up is the fact that where Cole rests and everything he was automatically going in for the first game. I think most people would say, question me on Jamie Moyer right now is a hot pitcher, he's been tremendous this year. And I like Brett Myers here because I figure that he pitched good the last time, here against Milwaukee.
And also he pitches to me like he pitches better at home, and the fact that I think in the dome in Milwaukee, I also think that it's real loud and it's going to be real -- a lot more noisier than here whether you believe it or not. I think Jamie Moyer is more suitable for that. He's been there. And I think he can handle it much better. And I think Myers, he likes pitching here in this ballpark. I mean, I think he likes pitching at home.
I think that it helps him. I think he's more inspired. And also I just -- that's the way I wanted it to go and that's the way I wanted to set it up. I think we've got options after that.
So that to me that's exactly why we did it.
Also, you know, like I look at both of our left-handed pitchers. They are definitely capable of getting running hitters out. Like Cole said, if he makes the pitches. And Jamie is the same way. And I like Myers on the running hitters especially if his command is good with the breaking ball and moving the fastball on both sides of the plate.

Q. Charlie, Victorino didn't want to talk about his leg injury in the locker room. Can you shed any light on how his leg is and any concerns you might have about it?
CHARLIE MANUEL: He didn't say anything to me. I checked with the trainers, and right now we definitely think that he's ready to go. If that changes, of course, I'll find out about it and I'll check on it again before I leave today. But right now he's definitely -- he's ready to go.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you Charlie and Cole.

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