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October 5, 2010

Charlie Manuel


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Charlie Manuel.

Q. Do you have an update on Carlos Ruiz, is he all good to go?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Right now, Carlos is good to go.

Q. What about J.C.?
CHARLIE MANUEL: J.C. Romero is going to be all right. He's going to be good to go.

Q. What does it mean to have a couple of veterans that obviously have had success in the Major Leagues, but haven't been to the postseason like Halladay or Sweeney on the team?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think, first of all, I think both of them are absolutely tremendous to have on your team. That's who you want. Sweeney is more -- he's very vocal, he's an energy guy. He's one of the nicest guys you'll ever run into, and he's a team player. Best thing about him, he can still hit.
I think Halladay, I could sit here forever and talk about Halladay. I mean, he's very dedicated. He's very intense. He wants to win. He definitely wants a ring. He wants to be the best pitcher in baseball, but he also wants to be on the best team. He definitely puts his team before himself, and he's definitely very inspirational to all of our players, and he plays a big role in the make-up of our team.

Q. Any chance you've decided on how many pitchers you're going to be carrying on the postseason roster?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Our roster, maybe sometime this afternoon or in the morning we'll announce our roster. But right now we are not absolutely set on it, but it's very close.

Q. Over the years looking back on postseason play and that type of thing, how important is experience, having been to the postseason before when it comes to something like this?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think it's very important, but at the same time I also think there is nothing like experience. That's why I say it's important. But also, I think, when you see a team like we're getting ready to play, I think that they remind me a lot of us about three years ago. They have a lot of life, they have a lot of energy, they love playing the game, and they've got some good players. I think those kind of teams have a good chance too just as good as the experience comes into play. They are kind of learning and the feel that they get for postseason is definitely, I think, the more you get into it, the better you can become. But at the same time it goes both ways. Experience definitely counts good, big, I mean, but at the same time you still get back to the heart and the desire.

Q. First time around, is it tough?
CHARLIE MANUEL: First time around is tough, but second and third and fourth and fifth it gets tougher and tougher. I mean, that's kind of, I guess, expectation, and the fact that players have of themselves, I think, weighs into all of that.

Q. Going into 2008 postseason, going into this postseason, which time did you feel better about your team going in?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I feel a couple of different kind of teams. But like I was back in 2008, like we were hot, and our pitching got real good. But in September, all the way through the playoffs and it seems like since we got Roy Oswalt and our starting pitching, I think this year's more, I think it kind of stands out a little bit more than any pitching staff that I've had here.
At the same time we were very good through September, and I felt like in 2008, when it got down to the pitching, actually it played a big role in us winning that. And I think that's what it's going to be like in this postseason too.

Q. The success that you guys have had in Game 1s the last couple of years, is there anything you can trace that back to and how important is that in this series especially?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Repeat that, please.

Q. The success that you've had in Game 1s, winning Game 1s in series the last two years, is there anything specific you can point to in the make-up of your team or anything? And how important is this Game 1?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think that we understand how important the first game, especially in a five-game series, are. And I think the fact that we were successful in the last two years, I think that helps us, and I think that over the course of those years, I think when I talk about this year's team and we think about all the close games that we've played, I think all that experience comes into play there, and the fact that we can play in a close game. We do make big plays at the right time, and we do hit at the right time, and we make pitches. And we pitch at the right time, when our pitchers take us to a place in the game that gives us a chance to win. All that said, I think that's how we'll play in this playoff too.

Q. How comfortable are you with Jimmy Rollins' leg being healthy right now? Have you decided whether he'll lead off or bat in the lineup?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I'm very comfortable with Rollins right now. I don't think that I -- I don't see in Jimmy, I don't see him being -- like having to -- he's not as far as real sharp at stealing bags right yet. But I think that could come any day now. I think he's running good enough definitely to play.
As far as my lineup goes, I haven't really decided on it yet. I've been writing lineups down, but I pretty much know what it's going to be.

