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October 8, 2010

Joe Maddon


Q. I don't know if this came up earlier in the series, can you talk about coaching Bengie Molina and the situation that developed and maybe Vladimir as well.
JOE MADDON: I had Bengie in the minor leagues with the Angels, too. One year we were playing in Texas and I think Phil Nevin was suspended. Bengie came over from Midland for a couple of days, a couple of games, a couple of days. And I worked with him a lot in the outfield and I really believe that was a particular moment that really changed him. Not because of me, the fact he had a chance to come and see what the Major Leagues was all about. All of a sudden Bengie kind of took off after that.
A wonderful young man. I know all of the Molinas, a pretty good catching family. Bengie and I have been close for many years, including the World Series in 2002. A special fella.
And Vladimir, his mom is a great cook, I tell you that. Every day at home in Anaheim he came in with Tupperware of Dominican delicacies that were fantastic. He is one of the nicer guys you meet in the game. A great teammate. He always plays the game hard. There are times he is not feeling that good but you would never know it; he runs hard to first base all the time. He will go from first to third with anybody, like he did the other day against us.
They are two really good people. Good friends. Very good friends.

Q. Joe, Carlos was just speaking was just talking about the flight up last night, and how you encouraged the guys to be themselves and stay loose and he said there is a lot of joking, a lot of pranksterism stuff and no guys really down and moping. Can you just address the need for them to stay on that even keel?
JOE MADDON: That's who we are. I don't want anything to change because we lost a couple of games all of a sudden. We've won, I think, three games in a row 16 times this year. Earlier this month or the last month in September, we lost the first two games at the new Yankee stadium and came back and won two games there. Did the same thing in Kansas City several days ago, so we have been through this before. I think one of our strength sincerely that we are a very tightly knit group. It is kind of like family. The other day we get kicked out of a game like we did, or I did, it is not just about protecting them, it is showing how much you care about them, too.
It is a family situation that we do have. So there's no doubt in my mind that we'll come back out tomorrow and play a lot looser hopefully. To this point you really have not seen our best efforts.

Q. Were you surprised at all how often your hitters have been 0-1 in counts? It seems you have been a pretty patient team all year but you have gotten behind. It looks like maybe your changed your approach a little bit.
JOE MADDON: No, the Texas pitchers they are good. Cliff Lee has that reputation. It is not like we just want to take strike one, but oftentimes he'll put strike one in a pretty tough place to hit. It is not just about throwing him down the middle. He's very good at that. I had the privilege of watching Wilson several innings on TV in the last game because I had been kicked out, and he also was painting very nicely. They just pitched this well to this point.
Both starters are very good. We haven't changed any part of our approach. Sometimes the other team just does that well and you have to tip your hat and they have. They have pitched very well to this point. And it's not like we're doing anything really different. It's just sometimes the other team plays really good, and they have.

Q. Joe, all the teams in the playoffs are the best teams. Is there anything that Texas has done in these first two games that were better than you had seen in the regular season or better than anticipated? Are they doing something especially well right now?
JOE MADDON: Well, their pitching definitely put them in a good spot. I mean, primarily they have been pitching well, and every time we hit a ball relatively well it has been at somebody. So their positioning on defense has been good. I am not suggesting that it wasn't good during the season. We don't see them that often, so it's hard to compare. But if you play the tape back, especially on the first night, we hit some balls really well right at them. And I watched how they are moving around prior to the pitches thrown versus each one of our hitters. So obviously just like us they do a lot of work in that particular area. And I have been really impressed with their positioning on defense and overall their starting pitchers have got ahead and they have pitched well.

Q. How much do you like the guy you have on the mound tomorrow? Because he has obviously come up big for you in situations similar in the past.
JOE MADDON: Matt is Matt and he is always going to be that. He is not going to be intimidated by the moment. He is going to go out and pitch his game. The one thing I really wanted to do is that, and to not necessarily pitch to a scouting report. I prefer to go out there and pitch to your strengths first and let the hitters adjust to you. Really wanted him to stay in his delivery. That's been the one sticking point for me all year, when he has come out of his delivery, the command has become a little bit of an issue. And this guy is a strike-thrower. So if we can get Garza to come out tomorrow, stay in the delivery and pitch to strengths first, I think you will see a pretty good game.

