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October 12, 2009

Jim Tracy


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Jim Tracy.

Q. Jim, I don't know if you got a chance to look at replay of the ball that kicked up and hit Utley, but did you -- after looking at it or on original -- when it actually happened, do you feel that that was something they should have seen or someone should have seen?
JIM TRACY: You know, I was asked that question last night. When you see the hitter react in the manner in which he did, you know, Chase started running towards first base. It was very, very obscure. I really believe that.
You know, once again, rather than get into a long dissertation about this, that's not what beat us. That's not why we got beat, okay?
When you walk eight guys in a game against a lineup like that and yet still do some miraculous things from your bullpen because all of a sudden what looked to be like a lengthy start for your starter turns into a three-and-two-thirds-inning outing, and now you have to piece it together with an out left to go in the fourth inning all the way through the ninth, and actually held a better position than they did in the bottom half of the seventh with first and third and nobody out in the middle of our order coming up and a left-handed pitcher who just sprained his ankle or whatever he did, you know, I don't want to sit and just -- whether it hit him, didn't hit him, whether he's safe at first, out at first, that's not why we lost.

Q. How do you react when Jerry admits he blew the call?
JIM TRACY: You take it another 90 feet and ask yourself the question, well, what took place at first base too, because obviously from where I sat in the dugout I thought there was a strong chance he was out at first, even when we picked the ball up and throw it to first base, which changes the dynamics of the way we handle the next two hitters and that one gets walked and the next guy gets pitched to.
We didn't get to that point.

Q. How do you get -- is there anything you can do to get too low and Todd Helton going, looked like they had a few swings, got a couple of RBIs, what do you do to get them going?
JIM TRACY: These are guys that have gotten you to this point. As I said in here last night, going back to the seventh inning that I was just mentioning with regard to the first question, he just missed that ball. If he did anything, he swung at the ball just a click too soon.
That's a three-run home run, but it ended up being a sacrifice fly, and then he also had a pitch to hit. He got a pitch to swing at. Believe me, he got a pitch to swing at with the one-ball-no-strike count with the two guys on in the bottom of the ninth inning.
He got a pitch to swing at, a fastball and it's in a good part of the plate and maybe fired a little too hard at that one. And we didn't need it to go too far, believe me, as I was mentioning.
With the two guys we had on base and the popup that he did hit, at the time that Francisco caught that ball in left field to end the game, Eric Young, Jr., was around third.
We needed a ball if, in fact, you know -- ifs and buts were candy and nuts, I guess. But if he hits a ball that forces the center fielder and either corner outfielder to have to take that 45-degree angle to cut the ball off, our runner from first was going to score. He was going to score. We would have won the game.

Q. When you have a call like last night, a number of guys did discuss it, is it something that you feel you would need to address with the ball club, or do you feel --
JIM TRACY: I think we need to move on. I think that was yesterday. We can't do a damn thing about it. You know what we can do better is, you know, there's other things we can do better rather than sit here and belabor the point about umpiring and this that and whatever. We can walk less people.
You know, when we have opportunities with runners on base, we could take that add-on hit or get that add-on hit and then we won't be discussing this. We won't be discussing this as much as we are.
Last night was -- going back to Game No. 2, last night was the third time in the last two ball games where in Game 2 we end up winning the ball game 5-4. We had runners, bases loaded in the seventh inning and the eighth inning, or the eighth and the ninth.
But two innings in a row in the latter stages of the game we had the bases loaded twice. We came away with one run. We got one point.
Last night another situation, first and third with nobody out and we're going through the middle of our order and we got one run. We got a sacrifice fly. And we have shown and we've done it more than once during the course of since -- let's go back and just say since the beginning of the season, back in April, we have an offense that in those given situations that I just described, there's been more than one occasion where we've come away from innings like that with just more than one run.
We had great opportunity last night offensively, and to me in circumstances that you would not have thought, because of where we were at so early in the game with our bullpen and how far we had to go with it and to be in the position that we were in. Obviously several people got the job done.
But the base on balls, you guys, they also hurt. We're talking about offense. But base on balls with a lineup like this is going to put you in a bad spot. They're going to make you pay for it, because they're good enough as it is.
And you create additional opportunity for them by going ahead and setting the stage for them and now here comes some of those guys through the middle of their order, it's not going to be too often that you're going to come away with that and put a zero up there when you create opportunity like that for an offense like this.

