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October 26, 2008

Charlie Manuel


Q. Carlos Ruiz wound up being the hero last night. Plainly he's in the lineup because of his defense, but do you think anything he gives offensively is a bonus or is he a better hitter than he's shown and maybe he's capable?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think he's a better hitter than what he's shown during the season. He got in a rut during the season and had a hard time getting out of it. The last couple of weeks, especially, like his bat's gotten quicker, he waits better, and he's got better balance at the plate. He's a little more aggressive, but at the same time he's been getting good balls to hit.
He's always been, in the minor leagues he was a good hitter. Had a big year in Triple-A before he came up here. Last year he hit like .254 or something or .255, knocked in some big runs. And, yeah, I liked him last night right there where we were at, because he has been swinging good, and he's been hitting the ball in the air a lot.

Q. Talk a little bit about Eric Bruntlett. He's done a lot of big things for you in late innings this year. He won a game for you with a diving stop in the ninth inning, and put another game into extra innings against the Mets with a big hit, and last night making things happen. Talk about what he brings to your ballclub.
CHARLIE MANUEL: He can play all the positions on the field, first base, all the infield positions, all the outfield positions. We use him for a baserunner. We use him for defense, and he definitely contributes. He is a big asset to our club and he fits good in situations, especially in the National League. And he's very important to us. And he's done a tremendous job for us.
When Rollins was hurt early in the year I thought when I put him in the lineup, first couple of days, like he had tough days, but all of a sudden when he started to get to play more, he showed, like, how he could play and how good he was.

Q. J.C. used to be a guy that pitched almost every day, but since Madson took over the eighth inning and you're more comfortable there, talk about how his role has changed and how you like to use him now?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I like to use J.C., especially sometime from the seventh to the eighth inning against, like, anytime against lefties. And I don't mind putting him on some righties. Like, he's pitched better this year, especially on lefties. I felt like last year he definitely did real well on right-hand hitters, but people always told me how good he did, but he did not face a whole lot of them.
But this year, like he's been really tough on left-hand hitters. And actually I like to save him for that big left-hand hitter or the real good ones, you know, in the lineup. But I still at times I have faith in him, like getting hitters out.

Q. Last night you shut out Iwamura and you didn't get him on base. Do you think that's one of the keys to success, to stop their offensive momentum? And also can you tell me your impression of Iwamura?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think that you got to keep him off the bases. I think that he -- I think that's why Joe hits him in the leadoff hole. I think it's very important if he gets on. Anytime he gets on, like it kind of gets their offense going.
Last night I think Jamie Moyer changed speeds and everything. If you notice he hit the ball in the air, he's got a couple of balls up in the air his first couple of times up, and I don't think he's that kind of hitter. He's a line-drive, average, ground-ball hitter. Every once in a while when he gets it up in the air, he can get it out of the yard.
Yeah, he's a good hitter and a good second baseman.

Q. Can you evaluate the impact that Cole Hamels has had this postseason?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Hamels has been tremendous. And what do you want me to say? I say the same thing over and over about him. Every time you hand him the ball, you expect to win the game. Definitely he can throw a shutout for you. And I even look up sometimes and think he's going to throw some no-hitters before his career is over. He's that kind of pitcher. He's a top-of-the-rotation pitcher and he's very good.
I think in the future, especially if he can get a little bit stronger in his core, he puts on a little weight, not a whole lot, but I think he's going to be good. He's smooth, he's got good command, he's got tremendous stuff.

Q. Obviously it's been a long season to date, add an hour and a half rain delay before the start of the game, a game that ends 2 a.m. in the morning. Coming in tonight, is fatigue at all a factor?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think at this time of the year I don't think a player is thinking about fatigue. It could show up in a game, but I think it -- I don't have to go through there and say anything and pump people up or nothing. I think that our team is ready to go, and I'm sure they are, too. I think like we know what's at stake, and we think we know how we're going about getting it. And that comes about playing the other team. And like that's how I see it.
We came to the ballpark today with the idea we're going to win. If you go ask our players I don't think they'd even think about being tired.

Q. How are you dealing with Jayson Werth and his mistakes on the basepaths? Chewing him out? In the regular season you might bench a guy that makes mistakes like that, how do you handle it now?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Just go up, I just remind him, just remind him. I'm sure he knows the mistakes he made. But it's not like that you -- he's got to correct them. Like he's got to make sure that he don't keep doing the same mistake over and over. I hear Joe Maddon last night say something about, like they're going to make mistakes because they're aggressive. If you remember, I've told you guys about our base running and the fact of how we do it. There are going to be times we make mistakes. But at the same time if you look up and you look at the percentage of how successful we are within that kind of -- as long as that outweighs those mistakes, I can live with that.

