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December 8, 2009

Bruce Bochy


Q. Bruce, you've been here a day and a half or so; what are your expectations of getting something done while you're here?
BRUCE BOCHY: Well, as always, we are hoping to get something done here. You know, fill some holes that we know we have with the ballclub. That's what you do here. You talk to clubs and explore your options, and that's what we are doing now. So we are hoping to get something done.

Q. You mentioned the holes. What do you see as the holes that you need to fill?
BRUCE BOCHY: Well, obviously we are looking for a bat. Everybody knows that. So we are looking at our best option there. You know, we are always looking, you know, to improve our club somewhere, whether it's infield, outfield, behind the plate. Right now we are deciding what we are going to do behind the plate. That's another area that we are exploring.
But it's a club that had a pretty good year last year I think with the pitching that we had, and right now, you know, we are trying to get better.

Q. In terms of the catching position, is it a priority to find a good receiver? You have two young starters in that rotation.
BRUCE BOCHY: Well, to be honest, we are not set in what we are going to do there as far as behind the plate. We have the young kid, Buster Posey, coming up, and that has not been decided which we are going to go, whether he will start with us or AAA.
So we are going to keep discussing that. And if there's a pretty good option out there, you know, a good chance we'll go for it if it makes sense for us.

Q. How big of a loss would a guy like Molina be behind the plate?
BRUCE BOCHY: Well, you're looking at a guy that hit 20 home runs, knocked in 80 runs for us, clutch hitter. You know, that's a hole that you've got to fill, and we know that. He hit clean-up, and Bengie did a nice job with the staff.
But you have to move on at times, and this is one of those times that we will have to find ways to replace those home runs and those big hits and RBIs. That's what we are doing now, trying to find the best bat or two that we can find out there.

Q. What were his best strengths as far as making the staff better?
BRUCE BOCHY: Well, I think the experience that he brought behind the plate. He played three years for us, and really got to know the league or the division, our pitching staff. There's a sense of comfort thrown to them that's very important for a staff, and with the year that our pitching staff had, both our starting rotation, our bullpen. I think a lot of credit goes to Bengie. I thought he did a nice job for us.

Q. When you look at the ballpark, as far as hitters, have you ever felt like in attracting free agents, that that's been detriment, because known as such a pitcher's ballpark?
BRUCE BOCHY: In my tenure here, I have not experienced that, to be honest. I haven't had any position players say, You know what, this is not a good ballpark for me to hit in. It's a pitcher's ballpark. No, it's a great city, a great ballpark, great fans, and we have gotten some nice -- Aaron Rowand, for example, that have come here and enjoy playing there at AT&T.

Q. How important is it to have a guy like Barry Zito, a veteran, so durable in the starting rotation, especially behind the two youngsters?
BRUCE BOCHY: It's vital for us, when you look at the two kids and then you have an experienced guy like Barry who has not missed a start, and really, I thought, threw the ball well this year. Gives you stability in that rotation and the experience that you like to go with those kids. I think with the job Zito did last year made us a better staff.
And then the signing of Randy Johnson, that was an important signing for us with his presence, his experience also, along with Zito, to help not just those two kids you mentioned, but Jonathan Sánchez. Those guys helped buoy the staff and keep things in order.

Q. Brian mentioned to us that he's pretty comfortable with the idea of maybe a lead-off platoon of Torres and Velez. What are your thoughts on that as a possibility? If that were to happen, would it just be neater to have them both in left field, or maybe could Velez move around more? How would you envision that working?
BRUCE BOCHY: Well, we have discussed our lead off situation quite a bit the last couple of days. Velez did a nice job, Torres, both. Ideally, sure, you'd like to have one guy that leads off for you and get used to that role.
But with the way we are set up, we are fairly comfortable with those two. I'm sure Velez right now, the front runner for getting the lion's share of the playing time.
But with where we are at in our batting order, we are comfortable there. Velez, there's times where they both can play. You know, Velez and left, Torres going into right field gives you two top-of-the-order type guys.
Torres as a role player did a great job for us last year. Very impressive year. This kid came to in spring training and really was a long shot to make our club. But the job he did in the spring warranted playing time.
We are comfortable with those two right now.

Q. The people that dwell on stats would say that Velez's on-base percentage is not high enough; is that something he has to work on consciously to improve?
BRUCE BOCHY: It's something to work on -- we know how important that lead-off guy is in getting on and on-base percentage. Your hope is the experience of getting playing time is going to help increase his on-base percentage and his discipline at the plate and his hitting ability. This kid just continues to get better and better.
So that's part of the growing process for young players, especially a lead-off hitter. I think the more Eugenio leads off, you hope that he does get better and finds more ways to get on base for you.