Q. I haven't seen your lineup, but will Torrealba stay in the five hole --
JIM TRACY: No, Atkins is hitting fifth. Torrealba is hitting sixth. Smith is hitting seventh. And everything else is the same.

Q. Jim, a question about -- you mentioned the bullpen. What kind of shape is it in going into tonight's game? Second part of that question, what's the status of Jason Marquis right now? I understand why you didn't start him. Any thoughts of using him as a bullpen or if you move forward moving him back into the rotation?
JIM TRACY: The answer is yes on both ends. You were asking about the state of the bullpen. We obviously have a very special guy going out there for the second time around in this series in Ubaldo. We used a lot of pitching last night.
We still have -- there are two guys down there that didn't warm up -- or I shouldn't say that. One of them didn't in Jason, but Matt Daley did warm up. Neither guys were used in the game.
When you look at the different pitchers we used, are we in good shape in the bullpen? We're in very good shape. We used Beimel to get Ryan out, three pitches, or two, or was it a first-pitch swing -- was it the first pitch? First-pitch swing from him. One pitch from him. Morales disposed of his inning very, very quickly. Betancourt obviously got tested with some pitches, as did Huston Street. Both of them had stressful innings, but those are your eighth- and ninth-inning guys. Can they pitch two days in a row? They've been doing it all year. I don't see any problem with our bullpen.
As far as Jason Marquis is concerned, we've used him obviously the one inning thus far in this series.
The leash, so to speak, it's short. It has been short with any guy. It was proven last night. If Ubaldo doesn't have it, we have to go in a different direction. At this point in time Jason Marquis makes a lot of sense because it's a fresh arm down there and can be used.
If you're fortunate enough to be able to start him clean rather than have him inherit traffic, would you try to do it that way. Would he be a guy if we're fortunate to win these next two ball games and advance to the League Championship Series, is he a guy that you talk about? Certainly you do, because he's had a lot of success against the Los Angeles Dodgers and had one game already this year where he threw 86 pitches and finished a game. So, yes.

Q. Talk about going with the guys that got you here and Atkins and Smith have definitely played a big part in getting here. But how hard has it been not to use somebody like Ian Stewart who started the majority of the games at third this year and not being able to rely on Brad Hawpe for right field?
JIM TRACY: That's baseball. That's something that you deal with. Has it been done by design not to use Ian Stewart, you guys have seen more of it than I have over the last few years.
But I have seen it from the other dugout over the last several years. But the hitter that we saw last night in Garrett Atkins looked an awful lot like a guy who has driven in over 100 runs three out of the last four years.
You're going to continue to explore that. Because his bat makes an awful lot of sense if he's swinging it like he did last night against a left-hand starter. That's no disrespect against Ian Stewart; it's just the way this guy is swinging the bat.
You're in a situation now where you've got to put what you feel lineup-wise gives you the best opportunity to score runs. Hitting, like I've said all year long, it goes up and down like this.
If you happen to be in a valley and we're playing in a game where we're facing the ace of their staff and we need to feel like we've got a competent offense out there that's going to give us a chance to score some runs, you put the names on the card that make the most sense to do that today.
Two weeks ago it could be a completely different group or they're hitting at a different spot, but not too different a spot because I haven't done a whole lot of that since the end of May.