Q. It seemed like everyone knows all about your offense, but do you think your pitching has been the big difference in this entire postseason, particularly now?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think our pitching has been the difference probably the whole second half of the season. I think when Myers came back, that definitely helped stabilize our rotation. I think that Blanton has helped the rotation, and I definitely think Jamie Moyer, he's been consistent for us all year long. And throw in Hamels. I don't want to forget about Kendrick; he won 11 games for us.
And I think the first half of the season our pitching was good, but I think the second half has been real good. And I think that our bullpen the last few months has definitely come a long ways.

Q. Now presumably you've had a few hours of sleep from last night's game. Just looking back on it, can you describe how crazy it was, especially with the way it ended?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think it ended in a good way, really (laughter). I kind of liked the ending, really. That made it easier to go to sleep.
But the game, really, like, we got ahead and all of a sudden I felt like Moyer actually pitched better than -- he gave up three runs, he could have gotten up giving away one or none. I felt like he was that good. But they definitely, like, when you walk them and when you put their speed on base, you've got to really concentrate on trying to stop them, because they're hard to stop. And anytime that they get guys in scoring position, it seems like they can hit a ground ball. And things have kind of been going their way. But we overcame that and they made mistakes at the end and we capitalized on it, and it was a victory for us.

Q. You talked about Cole Hamels' pitching talent, but how do you like the way he's handled the big stage, postseason with the World Series?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think his poise and his focus and his determination plays a big part in who he is and how he pitches. Cole Hamels goes out there and you can tell, he can smell a win and he's going to get you there. And he'll give you everything he's got. And basically that's what I like about it. I mean, you can walk out there and he knows -- I think he knows just about how far he's going to go. And he has a good feel for pitching. But most of all I like his focus and his determination and his coolness. Cole is cocky in a good way. And that's a positive, strong way.

Q. How different of a manager are you now than you were in Cleveland, when you were in Cleveland? Do you think you've improved as a manager?
CHARLIE MANUEL: The same old Charlie. I'm the same manager I was when I managed in Triple-A or Double-A or A ball. I'm the same manager. Just when you win you're better (laughter), and that comes from having better players.
I look at managing like when you send somebody up and they execute, then you're a good manager. And talent definitely plays up. I'm a talent guy. When I speak all the time to our beat writers and everything, I talk about talent. And the players is what makes a good manager. If you go ask any manager in baseball, if he's got any sense he'll tell you that he has to have good players. I've listened to Joe Torre, I've listened to LaRussa, some of the most successful managers in the game, Coxey (Cox), they'll brag on their players, and the reason is because they'll execute.
They say Charlie, you've been managing real good. You send Dobbs up and he hits a home run and he looks good. When I send Cole Hamels up to the mound I expect to look good. Give me five Cole Hamels and four Lidges in the bullpen, I'll be very good (laughter).

Q. Charlie, looking back, are there any specific adjustments you can make to combat their speed on the basepaths?
CHARLIE MANUEL: We've just got to try to hold them closer and make sure that we can contain them. To stop them, of course, pitchers have to bear down, hold them and our catcher has to throw good. And that's about the only way you can stop them. But we can do it if we really concentrate on it and we stay focused. But it's kind of hard. You have to have a lot of talent.

Q. It turned out that Jamie Moyer was pretty sick when he got to the ballpark yesterday. Did you have any feeling that you might have to scratch him? Are you surprised that he pitched as well as he did considering as sick as he was the last few days?
CHARLIE MANUEL: He didn't say anything to me about it. I did hear, somebody told me. But at the same time I figure that Jamie is not going to go out there unless he can absolutely not pitch. If he thinks he's hurting our team he's definitely not going to go out there. To me that didn't come into play. I think he was determined he wanted to pitch, and he wanted to redeem himself for the last couple of outings he had. And he wanted to pitch in a World Series.

Q. PeƱa and Longoria are combined 0-for-23, how much of that is good pitching, good scouting? And what's your read on that?
CHARLIE MANUEL: First of all, I don't want to talk too much about that because, you know, like -- really I don't want to say a lot about it. I just hope we keep pitching and making the pitches that we've been throwing to them. Hopefully we can hold them the rest of the way.

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