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October 5, 2010

Cliff Lee


Q. Obviously second year in a row you've switched teams and sort of the hired gun to come in and lead a staff. Can you just talk about the pressure involved with that, and obviously something you, I guess, relish?
CLIFF LEE: I really don't think there's -- for me there's not any pressure. I expect more out of myself than anyone expects out of me. Every time I take the mound, I expect to give the team a chance to win, get deep in the game and limit the amount of runs that the other team scores.
You know, I don't put any extra pressure on myself. I expect to be successful, whether it be with the Rangers, the Mariners, the Phillies or the Indians. Every time I take the mound, I'm confident and expect to do my job effectively.
And I put as much pressure on myself as anybody puts on me. You know, I don't really call it pressure, but since you've phrased it that way, that's what I'm going to call it. But I expect as much out of myself as anyone expects out of me. You can call it pressure, call it what you want. But I'm not nervous or worried or any of those kind of words that would go along with pressure. I'm more confident and excited and anxious. So I'm looking forward to it, and it's going to be a challenge and a lot of fun.

Q. A lot of managers like to say power pitching wins in the post-season. First of all, do you consider yourself a power pitcher, and regardless, what do you attribute last year's success, post-season success?
CLIFF LEE: Power pitcher? No, I don't think so. I like to pitch with a fastball, though. That's what power pitchers do. But I don't think I'm a power pitcher, though.
I feel like I can locate pitches, and I've got a few different weapons I feel like I can use in any count. I feel like I locate the ball more than a power pitcher.
When I think power pitcher, I think of a guy that throws upper 90s and throws it right by people, and that's definitely not me. I feel like I've got to locate, I've got to be able to move the ball up and down, in and out, and change speeds and stuff like that. Yeah, what was the other part of the question? I don't remember now.

Q. What do you attribute last post-season's success to?
CLIFF LEE: Last year's post-season success I attribute to locating pitches, playing on a team that was a lot of fun to play on, had a good offense. We played all aspects of the game well. You know, it wasn't me, it was a group effort. It was our offense scoring runs, me making pitches, us making plays and all of that.
But individually I think it was -- my success was due to locating pitches and being -- having conviction in every pitch I threw and expecting to be successful, and that's what I'm going to try to do again this year.

Q. The Rays did not put up big numbers against you this year, yet they experienced some success against you, pitched deep into the ballgames. What did they do and what do you pinpoint if you look back at those games why they were able to get the better of you?
CLIFF LEE: They scored more runs than we did. That's really it. They could have had all the success, whatever, I could have shut them down three games in a row, whatever. It has zero bearing on the game tomorrow. You know, I've had a lot of good games, I've had a lot of bad games, and I've had a lot more in-between games. But that has nothing to do with what's going to happen tomorrow. It's a new game. We start over on a new slate, and I'm going to expect to go out there and have success, and I would anticipate them thinking the same thing.
That's what it's all about. It's two of the best teams in baseball going at it and competing, and I wouldn't have it any other way. It's going to be a lot of fun, and I expect to be successful, but like I said, I'm sure they think the same thing, so that's the beauty of it.

Q. We saw how much the Rangers missed Hamilton. How much does Longoria mean to the Rays' lineup and now that he's back what will he mean?
CLIFF LEE: Basically they're the heart and soul of each offense. Longoria, that team without him is a pretty vicious blow, just like the Rangers without Josh Hamilton is a pretty big blow. Both lineups are pretty deep, so it's not like it's the end of the world. But when you take the best hitter out of each of those lineups, it's obviously going to make an impact.
Yeah, they're both really good players. I mean, yeah, I would prefer him not to be in the lineup if I had a choice, but I'm sure he's going to be in there. He's a gamer, he's a good player, and I'm sure he's going to come ready to play.

Q. Physically do you feel like you would be able to pitch on short rest if that situation were to arise at some point in time in the post-season, and if so, is that something you would embrace?
CLIFF LEE: I feel like I can pitch every day. I'll pitch tomorrow and I'll pitch the next day if they want me to. This is the post-season. You've got to be ready whenever they want to give you the ball. The competitive side of me wants to pitch every game. I mean, it's -- this is what it's all about, so whenever they want me to pitch, I'll be ready to pitch.

Q. The way you described yourself a few minutes ago, it almost sounded like a left-handed Greg Maddux in the way you go about it. Has his brother helped you in some ways?
CLIFF LEE: I wish I were a left-handed Greg Maddux. He was pretty good. I don't know if I would go that far, though. But if I come close to the career he had, I'd be thrilled. I could only hope and wish that my career turns into something like his has, or did.
Yeah, I think Mike has been a good impact on me. He definitely comes in with a thorough scouting report. He's got experience. He's played in the Big Leagues for a long time. He's got the genes obviously, just talking about his brother. Yeah, he knows how to pitch. He did it for a while in the Big Leagues, and he knows how to watch video and come up with a game plan and a scheme that is very thorough, and he's got a good idea. He's got a good idea how to get every single one of those guys out on the opposing team.
But with that, he knows that you've still got to use your strengths and pitch the way you pitch, and it's just kind of a blend between those two things, and he understands how that works, and you've got to respect that.