Q. You said earlier in the season Carlos Gonzalez was a star in the making. Are most people seeing that in the post-season right now?
JIM TRACY: If they're watching the game with their eyes open, I certainly hope so. We've had a lot of discussion about Carlos. And the biggest thing that I learned over the years working for a couple of very special managers at the Major League level is the word patience. And I've talked endlessly to you guys about a player of this stature, that it is human nature maybe to get a little bit impatient when you see all the natural physical ability that he possesses.
But as I've been told more than once over the years, the offense is the last thing to show up. And this is a kid that's 22 years of age that's beginning to ripen on the vine big time.
We have a very, very special player on our hands. Just like Dexter Fowler is a very, very special player. We've got a lot of young players on this team that have blossomed. And what's really great for us, I think, is the fact that this playoff series has only helped to enhance that.
You can play four games in an environment like the ones that we've been in between here and Philadelphia, and you can have a 22- or 23-year-old kid grow up in a hurry. But you have to give yourself the opportunity to expose him to it, which is what we have done. And now they've taken another major step forward. We had 10 hits last night and the two kids had five of them. They were on base an awful lot last night.

Q. With Barmes obviously not doing offensively what you had hoped, is it a consideration to put someone like Stewart at that spot, or are you waiting for Clint to just come out of it and then you'll have a nice bat near the bottom of the order?
JIM TRACY: We've won a lot of games since the 29th of May because I have put an awful lot of emphasis not only here but in other places I've been managing, in that if you're going to be a good Major League team, the strength of your defense through the gut of your field is very, very important. Extremely important.
Now add on to it the type of offense we're dealing with and the ball's in play quite a bit and you get about maybe one chance in games of this magnitude to mishandle the ball and it can cost you.
Barmes took a couple of swings last night. Drove a ball. Drove Victorino back to the wall last night dead center field, hit it more right at him. We tried to play hit-and-run with him once. We know who this player is. And he's not the reason why we're playing today and trying to force a Game 5.
What he's done offensively, what we get from him offensively right now we'll take it because he's going to win an awful lot of games with that glove, and I'm not going to take any chances on having to come in here and talk to you guys about if we would have been a little stronger in the middle of the field defensively or had a little bit more range, we would have caught this ball, that ball, and quite possibly could have won the game. He's going to play.

Q. Huston Street has dealt with a lot of traffic in the last two games. What have you seen out of him and do you have any concerns there?
JIM TRACY: No, I don't have any concerns. I think that's more of an adjustment that the individual needs to make, because what you're referring to, case in point, last night the traffic got started simply because he threw ball one to Jimmy Rollins and then went boom, boom, strike one, strike two, and then got himself in a position where he was not making his two-strike pitches to force swings and the count got to full and put himself in a position where obviously -- give him credit for the fact that he did not -- he realized where he was at and was not going to walk Jimmy Rollins, but obviously eliminated the guesswork.
And Jimmy Rollins took a very professional at-bat just like they do up and down their lineup and very much makes you realize that these players that the Phillies have and the success that this group of players in their clubhouse have had over the last couple of years, they're very mindful of where they're at. They're very mindful of one another.
They know how to play in games like this. They know how to take professional at-bats. Rollins gets to 3-2 and then more than likely is aware of the fact he's going to get a fastball. Doesn't try to do too much with it. Just squares the ball up, puts it on the barrel, hits it through the middle of the field and here you go, come Shane Victorino, what are they going to do with him. There's all kinds of possibilities. Are they going to bunt him? Would they try hit-and-run? Is Rollins going to still?
It just opens up the door for traffic to be created because now if he does get to second base like he did, you start having to pick your spots as to asking yourself the question if we're going to get beat, who in that lineup are you going to give the opportunity to do so.
If we would have been out at first base in the ninth inning, obviously Ryan Howard wouldn't have had a chance to hit the sacrifice fly. There would have been two outs and Jayson Werth would have gotten the opportunity to get a two-out hit and beat us. It didn't work out that way.
What we've seen of Huston, he's been so good and so aggressive all year long, and when he gets to two strikes and he commits to a pitch, he makes the pitch. But he hasn't been doing that as well as he did during the course of the year these last couple times he's been out there in Game 2 and 3. That's the only difference.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Jim.

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