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October 14, 2009

Charlie Manuel


Q. I guess I'll throw out the first rotation question. I assume Hamels is in Game 1. Is that accurate?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Hamels is in Game 1, and probably we'll announce our rotation for at least a couple games after we decide exactly what our roster is going to be. That will be sometime maybe before we leave today or probably more likely in the morning. But we need to talk to some players first.

Q. Is Chan Ho Park physically ready to pitch?
CHARLIE MANUEL: From everything that they say and the way that he was throwing the ball in Florida, he's ready to go. He's ready to pitch. They felt like he's 100 percent.

Q. With the depth, the quality of their bullpen, the way they can match up or go innings, what kind of challenge does that present both to your guys and to you tactically?
CHARLIE MANUEL: That's a big challenge, and I think the fact that who they got down there, they have three left-handed pitchers, they have -- all three of their left-handed pitchers are like big stuff pitchers. They're very good. And then they got Boston at the end. Yeah, I mean, that's a concern.
And basically once they get to those guys, that gives them a big, big chance. But at the same time for us to win the game, we're going to have to hit them. If they do a job on us, then it's going to be tough for us. But that's what baseball is all about, and that's what our guys -- that's how they look at it. We're going to have to get some big hits off some of that big pitching.

Q. At times this year this Hamels, there was discussion we thought we were past, like controlling emotions, not making it too big for the situation. Has he done that, or do you still see -- is that still part of your conversation with him?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Yeah, I think Hamels can pitch anywhere, any day, any time. I think just because he loses a game or something, I've come to the conclusion that he has that kind of mentality, and he has that kind of fight about him and desire and determination. I look at him -- his season has been kind of -- actually been very hard to really explain it to you, because he has a short winter, he goes to spring training, and a week before coming out of spring training he has elbow problems, and then he had a little soreness in his shoulder, and then he finally -- we finally get him on the mound to pitch, and he turns his ankle. And then the next time out when he pitches he gets hit by a line drive on his pitching arm.
It seems like something is always kind of happening to him. If you go back and look, even some of those games where he gets beat and he gives up three or four or five runs in one inning, I know twice or maybe three times we had two outs, and he'll be sailing along with no hits, and all of a sudden the pitcher bloops a ball in and he can't get out of an inning and there's four or five runs and he can't shut the inning down, and that's not a typical Cole Hamels game, and we end up losing the game. This seemed like a year where strange things happen to him.
Last time that we played here in Dodger Stadium he pitched a heck of a game. I'm not concerned about how good he can pitch, because I know he's very capable of it. It's kind of like I told you about those guys at the back end of their bullpen, if they want to beat Cole, then they're going to have to get some hits and score some runs off of him, because he's still that kind of a pitcher.

Q. Going back to Kuo and Sherrill and their bullpen and maybe some of the lefty starters they'll throw at you, you used the same lineup in all four games of the Division Series. At times you've moved Werth around to kind of take advantage of his bat. Could you see yourself doing something similar this series, or do you think you're going to stick with what's been working for you?
CHARLIE MANUEL: More than likely we'll stick with what works for us. But on a certain day, I don't know if you remember last year here, Victorino hit a big home run for us over here, and he was hitting like sixth in the lineup that day. There's things I do. This year I have hit Utley second sometimes. There's some things I could do to kind of split it up.
But at the same time, we've been playing real good, and with Werth hitting fifth, we don't have Utley, Howard Ibanez all together, but at the same time, left-handed pitchers three years ago in Colorado, their left-handers, their starters and their relief pitchers, they shut us down pretty good. And that's part of the game.
But the way I see it, we can -- I can maneuver a lineup if it's necessary, but right now I'll wait and see how we play for the next couple of days.

