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November 2, 2009

Charlie Manuel


Q. Regardless of what happens, even if you guys come back and win this thing, do you go into next year looking at Cole and Brad and say, they just need time away to flush this year out of their system, or do you go into it saying they're going to have to do some things differently and maybe they're not the sure things they thought they were coming into this year?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think how I look at it, I look at it as -- first of all, Brad, we've got Brad for two more years, and I think everybody knows how successful Brad has been. And also I think they know he's had some problems this year. His year hasn't gone like last year.
I think there's things that he probably -- this winter that there's things that he can think about as far as when he comes into Spring Training working on. And I would say holding runners is one of them, being able to hold runners and some of the fundamental parts.
Only trouble is, see, he's had a bad knee in the past, and when we got him, remember, when we got him, he had just had a knee clean-out when we first came here, and when we went to Spring Training we've had to kind of take it easy on his workload.
But there's things that I would like to do with Brad as far as definitely holding runners.
And then also I'd like to -- just like to see him go home this winter and actually just kind of clear -- keep himself in pretty good shape and kind of get a clear head and enjoy his winter. But at the same time, we're kind of getting ahead because we've still got time to play. We might play a long time yet.
And then Hamels, I've said about Hamels' year, it's been very weird. He's gone through -- this is the first time that he's had a rough time in his whole career. When he first came up, I think I said the other day, he went through the Minor Leagues and didn't pitch much. Actually when he got healthy and everything, he came to the Big Leagues quick. And when he first came to the Big Leagues, he came up and he was good when he came up, and he's been very good.
A lot of people think just because he pitched down in the playoffs last year and the World Series and he was the MVP that that's when he kind of came into his own as a pitcher. In some ways, that's true, but at the same time this guy has been a good pitcher ever since he's been in the Big Leagues. And then all of a sudden this year he struggles, and this is the first time really that he's gone through this.
And I feel like it has been a change. It's been a big change for him by way of how -- in a game how people look at him or his status and things like that and people's demands of him and things. I think if he needs to -- this winter he needs to get a clear head and come back with the ideal of thinking more about baseball, and I think really concentrate and stay focused on his pitching. This guy was one of the most focused guys that I've seen in a long time, and he's still got that same ability. There's no reason why he can't be the same pitcher that we project, and I'm sure he will be.

Q. At this point, simply put, what gives you the confidence that your team can win the next three games?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Because first of all, during the season, 162 games, you can win three games in a row. I mean, and also, you do that -- like if you're a winning team, you do that quite often. But also in this game you can lose three in a row. You can lose five out of seven or something like that. In the playoffs sometimes, too, a seven-game series, and if you don't win those games, those close games, they really come back to bite you.
I look at we could have -- so far I felt like the game Cole started the other night, I felt like the Yankees kind of took it to us. I felt like the other two were real close games, and actually when it got down to it they outplayed us because they got the hit at the big moment, they got the pitching at the big moment and they made all the big plays.
Like last night's game, for instance, A-Rod got a big hit. Damon going to third base, only thing Damon did by going to third base, he put his team in a better position to maybe score a run by a fastball or a high chopper or something like that. But the big hit was A-Rod. A-Rod's hit was the big hit because it was two outs. They got the big hit, Rivera came in, shut us down, and they got the win. They've been doing that to us.
We'll score one runs or two runs, we leave runners. Seems like they put up a three or four spot on us.

Q. Does it bother you at all that with everything that is going on in the series one of the talking points has been your decision not to start Cliff Lee in Game 4?
CHARLIE MANUEL: That doesn't bother me. Like I said, I've seen it both ways. I've seen it work, and I've seen it not work. So therefore, but at the same time I also look at it from a way, like we've still got -- if we would have pitched Lee yesterday and he would have won, we'd still need to win today's game. I mean, that's kind of the way I look at it. And who's to say that if Lee pitches tonight and we win, who's to say -- he might pitch again.