Q. If you have Sánchez hitting second, if that's a possibility or likelihood, where do you see Edgar in the lineup?
BRUCE BOCHY: You know, where we are at right now, Sánchez could hit second or third. You know, it's not etched in stone that he will be our No. 2 hitter depending where we are at going into spring training.
It's nice to have that flexibility with him, because I think he would be a pretty good No. 3 hole hitter, and I think he does a pretty good job in the 2-hole. I think we could put Edgar in the 2-hole, who has a lot of experience in there, and drop Eddie to the 3-hole.

Q. What importance did pitch count and inning count play?
BRUCE BOCHY: We really didn't baby these guys, you know, these young pitchers. I mean, sure, we were a little cautious at times where we were not going to risk injury. But we let them go. We think they are fine, and their pitch count is in a reasonable area. We didn't take them out at 90 or 100 pitches, because that's where we felt was enough.
Timmy has shown he can log pitches and go innings. Matt Cain, he's a horse that can handle a heavy load there. I think Sánchez increased his strength and stamina to where he could run his pitch count up there.
I think the strength on our staff is the rotation, and they did a great job of getting us deep into the game. When you look at innings our bullpen was used, it was at the bottom of the baseball, and that's what kept them fresh and throwing well.

Q. Is there ever talk among hitters about how difficult it is to play in a ballpark where it's more pitcher-designed? And do you talk to guys about it who might be frustrated by it?
BRUCE BOCHY: Oh, there's no question there's talk about it, ballparks, especially the bigger ones. I went through that in San Diego at Petco, a pitcher's ballpark.
To be honest, I did address it a couple of years ago, our ballpark, because there was some balls hit, and then the frustration builds up and guys start complaining a little bit.
But it's a fair ballpark. It gets to the point where sometimes a ball would not have been a home run anywhere else, but they wonder if it would have been because of the ballpark. I love our ballpark. It's a fair ballpark. If you hit it, it goes out. I think too much is made of that.
Again, you want to stay away from excuses, and that's what that becomes. At times you probably do need to address it with a club that has a bigger ballpark, because they all want the numbers at the end of the year. But there's still room out there for base hits.

Q. Where do you stand on the replay issue in baseball?
BRUCE BOCHY: I like where we are at with it. I thought, you know, the home runs, I think it showed this year. We had a couple ourselves where they reviewed it and it was overturned.
You know, I believe a guy hits a home run, he deserves it. If it doesn't go out, then it shouldn't be a home run. Pitchers shouldn't be penalized for that, or the ballclub. So I think it's worked out well.
As far as taking it a little bit further, no, I'm not big on it. I'd like to keep the tempo of the game going.

Q. Will we see a platoon at first base this year going into the season?
BRUCE BOCHY: At first base? Really depends where we are at as we go to spring training. Ishikawa, a great job at home. We know on the road he had his struggles, and that's something he has to figure out. He did show that he can hit left-handers. Whether he's the guy or we platoon, it's hard to answer that right now.

Q. What have reports been, if any, from Dave, about both Freddy and Edgar?
BRUCE BOCHY: Doing well. Freddy is about to start baseball activities. I talked to Freddy a couple of days ago, and his knee is doing fine. His shoulder, it did take a little while to get that to where he was comfortable where he could swing the bat. So he's doing well.
And Edgar, he's coming along fine. We expect him to be ready in spring training.

Q. Where does Fred Lewis fit in for next year's plans?
BRUCE BOCHY: Freddy right now is one of our outfielders that will be competing for a spot out there with John Bowker and Nate Schierholtz, Velez, Torres. I know that's a lot there, but where we're at right now, he's in the mix with the other guys as far as playing out there.

Q. Is there any chance you could think about Freddy as the lead guy again? He does have the on-base percentage.
BRUCE BOCHY: I put him there last year. Freddy actually came up to me. He wasn't too comfortable leading off, and so I took him out of that spot.
But that was my hope for him, to lead off, because he does see pitches. He does get on base. You know, he has speed and he could be a good lead-off hitter, but the guy has to want to do it and be comfortable. He admitted that he was not real comfortable with it.

Q. How do you see right field playing out?
BRUCE BOCHY: Well, it's going to be competitive. Nate obviously is going to be in the mix there. Schierholtz, he's playing winter ball and doing a nice job down in Puerto Rico.
My guess is it will be deep into spring before we know how we are going to have those guys placed in the outfield.

