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October 30, 2009

Charlie Manuel


Q. Reflecting on the great performances of Ryan Howard and Alex Rodriguez in the Division and League Championship Series, is there an explanation for their lack of hitting in the World Series so far?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Yeah, to me that's pretty easy to answer: That guy standing out on the mound. He's got something to do with that, too. Basically that's what baseball is all about, too. Baseball, I have said it over and over, if you stop and think about it, in a lot of ways, baseball is a failure game, and that's what you talk about when a guy averages three hits out of ten at-bats or 30 hits out of 100 at-bats, he's a .300 hitter, and that's being successful and that's being a great hitter in the game. That pitcher has got something to do with that.
You're trying to hit anywhere from a 90 to a 95, 97 mile-an-hour fastball, and you're trying to hit a slider that's probably 85, 86, breaking hard down, and you're trying take a round bat and hit that round ball, trying to square it up. That can be hard.

Q. Just to kind of follow up on that, in terms of the success that you guys have had in shutting down the best hitters from other teams just the last couple World Series, one hit between the 3 and 4 hitters in the first couple of games of the World Series, how much does that say about the advanced scouting or the pitching effort or is it a combined effort?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Our scouts do a good job. Our advanced scouts have been very good. They were good last post-season and they're good this year, too. They do a tremendous job. They spend a lot of time, and they study the teams, and they've given us good reports, very good. I can't say enough about them. They've been very good.
With the information that we carry and that we have and the experience that we've had with some of the teams that we've played, like always, that comes into play, too. But I can't say enough about our advanced scouting and our reports. They're right on.

Q. First of all, a two-part question: First, after getting the split, how good do you feel about where you guys are after two games? And second, what does Cole need to do tomorrow night against the Yankees?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I feel good where we're at. I'm sure they feel probably the same. We're even. Now it becomes the best three out of five. We're at home, and we've played good at home, and this gives us a chance to get in front of our fans, and it gives -- our ballpark creates a lot of energy and stuff. We like to play here. And I think a split -- would I like to be 2-0? Of course. But 1-1 is better than 0-2, so that's kind of how I look at it. So here we go.
And as far as Hamels pitching, like I said before, Cole is very capable of every time I give him the ball, I think he's very capable of going out and throwing a shutout. I believe that. And I think that baseball is a game of -- every day is different, and every time he goes out and pitches it's different in some ways.
Like Williams says, every at-bat is an adventure. Every time he goes out and pitches it's an adventure, but I know he has the talent to shut them down, and I've got a lot of confidence in him, and he's got a lot of self-confidence, too, and I think he's going to do good.

Q. Chase Utley was a guy who in high school and even in college didn't have a lot of natural talent. A lot of people didn't think he would be a Major League player. Can you talk a little bit about what you've seen in his development and how important he is to your team?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Yeah. As a matter of fact, I think I've been talking about Chase every day. Chase Utley, like I said, he's the most prepared guy I've seen. He's one of the hardest workers. He doesn't let nothing get in the way of his routine or his preparation for the game. You're not going to get him out of it. For instance, if you walk in there and he's the first guy that comes to the ballpark every day and you walk in there and you want to go eat lunch with him, he's going to tell you to go take a hike, that he's going to do his work, and I love that part about him. All those things he does, and that's what makes me say he's the most prepared guy I've ever seen.
Would you call him an overachiever? I would, just from the fact how he goes about things. But when you look and you say -- when I look at his ability, his eye-hand coordination as a hitter, his balance and the rhythm and preparation he puts into it and how hard he works, I think all that comes into play, so therefore I see a lot of ability. I see a guy that can hit .300 and hit 30 home runs as a second baseman and knock in 100 runs, score over 100 and have a .400 on-base percentage. I see all of that. I see all the things he does on defense and how hard he works. When I first came to this organization I heard people say he was going to have a hard time playing second base, from a way he threw and from range-wise. I saw the guy, the more I watched him play, all you've got to do is sit and watch him and you see from a day-to-day basis, this guy, just watch him, he can play defense, and he definitely knows how to play the game right.
He's one of the better players that I've ever had. He might even be the best. I've said that before, as far as dedication and everything and loving to play the game. He's off the chart, and his determination, also, is what makes him a good player, too.

