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October 7, 2009

Jim Tracy


Q. How would you go and evaluate Jayson Werth's contribution to the team as it relates to some of the more well known guys there? And having managed him with the Dodgers, are you surprised or pleased at how his career has evolved?
JIM TRACY: Actually, I'm pleased. He's a terrific human being, and I can honestly tell you that a very special season that I had as the manager of the Dodgers in 2004 doesn't happen if Jayson Werth is not a part of that.
We knew back then that he was a very talented player, and we started slowly and we didn't give him too much. He was terrific against left-handed pitching back in the day, and obviously he's gotten pretty dog gone good against right-handed pitching, also. But we just kept feeding him a little bit of rope at a time, and sooner or later he grabbed a hold of all of it. He's a special person, and he's a special player. He's a very good defensive player that back in the day we were using him in any of the outfield positions, that's how talented he was. I believe drafted and signed as a catcher, if I'm not mistaken. Tremendous power, good outfielder good throwing arm, good base runner, a base stealer. He brings a lot to the table.

Q. It didn't sound like your Game 1 and Game 2 starting pitchers was a big question for you. Can you just talk about Cook a little bit and when you knew he was okay physically?
JIM TRACY: Well, both starts that he's had -- obviously he's had two starts since the 21st of August, and the first one I thought he maximized the number of pitches that he had as well as you could do.
But then when I saw the start last Thursday against the Milwaukee Brewers, it was the Aaron Cook that we have -- as the Rockies have grown accustomed to seeing when he's on his game in that manner. Tremendous sinker, great competitor.
These two guys that we have pitching today and tomorrow are the two guys that you would definitely want involved, very definitely want involved in a short series, because both guys are very capable that when they get on a roll, and what I mean by that, they're in the strike zone, they're competing very well on both sides of the plate, they're throwing strikes, they're quality strikes early in the count, and it opens the door for them to do other things with their secondary pitches. They can really, really be tough, either guy.

Q. Could you talk about the young guys at the top of the order, as you were talking about Jayson Werth, you've fed them slowly and now you feel they're ready to start?
JIM TRACY: Oh, they're ready to start, and moving forward, the future, not only as far as the two players are concerned but the organization itself, when you have the type of talent that Carlos Gonzalez and Dexter Fowler possess, you're looking at special things happening and the capability of special things happening on a day in, day out basis for years to come. You know, we're talking about, I believe, one's 23, the other is 22, and they're both five-tool, capable players. Not many teams can boast about that.
The key to both guys will be a matter of consistency, and I think if you leave well enough alone for a period of time, and as you just mentioned Thomas, and as you suggested as to what I said with regard to Jayson Werth, when you allow a young player to become who he's capable of becoming, you have to take the bitter with the sweet sometimes. You know there's going to be some lull periods, but you have to patiently deal with that, and know when it becomes a finished product it has a chance to be something very special. And both of these guys have exactly that.

Q. Could you please talk a little bit about the contributions that Yorvit Torrealba does for your team, both as a catcher and as a hitter?
JIM TRACY: I certainly can. He is back there really because of contributions that he's made for us in both phases as far as the offensive and the defensive side of things. There's quite a trust factor with our pitchers with regard to him. He's a tremendous game caller. He has stepped up in a big, big way, this guy.
The time of the year that we're in right now, really actually going back to the middle of August, the games that we played in that were -- when I say playoff caliber, we feel like we've been playing playoff caliber type games for the better part of five weeks now. You can look at any number of games.
And in the case of Yorvit Torrealba, aside from what he's done for us from the standpoint of dealing with and handling our pitching staff, I believe he doubled his RBI production in the month of September from where he was at from April through August.
And I think another thing that you have to give him an awful lot of credit for that none of us here can understand what might be going through one's mind and where it would go from there once you do get resolution to it is losing his son for a period of time via kidnappers in Venezuela.
To come back and perform in the manner in which he has, I think it tells you an awful lot about the individual and who he is, not only as a baseball player but as a person, also.

Q. Cole Hamels was in here a few minutes ago and talking about the Phillies, you guys playing two day games in a row, and he thought it was unfair that the Phillies, as defending world champions, were forced to play two day games in a row. He says the players are more comfortable playing night games and he understands they're doing it because of TV ratings, but he says the players only care about winning. Do you have any thoughts on that at all, playing two day games?
JIM TRACY: Well, I don't get too overly involved in it because the schedule makers, they're not going to ask me my opinion as to what would you rather do. But I can certainly understand Cole's point.
And you just really said it all from the standpoint that, as I was mentioning in here with a couple of questions yesterday, this is a very good team. They are the defending world champions. So you know, they obviously have a right to an opinion as to what you were just suggesting to me.
But as far as me weighing in and saying, well, I would have rather done this or I would have rather done that, believe me, at 18 and 28 back on the 20th of May, I'm tickled to death that we've got a game to play. I really don't care what time it starts.