Q. What are you debating most right now with the postseason roster? And why the delay, I guess? Is it the pitchers or is there a spot?
CHARLIE MANUEL: First of all, there's no delay (laughing). There's no delay. I mean, we don't have to have a roster in until the morning like before the game or something. Just because we don't announce a roster, we're not trying to hide nothing. I mean, no. There's no delay. We're very close to our roster, and it will be finalized by in the morning.

Q. You guys went through that long stretch early in the summer, you guys were kind of struggling to score with injuries and everything. Would you say because of that has this season been tougher than like the last three or four? And how were you able to make sure the guys never lost their confidence and they can turn it around?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think a long time ago, four or five years ago, four years ago -- yeah, four or five years ago when we at the half -- right at the All-Star break when Pat Gillick traded some players and we turned some of our positions over to some of our younger players that were on the field, gave them a chance to play. I feel like the attitude and the chemistry on the ballclub of our team changed since then. I think the things that we talked about from an everyday, just the everyday environment and everything, we talk about when guys get to play and the injuries and we try to make no excuses. Myself and my coaches definitely try to make no excuses for someone. We don't collect excuses. When somebody gets hurt, the game has to go on.
And I think sometimes that when -- we have been very fortunate and also have the talent enough. Like when we stick somebody in there to play, we find a way or that guy playing finds a way to be good and actually help to us hold our own until we get our regulars back. That's been going on now for four years.
We've always had key injuries. We've always had big injuries. If you go back and look, this is not only the first year we've had injuries. We've had, I remember -- I can't remember exactly when because time's passing, but at the same time we've had injuries that every year we've had key injuries and we've had people step up and fill in and that's what the team's all about.
That's a good sign. That's good for our organization. It's good for our team. It's good for the people that play the game. It's good for the people that work here. And I think if you go back and check on it, this season -- every season's different, and every season you have injuries, and every season you lose focus sometimes of where you're going and everything. There's a lot of distractions in the game. But at the same time like at the end and you look back and you win, that means that you conquered a journey. And we just do one step we've taken, big step.
Now we've got two more playoff runs and we've got a World Series. But at the same time, we set ourself in a good position to play.

Q. Cincinnati's lineup is very, very dangerous. But it looks like this season when you guys have faced them you kept them under control. How much can you look back to that and use going forward here as dangerous as they are, to be able to keep them under control in this series?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think back to what you're talking about, they do have a good lineup. They've got like two guys with over 25 home runs, they've got four guys that hit over 20, two other guys that hit 18. They've got a lot of power in their lineup, they've got a lot of young guys in their lineup. And probably the biggest thing about it is we play them right before the All-Star Game, and they've got half a year of experience since then.
They are a good team. They won 91 or 92 ballgames and they're very capable of going a long ways in the playoff or even winning the World Series. They are a good team, and we're going to have to outplay them to beat them.

Q. One thing that the Yankees were able to do against you guys last year was neutralize the lefties. Are you worried about the Reds being able to do that with some of their lefties, Chapman over there and some of your guys?
CHARLIE MANUEL: They've got, as I look at their roster, I think they have four lefties that they're going to have in the bullpen. And they've got Chapman and Arthur Rhodes, and they probably have Wood, the guy that pitched the one-hitter here. I think they're very well equipped. I think what it gets down to is we've got to hit their lefties, because they're going to bring them, especially from the middle part of the game on. Our left-handed hitters are going to be facing left-handed pitchers. And that gets back to some of the big guys in our lineup. You know, like we've got to supply enough runs to win the game.

Q. You look at this team and you go back over three years, you've had a lot of success here in Philadelphia. How does this team differ maybe in personality from the other three teams that you've had here?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think, actually, I think this team got tested especially in the middle of the season when the Braves took off and got seven or eight games ahead of us. It looked like they were going to leave us in the dust, but we hung in there and we stayed resilient, kind of like we always have.
That's when we kind of came together. And I think our team's a grinder. And I think we sit there, and I think the fact how many close games we've played in and how many we've won definitely has something to do with it. And that's an indication of who we are. I think whoever beats us, they're going to have to outplay us, and I think that we're going to play just like we always do. That's every day we come out here to play to win the game. Our philosophy's going to be tomorrow or Wednesday we're going to work on winning that game.