Q. Because of the way the schedule has played out, it's been about a month since either of these two teams had to play three days in a row. How do you think that affects the use of bullpens? Do you have to be a little bit more judicious?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I look at our bullpen, we're ready to pitch. Our bullpen has definitely got enough rest. I mean, our guys are ready to pitch. And also in some ways they need to pitch. But I don't necessarily want to pitch them. That means that we're playing good. But at the same time, we're ready, and I'm sure the Yankees are, too, as far as rest. That shouldn't be any question at all. Both bullpens to me is well rested.

Q. Going back to Cole for a minute, comparing this season and post-season to last year, how much do you think the difference was the workload last year and not doing a lot during the off-season? How much carryover was that impacting him?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I've said it before, first of all, I think he had a real short winter, and then he had a Spring Training where we were back in Spring Training quick, and also, like -- and the fact that he did, he had a lot of work last year, and that's the most he's ever worked. That's the first time he's ever finished a big league season without having some shutdown time. And then to go to Spring Training about two weeks or ten days before Spring Training is over he's just got a sore elbow, and that's just the way the season started and the way the season has gone is kind of freakish. He has pitched some very good games, and then he's been inconsistent at times.
I look at him as right now, he's well rested, and he's very capable of going out there and throwing a good game. Like I said, I expect him to pitch good tomorrow.

Q. I guess one more thing about Cole here: How important is the curveball to his success? And have you noticed a different with the way that he's used it this year compared to last year, I guess, when and how often he uses it?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think the curveball is very important to him. One of the biggest reasons I think it's important to him is because I think it gives him a good weapon against left-handed hitters. I think with the curveball and his fastball and his change-up, I think that gives him -- he's more equipped for left-handed hitters. Cole's style of pitching is he's more over the top, and his change-up and his fastball, like he'll go from the middle of the plate in a lot on left-handed hitters. He's made some mistakes this year and his command definitely plays big. But once he establishes his breaking ball more and trusts it more and he has more confidence in it, I think this is what's going to really put him over the hump as what you call a big-time pitcher.

Q. Besides Cole Hamels, just going to the World Series, going deep, have you noticed any burden at all on your pitching staff? It seems like a lot of World Series teams show fatigue the following year. Did you notice that at all with your team?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Well, I don't know if going to the World Series. I think any time a pitcher, especially if he's used to throwing like 150, 160, 170 innings, something like that, all of a sudden he's going 200, 210, 220, 230, something like that, his load starts increasing. Also when you come to the Big Leagues as a young player or pitcher the last month of the season, you're not used to that. Baseball season is long, and a lot of times that's when you see guys drop off, and it's kind of like you've got to learn how to handle that long season, too. That's all part of getting established as a Major League player and also going through the everyday grind. Minor League season, whether you realize it or not, it's a month shorter, and Major League Spring Training is longer and everything like that, and there's a way to actually get used to that and kind of knowing how to handle it. It's a learning process.

Q. Have you made a decision on Game 4 yet? And if not, what's your philosophy when it comes to pitching a guy on short rest?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I talked to Dubee last night, and we talked this morning. I just told Ruben Amaro where I'm going to go. Joe Blanton is going to be our fourth game pitcher.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about why Blanton over Happ, and Cliff Lee pitching on short rest? I guess that wasn't an option?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Cliff Lee, I'd take Cliff first. He's 265 or 267 innings or something like that, and he's never pitched on three days' rest, although I talked to him and he told me he had, or I thought he did. He's never pitched on three days' rest. And also I like him in Game 5, also, because we've got an off-day on Tuesday -- Wednesday. When is our off-day?

Q. Tuesday.
CHARLIE MANUEL: Tuesday. And like if it goes seven games or something, that would be on his bullpen day, and he might be able to pitch or whatever. But I like him because I don't think he's ready for it on three days' rest. That's really pushing him because he's never did it before. If he had done it before like say CC has, and CC pitched consistently last year on three days' rest. There's a big difference, plus CC is big, and I think that plays a part in it. But Cliff has never did it, and I think you're taking a chance on really pushing him, and I think that he's the kind of guy that he gets into the game, and with his adrenaline going and everything, and definitely we don't want to hurt him. But at the same time we want him to stay strong when he does pitch.
And I think Blanton fits for us because I think we want to keep Happ right now in the bullpen, especially kind of in the middle where he could do some innings, and also Joe pitched last year in the World Series, and he's got a little bit more experience.

