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October 27, 2009

Charlie Manuel


Q. There are a lot of questions you'll be asked this week, but in your mind what is the main couple of things that matter the most in terms of getting a win at the end of the series, making it successful?
CHARLIE MANUEL: You know, I want -- the most important thing is for my players to be relaxed, go out and have a lot of fun, play like we can. And if we do that, if we keep -- I mean, things will be okay for us. I look at this, this is great. This is definitely -- I'm very excited about this. And I know what we're facing, and at the same time, I also think that we're ready. You know what, I think we need to play the Yankees. That's what I think.

Q. Pedro Martinez was added to your team during the season. Now he sits there as your Game 2 starter. Can you talk a little bit about what he's meant to your staff and your team and how his personality has kind of fit in well with your guys.
CHARLIE MANUEL: Pedro, ever since we first got him, he's been good. He's been outstanding. He's a different person than I used to think he was. I seen him ever since he was in the Minor Leagues when he was real young. He used to pitch against my Minor League teams. And then later on when I saw him in the Big Leagues, I used to think he was kind of cocky and arrogant, and he's a little cocky, but he's definitely not arrogant. He's a baseball guy. He has a tremendous feel for the game, and he knows a lot about it, and he loves to compete.
The bigger the moment, the bigger the stage, I think the more he likes it. He's been very good for our club, and he fits real well.

Q. Why Pedro in Game 2 and Cole in Game 3? And the second question, why Brett Myers on the rosters over Miguel Cairo?
CHARLIE MANUEL: First of all, I felt like we needed -- I wanted to split my lefties up, and also I felt like Pedro was the ideal guy to go in between them because of what type of pitcher he is, and his command, how he can change speeds, and the fact that he's been here before. And I think this is going to be a real big moment for him, and I think, like I said, he's used to it and he's done it before, and I think he's the guy that's more apt to handle it good.
I think this is a perfect setting for him.

Q. And Myers?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Myers, we felt like we needed another pitcher because the moves that we've been making in situations, we ran through five pitchers in one inning over at the Dodgers, and I feel like if those things happen again, we always need pitching. I feel like with Myers' stuff and the fact that he's in better shape and he's well and he's ready to pitch, and I feel like his talent actually belongs on our staff.

Q. You said you need to play the Yankees?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I said I think we need to play the Yankees.

Q. Why is that?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Because I think that we are a good team, and I think our guys -- I think from who we are and what we want to do, and to be world champions and everything like that, the Yankees are a good team, and I think we want to play the good team.

Q. Do you think that Cliff Lee's familiarity with the American League and with the Yankees in particular gives him an advantage, or do you think it gives the Yankees' hitters an advantage that they know Cliff Lee from the American League?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think Cliff Lee -- first of all, I think when Cliff Lee is on, when he's actually what we call real good, I think this guy is -- he's tremendous. I think he's going up against a very good lineup that definitely can hit. I mean, they've got a tremendous lineup really. They've got good balance.
But I think Cliff Lee is very capable of pitching a real good game, especially if he's on top of his game. He's a tremendous pitcher, and it'll be a heck of a game.

Q. What do you think of Jimmy's prediction?
CHARLIE MANUEL: What was Jimmy's prediction?

Q. Jimmy predicted you guys would win in five, and if you're feeling nice, six.
CHARLIE MANUEL: What do I think? Well, hopefully it's a good one. First of all, the game is played on the field. Any time you look at things, there's a lot of talking in baseball, which makes for a good game, makes for good stories, everything. Actually the game is played on the field. When we go out there and play, we've got to out-play them, and we've got to beat them. That's the bottom line. I know how good they are, and I have a lot of respect for them. I know a lot of the talent they've got on the team, and this is a big challenge. We've got to beat them.
What kind of series do I look for? As long as we win, it doesn't really matter.

