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October 18, 2009

Charlie Manuel


Q. Do you see the bullpen's best place for Happ in this series, no matter how long it was to go?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Right now, before he sits, we like him in the pen. Like for the next few days. But we'll just see where we're at and how much he pitches and all that.

Q. Why do you think Kuroda has been so effective against you guys? His numbers are really, really good in his three regular season and one postseason start.
CHARLIE MANUEL: He's due for us to hit him then. He pitches us -- we've got to be patient on him and make him throw the ball over the plate and work him a little bit. He changes speeds real good on us. He doesn't give in, and he'll pitch around guys that he thinks can hurt him and stuff, and again, we've got to be patient, we've got to get good balls to hit. He's a good pitcher.

Q. You guys have been through October games with this kind of weather. Do you think your team brings a certain kind of mindset to these games that might be an advantage, especially when you're playing a team from California?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think how we play the game and how we look at things, that's our mindset, and I think sometimes I think playing in cold weather, I think there's two teams that play in cold weather, and I don't know about their team, about opposition's team, but I know our team, that we'll be ready to play. I mean, I've always seen us that way.
We come to play today, like I said yesterday. We come to play the game today. We're not looking back, we're not looking forward, and today's game is the one we're keying in on. It happens to be cold today.

Q. It has to be nice to be home. It seems like a while since you guys have last played here, and to be home now with home-field advantage in this series, these three games here are kind of in your favor, huh?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I'd say, yeah. It took us a while at the start of the season to get going at home. We love to play in this ballpark. I was saying back then when the season started and people were asking me about, how come you're losing games at home? We've had good success in the playoffs at home, and we've always played good here. We like playing here and we love our fans, and we want to hear a lot of noise. I heard a lot of noise in LA, so we're going to repay them today. Our fans are definitely going to keep the energy level going.

Q. Talk about Joe Blanton and how he's a different pitcher from last year to this year.
CHARLIE MANUEL: Joe Blanton, first of all, he's very durable. He's aggressive, he likes to pitch. He's very gutty, and what really caught my mind last year was the fact that in the playoffs, how he pitched. He pitched a game in Milwaukee one day where he was very aggressive with his fastball, and he went right at them. And then when we were in the playoffs, World Series against Tampa, and the games after that, this guy changed speeds real good. He threw a lot of sinkers and change-ups and slider, and he had the ball down, and he made adjustments and he pitched like two different kind of games.
During the season this year he was our most consistent pitcher. He could take you anywhere from the sixth inning to the eighth inning, and he did a very consistent job of that. Even though sometimes he's not real sharp when the game starts or he has to work to find where he wants to be, he figures it out, and he has a way of staying there.

Q. I know it's a couple days away, but with the day off in between 4 and 5, do you know who's going to pitch Game 5? Have you decided on that yet?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Right now, when I look at it, probably Hamels.

Q. Is there anything you might do to change that up?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I don't know, I haven't talked to Dubee. Like I said, we're thinking about today.

Q. When Jimmy Rollins struggled during the regular season, you said his swing was getting long, he was swinging at pitches up in the zone. Have you noticed anything like that this postseason or is he getting good at-bats and making solid contact and the balls just aren't falling?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Actually from what I've seen they're pitching him pretty tough. At times he really works the count pretty good. He takes pitches. But the Dodgers have been getting ahead of him, and they've been throwing a lot of slow stuff. The other day I felt like Padilla was aggressive with him, and he moved the ball in and out on him, and he made some real good pitches on Jimmy. I mean, they've been pitching Jimmy pretty tough. He'll be all right.

Q. Do you see Pedro as somebody who might be able to give you an inning in the next couple of days because of the low pitch count or are you going to basically stay away from that, and leave him as a starter?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I haven't talked to Dubee about that. We'll definitely -- when we talk that will come up. I haven't really talked about it yet, but right now just kind of letting him just get some rest.

Q. Second year in a row making it to this level, a lot of different characters on the pitching staff, different roles. A lot of credit of that has to go to Rich Dubee. Talk about what makes him so effective as a pitching coach.
CHARLIE MANUEL: First of all, he's very prepared. He plays a big part in organizing -- he organizes our Spring Training. This year when we brought Pete Mackanin over here, Pete and him, they kind of organized our Spring Training. But Dubee does all the work as far as a lot of the paperwork and stuff. He turns it over to -- the information he gives of course to the people in the office, and they do the paperwork. But he organizes the whole thing, and he definitely -- I leave the pitchers kind of up to him.
When I first became a manager in Cleveland, I've said this before, I used to go down there watch the pitchers throw on the side. I'd be standing over there and all of a sudden the pitchers were asking me about their mechanics, they're asking me about how to do something, and I thought to myself, what the heck am I doing out? I'm not a pitching coach. And I said when I took this job, I remember in my interviews, I told them that I needed a good pitching coach. I need a pitching coach that definitely could help me through from the middle of the game. I told them, I think I can handle the back part, but I'm going to need some help in the middle of the game, and I need somebody who can communicate good and who can handle the pitchers good, and a hard worker who wants to spend time with them. Dubee has been every bit of that. Dubee has been very valuable to us, and he's a tremendous part of our team. I rely on him a lot. I talk things over with him, and I listen to him quite a bit.