Q. What's the difference, if any, in filling your roster these days with the economic downturn, as opposed to back when the economy was going great?
BRUCE BOCHY: Well, I think we have to be aware of the economy in baseball in general. I'm sure it's affected the game and a lot of teams.
I think coming into these meetings, a lot of us are wondering how much it is going to affect us. And as far as a team being able to keep their payroll where they want to, or if they are going to have to drop as far as filling up the team -- I think you can see younger and younger players coming up through the system.
That's one way a team can keep their payroll under control and still put a competitive team out there.

Q. Is there any reason or optimism about Rowand putting up better numbers overall?
BRUCE BOCHY: For me, Aaron, he had a good first half. Second half he did tail off a little bit. But really, going into probably mid-August, his numbers were pretty good. He did tail off, but Aaron's health -- and we don't look for Aaron to carry this team.
But to have a normal year for him, that might be hit .270 and hit 15 to 20 home runs and driving in 75, 80 runs. Sure, I expect Aaron to have those kind of numbers at the end of the year.

Q. I think you mentioned last year around this time that he may play fewer games, and he did play some fewer games. But seeing that he did tail off again, might you have the same mindset?
BRUCE BOCHY: Yeah, I have talked about this, too. I haven't with Aaron, but I did try to call him the other day. With the tail-off the last couple of years, it's something I'll sit down with Aaron this spring and talk to him about, maybe try to give him a break now and then in that first half to see if that can help him out in the second half.

Q. You're working on a new contract and there was negotiating. Are you going to be the same guy? Are you going to be any different? Did they ask you to try to make the hitters more patient, or is there any kind of different style, more aggressive, less aggressive?
BRUCE BOCHY: Hopefully it came across last year when we talked about this and the contract would come up. I don't do anything different. I don't have control over that. The only thing I have control over is what we are doing as a club and how I prepare the team and do the job I'm supposed to concentrate and focus on.
So that's not going to change, regardless of my contract status, and that's the way it has to be. And I've been doing this long enough that hopefully I understand that; that I can't change because of my situation.
Now, the other question was?

Q. The hitters and their lack of patience. Bengie is pretty much gone, but still you have guys who swing quite a bit.
BRUCE BOCHY: We knew going into the season we would not be a patient club. Bengie is a good hitter and an aggressive hitter, and we know he's not going to walk a lot. We know Sandoval is going to be aggressive up there. We knew we would not hit the top of the league with on base percentage.
But with that said, we have some work to do. We can't be in that area at the bottom along with -- as far as power, when you're not getting on base and your slugging is way down there, then you have an issue. That was a problem for us last year.
So these are things that we will work on this spring.

Q. Pablo did show a little more patience, like the last third of the season; is that a sign that he can maybe sustain that sort of thing, still be aggressive enough?
BRUCE BOCHY: Yeah, it's experience, getting at-bats. He's a smart hitter. You're not that good if you're not, and he knew that they were expanding the zone on him and was aware of it. So he was laying off a lot of those pitches.
He's got to realize that, Hey, you can't do that far out of the zone, take your walk, and we'll hopefully keep the line moving with the guys if they are doing their job behind him.
I think Pablo sometimes takes it upon himself to be the guy that can carry us, which he can, but he has to understand that. He can't try to overdo it up there as far as expanding the zone.

Q. How do you work on that in spring training? These are established players in terms of patience. Will there be an emphasis?
BRUCE BOCHY: Yeah, with the change --

Q. Discipline.
BRUCE BOCHY: The hitting coach, Hensley, he's aware of this. He's all over the world right now working with our hitters as we speak. He's in Puerto Rico, working with Schierholtz and Kevin Frandsen, and he's been down in Venezuela where Pablo is and Guzman.
I think, first of all, they need to know and be aware of what we are trying to do, and that's to get better as an offensive team. Part of that is if it's seeing more pitches and getting on base, without taking away their aggressiveness, if they get a good pitch, we want to let it go, too. It's a mindset that you develop in the spring.

Q. Off-topic, do you have a pet peeve, anything that players do that drives you crazy?
BRUCE BOCHY: If they spit chew on my shoe. (Laughter.)
I just like them to play the game. You know, I don't let little things bother me. They all have their little routines or things that they do. But, you know, if it's -- I think slowing up the game or trying to show up the other team, yeah, that's when I'll have an issue with any of my players. And Hoffman used to do that a lot.

Q. Did you have a good experience managing Olivo when you had him? A lot of names out there.
BRUCE BOCHY: Yeah, hard-nosed player, great kid, everything he's got. He plays the game the way you want, and that's hard and all-out. I enjoyed my time with Olivo.

Q. What's your connection with Nick Johnson?
BRUCE BOCHY: What's my connection?

Q. Do you know him well?
BRUCE BOCHY: Just from playing against him. No, I don't know Nick real well.

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