Q. The wind today is quite something out there; the flags are completely headed to right field. I know you guys play in a place in which weather can be a problem, different types of weather. How do you go about kind of showing your outfielders specifically, maybe even infielders, how to deal with wind like this? Is there anything to talk about when it comes to that?
JIM TRACY: Not a whole lot beyond the fact of what you just mentioned. First of all, they've got eyes, and they'll see those same flags that you were mentioning standing straight up, and making sure obviously what direction that it's blowing in and/or if, in fact, is it blowing in one direction and is it going to be swirling, be mindful of that.
But my experience here at Citizens Bank Park is if the wind is blowing that strongly towards right field and a ball gets barrelled up and is hit halfway decently towards right field, there's a chance that it won't stay in the park. But you do have to be conscious of some of those things that I just mentioned.

Q. You mentioned a few minutes ago how you guys have been playing like playoff caliber type of games for the last month or two; whereas the Phillies have kind of -- I don't want to say cruised into the playoffs, but they didn't have to face nearly as much pressure as you guys did. Does that make a difference, do you think, going into a short series like this, the fact that you guys have played all these type of games like over the last month or so?
JIM TRACY: I think if you were very, very new to it and you cruised in like you mentioned, then maybe there might be something to that. But this is, as I said yesterday, a veteran team that we're playing against. They completely understand pressure and everything it's all about. They're the defending champions as I mentioned more than once since yesterday. They understand this whole situation. They understand the arena, the environment. None of that stuff will bother them. And they have a roster of guys that experienced something very special a year ago. Like I said, they know what this is all about.

Q. Getting back to the question about the youngsters, Carlos Gonzalez, Dexter and even Ubaldo, guys who are potential future stars, how do you think they're going to handle the moment now, the big stage now, as they start this series?
JIM TRACY: I think that's a great question, and I'm not trying to avoid the question by answering it in this manner. I'm not sure. I think that's one of the things that's going to be very, very interesting as this series unfolds is how are they going to respond at this earliest stage in their career. And I think Ubaldo had a little taste of it in 2007, but the other two kids have not.
Personally I don't think it's going to bother them because of what I was talking about a few moments ago in that, you know, you take the game that we played in San Francisco, that Thursday night, I don't think that from a stress standpoint, I don't think you can be tested much greater than that.
The Cardinals series, the ten-game stretch where we played ten games between the Dodgers and the Giants, feeling the Atlanta Braves coming in the manner in which they did toward the latter part of the season and knowing that you don't have any chances to stub your toes or they're going to be one game closer. That's going to be the result at the end of the night.
That's what I want to think, but youth is an interesting thing, and how they respond will be -- I think it'll go a long way in determining actually how well we play. I'm not putting any additional pressure on them. They're kids, but they're a very integral part of what we do, and certain things that they afford us to be able to do because of what they bring to the table and obviously their defensive skills. They're very, very special people as far as our defensive scheme of things.

Q. Could you please talk about the importance of Franklin Morales in this series, especially in light of the challenges that he faced in his last few outings?
JIM TRACY: He's an important piece. There's no doubt about that, due to the fact of the significant, significant left-handed hitting that the Phillies have. But he's not the only guy sitting down there. Joe Beimel is a guy, also, that has had some success against some of their left-handed hitters.
I've been asked that question more than once here over the last several days, but the trust factor that we have in Franklin, and the understanding that just what Patrick was mentioning with regard to the two kids at the top of our lineup, we have to bear in mind the fact that this is also -- this is a young kid, and some of this stuff is very new to him.
But when we lost Huston Street for two weeks, we had the confidence in saying that we're going to need three outs in the ninth inning, by the way, Street is not going to be available for the next three weeks, and he stepped up and did a tremendous job.
The one thing you know about youth is they'll step back every once in a while before they take other major steps forward, and that's exactly what Franklin has been doing. As you just mentioned, here as of late, he's taken a little bit of a step back. But normally when he does things like that, the next step that he takes, which appears to be a step, ends up being a leap. He's very good and he's very capable, and if he throws the ball over the plate, he's got a real good chance to get you out, because at 97, 98 miles an hour it's very hard to hit if it's over the plate.

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