Q. Just to follow up on Cole Hamels, he said that he was one of the more focused pitchers that you've seen, and he can be again. What changed this year? Were there too many outside distractions tugging at him?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think he had a short winter. I think he was very active last winter as far as being -- going around and receiving awards, going and doing things, but also his winter was short. I think in Spring Training he was getting about ready for the season to start, and about ten days, two weeks before the end of Spring Training, he had a sore elbow. I think that he was getting over that, and he missed -- if you go back and look, he did not start the season at the first of the season, like he didn't start right away. We kind of pushed him back. And then what we did, he pitched in a game and he turned his ankle, and then he missed, I think, a start. And the next time he pitched he got hit with a line drive on his arm. I've explained it over and over, but it seems like his season -- for a while it seemed like his season went that way.
And the other night was kind of a typical game. This guy, he'll pitch three or four or five innings and he'll have a no-hitter or one-hitter or maybe two runs, and all of a sudden he'll get in an inning where he can't get out of it and they'll throw a crooked number on him or they'll throw a four or five spot on him, and all of a sudden his pitch count runs up and he ends up going five, six innings. He hasn't been as consistent as he has in the past. His command hasn't been as good.
I think that's just the way it goes. And I can name you pitchers that have had the same problem he has. Saberhagen, Palmer, Jim Palmer, Beckett. I mean, if I stood here and think, I can think of more. You go back and look, after they have the big year, it's not something -- Pat Burrell as a player, hit 37 home runs, and the following year I remember when I first came over here, one of my things was I worked with his hitting. And the reason is because he was having a bad year. That's baseball, and sometimes that's what happens. That doesn't mean that a guy is not going to meet your expectations of him. I think it's just a matter of him getting things going again and feeling real good about himself, and he'll go out there and produce for you.

Q. You mentioned about the adjustments, that he has to clear his head. You talked about the mechanics. But what about as far as pitches. It looks like he doesn't have a lot of confidence in the curveball. Does he have to come up with another pitch? What kind of adjustments does he have to make in that way to stay?
CHARLIE MANUEL: We've always talked about him throwing his curveball more, but at the same time he's also showed that he can pitch with what he's got. His curveball actually is kind of his third pitch, and his change-up and his fastball, they are his big pitches. But when his command is on, that's why he's so good. His change-up is as good as anybody in the game's. But his curveball -- to me I want him to throw his curveball, but when he throws it, I want him to feel comfortable and have a lot of conviction to it. I want him to feel like he can really trust it.
So therefore, I feel like when he gets to that point, I think he'll be a better pitcher. But this guy showed he can pitch with two pitches, and you say, well, hitters have adjusted to him. But when his command is there and he's putting the ball where he wants to, that's fine.
I'll tell you guys another pitcher, CC. CC was in Cleveland and we had to fight for him to get him to the Big Leagues, and his first year up he went 17-5. We used to monitor him. You can ask him, I used to take him out four and two thirds innings sometimes and he had to leave and we used to take him out and he'd get upset. He never duplicated that season for about two or three seasons, and finally he got it going again. So I mean, that's kind of the way it goes.

Q. In the event that you win tonight, do you have a Game 6 starter picked out already?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Yeah, we've got a starter picked out, but we've got to win the game first.

Q. Before you announce it?

Q. Both you and the Yankees have had guys who have had solid regular seasons struggling in the post-season. Is it tougher for a hitter to get out of a slump in the post-season because there's so many off-days and he's not getting enough ABs?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think the post-season might be tougher because it is a short series, and also, I think it's only natural that you start trying harder. And sometimes when you're trying harder, you're pressing, and you try and do something that instead of just being relaxed and staying focused because you feel like you've got to get going because it is a short season -- post-season is short, I'm sorry.
But yeah, I think sometimes. But there again, like it's just trying to get a good ball to hit and being relaxed and going up there and really keying in on what you're doing and staying at it and have a plan and stick to it and have an idea on what you've got to do, then let it happen. Play just like you always do.
I think when we talk about the day-to-day play, that's what basically it is. It's going out there and doing the same thing you do every day and try to do it as good as you can. And that's all someone can ask. If someone gives you 100 percent, that's all you can ask.

