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NL CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES: PHILLIES v DODGERS


October 20, 2009


Charlie Manuel


PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA: Workout Day

Q. Can you explain to us what it is about your team that allows them to do what they did last night, make that kind of comeback?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think when I was listening to Brad Lidge and some of those guys, I think some of them are pretty good. Like I said before, we play the whole game. We play 27 outs, we think we can win. We're never down, and that's a tribute to those guys. That's how we play. That's how we've been playing. We do it all the time. That's our thinking, every day's process.

Q. Every team says that. Is it the individuals that you have? Is it the leadership you have? Is it the great things you tell them? How is it that your team does it?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think it's the individuals that we have. I think it's the attitude on our team. I think it's our philosophy of how we want to play. We want to play every day for that day. When we come to the ballpark on that day, we expect to win that game. That's how we play, and that's what we talk about. And we started about that three years ago. We kind of changed our team around and we put new guys in.
The only thing that we did actually three years ago, we put some guys in who were a little bit quicker, not a whole lot, and played a little bit better defense and could do a little bit more things, that's all. And all of a sudden with the attitude they have, we changed the course -- every individual is different. Kind of changed the attitude on our team, and it gave guys like Rollins, who had been here for quite a while, it gave him more -- I think that he kind of blended in with the young players that we have and it gave our young players a chance to play. And like Howard, Victorino, Utley, all those guys, they kind of -- was kind of like, hey, this is our team now.
Basically the guys that we kept adding to our team, they all bought into the fact who they were and everything. That's basically how we play.

Q. How far off is Cole right now from the guy who was so dominant in the post-season last year? And have you noticed whether the disruption in sleep patterns and routine of becoming a new dad has had any impact on him?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think, first of all, Cole is real close. Every time I look at him I know that he's capable of just going out there and throwing a shutout. I feel that way about him. And he has the same attitude that he always had. He's had kind of a -- I keep saying this, he's had kind of a different year, a freak year, as far as things, how he's got to where he's at right now as far as his pitching performance, things happening in games sometimes, like he'll be sailing along, for instance, three, four, five innings he'll be pitching real good, one hit or something, two hits, no runs. All of a sudden get two outs, nobody on, pitcher gets a hit or we boot a ball or he walks somebody, and all of a sudden he gives up four or five runs. It's just a little difference here or there, and he could be out of it and take you right into the seventh or eighth inning of the game. That's the difference I've seen in his year.
I get back to the baseball, how it goes sometimes. I think every time he goes out there, he's very capable of pitching a real good game.
As far as he's a father now, I don't know how much difference it makes now, but in the next, I would say, probably in the next few months or a couple years from now, you'll definitely see a big difference. I think that knowing him the way I think I do, he's going to really like that, and it's going to change him a little bit.

Q. You worked in the Minor Leagues with kids forever. Can baseball people look at a kid and tell if he's got the characteristics or the qualities that many of your players have, to perform in the big moment, or do you only find out when the big moment happens?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think you find out when the big moment happens. I think sometimes that is the difference between evaluating talent and putting someone with talent in the moment. For instance, I managed ten years in the Minor Leagues, and I can tell you this: I've had some of the greatest experiences or some of the happiest times I ever had was managing in the Minor Leagues. And I didn't make a lot of money, but I put in a lot of time, and I had guys that was eager and wanted to play baseball. I've seen them really just kind of develop and learn as we go along, and the more time you spend with them and the more time you're around them, the more you get to know them. And also I get to know the other team's players and you know what kind of guys they are and you try to put them in. Actually my players, I try to put them in a position where they can succeed.
I'm sure you people have heard about the comfort zone. You put people in their comfort zone and things like that, but you never know until you get there and you get in a big moment of the game. And I get back to the fact that when I first took over as manager here, in the first two years here we chased the wild card. There was individuals on our team, and I didn't call their names out in meetings, but we used to address the fact that we'd get tight and we would kind of panic, and we couldn't play in the right moment. We couldn't throw the ball to first base, we couldn't throw it home, and there's things that we couldn't do. And also hitting is the same way. We'd get up, go to the plate, chase bad balls and things like that. Once you learn -- can you learn to get through that? You've got to learn to be totally relaxed and be able to play. And if you're uptight and things like that, more than likely we're going to lose. That was the kind of problems that we had.
We changed some of our personnel, and the guys that we brought in definitely had more experience, and some of them had been there before and all that. I think putting them all together is what makes that.
I think that people will look at it, like when you send me a player from the Minor Leagues or traded from another team or somewhere like that, until you put them out there and put them in the moment of the game and you see what you've got, I think that's how you tell who they are.
And over and over again, every day is different and you do different things, but in the course of time, I think as a manager or a coach, I think you get to know what goes on inside of them. You can get a feel for it and everything. You can tell. They'll come up and they'll try to -- actually it's like your son or your daughter or something, they'll come up and they'll be trying to give you vibes or persuade you into thinking they want to go, or they can do this or they can do that. Where there's doubt there, it's like, yeah. When there's no doubt, and you really want to get on with it, then you can do it.
I'll use Jimmy Rollins as an example just because he did get a big hit last night. He likes to be there. When he can concentrate some days, you can him, his concentration level is much better and he feels better and everything. It's hard to explain, but it kind of flows together and you can react different, and that same guy who botched a ball or struck out the night before that, he just might hit one for you the next night. That's kind of how it goes, if you can handle it and it's the right way of doing things. It all comes with who you are and how you foresee the game and everything.

