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October 6, 2009

Charlie Manuel


Q. Who's going to pitch tomorrow? Have you already announced that?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Starting pitcher tomorrow is Cliff Lee. He almost pitched the second game.

Q. Why did you decide it that way?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Sat down and did a lot of thinking about it. Cliff Lee couldn't pitch on the 6th day, didn't want to keep Hamels on his regular turn, and we didn't want to bring him back a day short because mostly, although we threw about 50 pitches the other day, mostly because he's over 200 innings.
We've always kind of monitored him, and we wanted him as strong and healthy as he can possibly be and wanted him in a good frame of mind. That gives us -- either one of them could probably throw the fifth game.

Q. Along those same lines, where are you picturing J.A. Happ. Are you going to have him in the bullpen tomorrow or Game 2?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Basically, yeah, basically him and Blanton will be in the bullpen, especially those first two days, because we want -- Rich Dubee now talked to him after practice, but at the same time they definitely fit in a playoff pitcher, but also, I could see them pitching late in the game for us, and they will be used the first two games. They will definitely be available to use out of the bullpen, of course.

Q. Lee has obviously pitched more innings this season than he has in his career. September hadn't been as good as it had been prior. Does that concern you going into Game 1? Obviously it didn't keep you from naming him.
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think the fact that he pitched a lot of innings. He pitched a lot of innings last year. That tells you a couple things. You make out of it what you want to. But at the same time that shows he can do it, and that shows he was a Cy Young winner throwing 247 innings.
He read the pitch, and left-handed pitchers against Colorado, to me, definitely comes into play, and I think with Lee and Hamels, I think that we've got two top-notch pitchers going into the first two games of the series.

Q. You've been around this block a few times. Because of the struggles of your starters and your bullpen, was this far and away the most difficult decision you and Ruben (Amaro) have had to make regarding your staff, and also, have you finalized your bullpen, and who's the odd man out there?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Yeah, our roster probably, I just got threw talking to Ruben, we'll probably disclose our roster after the game today, after practice today, when he can pull my guys in to talk to them, and right after that we'll probably be able to reveal our roster.
But our roster was and is -- we had some tough decisions, and like we want to set our pitching and our team up to give us the best possible chance of winning that we feel like.

Q. How ready is your team mentally after a couple days off and after giving some guys some time off from the game?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think resting is going to be real important for some of our pitchers and our regs, and I feel like we always talk about how resilient we are, and now we can bounce back. I think without a doubt we're ready to go and we're ready to play. We'll see what will come out tomorrow. I think that we're fresh and we're wanting to get it on.

Q. Would that mean that Pedro (Martinez) starts Game 3?
CHARLIE MANUEL: We just named right now -- we just got our pitching up to the first two games. We still have Pedro, Blanton, Happ, like if we want to start those guys and where we want to put them.

Q. Where is Pedro right now?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think Pedro is the guy that can sit there, and I think the rest can help him, but also I think he knows how to handle things as much as he's been around, his experience, and I think that it's very important that we keep him strong, and I think when we pitch him, he will be. He'll be ready to be able to handle everything we throw at him, really. I think he is the one guy that can make adjustments as far as his command and his knowledge of how to pitch, and the fact that he's been there before with his experience.

Q. Is he going to pitch the simulated game today or what's he doing today?
CHARLIE MANUEL: No, he's not scheduled to pitch in the simulated game. He'll throw on the side probably either today or tomorrow maybe.

Q. In the past Cliff Lee has chalked his struggles up to pitch selection and suggested that perhaps he was becoming too predictable. What in your mind does he have to do to recapture some of that great form that he displayed shortly after he arrived in Philadelphia?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think Cliff Lee is a tempo pitcher, and I think when he's really good. He gets the ball and throws it, and he's aggressive, and his command definitely is a big part of everything he does.
When I've seen him real good this year, is the fact that he can use all three of his pitches, he can use both sides of the plate, and usually when he has some problems, it might be his pitch selection, I'm not saying it's not or something, but at the same time it gets back to his command, where he's putting the ball.

Q. I take it you informed him of this decision. What did he say when you told him he'd be going in Game 1?
CHARLIE MANUEL: He said he's ready to go. He said, "I'm ready, I'll be ready. I'm looking forward to it."