Q. So many great players across all sports are judged on how they perform in the postseason. Roy Halladay has never had that experience. It's the glaring hole on his resume. I don't know how much stock you put in hunger, but how hungry do you think this guy is to fill that hole in his resume?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think he's very hungry. I think he has a lot of hunger. I think he's starving, all right (laughing). He's intense and he wants it. I mean, he wants it. This guy's for real. He loves the game, and he wants to be on a winner. He wants a ring. I think this guy's -- I think he's going to give everything he's got.
Only thing I can tell you is how I look at it, I'm going to send him out there and let him pitch, and he's going to do the best he possibly can and we'll go from there.

Q. Volquez is kind of a unique guy. What does he do to neutralize left-handed batter that's other right-handed pitchers might not have as much success doing?
CHARLIE MANUEL: He's got a good fastball, but most of all with the left-handers it's a changeup. The changeup. He has command of his changeup, and it tails away on the left-hand hitters and goes down and away from him. But he's got a real good fastball. He pitches off his fastball. He's aggressive, and he keeps good composure, and this guy likes to pitch, too. He's a competitor. He's young. We've got to make him throw the ball over the plate. We've got to be very selective. But at the same time we've got to work on getting to him.
We've got to make him pitch. And we've got to try to make him pitch and make him run some pitch counts up if we can. But at the same time we've got guys in our lineup that our left-hand hitters are definitely, on right-hand pitchers, when we're on, they usually have a hard time getting to us.
But I think this has the buildings to be a really good game. Both of these guys are good, Halladay and Volquez. And this kid is legit. He's a big, topnotch pitcher.

Q. Roy was in here earlier talking about when you guys were struggling midseason. You guys had a meeting in New York, and whatever you said in that meeting in New York, he said really kind of resonated and helped the team out. Do you remember kind of what that talk was like or what you might have said?
CHARLIE MANUEL: You know what? I had about, I want to say I felt like I definitely had more meetings than I usually have. I say a lot of things. But what I say usually definitely comes from the heart. Because a lot of times I don't know what I'm saying, all right? What I say just kind of comes out, and it's honest, you know. But, no, I mean, at the same time I kind of do most of my meetings, I kind of remind guys what we want to do, where we're going, and how we want to play. And I kind of keep it in line on our philosophies and our focus on how we play, and things that we want to keep. Most of the time it's all about our team and winning.

Q. Tone-wise was it one of these kind of just keep your chin up? Or was it more of a yell a little bit?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Usually in our meetings, I don't like to really talk about it because that's just me and my team. Usually we'll start off and try to be kind of diplomatic or whatever, but that doesn't work because that's not who I am, and I end up screaming and hollering. And, hopefully, they get something out of it.
But you know what, I can say one thing about our club, they do react, and at the same time what I tell them and what I say to them they must like it because they're very coachable and they listen. If I say something wrong, I'm sure they'll confront me.
And I like that part about it, because that's who I am. Basically, I think it's who they are, and I think they get all the credit because they do the playing.

Q. Along those lines, you've been here a while. You've got a core group that's been here a while. Lot of coaches after while, players, no matter how good the coaches are the players start tuning them out. How have you managed to keep it fresh for your group over these years to the point where they continue to respond when you do have to get after them a little bit?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think you always know where you stand with them, and I think that I'm consistent. And I think that I'm what you call -- I love baseball, and I like to be around it. Also, I think my players see how much I pull for them and how much I want them to do good, and I want them to be the best players in baseball.
I think that I leave them alone. I let them play, and when I feel like I have to talk to them on or say something, I do. But at the same time when they do things right, I definitely applaud them and pat them on the back and tell them how good they are.
I think that's kind of the atmosphere that we've set and the attitude. I give my coaches a lot of credit for that. But at the same time I go back to the players because that's how they want it, and that's how they play.