Q. You guys have already been involved in some very exciting games this month, this post-season. Are you able to savor at all and say it's mid-October and we've already been in the middle of something kind of special, or does it all have to see how it ends up where you can look around and say this has been fun?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I like everything about it. I don't like to lose. I like everything about it. I mean, I think that's a part of managing or being a coach or being around the game. I mean, it's a challenge. It's the next thing to plan as a manager. I think the more that you can keep things even keel or in order, I think that team has a chance to come out on top. And I think that's what it's all about.
Last night I felt real good when Jimmy -- getting Jimmy Rollins to the plate, I like his swing on that guy. And that guy is a good pitcher. That guy is a big-time pitcher. He throws hard, and that's my kind of baseball player. Truth is I like it when a guy is out there throwing hard, and you've got a fastball hitter at the plate, and the guy is saying here it is, hit it. And to me that's the whole ball of wax. That's what it gets down to. I love everything about it. That's the challenge.
I like everything about it. The farther we go, some of the games -- in Denver when we beat the Rockies, the first game we played them in Colorado in the playoffs, and the game was -- I've had people tell me how mental it was and how stressful. To me, believe me, that game was nothing. The next day was when it was tough. The next day after the game was over it seemed like I had managed for two years and I had been in the ballpark forever. Really it kind of seemed that way. But you know what, after it was all over and I sat down, I liked it, especially when I can get off by myself and can sit there and think about it. I enjoyed the heck out of it.

Q. You kind of touched on this, but I was wondering specifically what you were feeling in the ninth inning? Was it excitement? Confidence? Nervousness? Anxiety? All of the above? Can you take us through the emotions you were feeling as that thing was unfolding?
CHARLIE MANUEL: In the ninth inning, IbaƱez led off, and of course he's leading the inning off, and I was debating on where I wanted to hit Stairs. And I wanted to get Stairs up to the plate because I knew in our ballpark or wherever, I wanted him up there on a fastball pitcher with maybe a chance that he'd hit one out or get a double or hit one out or something.
Beyond that I had Ruiz, and sometimes, like I'd hit for Ruiz if you remember, but in that situation I wasn't going to hit for him because he's been hitting good, and also he had two doubles off Broxton. And I remembered both the doubles that he got. So I'm going to let him hit, and I'm going to let Dobbs hit for the pitcher if somebody gets on. When Stairs walked and we ran for him of course, and then when the pitcher hit Ruiz, I send Dobbs up to hit. Now, when Dobbs hit the soft liner to the third baseman, and we've got Rollins coming up, and believe me, we had a good guy walking up to the plate. We've got a guy that can catch up. Like I said, that's the challenge of the game.
The old saying in baseball is if you can't hit a fastball, you can't survive. Well, Jimmy Rollins' swing, when he's hitting good, he's a short, compact hitter, and his swing is ideal for fastballs. I've seen him hit fastballs in this league ever since I've been over here, and he is a good -- that's a good match-up. Broxton is a super match-up for him because he can dominate you with his fastball and things, but Rollins is a good fastball hitter. But at the same time I knew, hey, this guy has got to locate the ball where Jimmy can get to it. He chases the first pitch. It was kind of inside, a bad ball. And I told Pete Mackanin -- I said, get back in there and make sure you get a good ball to hit. He'll give you something to hit. I was telling him, saying to Mackanin, he'll give you something to hit. I want a fastball like middle in and below my belt. I want to make it be down. Because that's where -- the strongest part of my swing.
He looked at it on the replay, and he threw a ball right down the middle in between his knees and his belt, and he put a heck of a swing on it, tremendous swing.
I'll tell you, I'll share something with you guys, Thome is standing over in the other dugout, and Thome looks over at me, and I motion like that, I told Thome, he is going to hit one. He was over there looking at me, and I go like this, and I point to right field stands. I did, but I had a good feeling about him, really. It wasn't like I was joking or kidding or nothing.
He was looking at me, and I went like that, and he's shaking his head like no, he's not, or something like that. You can ask him. I had a real good feeling. I was talking to Mackanin the whole time. With Jimmy up there, I liked that moment. I liked the guy hitting.