Q. I think last year in the LCS the emphasis to stop Manny and you had to limit any damage he could do. How does that change this year in terms of how you look at the Dodgers' lineup in terms of limiting them?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think Manny is still a guy that we definitely don't want to hurt us, but when you put Kemp behind him or something like that, and the kind of season Kemp has been having and you put Ethier up in front of him, we're talking about two guys that when Manny was out helped carry their team. We're talking about -- what I'm trying to say is you can get into a problem where if you pitch around Manny a whole lot or just looking to walk him or something like that, you can cause more trouble than you could I thought last year.
But basically because these two guys are putting up bigger offensive numbers and everything, and also Kemp is dangerous when he gets on the bases as far as stealing everything. You've got to be more careful. But at the same time we have our way of pitching to Manny, and hopefully he doesn't hurt us. He can get a two-run homer off of Hamels over there, and that was a big blow, but at the same time he's going to get his hits. I mean, he's going to get hits and everything. But we still have our way of pitching to him, and we'll continue on. Whenever we feel like we need to put him on, we will.

Q. You just said that Blanton sometimes takes a while to get going before he finds it. Considering that, using him in the bullpen, did you look that as a risk?
CHARLIE MANUEL: That wasn't a risk if we get him up and get him throwing. I didn't think that was because his command -- you know, he can throw strikes. I mean, that's not in his stuff-wise, but once he gets on a roll in the game, that's when he's pretty good.

Q. Do you see similarities in what Lee is doing right now compared to what Cole did last year in the playoffs?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I see Lee when -- I look at Lee as a tempo-rhythm kind of pitcher, and he controls the game. He kind of holds the flow of the game. He definitely holds the flow. He determines the flow of the game I should say. And when he gets the ball, he knows what he's going to do. He gets the ball and throws it. And when his command is real good, he even gets -- he really gets going, and he usually keeps it. He keeps it for a long period of time in the game.
When he's off or something, he'll have a hard time with his command, especially when the ball would be elevated, and he'll have trouble getting it down. But most of the time he's pretty good. When he gets going, he can be real good.

Q. Just to follow up on Blanton, you said in the postseason last year, aggressive with his fastball one game and then kind of a change-up pitcher the next time around. Is that typical? How rare is that? And during the season did Blanton do that? Could he go into Monday's game being a fastball pitcher and Friday being something else?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Yeah, you know what, on certain nights -- at times he'll use his slider, curveball, change-up, fastball, and his fastball will sink when it's down. And a lot of times, if he's getting his curveball over today, if he's getting it kind of over-the-top breaking ball, those are the days that he can really click. He's got stuff enough and he'll use most all of his pitches, and then he takes you -- he always gives you a chance -- so far this year he's been very consistent and he always gives us a chance to win the game.

Q. That play-for-today quality that you guys seem to have and that you talk about all the time. Where do you think that started here for this team? And can you pinpoint when that started to develop and really started to grow?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think that started -- that's been my philosophy ever since I've been in baseball, when I first started managing. I think when I first come here, I think that it took us a while to really find an identity on our team, and once we did and we started playing different people and we got different kind of energy and we got some different kind of players as far as a little bit more speed. We always say a little means a lot, and a little means a lot -- in a game a little means a whole lot. Sometimes the attitude and the chemistry of your team and the way you're thinking, that can be what can be wrong with you, is it definitely can be in your head and how you think. And I think we needed some kind of philosophy to get us through every day, and I think that's where excellence and success comes in. I talk a lot about excellence and I talk about the elite team and how to play, and I think that we've got a bunch of guys who love to play, and it was very easy for them to take on.

Q. Miguel Cairo may not play a big role for you, but what do you say about his ability to stick around the game and do you have any admiration for a guy like that playing 13 years?
CHARLIE MANUEL: He's a survivor, and he does things right. I'll say this, he knows how to play the game. He can play quite a few positions. He's an average runner, maybe a little better. He might be a tad above average. He can do quite a lot of things for you. He can handle a bat, he can hit and run, he can bunt, he can be a base runner, he can do a lot of things. Most of all when I talk about know thyself, here's a guy that knows exactly what it takes for him to stay around and be a productive Major League player. He's very valuable to you.

Q. I know you've got a lot of respect for Casey Blake and you've seen Belliard around a lot and even in the later innings Thome coming off the bench. It seems pretty rare for a lineup in the National League to have the firepower that the Dodgers do at the bottom of it. Is there one guy that's really key for you guys to keep off the bases or keep in the park or how do you approach that?
CHARLIE MANUEL: If you look down to the bottom of the lineup, they've got Blake and some of the guys you just named, and they've got the catcher. I'll tell you something, he hits good against us. Those guys down at the bottom of the lineup, they get their hits and they're very capable of getting on base and also causing a lot of problems. And yeah, it's very important -- when you beat them, you've got to pitch to them. You've got to pitch a good game, and you definitely can't slack up on them. You've got to get the bottom of their lineup out because they are good hitters.

Q. You guys last year were undefeated in the postseason at home. Do you think that there's more of a home-field advantage in the postseason than there is in the regular season?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think any way you look at it, most teams like to play at home. I think all the years I've been in baseball, I think most teams usually definitely without a doubt, sometimes there might be an exception or something, but as a whole, almost all teams like to play better at home. I would think that would be their preference. I know we love to play at home, although we have a good road record. But also at the same time I think we also just like to play baseball.

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