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December 9, 2008

Bruce Bochy


Q. Well, it looks like you have a good combination of established guys and some competition going on heading into spring training. Optimal atmosphere?
BRUCE BOCHY: It is. I mean, the one thing we wanted to do, Brian has accomplished, and that's tighten up the bullpen. And with two experienced guys with we have got, and looking the job Romo did last year and Sadler and of course Wilson, having a nice year, we are comfortable where we are at this year with the bullpen. It's really, my third year here, my first year I have gone into spring training with some answers there and having some security there in that bullpen.
So position players, we are pretty well set out there in the outfield at the corners right now, the position we talked about, it's going to be very competitive at second base. Three guys that all bring something a little bit different, but three good ballplayers that will be battling it out to win the starting job.

Q. Of those three guys, are any of them kind of in the lead right now?
BRUCE BOCHY: I'm not going to put somebody in the lead right now. You know, you've got one of them that didn't play at all last year into the Fall League, but certainly did a lot for himself the way he played in the Arizona Fall League, Frandsen. Velez I thought was much, much improved as the season went, defensively and offensively and more selective at the plate and played well at second.
Of course, Burriss, the great job that he did. So it's going to be a good competition. It's going to be deep into the spring before we can tell.

Q. Do you perceive maybe sharing playing time?
BRUCE BOCHY: Matchups, that could come into play. That's what we'll get settled this spring with the staff and myself and Brian before we break in, who we think our best option is.

Q. If one has a great camp, and two don't, you would not necessarily give it to the guy who has the great camp?
BRUCE BOCHY: Well, certainly would lean that way. Spring training is going to mean a lot. The numbers won't mean as much as all of the little things, defense, your quality at-bats and things like that.

Q. What did you take from Jonathan Sánchez's year last year and what do you think is possible for him down the road?
BRUCE BOCHY: Well, two different pitchers. You look at the first half, he threw the ball very well and he was one of our better starters and more consistent starters, early.
With that being his first year starting, I think the innings caught up with him a little bit. The previous years, he had kind of gone back and forth and pitched out of the pen. We expect Sanchie to be a little stronger this year and do what he did in the first half, carry it deeper into the season. What he did a lot and what I liked about him is how he controlled his emotions out there and especially the first half. But you know, as he did show some signs of fatigue I thought, he struggled with his command there, but that's going to get better I think his second year around.

Q. Does he remind you of anybody at this stage?
BRUCE BOCHY: A little bit like a guy I had in San Diego that went to New York, Oliver Perez, a little bit. They are young, great talent, that they kind of throw from the same slot a little bit. But their command gets better and better as they go.

Q. Is it clear how Schierholtz could find his way to getting some playing time as the season ended?
BRUCE BOCHY: Yeah, that's going to be a challenge. Nate, he's coming off a good year in Fresno. He comes up and he does a good job. You look at what's out there, that's why he's going to be a challenge. Randy is going on out and Rowand is going on out, and Freddy, he had a nice year in the Major Leagues.
So we are going to try to give Nate all of the at-bats and playing time we can, and it's a workable situation. Some of these guys, I think I'll have better opportunity with Nate there to give them a few more days off during the season and keep them fresh.

Q. He came up originally as a third baseman, and he's a good athlete. Is he definitely an outfielder only?
BRUCE BOCHY: He's definitely an outfielder. We discussed that and we are not going to go with any experiments with him this spring as we have with a couple guys, Ortmeier and Bowker. We are going to keep Nate in the outfield.

Q. Sandoval, will he be doing any catching?
BRUCE BOCHY: That's going to be a tough decision this spring, too, to see where we are at as far as whether we go with another catcher. We are leaning that way right now, to keep him from bouncing him everywhere, lower risk of injury. Likely he is going to be hitting in the 3-hole and catching once a week or something. Puts you at risk a little bit with losing your 3-hole hitter.
What he does give you if we go with three catchers is flexibility, or you can pinch-run for Bengie and still have another catcher on the field if something happened. These are things we are discussing and can answer better in the spring, too.

Q. If you have Renteria in 2 and Sandoval in 3, does that mean you would put Winn back in the lead-off spot?
BRUCE BOCHY: Yeah, that's the way I'm leaning right now. It's not etched in stone, but leave Randy off and maybe put Freddy down in the 5-hole.