Q. How is Andy Pettitte, how has his game evolved over the years? And do you imagine that post-season experience is a real important thing for him right now?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think Andy Pettitte, he's a lot like anybody else who ages; I think his stuff is kind of starting to dwindle down, and I think that he has to be a pitcher. I think his location and command, of course, is a big part of his game, and he's got to use all of his pitches. I've seen him pitch his whole career. There again, when he's living out on the corners and things like that and his command is good and he uses his pitches, he's capable of pitching good. That's when he pitches his good games.
I think that he has to be that way to be real successful in the game. I think that if we are very patient with him and work him, and make him throw the ball over the plate to us, don't swing happy, I think that's our best way of approaching him. Don't try to -- just take what he gives us and hit the ball kind of where it's pitched, and I think we'll be okay.
I've seen him pitch on TV a lot, and I've definitely seen him pitch a lot against our Cleveland team. We used to have some pretty good success against him, and I think that we are ready for him. We'd better be. That's how I look at it. But he's very capable of throwing a good game. That's why he's pitched that long in the Big Leagues, and that's why he's still pitching.

Q. You've managed interleague many times, interleague play, your second World Series. Do you believe the National League manager, because of your familiarity, has a tactical advantage with no DH in a National League ballpark in the World Series?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Yes, I think he does, and the biggest reason is I think one of the biggest problems you have is in the middle of the game when you're making decisions over your pitching and when to take him out of the game, and I think that plays a big role, and I think that the players sitting on your bench becomes more in situational -- they get in the game more, and you use them more because of how the National League is played. I think it becomes big, and I think that's why I like the National League, because -- I managed in both leagues, but I like in part managing in the National League because there are more decisions you make and you have to make more moves, and there's things that come up in the game. But the pitching thing is the biggest, it's when to get a guy, especially the starter. And I think that becomes big.

Q. This was discussed last night, the eighth inning when Chase bounced into the double play, and you were asked about putting runners in motion, and you explained that Chase doesn't hit into double plays very often. What I'm wondering is, after sleeping on it, did you come up with the same answer today? And secondly, how much time after a tough loss do you spend -- do you spend much time at night going over the games and re-managing them in your head?
CHARLIE MANUEL: You know what, I didn't even have to think about that. You know what, that's bad baseball if Utley strikes out and Rollins gets thrown out at third base. Or if we hit a line-drive double play and we run into a double play, we've got one of the best hitters in baseball standing on deck. Between Utley and Howard we've got 80 home runs. We've got over 200 RBIs and things like that right there. That's our game standing right there in front of us.
And also it's an out process there; it's an out elimination process. We've only got five outs left in the game, we've got our biggest offensive threat standing at the plate. There's no way we could afford to make a mistake there. Those guys have to hit for me. I'll do that as long as I live. Actually I get upset when somebody asks me that because that's not baseball. I don't give a damn who's played 20 years or 50 years and think they know; that's not the right way to play the game.

Q. Do you go over games in your head at night after a tough loss?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Of course I do.

Q. To follow up on something you said earlier about Hamels, you talked about his inconsistency. I wonder if you could be a little bit more specific. Is it his ability to locate or are his pitches flattening at all or do you see anything unusual about his up-and-down performances?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think it's mostly what you talked about, location and the fact of like putting the ball where he wants it, like his command. His success, definitely his command has played a big role in it. I think at times if you noticed, he'll leave change-ups, he'll make mistakes with his change-up, leave it in the big part of the plate or a fastball up and things, and that's what gets him in trouble. I think his command -- he hasn't reached a point this year where he's put consecutive starts back to back, consistent like he was last year. I think that's kind of how his season has gone. But there's always been a reason, and I've said that about things that have happened to him. He's just gone through kind of an off-season for Cole Hamels. But at the same time he's still pitched good games, and he's still very capable of beating people.