Q. My question is about Happ, and if you do use him out of the pen in Game 1 or 2, even if it's for a batter or two, does that take him out of the possibility of starting Game 3?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Probably Game 3 maybe, but that doesn't mean we're not going to use him as a starter in this series. I think how we use him and how much and the importance of it, I think it's very important that we definitely win -- actually the first game is very important in a short series, and Game 2 becomes even more important if you lose it or something. But at the same time we're planning on winning it.
But how much Happ pitches in between there, we definitely can decide on what game he'll pitch. I look at Happ, Blanton, and Martinez as a guy who definitely, we can use them to definitely start games. But how we use them in the bullpen, and they will be used because like they're going to get in the game, and more likely I'm talking about later on in the game.

Q. And if I can just follow that with after a guy like Happ possibly out of the pen, Game 1, two-run lead, ninth inning, who is your closer tomorrow?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Hard to tell. I'll answer that when we get there. (Laughter). Whoever you see walking out there.

Q. Given the unsettled nature of your bullpen, how important is it that your starters give you length? Is it even more important than ever that they get you to the seventh, eighth, and even possibly later than that?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think the fact that here early in these first two games that we do have Happ and Blanton, I think we can cut the length, too. I think that definitely, like we've got both of them there, and I feel very comfortable with our starting pitching.
Of course, if they go deep in the game, that's even better for us. But at the same time, I think we can solve the length problem right there, like who we've got down there. We've got guys who can throw multiple innings, but also can pitch in the back end, too. So that should help us solve some problems.
I've still got confidence in Madson; I've got confidence in Lidge. But at the same time I think the way that we're trying to set our bullpen up and our pitching, I think that we're strong, especially for a short series.

Q. How tough of a decision was it to not go with Cole, considering what he did last year?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think actually when it really got down to it is like where we're at, and if we wanted to bring him back on a short rest or basically keep him on his routine, and I think how the series kind of sets up definitely plays a part into that.
I don't have to tell you how much I think of Hamels. I think he's one of the top pitchers in baseball. I think him and Lee has got futures ahead of them, and I think we're fortunate to have guys like them that. Cole Hamels can pitch any game he ever wants to for me, believe me. But in this situation, if it gets down to five games, I think we've got a pretty good decision between him or Lee, either one. So that makes it even more -- it's just the fact that the one and two, he's pitching a second game, and definitely because of the rest or whatever.
But also we've got a very good guy in Lee, and that's a good problem to have.

Q. Did he push at all to start Game 1?
CHARLIE MANUEL: No, not really. When I told him, he says, "Charlie, I'm ready to go, and I plan on winning the game." That's what he said to us.

Q. You were pretty loyal to Lidge all year, pretty consistent with what you said, that you don't want to lose him, et cetera. Here you are in the playoffs and you're not committing to him. Is that a departure from your philosophy?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think my philosophy, like I said all along, is to win the game, and one of the tough decisions I made is when I talked to Jamie Moyer, and things like that, and I said back to my heart versus the game. The game is more important than my heart. That's why I'm in the game. That's why I manage, believe me.
I am loyal. I think I'm very loyal, but I always tell my players when I stand up in front of them, the first priority is to win the game. And how we win the game is -- I think that that's definitely a decision that I get to make, and that's why I'm a manager.
If I'm going to be accountable and everything, I feel like I've got to -- in my mind I have to do things that put us in the best position to win a game. If I think Brad Lidge can get people out, without a doubt. I'm sure there's going to come a time when he's definitely going to be out on the mound.

Q. Pitchers can react differently to playoff situations. What leads you to believe in what you've seen in Cliff Lee that he's the type of guy that can rise to the occasion in Game 1?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think for a guy to have success he's already had, I think that kind of proves that he can pitch. I mean, I don't think you win a Cy Young award if you can't pitch a big game.
I've been around the game quite a while. I'm sure he pitched some big games somewhere along the line. And if he hasn't, he damn sure has earned the right to pitch one.

Q. That was kind of the question I was going to ask, but maybe if you can describe what he has meant to the rotation since you got him.
CHARLIE MANUEL: I thought when we first got Cliff, for about a month, maybe five weeks or something, I felt like our starting pitching was definitely the best it's been since I've been here.
Down near the stretch here, we sputtered a little bit, but at the same time I look at our starting pitching as very good. I think it's as good as any team in the National League, and I think that our starting pitching will play up big in this series.

