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October 24, 2008

Charlie Manuel


Q. Regarding the 1-for-28 stat about runners in scoring position, is it a matter of the guys relaxing?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think it's a matter of the guys relaxing, and definitely we've got to cut down on our swing some. We're swinging hard. That's a sign of trying too hard and trying to do too much. And especially when we've got a guy on third base and less than two out, we've got to get him in. Situational hitting and stuff like that, you've got to execute. And we definitely want to score our easy runs or the runs that we can manufacture, when we get them in scoring position, we've got to knock them in.
Right now we take big long swings with two strikes, we're caught up in it and we're trying to swing and we're trying to hit the ball -- looks to me like we're trying to hit the ball out of the yard. And that's not only one, that's kind of a team thing.

Q. Jumping off that point, do you try to communicate that message to the team? Will you address that before Game 3? What are your feelings about that? You've seen the offense do a lot better.
CHARLIE MANUEL: Baseball is a funny game. And people look at it like, gee, I mean, how come they don't come out here and hit like they do during the season, something like that? During the season there's games when you don't hit. And that's baseball. And that's kind of human nature. There's a guy on the mound throwing the ball and stuff, and believe me, I can go out there, I say this over and over, I've been coaching a long time and managing and I used to go out there and like in instructional league, and I used to throw the curve to Kirby Puckett, and Gaetti and Hrbek, and I'd stand on the mound and throwing straight fastballs, and I'd go seven or eight innings in a simulated game, and not give up a hit. So you explain that to me. Sometimes it's hard to explain. And that's why you play a game.
We might walk out tomorrow and score 7, 8, 10 runs in the first inning, who knows? But we also might come out and a guy might have his good stuff and he might pitch real good. That's baseball. That's what it's all about. Every day is different. And also you react every day differently. Like Ted Williams said, every bat is an adventure. He's talking about 650, 700 at-bats, that's kind of the way the game goes. That's the part you have to understand.
Here we're in a seven-game series or the first team to win four games, and you look at it and you go, oh, man, you're like the world is going to come to an end because we didn't hit last night. No, we've got some more baseball to play. And you're like, I've got a lot of faith in our guys, like we can win this thing.

Q. In your opinion, how impressive is this that Jamie Moyer has made his first World Series start at the age of 45?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think I answered that yesterday as far as for what he did for us this year, and he was probably our most consistent pitchers at one time this year; he won 16 ballgames for us. He made all of his appearances in rotation. He even pitched on short rest at times.
And, look, he's had some big games. He's pitched two games in the playoffs, and they hadn't been very good for him. But at the same time I've still got confidence in him getting guys out. He showed he can get them out.

Q. You have split up Utley and Howard in the order in the past, do you consider that to give it a different look and also the way Price has established himself in the bullpen?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Yeah, I think about that. And you're right, when you come to -- last night Price, when he came in the game, for him to go, what did he go, 2 1/3 or 2 2/3, like the length that he went definitely got my attention. He went down through our lineup and back around again.
Yeah, but also, if you sit there and think, the right-hand hitters have to get him, too. We have big right-hand hitters standing in there, too. They're the ones that have to take the slack off the left-hand hitters. When you balance out your lineup and you look for balance, that's the way I look at it. Howard and Utley, when I split them up sometimes it works. I'm not saying that I want to do that, but also it's up to our right-hand hitters to step up and hit those left-hand pitchers. They get paid, too.

Q. After a loss like that, and you get on the plane, I know you guys got in here the crack of dawn and little sleep. What was the last couple of hours like for you guys?
CHARLIE MANUEL: It seemed like -- yeah, we did get in late. But there's some weird -- we're definitely not down. I mean, let me correct that, because we are resilient. And we stayed right there last night, and we were battling right there to the end of the game. And we were still in a position that in the ninth inning to tie the game up or pull it out. But at the same time, am I concerned about our situational hitting? Yes. When we get runners on base, especially easy runs where a ground ball or fly ball or even sometimes hit into a double play and get a run.
Yeah, we need to score those runs. And they become big here because pitching shows up. In the first two games of the series, what's been the big thing? Pitching. Myers pitched a good game last night, whether you realize it or not. He definitely didn't pitch a bad game or off game, he pitched a good ballgame. And we didn't play good. We made mistakes. I know we talk about our hitting, but at the same time we did not play a good game last night.

Q. If you have a rainout, have you thought about changing up the rotation?
CHARLIE MANUEL: If we have a rainout, like all the "ifs" come into play, when it happens we'll sit down and we'll talk about it. Hey, look, we have more meetings than probably anybody in baseball. We'll talk about these things. And we'll go over and over, and I'm sure we'll get a lot of opinions from everybody. And probably that's part of it. But at the same time, those things we can do, and we'll figure it out if it rains us out.