Q. Two questions: One, earlier today, CC Sabathia spoke highly of you, said when he was 20 years old, you told him at Spring Training, "Hey, pitch well, kid, you'll come north with us." He said, "I don't think the organization was ready for me," but he said Charlie was. Wondered about your memories of that. Second, as a former Indians manager, what do you think of the Lee-Sabathia match-up in Game 1? And what do you think they're thinking about it in Cleveland?
CHARLIE MANUEL: You know, CC is a great talent, and he's a tremendous pitcher. But one of the biggest things -- I say one of the biggest things he's got is, he has a real big desire, and he loves to pitch. He's a competitor. You know, I remember the first time that I really actually saw CC, we took him to a Hall of Fame -- I think it was a Hall of Fame game, and we might have been playing the Yankees -- no, it was Texas. But anyway, we were playing somebody, and because he was in the Minor Leagues and he was one of our high draft choices and everything, we brought him to that game, and he got lit up. He got lit up pretty good.
I remember when I walked up and told him, I said, "Don't worry about it, kid, because you're going to be a real good pitcher one of these days, you're going to pitch in the Big Leagues for a long time." Ever since then when we go to Spring Training and stuff, of course he would go to Spring Training and I'd always go watch him pitch and stuff. I used to like to watch him hit, too, because he could hit.
Eventually, I think about a year and a half or something went by, and he went to Spring Training with us, and once we had him in Spring Training, Dick Pole and I -- Dick Pole was my pitching coach, we wanted to look at him and see if he could help us. Actually the first couple times I saw him pitch I knew he could help us because he had that kind of talent.
We went to Venezuela to play Houston Astros in an exhibition in Spring Training, and all of us were wondering what CC was like, and if he could handle Major League hitters. In the first inning he had the bases loaded. He could probably tell you better than I can, but he had the bases loaded and we had Bagwell and we had the center fielder, Hidalgo and Bergman, and CC got out of the inning. He struck two of them out, popped one of them up, and I told Dick Pole, "He's ready."
So we went back, and we started -- and he pitched a few times, and we used to get in these arguments every meeting that we had with the player development department, we'd get in all these arguments and I'd want to keep him, and finally we won out, and we promised that when we took him that we would kind of monitor him and break him in.
Actually he would go out and pitch -- he'd pitch sometimes four and two thirds or five innings, and I want to say he ended up 17-5, but we were worried about working him too much and everybody kept telling me about pitching him a lot, and his pitch count and everything like that. Actually if you go back and look, like from the middle of August through September, CC was our best pitcher. And he was probably -- without a doubt he was our strongest pitcher, and he finished the season real big out here. Where he's at now tells a story because that's kind of -- he's every bit that good. For us to beat CC, we've got to beat a good pitcher, and I have all the respect in the world for him. As a matter of fact, I like the heck out of him.

Q. Just the second part of that, as the former Indians manager, Lee and Sabathia going at each other, what do you think of that? And what do you think they're thinking in Cleveland?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think they'd like to have both of them.
But no, I don't know what they're thinking in Cleveland, but I know that we're in for a good game. I know both pitchers we've got out there are top-notch pitchers, and believe me, this match-up couldn't have been better. This is a big premier game. You know, I'm looking forward to it.

Q. What did you think of your center fielder on the front page of the paper today in a skirt?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I didn't see that until I came to the ballpark. Frank Coppenbarger our traveling secretary, I think he showed me the picture. To me it was a little funny. (Laughter).
That might help him. I mean, that might help him play a little bit. He's a good player, and if he's playing good, it's going to really help us.

Q. When you guys clinched the NLCS they introduced you to the crowd and they started chanting your name. What did that mean to you and how did that feel?
CHARLIE MANUEL: That feels good. Anytime somebody acknowledges or mentions your name or chants your name -- actually I never looked at -- I've never, ever looked at things quite, I guess, as things, attention or something that comes to me. I've always been able to handle it. I'll tell you, when I went to Japan to play baseball, here I was measly a pinch-hitter or utility player, sat on the bench, when I went to Japan I got to play every day, and when I first got there I used to get all this attention because I played good, and I used to not really like it. And all of a sudden after I quit playing and went back to Virginia, nobody knew who I was, and it was kind of different, and it makes you feel like you're a little different.
Last year at the parade in Philadelphia and they were hollering my name, actually my head was getting a little big. I noticed my hat kept falling off and I thought maybe my head was getting a little big and people had to calm you down. At the same time, it feels good. It makes you feel good. But also it makes me feel good to know that when they're chanting for me or the things that -- when you manage a baseball team, the things that you get credit for or sometimes the attention you get, actually it comes from because your team did good, and basically because you played good. And our players, actually they brang everything, the attention and everything I get, they're the ones that make that possible by playing the way they play and everything like that. That's why I get the accolades or I take the accolades when they come to me. And in some ways, that wouldn't happen unless we win and basically we play good. I think that's the enjoyment I get out of it, and that's the part that makes you feel good when they holler your name and stuff. It's not that they personally holler my name. I think they're doing that because they love the way our team plays and the fact that we are successful and we win. I think that's the biggest thing. I think it all goes back to the players.

Q. I remember you telling a story last year about rooting for the Brooklyn Dodgers when you were growing up. The story was about how heartbroken you were watching Gil Hodges take his o-for in '52 World Series. Were the Yankees a team you rooted against as a Dodgers fan?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I used to love the Dodgers, but at the same time I always kept up with the Yankees, too, because they had real good players. But for some reason as a kid, I was a huge, big Dodger fan, and that was my team. But I knew all the Yankees players, too, and even back then I used to remember how great an organization they were and how good a talent that they had back then.
So really it wasn't like I disliked the Yankees, but at the same time, I definitely pulled for the Dodgers. But also the Yankees were real -- they were a tremendous team, of course.

Q. What does Ben Francisco bring to the lineup? And will he be out there tomorrow?
CHARLIE MANUEL: He'll be in the game. He'll be either playing left field or DHing. He'll definitely start against CC. He gives us -- he's been good for us. He gives us a good -- he's the fourth outfielder on our team, actually he needs more playing time. Actually if he had gotten a chance to play, I think he could put up some numbers. I think he has a chance to be a real good player. He can run a little bit, and he can play defense, and he's got a pretty good arm. So, therefore, he has a chance to be a real good player, and I look for him to help us in the series, too.

End of FastScripts

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