Q. A Ryan Howard question. It seems statistically that he kind of keeps getting better and better each round of his postseason. Take us back to 2007 and compare this Howard to that guy in terms of his approach, mentality.
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think you're looking at a more experienced, especially in playoffs, and the fact that we won the World Series last year, and he's been in more big games, he's been in more big situations. Sometimes we talk about -- especially when he's not hitting good, and you look up, and his numbers are off the chart. And the way he hits from the seventh inning speaks for itself. That shows you a guy that can hit in the clutch or get the big hit for you.
I can't say enough about him. I mean, he's better probably than we even think he is because if you go back and look at things he did in the games, it kind of speaks for itself. He wants to be there, and he loves to play.
He's also the kind of guy, we don't talk about him very much, but he plays every day, and this year I've seen him get hit twice, he got hit one night and he got hit the second night in the same place, and he didn't say a word about it. I walked by him one day, Ryan, can I talk to you, he says, you're not saying nothing, I want to play. I wasn't going to ask him how he felt, but he was going to tell me right away.
He goes out there and plays every day, and if you go back and look, you don't see many guys that play every day; there's something to be said about that. Believe me, I like everything about him. He's a tremendous hitter, and I think him wanting to be there is going to help him. And at the same time, they're going to throw some left handed pitching at him, and they're going to throw some at Utley, Ibanez and all those guys, but we've got to handle them. We've got to do good enough to beat them, so that's how I look at it.

Q. Can you talk about the added power we've seen from Jayson Werth this season compared to last year and what that's meant for your offense?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Jayson Werth, ever since he came to Philly, he's been getting better. This is the first year that he's really started from day one and played on a regular basis. He's gotten better each year, and I think the numbers that he sees, to me -- that you see, to me he's more capable. I think he can even do better, because I think he's getting more consistent in his at-bats and his pitch selection and things. And as long as he stays in what I call a strong, balanced hitting position, this guy, he is legit, man. He's got a lot of power, and he hits the ball all over the field. He's got pull power, and he can hit the ball to right field, center field, and he's developed into a very tremendous right fielder. He's been a big addition to our team, and he plays a big part in our success, of course.

Q. How would you describe Jimmy Rollins' season, and what are you seeing right now out of him?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Jimmy got off to a slow start, and actually -- Jimmy, we went to spring training, Jimmy had a short spring. People forget about that. I'm one of these guys, I'm always big on playing time in spring training. When we go to spring training, I look for somebody that should get anywhere from 70 to 80, 85 at-bats.
Jimmy Rollins played in that World Baseball Classic, and he did real good. He got a bunch of hits, and he hit real well in that. And he come back from spring training -- to spring training, everybody was talking about, he's ready to go, blah blah blah, this and that, get the season started. And he started slow. He got off to a real bad start. I mean, he was down.
Of course we started doing some things, and finally I set him down for four or five days, and every day when he came to the ballpark I'd hit him down and talk to him, and he probably got tired of me talking to him, and that's probably why he started hitting. (Laughter).
Anyway, I wanted him to get away from the game for a while and get it off his mind. I don't have to tell you he's a tremendous player. He's a great player. He's got loads of talent, and when he hits good, he's got a short, quick swing. Basically this year he chased a lot of slow stuff out of the strike zone, also high fastballs, and he finally worked on it and found his swing. The second part of the season he's been tremendous. He's played real well, and if you look up, what's he got, 21 homers? He's got how many RBI's -- his RBI's and his runs scored and his home run total, things like extra base hits are up.
At the same time I look at Jimmy as a guy who's definitely capable of hitting .300. Overall if I was to sit here and have to evaluate his season now, I'd say that he ended pretty good. He got off slow, but he ended the season real well. The second part of the season he definitely played a big part on our club.