Q. Joe, I know we talked about Jaso's journey where he was coming from in Spring Training, what you were telling them. Describe how he went from where he is now to where he was then and the lead-off hitter in a postseason game.
JOE MADDON: It is a far cry from Spring Training. We began in Spring Training going through our meetings with each player individually. And I'm talking to John at that time, and there's a lot of things he had to improve upon. And during the first parts of Spring Training the different things just weren't showing up and I got a little annoyed about it, and I sicked Digalo Bobby, and our catching coach, Ramos, and they worked hard on improving different items. And he has. He improved on blocking, receiving in general and throwing.
The big thing is hitting. We always knew he was that kind of a hitter, the patient kind of hitter that he is, that he will see a lot of pitches and accept his walks. That's who Mikey has always been. But to morph into the player he is leading off in a game tomorrow under these circumstances, and how well he handles it, for those of you who are around him often, you know how calm he is in these different moments. And I am impressed with all of that with him. He's a different kind of guy. He's a book reader. He's a backpack carrier. He is just different in some ways. And I think that helps him be this guy in these tough moments.
He will show up tomorrow and I really anticipate he will play a good game. But he has come a long way since the opening of Spring Training this year.

Q. Your team hasn't faced Colby Lewis, what do you expect from him?
JOE MADDON: Of course we've watched him on video and I know he's had a really good year. He can be very tough on both righties and lefties. He has a real good change-up, velocity is definitely good enough. He's a pitcher. I see a pitcher out there, he is a big guy. Very competitive, I see a very competitive man. So primarily I see fastball, good off-speed pitch. He has the breaking ball. But I see a competitive man when he pitches, and I think that's probably one of his strong points. He really is very aggressive the way he goes about his business, and I know he's had a great year. I have not seen him for several years. I think he was with Cleveland at one point when I had seen him in the past. But to his credit, what he has done over the last couple of years, to arrive at this stage is pretty impressive.

Q. Joe, when you were discussing the offensive production in the first two games, Crawford after yesterday's game seemed to lament that the Rays haven't really gone to play their style of baseball. Why haven't they been able to? And how do you get to?
JOE MADDON: Because the Texas pitchers have prevented it. We just haven't had enough base runners. The things we like to do we have not been able to do. And I am certain if you were a fly in the wall in the Rangers' meetings prior to the series to this point they have gotten everything that they have written up. We have not gotten on base enough, we cannot create the havoc that we normally do. Our at-bats, we have not seen enough pitches. Normally one of our goals is to see 145-plus pitches in a game. When we do that our winning percentage is normally over 70%. So we have not even come close to that based on the quality of the Ranger pitching up to this point.
So you have not seen a whole lot of our team. Our defense has been shoddy and that normally is a real strong point of ours. And the pitching up to this point has not been as good as it can be. So we have to play more like our game. We have to be more like us starting tomorrow.

Q. Matt had an interesting comment yesterday, he said, "The club feeds off of Joe, our manager." And your calmness, and especially in these types of situations. And how hard is it to, in a situation like this, avoid panic, human nature and try to press?
JOE MADDON: I mean, we talk about it all the time. The thing I've always wanted from our guys is to play the same way regardless of the date, and we have been accused of playing too hard in Spring Training sometimes and I kind of like that. So as we play this game this time of year, I don't want to be different than the game on September 15th or the game played July 15th. I always want to us show up and be the same group of guys.
Like I said before, there's no extraordinary effort necessary tomorrow. It's just about being ourselves and playing our game. I prefer keeping it very simple. If anything, going into tomorrow's game, even in today's workout, I want nothing other than just going out there and having pretty much a good old time and really not overanalyzing anything. Just go out there, be yourself and come out tomorrow and just play a good game of baseball and that's all I'm looking for.

Q. You have been among the league leaders in walks all season and getting ahead in counts and getting to the bullpen, you don't want to change your approach at this point in the season, but as far as attacking them earlier in the counts, is that going to be changed?
JOE MADDON: You have to look at the first pitch of the first day, that was Cliff Lee and he has got that reputation. He oftentimes will be in the game in the eighth inning or ninth inning at 110 or 115 pitches and that's just who he is. And Wilson has had a good year, and actually he's the guy that on occasion you can work a count, get some deeper counts and see more pitches, but he wasn't that guy yesterday. He was very effective and he did throw strikes. So as we move to Colby Lewis, he's another guy that's capable of being a strike-thrower, but that is not to say that we want to shift our approach.
The other point is, we have just got to get ahead and once you get ahead you and get base runners in different situations and all of a sudden you can put a different thought in the pitcher's head. To this point they have been able to do what they want to do. To their credit, I am not criticizing; it is good for them. We have to be more like us and play our game. When we can do that things will change a bit. So this point the reason why you are seeing them dominate, they have been getting ahead in the counts. Cliff Lee is that guy. Lewis pitched to that level yesterday and we have to keep grinding it out and playing our kind of game until it comes back to us.

Q. Joe, your familiar, I'm sure, with the claw and antlers thing they have going on here.
JOE MADDON: I was made aware of it, I didn't realize the definition behind each part.

Q. As somebody who appreciates team-unifying diversions I wondered what you thought of it.
JOE MADDON: I thought it was interesting. I was curious as to who came up with it in the first place. It's definitely great for team building. It is a great way to go about it. I commend them for it. It is one of those things that corny becomes cool, and it has become cool for them down here in Texas.

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