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October 8, 2009

Jim Tracy


Colorado 5
Philadelphia 4

Q. Can you talk about the thinking that went into flip flopping the top of your lineup there, moving Fowler to 2 and González to leadoff?
JIM TRACY: You know, I think after what you saw today and not so much from Carlos, but certainly from Dexter and the way they performed, both of them, González has performed extremely well in both games.
But Dexter yesterday looked like a 22-year-old kid that has never seen a pitch in AAA and certainly hasn't seen 47,000 white towels being spun in a circle, and I just felt like to flip-flop the two of them and put him in a position to kind of help relax him a little bit, and if a situational opportunity came up like it did in the first inning to allow him to put a bunt down and do some things like that, that it might ease him up a little bit.
Fortunately for us, that scenario presented itself after the González stolen base. But what a difference for a young kid from day one to day two, and in both their cases we have -- from the first two guys, two kids, two just young studs that have quite a future in this game at the Major League level. Three hits from the leadoff guy, two sacrifice flies from Fowler, a terrific sacrifice bunt in the first inning. They came up very, very big today, both of them.

Q. A follow-up, especially on Dexter. I think both sacs were on two strikes.
JIM TRACY: They were.

Q. Would he have come through in that situation let's say back in June or July?
JIM TRACY: It would have probably been very difficult for him, and you've heard me talk innumerable times about the patience that you have to have with a young player, not only from an encouragement standpoint but from a teaching standpoint.
You know, he played today with the poise of a veteran player. You know, I give some credit, too, to our guy on the bench in Jason Giambi and that he and I had a conversation behind the cage early this afternoon when we were taking batting practice where he basically huddled up all the kids that we had involved yesterday that had never been involved in the postseason, and Jason's message to them was, okay, now you've been in the postseason, so now let's get back to being who you are.
But you know, the other thing I thought was really unique, Tracy Ringolsby and I were just talking about that as we were talking down here, the second sacrifice fly that he hit off of Scotty Eyre stays with the pitch and hits the ball to right field and doesn't roll over the ball, and the question that you just asked, I'll guarantee you back in May or June that might have been a ground ball to shortstop. But today it's a fly ball to right field.
I mean, let's face it, we would have liked to have gotten more, obviously. This is such a potent offense that we're dealing with, and we lived on the edge today. We had the bases loaded in the seventh inning, we had the bases loaded in the eighth inning, and we got one run out of the two situations.
We were obviously in a good position where a base hit opens the game up, and it didn't happen. We got the one run, but then now obviously on their bench Matt Stairs comes in to play big-time, and as they were trying to rally, you're a hitter away from Chase Utley. I'm not saying you can't win, but you're certainly putting yourself in harm's way because this is the type of offense that they take a swing at a bad pitch, they've got more than one guy in that lineup obviously that's capable of hitting it a long way.

Q. What does it say for José Contreras that he would be the first guy you brought in to protect the lead when things got tight? And secondly, how important and how big of a pitch was that, the one he ran in on Ruiz' hands?
JIM TRACY: You know, José has done a tremendous job for us since he came over from the White Sox, and when I say tinkering a little bit, when he had the situation with his right quad and we weren't able to start him, we brought him along slowly. Keith Dugger, our head trainer, talked to me about the fact that you can have a little bit of him, and I thought, if we can have only a little bit, then maybe it's sensible for us if we find the right situation early on to try him out of the bullpen and see where it goes.
Quite frankly I feel like not only now but moving forward, we may have found something that's very intriguing because he's a power arm with a tremendous split, and obviously as you just mentioned has the capability to throw a ball inside and blow a bat up. I thought he did a tremendous job. You know, Ibañez got the hit to make it 4 to 3 and then he turns around and gets the double-play ball. Obviously the thought process, get the inning put down and not be trailing.
And fortunately for us, we were ahead, because it became very apparent that Aaron was running out of gas because in the first five innings all you saw were infielders making plays. The outfielders were not very busy at all. The ball started to hit to the outfield, and we had to make a move. He did a terrific job. He's been a nice addition.

Q. If I can ask one follow-up on that, I don't know if you've been involved in any of these situations, nothing comes to me off the top of my head, but Cuban pitchers this time of the year going back probably to Luis Tiant, the two Hernándezes, have really done well in October. Any reason why that would be?
JIM TRACY: That would be a tough one for me to speculate on. I guess maybe one direction I would take with you is possibly the fact that that's all they do is play baseball. When I say there isn't any real season for them, their season is January through December 31st it has seemed like to me. So staying fresh and being able to do some of the things they do in the month of October like you suggested may be a possibility. I don't know if that's the right answer or not.

Q. Yorvit talked about how difficult it was not only to see the ball when he was hitting but also seeing the ball catching. How do you adjust your hitting in those circumstances?
JIM TRACY: It's not a real easy thing to do. You know, as a result of what they were talking about and you just suggested, unfortunately the opportunity didn't come up. There's a lot of thoughts that you have going in to start a game, but sometimes it doesn't unfold in front of you the way you want it to so you can implement the thought process you have.
I was really looking to try to do something yesterday like we did today in the first inning because of exactly what you just said. Try to get a lead, knowing that the shadows are coming by the third inning, and it's going to become very, very difficult to hit.
You know, is it going to stay that way the whole game? No, as you saw today, by the seventh inning it's starting to get somewhat dusk, so to speak, and now the lights come into play and you can see a lot better. But it definitely made it difficult. The fourth, fifth and sixth inning, if you're a hitter on either side, extremely difficult to hit.

Q. The old 1:00 p.m. start is better, get in two hours or so first?
JIM TRACY: I don't make the times. I don't make the times.

Q. It kind of evens out late in the game, though.
JIM TRACY: It does. In the seventh inning I don't think you can sit around and talk about, well, seeing the ball was a tough thing or something like that. It was a non-factor by the seventh inning.

Q. Can you talk about the way you used Rafael Betancourt today? You went, I believe, two lefties first before the home run?
JIM TRACY: When we had a two-run lead, and there's been questions asked of me here over the course of the last few days or so about where are you at with Franklin Morales, I did not want to put Rafael Betancourt in a situation -- we're ahead. This is a scenario for me where a base on balls could potentially be an absolute killer for you and negate the fact of having a guy that is, as you know, our legitimate eighth-inning guy. So you know Rafael Betancourt is going to throw strikes. I think it's very safe to say that he is going to pound the strike zone.
I was not going to negate that situation and put him in a position where now he has to inherit runners. I turned around and told Bobby, I want Betancourt. If he's going to make a mess, let him make his own mess. Reliability right there, complete 100 percent reliability was very important to me, especially where we were at and the score of the game.

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