Q. A two-part question. I know going into the last series, the bullpen was a little bit of uncertainty. Do you feel a little bit better about the bullpen going into this series? And then the second part, I know going into the last series you had both Happ and Blanton available out of the bullpen. Are you going to do something similar?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I look at our bullpen, and I have a lot of faith in our bullpen because I think that we have a lot of talent, especially at the end of the game. I think we have guys who are capable with their stuff of getting anybody out, really. I think we struggled -- I think from day one, we had injuries in our bullpen from the moment the season started all the way up to right now. We've had to kind of match up and shuffle some things and take guys out of their comfort zone or their roles, and things have worked pretty good for us.
But also that goes to show you how good a team we actually have. We've had guys like Brad who suggest would at times, of course, and I think right now that he's very -- he's getting his confidence back, and he's more relaxed than he has been. And he's been pitching much better.
Now, I think how we've used him and how -- the patience that we've had with him, and also the fact that when he does pitch good, he's always had some time off, and I think that's been real good to him because he can sit and think about it all, and I think he's ready to definitely step up in our bullpen.
But at the same time, I also look at our bullpen as -- I like the way that we've been using it and the idea that we can match up or basically do what we want to with it. I don't want to sit here today and say one guy is going to be the closer on our team yet. I don't feel like I have to do that. I feel like our guys on our team accept when I'm going to put them in the game, and Madson and Lidge and all those guys, believe me, they'll get all the work they want.

Q. Are Blanton and Happ still going to be available in the bullpen?
CHARLIE MANUEL: These first few games, yes. I'll say this about Blanton: I definitely look at Joe Blanton as a starter. I told you before, he is the guy that can really set our bullpen up. In front of those two guys I just named, give me some leverage in the back, if that makes sense. And I feel like that he is that guy, and he's that guy with the mentality and the go get 'em and the grit and the desire and whatever you want to say.

Q. It's a lot different this year than it was when you arrived here last year. One, you hadn't beaten the Dodgers in the NLCS at that point, you had just lost your mother and you were looking forward to going up against Joe Torre because of your admiration for him. How different is your mindset this year going in versus where you were last year?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think both of them have been pretty -- I think we get back, and once the game starts it's great for me. This year has been -- we won it once, and we want to continue to do it. That was our goal coming out of spring training, to repeat and to get back there. We've got two more steps.
You know, I think there's been more thought process because we've had to kind of shift especially our pitching around, and we've had to do some things. So therefore the more that you get wrapped up in it, seems like the quicker it goes, and actually you don't have time to think about a lot of things. That's kind of the part I like. I like when a game is going on. I think that's the best part about it.
And I think last year I think that we had never won before, and I think when my mom passed away, I think it kind of put -- it was a good way of getting that off of my mind while the game was going on and everything, and I stayed focused on what was going on the field, and I think that kind of, in some ways -- it kind of made that a little more easier on me as far as how I felt about her. And I think this year is different.
But I also think that this is more enjoyable because we came back here, and we've came this close, and believe me, we came back here to win. I have more determination probably than I had last year, and I mean that from the fact that that's how much that I want it, and I think I know how much our players want it.
I heard Joe Torre say -- I don't know when he said it, but I heard him say, that was the beauty of it is always going back and seeing how many times you can win. I guess I followed in that category, too, because I definitely -- I look at our team and our guys as we came here to win, and we've got two more steps to go.

Q. Pedro Martinez has not appeared in a game since September 30th, and he hasn't thrown more than 90 pitches since mid-September. Are you comfortable starting him in a playoff game? Do you think he can give you what you need out of a guy who you send to the mound at the start of an NLCS game?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think when Pedro is really right and he's on, I think he's did enough work that I'm very confident sending him out. As far as his workload, I think that he can throw -- I think he's capable of throwing anywhere from like 75 to 90 pitches, maybe 95, maybe even 100. But I think that gets you into the sixth inning or seventh, and I think where we're at with our pitching and everything, I think that would work.
Yeah, I have confidence in him because I know him. I know the experience that he has, and when I see his stuff, I look at him, and when I see his stuff, he threw a simulated game yesterday, and what I saw, I liked his stuff. Dubee and I stood there, and we were talking while he was throwing, and I like -- his stuff is there. That speaks for itself. Tremendous, beautiful pitch. And therefore he gets back his command. In order for him to pitch good and win games, he's got to have good command, but that's part of who he is.

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