Q. For a long time there was a dry spell in Philadelphia for playoff baseball. That's changed the last four years now. Now to the point where a guy like Roy Halladay wants to come here. I'm curious, not that you would ever look past an opponent, but now that the bar has been raised and you've achieved what you've achieved, does part of your playoff preparation in your mind think about where you want to take this team and the history that's being built here, as opposed to the first year when everyone's glad you're in? I'm not saying so much the experience, but the expectation, the mojo that you can carry knowing what you've already accomplished and what that's become for the team?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I talk sometimes to the players about where we've been and where we can go and things. But I don't like to talk about it very much, because we are a one-day team. That's who we are. We play in that moment on that day. I look at it like I'm sure we've got players that don't look at it that way.
But I look at the regular season or the playoffs like that's a World Series for me every day. I mean, that is how much I love the game. That's how I look at it. We go out there and try to play the best possible way we can. And that's the excellence over success that I talk about.
You know, success is something that, you know, if you master the game or excellence, you'll have success. Then all of a sudden you just keep playing and you cross the finish line. Somebody tells you win. To me that's the way we approach it, who we are, and how we look at it.
We've got all kinds of different personalities in our locker room. At the same time when it comes right down to it, when we're playing good baseball, we like to play on that day.

Q. When you had that meeting, did you call it more based upon what you saw on the field and what they were doing, the attitude? A sense of complacency, a combination? What was the main factor behind that meeting at that moment?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think it was a combination of things. The fact that I thought we could play better, but at the same time we were getting away from the things that we do right and the things that we do good. Basically the things that we wanted to keep like to keep our success going.

Q. In your mind, what kind of grind would it have been without the Oswalt trade? How close was this season to going over the cliff in your mind?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think when we got Roy, I think we definitely, that definitely gave us a big lift as far as our rotation because we've got a top of the rotation guy. But at the same time like we were struggling offensively, especially to the point during the first half of the season and Jamie Moyer getting hurt. And the fact that he won ten games for us played a part on what kept us kind of in a good place once we got Roy and we got our rotation established.
Like, Jamie was hurt, and I felt like we had three big starting pitchers and top rotation guys and we got Ryan Madson back, and Brad Lidge became very consistent in our bullpen. I felt like we took off, and that's what gave us the push.
I felt like our pitching kept us in games. That's why we won close games, our pitching kept us in games and we kept the score low enough that when we did do something in the game we could win the game, and that's exactly what I saw.

Q. Considering the quality and the quantity of the lefties in Cincinnati's bullpen, will you think about splitting up Polly and Howard tomorrow and the rest of the series?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I look at that and if I'm not mistaken, if I want to do that. Usually I would put up at least Polanco third, and if you go back and look, Polly, Utley were very close to about the same. Utley's hitting like .280 or .290 on lefties, and Polly's hitting .280-something. And I look at it so far it's about the same. That's kind of how I look at it.
I look at it this way, too. When Ryan Howard and Chase were hitting good, they definitely can hold their own on the lefties.

Q. You said that Roy's been an inspirational player for this team. Can you give us some examples of what he's done, how he's done it that's inspired the other players?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think you've got to be around him, he's quiet, but he comes to the ballpark and he's always working. You'll never see him in his locker. On days he pitches, whether he wins or loses the game, as soon as he comes back in the clubhouse, he's in the weight room or somewhere working out. He's doing the bike or he's running.
I come to the ballpark, and next day after he pitched, I see him running outside. I think if you need to go ask his teammates, really, because I think they can explain to you probably better than I can. But in the game he's very intense.
When he's pitching good like the other night in Washington, for instance, he did not say nothing the whole game. He just went over and sat down between innings. You could see the guys kind of leave him alone. He doesn't -- he doesn't get hostile or nothing like that, but he's so locked into what he's doing, and it's just who he is and his presence and how he goes about things. And his heart and his will to win, I think that definitely rubs off on our team.

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