Q. Can you talk about being a Game 1 starter and setting the tone for the rest of the series for your ballclub?
CLIFF LEE: Obviously the first game is a big one. You know, you want to -- like you said, you want to set the tone. You want to win the first one. You want to -- especially in their place. You want to come in here -- we win the first one, it turns into us having the home-field advantage. So that's a big thing.
Yeah, we want to win. We want to win the first one, we want to win the second one, we want to win the third one and get it over with. But you've got to win the first one first. That's the first thing you've got to take care of. It's not just me that's going to do that. It's going to be everybody on the team. We've got to play as one unit and we've got to -- everybody has got to carry their weight and everybody has got to contribute and play the game fundamentally. That's really what it's going to boil down to, who makes the least amount of mistakes and who takes advantage of the other team's mistakes. That's usually who wins the games, especially in the post-season when you've got two teams that are -- basically every team that's in the post-season is a good team or they wouldn't be there. So the team that makes the least amount of mistakes and is the most efficient is usually the team that wins.

Q. How quickly did you feel comfortable in the Rangers' clubhouse after the trade, and is it a place where you can see yourself staying for the long-term?
CLIFF LEE: It didn't take long. I mean, within the first couple days. It's definitely a good group of guys, loose, everybody pulls for each other, everybody gets along with each other. Everybody can crack on each other and mess around. You know, that's the way it should be. That's the recipe for a good team, and that's definitely what's going on here in Texas.
Yeah, I enjoy it here in Texas. It's been a good ride so far, and yeah, I could see myself being here in the future. But only time will tell on that. I'm not going to corner myself into anything with that. But yeah, I definitely enjoy it here, and it looks like it's going to be a good team for years to come. And that's what I want to be a part of. I want to be a part of a winner, and that's what this team looks like it's going to be for a little while.
Hopefully we do some damage here in the post-season, win the World Series, and that will make things a lot easier for me.

Q. We've talked to Washington and players in the clubhouse about what happened for them when you got traded over to the Rangers, and Washington said that he couldn't wait to tell the other players, and the players talked about this feeling that they got from management backing them up. What was the experience like for you coming into that?
CLIFF LEE: Obviously starting Spring Training with the Mariners, we had different goals. We expected to be here where the Rangers are. We expected to win the division, and the way things played out, we kind of played ourselves out of contention, and when you do that, especially when you're in the last year of a contract, you're probably going to get traded. For me to get traded to a team that was six, seven, eight games, whatever it was, in first place, was an unbelievable opportunity, to go from last place to first place, that's a pretty good deal.
You know, to get in there and do my part -- you know, they were already obviously doing well before I got there. They were in first place by a pretty good margin, and for me just to get there, I just wanted to help the team. They weren't relying on me to do anything. They were already doing a pretty good job themselves. For me, I just wanted to come in and kind of help them do what they'd been doing, try to do my part.
Obviously I would have liked to have done better than I have since I've been here. I've had some good ones, some bad ones and some in-between games. But they had a good enough cushion and a good enough team to get us where we're at right now. I don't feel like I came in and carried the team here. They were already in a really good spot before I got there and won the division. I don't think it was because of me. I think it was because of a lot of guys.
It's a group effort, and I've enjoyed every step of the way. It's been a lot of fun, and hopefully we continue to play the way we have and everyone contribute, and if we do that, we're going to end up all right.

Q. I'm sure you've seen young pitchers come in and have success, but can you talk specifically about David Price and how quickly you've seen him come along to become the quality pitcher that he is now?
CLIFF LEE: I haven't got a chance to watch him that much. I know his numbers are pretty good. He won 19 games and started the All-Star Game. He's had a really good year. It's pretty obvious, he's left-handed and throws mid to upper 90s, so that's pretty good, pretty good tools.
I'm really not around him enough to give you a good answer on why he's doing what he's doing or why he's had a good year. But obviously being a -- I think he was the first overall pick, wasn't he, in the draft? Right? Was he? I mean, he's pretty good. So it's pretty obvious he's a good pitcher, but I don't know why. I know he throws mid to upper 90s and he's left-handed, but I don't get to see his routine, what he does in-between starts. I don't really know him that well, so it's hard for me to give you a good answer.
But stuff-wise looking from a distance, he's got what it takes to be a good pitcher.

Q. Just wondering, coming off the back issue if you feel you're 100 percent healthy, mechanics all back to pre-injury.
CLIFF LEE: Yeah, I mean, the back thing is gone. I'm not even doing treatment on it anymore, so it's a non-issue. I feel 100 percent healthy and ready to go out there and pitch.

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