Q. I was wondering, with regards to Cole Hamels, how much do you think like the amount of innings he pitched last year has to do with it? The reason I ask is because Cliff Lee after tonight should be well over 270 innings if everything goes the way you want it. Could the same thing possibly happen to him?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think nowadays -- Cole Hamels last year it was the first year that he ever finished a season without being hurt or being on the DL. I think that was his first complete season, and he jumped up in innings. That was a big move for him. He completed a season.
And also, when he went down through the playoffs, that's the most innings that he's pitched, and that's the most workload.
Cole is not a big, strong muscular guy. Cole is what I call a pitcher. He's a balance of rhythm and he's fluid and he's smooth, and he gets it easy. But at the same time, he doesn't present strength like CC or somebody like that, or power. But at the same time he gets his strength and his fastball and stuff from the fact that -- through fundamentals of pitching, weight shift and push off his back side and everything, using his big muscles like throwing downhill, balancing rhythms, kind of like a hitter. But I think you're talking about a guy that last year carried a big workload, and then his winters were very -- his winter was short, and he came back into Spring Training, and by the sore elbow he didn't get a lot of Spring Training in.

Q. What about Cliff's workload? Are you worried about that?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Yeah, that's why I said I didn't want to start him on three days' rest. That's one of the reasons.
But also his routine, too. I mean, people talk about how the routine for a pitcher, like he gets in the flow of things and it's every five days, and they have a big routine. That's what I kind of worried about Jamie Moyer when we sent him to the bullpen, and that's why when we brought him in the game I always gave him a lot of time to warm up and we tell him ahead of time, and we make sure that he had enough time warming up, basically because he was a starter and he used to go through all this workload during his off-days and stuff. And once we sent him out there, he wasn't used to that, and we had to make sure that he was ready. That's the thing that I would worry about Cliff, because he's never pitched on three days' rest, and a couple years ago, he had a serious injury and last year, of course, he pitched a lot of innings.
But there again, he's never did it, and we're asking him -- like we're going to experiment here in the World Series. And also I feel like that we during the course of a year we use five starters and that we could cover. And I felt like when I pitched Blanton last night I felt like he's very capable of pitching in a World Series game. He did it before, and I wasn't hesitant to put Blanton out there.

Q. After last night's game, you said you would think about talking to your team today. I was wondering if you've given any more thought to that and what your message would be if you do decide to talk to them.
CHARLIE MANUEL: Right now probably more than likely I'll walk around and talk to every guy on our team between now and when they're stretching. I probably might talk to some of them during stretch time, too, and if I feel like I've got to call them in -- we've had a lot of meetings. I think last meeting I told them about everything I need to tell them. Meetings to me sometimes are definitely -- I shouldn't say sometimes, most of the time meetings are a negative. Meetings are a downer, I mean, really. Meetings, most of the time a meeting is to chew people out or try to get straight things that you need to get your point across and try to improve the way you're playing or something that you don't like.
But I think our guys, most of our -- I say some of them, I think all of them, I think we know what winning is all about, and I think we know what's up for grabs tonight, and I think we've got to go get it, and I think that I can go talk to them. I can walk around individually and talk to guys and see what kind of mood they're in and just have a conversation with them and tell them what we're doing.

Q. Just to kind of piggy back off of that, earlier in the series when we were doing the press conferences you talked about one of the most key things is having fun with the series. Do you think that's part of what you're going to be talking to your players about tonight, to say --
CHARLIE MANUEL: Yeah, you've got it. We're going to go out there and just be relaxed and we're going to play just like always. Hitters are going to go up there and look for good pitches to hit, and we're going to hit the ball, we're going to try to execute, and we're going to -- we're going to try to hit behind the runners, we're going to try to knock them in when we've got them in scoring position, and Cliff is going to pitch his game. We're going to play and enjoy it.
That's basically kind of how we play on an everyday basis. But at the same time, yeah, if somebody is tight, I want to loosen them up. So yeah, that's kind of what I'll talk about.

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