Q. I know you don't like to talk about things and make excuses for the hitting, but down there at Tropicana Field some batters were talking there's something about the lighting down there, it's hard to pick up the ball. Is there something to that? You being down there, did you see anything?
CHARLIE MANUEL: One of the reasons that we practiced for two days and the things that we did in those practices was to try to get used to the field and the dome and the lights. To me, I did not hear anybody tell me about it or talk to me about it, players-wise. But the only thing I can say, when somebody goes up to the plate and I see somebody hit the hell out of a ball, and I see some guys that don't, I'd say, this guy can see, and this guy can't see, and this guy can. To me, if that's not making an excuse or trying to find an excuse, I kind of look at it that way, especially when I see Bruntlett come off the bench and hit a first-pitch fastball out of the yard. Or when I see somebody step up, or Utley the other night cranked one out with two strikes on him. And I've see guys hit the ball hard.
We got how many hits? We had more chances to score than Tampa has so far. We could have scored a lot more runs, but we didn't. We can come out of there 1-1.

Q. With a 12-day layoff between starts for Jamie, does that make it harder for a guy like him with his style to stay sharp heading into tomorrow night?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Actually I think the rest might really help him. Can it hurt him as far as maybe command? It might. Like he might feel too strong, I don't know. But at the same time it also can go the other way. I think it's how you look at it and what you want to make of it. If he goes out and he's walking people, yeah, he might have something to do with it. But if he goes in there and gets them out, what are you going to say? That's kind of how it is.
Actually from how much he's pitched this year, and the innings that he's thrown and everything -- I'm very positive about it, because I think that the rest really might really help him.

Q. When Ryan Howard's been struggling, he took a little bit of extra batting practice, and looked like he was hitting the ball a little bit better. With some of the struggles, do you change anything with less batting practice or more for some guys? How do you approach it to get them to relax and maybe not try so hard?
CHARLIE MANUEL: We're going to take BP. Right now we're at the stage if somebody wants to cut BP short or something and they don't want to take as many swings as they usually do, we kind of buy into that. But baseball is repetition. There never has been a guy that played this game that was a great hitter that didn't hit a lot. And I've got in arguments with guys like Kenny Lofton comes into my mind when he first started playing, and I'm using him as an example, I used to get mad at him because on Sundays sometimes he'd go to the manager and he wouldn't have to hit. And we came out and it seemed like Kenny was the guy getting all the hits. I told him one day, I said Kenny, there will come a time when you're going to have to hit a lot. I said, you'll see. And because it's a repetition game.
And when I played baseball in Japan, they proved to me one thing: When I first went there and I got in the batting cage and I could hit like five minutes or take 10 or 15 swings, 25 swings or something, I was dead. And like I used to say, this is not doing me any good. Let me tell you something, I got to the place where I could stand there for two hours, and it was doing me good. I could hit for two hours and I was strong. When I got in the game the ball actually looked like it was coming slower in the game -- in BP the ball came faster to me in BP than it did to me in the game. And I believe in repetition. All the years I managed in the minor leagues, nobody out-hit our team. When I was hitting coach in Cleveland nobody out-hit our team. I'm big on repetition. And the more you hit the better you're going to get.
Ask Tiger Woods as a golfer or Singh, he said he loved to hit golf balls, that's why he hit 2000 balls a day or something. And the more repetition is better. You say, you get tired. You know what, what was it Taguchi told me the other day? He said one of the guys that wasn't in good shape. He said in Japan he wouldn't be in good shape. I said, what do they say? He said, when you get tired you'll find a way. That's being mentally tough and keep working until you get strong. I totally believe in that.

Q. What kind of look does Garza give you compared to what you saw in Shields, specifically when it comes to your lefties?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I've seen him pitch some on TV, and he's got a little bit better stuff. He's got a good fastball, a breaking ball. He's more of a power. Yeah, that's what I see. He's inexperienced but at the same time he's had a big year. And evidently he's been improving as the season goes along. I followed him, when he was in Minnesota. I liked him when he was first coming up. This kid is aggressive and his velocity is going to be better.

Q. Is one of the positives from last night how Brett pitched in terms of hanging in there, in spite of not getting the runs, he had the rough start and he was able to go deeper into the game? And I guess can you speak to Brett's perseverance and how it will factor in later if he gets another start in the series?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think it's going to be good for him, the fact that he pitched against the Rays and how he pitched last night, I think it's going to help him. And like I said, he pitched good enough to win the game last night. I thought he did pretty good. It was a tough game. And the fact that we didn't play good, that definitely played -- affected what the score was, and he pitched better than the outcome of the game.

End of FastScripts

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