Q. Pedro had said last night that he was very under the weather, and I think another of your players was sent back to Philadelphia early because of the flu. Is it very widespread or is it contained, the illness on your team?
CHARLIE MANUEL: We're trying to contain it. There's some guys that have had some flu symptoms or had the flu, but I don't know -- I don't know how we're going to deal with that. We've got to play. So that's kind of how I look at it. We're trying to deal with that the best we can. There's no sense in me sitting here running down who's sick and who's not and all this stuff. What the hell, we don't want everybody to know what's going on. You'll find out on your own probably, but at the same time, I'm not going to tell you. (Laughter).

Q. Two-part question: Just in terms of the home-field advantage you guys have had and the way the fans are here, some of the players talked about how they weren't that impressed with the fans at Yankee Stadium. Can you talk about the home-field advantage here in terms of what you see compared to what you saw in Yankee Stadium? And then the other part of the question is how much were you thinking about the World Series when you were managing the All-Star Game, being in this possibility?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think our fans -- I think since about the last three or four years, I think our fans, from what I see, and I say this very honestly, I think that they're the best fans I've ever been around. When we do something, we don't play good or something like that and they let us know, that's all part of baseball. I totally agree with that.
I like everything about it. I like the energy that our fans bring to the ballpark, and I like how our ballpark is made, because it seems like you're kind of in a close confinement and everything, like everything kind of flows off of the electricity and energy and everything like that. And I think when we're down, I think our fans are still making enough noise and everything to keep us going.
I think that we're sitting in a good position, basically because of our fans and our ballpark and the people of Philadelphia, because they love our team. I think it's up to us as players to go out there and play just like they can, and believe me, they will be behind us and they will be sitting there whether we're winning or losing and they'll stay all the way to the end of the game. I think they've been doing that all year long, and I think it's tremendous. I think everything is sky high right now in Philly. Basically we want to keep it there.

Q. In terms of the All-Star Game, how much was that in the forefront or back of your mind?
CHARLIE MANUEL: That was the first time I ever managed the All-Star Game, and when we went there, we went there to win. I knew the importance of that anyway. If I could have done something, believe me, we would have definitely had the home-field advantage. We would have won the All-Star Game if I could have thought of something or if I could have done anything to prevent us from losing, believe me, I would have. I know how important that is, and that's an advantage.

Q. What do you think about instant replay? Would you like to see more of it? Would you like to see it gone completely? What's your take on it?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I look at it, baseball is a human nature game. You're going to make mistakes, umpires are going to make mistakes, players are going to make mistakes, everybody in the game is going to make mistakes. Even managers make mistakes sometimes. (Laughter).
I look at it as kind of -- it's the way it's always been played. And I think from what I've seen, once we start the instant replay and we start to review home runs and things like that and umpires, they tell you when you go out and argue with them, we're just trying to get it right, we want to make sure we get it right and everything like that, that kind of opens up a lot of conversation. And all of a sudden now for some reason with the coverage of our sport and everything, almost every play is reviewed, everything done is shown up on the scoreboard, everything that goes back, and every time it's a bang-bang play or an umpire makes -- he might miss a call or something, it's always there for you to see.
And I think that the more you show that over and over, I think you're going to always talk about instant replay.
But I look at that, like before, they didn't show that that much. When a guy actually missed a call or something, they didn't play it, they didn't let you see it. They just kind of let it linger in your mind whether he was out or safe. And I think, like I said, it's a human natures game, and I don't know if I want instant replay or not, if you want to know the truth. I think I liked it the way it was. I think from a fan standpoint and everything like that, I think that's what makes for conversation, and I think he's more happy not knowing sometimes. In fact, I don't know, but that's kind of how I look at it.
But I think human nature plays the game. I think -- and I think the game was built that way. I think everything that goes into it was built that way, and I think that -- I don't know if I'm for it or not. Just something that I haven't really -- I haven't come to conclusion how to fix it or nothing, so therefore I don't know. But I know this: I know I feel like sometimes you leave something alone if it's working.

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