Q. I know you're not ready to announce the roster yet, but can you maybe talk in general terms, you can either keep 11 pitchers or 12 pitchers. Whatever you decide, can you talk about your thought process into how you made that decision?
And given the fact that you have only Scott Eyre and maybe J.A. Happ on the lefties, are there guys you feel more comfortable throwing out there if you have to fake a Todd Helton with a righty?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think if you look at Colorado's lineup against lefties, against right-hand pitchers, and also their success off the bench, when they've got Giambi, Smith, they've got some guys who've been really good left-hand bats off the bench. I think any time that we can put a lefty on them, I think that that might be the best way to go. But like sometime I'm sure there will come situations that our right-handed pitchers are going to have to pitch to a left-hand hitter.
At the same time if you go back and look at the team, their bench is mostly their power, mostly comes from the left side. It's always good to be able to put a left-hander on that left-handed hitter if that's his weakness. That wagers in, of course. But at the same time, our roster is set up like it's the best way for us to go and the strongest we can get our team to be, that's going to be how we basically set up our roster.

Q. During the regular season, pitchers seemed to have a pretty well-defined role. They know basically when they're going to pitch and in what situations. When it comes to playoffs and how things are still a little unclear, how they're going to unfold, do you find that that can make it a little more difficult for the pitchers to know, and do you just figure that's just all out the window, it's playoff time, I'm ready whenever you need me at a moment's notice?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think, first of all, the role, when you start a season, I think it is important for a guy to know his role and kind of limit it, but at the same time sometime after the first pitch is thrown or the first inning or second inning, all of a sudden they get a different role during that game anyway. Somewhere down along the line, you don't really stick to that specific role. And I think that in the postseason when you're trying to win the game and you're trying to get outs, I think it is different.
But at the same time, I look at it with pitchers, if someone says that it bothered them because they were taken out of the role, or they were put into a different role, for myself personally, I would never say that because I think that would be a crutch. I think for me to hand you the ball, like I guess I'm an old school guy, probably always will be. But we've got a job to do, and we've got to go do it. If you were called upon to get somebody out of a situation, that's kind of how I look at it.
And yet you want to put a guy in a very comfortable role, I think putting a guy and keeping him in his comfort zone and everything, I think that's probably what it's all about, too. And believe me, we will try to do those things. But at the same time, sometimes like we're out there to win the game.

Q. Is it fair to assume that if you don't have to use Happ or Blanton out of the bullpen, or don't have to get them up a lot, that you envision them as your three and four starters in some order?
CHARLIE MANUEL: In some order. I definitely look at them as starters, and there's a good chance that -- there's a big chance that they'll start. It just kind of depends on how things go.

Q. How concerned are you about Lidge's psyche at this point, and if you use Happ and/or Blanton out of the pen, is it possible you'd let them pitch the ninth inning if they're cruising?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think Brad, I think his confidence definitely has gotten better and things.
But I also, when I look at Brad and Ryan Madson, and I look at Happ and Blanton, I think that I want to use them for the best way to win the game, if that makes sense. I think Madson is definitely very capable of closing games out. He's done that, and of course Lidge has, too.
At the same time with Blanton and Happ, I think we've got -- we pretty much can cover the back end. If we have to match up, we'll do that. As long as we win the game, that's kind of what we're going after.

Q. When you played these guys last time, obviously a different manager, people praised him. He was a big star of that postseason. In your view as manager, does the relationship have to change somewhat or at least evolve, differ as you spend more and more time with the same core group?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think the more time you spend, yeah, I think those are the changes that take place. I think that's kind of -- I think a manager gets to know his player, and I think the players get to know the manager, and the way he communicates and everything about the players and the manager comes into focus.
I think a manager to a certain degree, he definitely sets the tone for the atmosphere and the attitude, things like that, and to get the guys to play, if that's what it is, if you got them to play or whatever, I think that that might be part of it.
But I think the biggest thing it seems like Tracy has done is definitely they kind of enjoy playing and they like to play and they get after it and they're happy, so they go out there and they just go all out and try to win every game that they possibly play.
They probably have the same kind of philosophy they have. They love to play baseball, and that's a tribute to the players, and I'm sure the manager probably feels the same way.

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