Q. Were you surprised how well Sandoval did for somebody that started the year in San Jose?
BRUCE BOCHY: Yeah, I was, with him coming up from Astros and doing what he did.
But talking to scouts and our people in our organization, just spoke so highly of this guy and what a talent he was. So I was not surprised. I got to see a little bit of him in the spring.
But for him to come up and do what he did, you should be surprised, but he did it everywhere. He did it in San Jose and Connecticut, which is a tough place to hit, and he made them a better club, and he made us a better club. He's doing it now in winter ball.
So, no, I wasn't surprised.

Q. Why do you think he would be a good 3?
BRUCE BOCHY: Why? He can really hit any pitch. He can hit a tough pitch and expand the zone. Not that we want him to, but that's his style. He finds a way to get the bat on the ball and got some big clutch hits for us the little tight bit of time we had a chance to see him. He's a switch-hitter, so we can make a change in the bullpen. We think he's one of our better hitters.

Q. Speaking of a perfect world, probably imagine Bengie is the clean-up hitter, but maybe that was an area you wanted to address this off-season.
BRUCE BOCHY: See, I think Bengie is a pretty good clean-up hitter. I think he's the guy that you want up there with men on base. He's clutch and uses the whole field and he can hit the ball out of the ballpark. You know, what comes into play is you talk about his speed, but you can look at clean-up hitters around the league who can't run, and that's not an issue. We want the guy who we think can do the most damage up there in the clean-up spot, and he's our guy.

Q. Speaking of expanding the zone, will getting off the leadoff spot help Fred maybe let it go more instead of having to take pitches?
BRUCE BOCHY: Freddy knows that's still the one part of his game that needs a little work on, cut down the strikeouts, especially called third strikes.
We are not going to change Freddy. That was his first full year of playing and he did a nice job. I'm sure he struck out some. Those are pretty impressive numbers for a guy who is leading off the big leagues for the first time, gives you quality at-bats and sees a lot of pitches. He's got a good eye up there. Sometimes he gets a little frustrated. He thinks some of those pitches are not strikes and you just have to take it out of the umpires' hands at times. That's what he'll work on in the spring.

Q. You mentioned upstairs yesterday that you can project a little bit of power from Ishikawa. What about Freddy when you move him down the lineup, seven, eight, nine home runs? Do you think he can be a 25-home run guy?
BRUCE BOCHY: Yeah, and that's one of the reasons we talked about putting him down there, because we don't want him playing that role as a lead-off hitter right now and be so concerned with seeing pitches as much as the first pitch you see that you can do some damage with, let it go.

Q. Halfway through the meetings, what are your expectations as far as doing something tangible in terms of player movement?
BRUCE BOCHY: I would say right now, I don't see a lot that's going to happen in the next day or so. As we all go back, you'll see a little bit more movement. There's discussion going on, but they will be ongoing. As far as anything in the media, I don't see anything right now.

Q. You're one of the clubs looking for some power. If you could not address that free-agency-wise, would you be opposed to using any of your young pitching to get that done?
BRUCE BOCHY: Right now, no. We don't feel like we can give up some of our young pitching, like especially in the starting role like Sánchez. That would be tough for us to do. We are looking at other ways that we could get a bat.
You have Rowand and then Ishikawa.

Q. And even with C.C. in the rotation, he's the Opening Day hitter. (Laughter.) Will you even allow yourself to fathom that you could potentially have three Cy Young Award winners in your rotation?
BRUCE BOCHY: Well, I think any manager would enjoy that thought. But that's something that we're not anywhere close to that happening right now.
You're talking about the Atlanta Braves staff back in the '90s, and that's why they won so many games.

Q. How much more, I don't know if confidence is the right word or not, but last year at this time, you guys were rebuilding; looking forward now, can this team win this division as it is right now?
BRUCE BOCHY: Well, we feel with where our division is at, that we can certainly make some noise in this division. We made a lot of improvement last year and that's what we talked about when we broke in. We wanted to get better in the second half and we did. We did play better baseball with the players that we had acquired, and we feel like we are going to be a better club.
We are going to have to -- like any club, we are going to have to execute and play the game well and on a consistent basis. Now, I think when the season starts, we'll see where all of the clubs are, and we will have a better answer. But we certainly are going to be an improved ballclub this year.

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