Q. Have you ever had a greater high on a baseball field or in the dugout than when you win that game or when you win the World Series last year it's a great moment, but to be one out from a loss, it's 2-2 in a Championship Series to winning, have you ever had a bigger rush? And after the game did you go home and go straight to sleep or did you stay up half the night and watch it on ESPN? How did you celebrate, if you did at all?
CHARLIE MANUEL: You know, almost any time we win a game in the playoffs, seriously, to me they're almost about the same, really. But when you come from behind like that in a big moment like that, I don't go to bed. It's hard for me to sleep because I'm thinking about it. You think about everything that goes into it, but actually any of those close games and everything, to me they're all about the same.
When you sit and explain it to somebody, I've always said, and I think this is the part where I get misread or people don't understand who I am, I can manage in rookie ball just as good as I can manage here, and I can get the same enjoyment out of it. I used to look at Kirby Puckett as a player, and I think to myself I saw him when he made $500 a month, and I saw him when he made $6 million. He was the first $6 million player in the Big Leagues. I saw the same person. I saw that same person, and believe me, like I knew him, you could put him back in Elizabethton, Tennessee and he'd be the same player. Believe me, I look at the game the same way.
I can walk in any ballpark in the world and I can go out on the field and I can get close to the players. I believe that, because I think who I am and the fact that I walk around and just -- when I start having conversations with them and I start letting them talk to me and I get a feel for them, and there's confidence and everything, whether he's got a bad attitude or a good attitude or any of those things, I feel like I can say that. You know what, that's a part that I love about the game.

Q. What time did you go to sleep last night?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Last night I got to bed kind of late. It was like 2:30, 3:00 o'clock. I got up this morning at 4:30 and took my daughters to the airport. But basically also what I'm trying to tell you, the game is something that I love to do, and I feel very good at it.
There was a time when I was a kid, I used to like to hunt and fish and things like that, I'd give all that up for baseball.

Q. Joe Torre said last night that that game was going to be a tough one to get past. If you think about it, last year, very similar, they lost in a deflating fashion. You guys came out off the off-day, Jimmy hits that home run and you kind of rode that momentum. How important is it tomorrow to step on the Dodgers' necks and not let them have any kind of life?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I'll tell you something, when we come to the ballpark, we come here to win. We've got Hamels pitching and we've got to feel real good about that. Yeah, it's very important that we go out there and we try to finish it. I mean, that's what it's all about.
Believe me, we're going to put just as much or more in it if we can than we have been. When we come to the ballpark tomorrow, we come to win, but we come to win every day. That's when you get back to the even keel thing.

Q. You're going to try to score runs early --
CHARLIE MANUEL: Any time we can score runs early, that definitely helps our pitcher, definitely a guy like a Hamels or a Lee or a Blanton or Martinez or whoever. Any time -- I heard Lee say the other night when we had six runs, he said he definitely felt a lot at ease and more confident, and that he could move the ball around a little bit and he could do some things. He could get a little creative, and he knew he had some room to work.

Q. You talked about the importance of getting a feel for a player. Brad Lidge has more saves in this post-season than any other closer still in the post-season. What's your feel right now for Brad Lidge?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I feel like he's -- last night, for instance, when I brought him in the game and I told him some things that we wanted to do, and he was very calm, and he talked to me very at ease, and he was very comfortable and things like that. And when I see that out of him, I think he's definitely ready to pitch, and he's in a good frame of mind and he's ready to go. I like that because his talent, he's a very talented pitcher, and his talent most of the time is going to win the game for you.
Right now I kind of like exactly where he's at.

Q. Coming off that emotional win and getting on the verge of wrapping this thing up, as a manager is there a need for you to tell your guys going forward, let's not get ahead of ourselves, let's not run away with this emotion, we still have work to do?
CHARLIE MANUEL: The meetings I already had this year and things, I don't have to go tell my guys that. They know exactly what's at stake, they know exactly where we're going, they know exactly what we want to do, believe me. I'm serious. They all know. If you notice, hang around the dugout before the national anthem and everything, all of them is out there, all of them is down in the tunnel and things like that, and they want to see everything that's going on. We'll be ready. I mean, I don't have to say a word.

Q. There are only two teams left in the post-season whose teams haven't blown a save, you guys and the Yankees, and you guys are both leading your series. Is there something about a blown save being a lot more devastating in the post-season than during the regular season, do you think?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think any time during the season -- this past year we had some games where we had like a three-run lead and two out in the bottom or top of the ninth inning and nobody on, two strikes on the hitter and wind up losing the game. I think those games, that's definitely -- two ways of looking at it, either tear you down or definitely reveal your character. I don't know if it'll build it or not, but it'll reveal it.
I think those games, you remember them. If you're a good team, I think it kind of charges you up for the next day. And sometimes if you get down and you can't get up, then you go the other way. And there are teams that I see sometimes I think that do that.
Every now and then, our team, hey, we can get low at times, because it's a long season. But at the same time for some reason we got that kick, like it always gets us back on track when we have to. Sometimes it can be during a game or sometimes it can be before the game or whatever. Somebody might just be walking through there and the players will be eating or talking and all of a sudden they'll get real interested, and you see them leave and you see a completely different thought process in them.
That's what it takes to have a good team. And I think those are the things that we want to keep. Basically those are the things that we talk about.

End of FastScripts




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