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October 9, 2010

Charlie Manuel


KATY FEENEY: Questions for Charlie Manuel.

Q. Charlie, looking back two years ago, you went into the playoffs with Cole Hamels No. 1, starting every series. Now he's No. 3. Do you think it's been beneficial for him in any way? Has it relaxed him having Roy Halladay and Roy Oswalt?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think so, but at the same time when you say he's No. 3, I think why do we put him in the third game? Doesn't make him No. 3. We've got three guys that are at the top-of-the-rotation pitchers, and there is an argument where you could basically put 'em wherever you wanted to. Roy Halladay has stood out this year as far as his wins, innings, pitched, but the other two is pretty good, too.

Q. Chooch's got hit in the knee pretty hard last night. How is he doing?
CHARLIE MANUEL: He's doing good. I just talked to our trainer a minute ago, and he's doing very good. He's not as sore as we thought he was. Actually, he's pretty good.

Q. Charlie, speaking of Carlos, can you talk about, one, his development offensively. He's a threat on both sides, and the last couple of years, he's had to work with new pitchers, Derrek Lee, Roy Oswalt, Roy Halladay. Is that a difficult thing for a catcher and how has he managed to do that?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think -- I've said this over and over this year. For the last two years, I've seen a big improvement out of Carlos, and I think his hitting relates back to the fact that he's really gained control of our staff. And he is a leader on our -- he definitely -- most of the time, catchers become leaders because they handle the pitchers. I think Carlos over the last two years, the pitchers accept him, they like throwing to him.
He's tremendous at blocking balls and he is the leader on our pitching staff. And he handles them and he directs 'em, and, like Halladay said the other night, I think I heard him say he shook off one pitch and that was the last one to Phillips and that shows you how much confidence they got in him perform.
As far as improving his game and mastering his catching and becoming the best catcher he can be, I think it's relaxed him enough to where his hilting skills came out. In the last year of Triple-A he hit .300 and 20 homers. And when I seen him in the minor leagues, he could hit, but I think it's confidence and I think it's the fact that he likes where he's at.
And he comes to the ballpark every day in a positive mood, but at the same time, his defense came first. And his hitting skills, they've always been there, but I think the fact that he concentrates more, his batting average is up, his on-base percentage is up, and also one of the biggest things about his hittin', he can get the guys that throw hard and he's definitely a huge plus for us.

Q. Charlie, can you think back to 2007, and the difference in your team when you got back in the playoffs in 2008?
CHARLIE MANUEL: What's that?

Q. Is it possible for you to think back to 2007, when you first got in the playoffs, the division series and the difference you saw in your team in 2008?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think we were very happy in 2007. I think that is the first time that we won, and I think we definitely were very excited because we got in. And then we ran into a hot Colorado Rockies team.
And back then, they handled our starters, our pitchers. They discard -- if you go back and look first two games, they scored quite a few runs on us and got a hit on us in our ballpark. And then we got a good close game out there in Denver, and they beat Jamie Moyer and they eliminated us.
And I think we learned from that, and we had a lot of determination. And how much we like to play the game, I think that definitely helped change everything about our attitude in a way that we went about things and our goals.
I think the following year we were more determined. Once we got in, once we made the playoffs, we were concentrating on going deep or actual going to the series and winning. I think it definitely helped us. That was the experience part that came into play, I felt like.

Q. Charlie, for the Reds to win this series, they would have to beat Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay, and Roy Oswalt back-to-back-to-back. I know you've seen a lot of odds in baseball. What do you think the odds are of any team doing that?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think sometimes when you play, and when you look and say, "There is no way that can happen," the more I think about it and the longer I've been in the game and how we talk about the day-to-day thing and how we're going to play on that day, it can happen. It ain't goin' to happen, but it can happen (laughter).

Q. Having a 2-0 series lead, do you think this entire team can play a little more relaxed or do you thing they need to have the mentality that they need to finish it off in Game 3.
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think we're going to come out tomorrow and play a game just like we did yesterday and the day before and like 162. We are going to play in that game in that moment and going to try to win that game. That's the way I want us to do it. And that's the way I've been preaching since I've been in Philly. And I think that's what works for us and I think that's how we're going to achieve like where we want to go.

Q. The Reds gave you guys a lot of extra outs yesterday, and you took advantage, their wildness and the errors, and things like that. After the first couple innings in Game 1, you really didn't hit that too well. Do you look at your offense and say, Hey, we haven't really had a complete game offensively yet, and we're up 2-0, or do you look at it and say we're kind of fortunate to be up 2-0 despite -- with the offense not hitting?
CHARLIE MANUEL: First of all, I don't like to look back at yesterday, but at the same time, I will say this about the game yesterday: that's one of those games, and I'm telling you right now, Cincinnati has a way better defense than they played yesterday. And actually, we weren't playing so great until halfway through that game, too. We were making mistakes, too.
But it so happened that things snowballed on them, and it happens. And it happens sometimes in playoffs games, and there is nothing you can do about it.
But at the same time, you know, we took advantage of the mistakes, of course, and we ended up winning the ballgame, which is good.
I mean, that's what it's all about. You know, like luck sometimes is better than being good, I guess. But at the same time they're very capable and they are a good team. And I look at their team, and not only are they a good team, but they're going it get better. And I have a lot of respect for them and believe me, we don't take 'em lightly at all.

Q. One of those lines, that 7th inning last night, looking back on your career, is that one of the most bizarre innings you've ever seen?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Oh, no, Hal, I've seen us have some bizarre innings, too. I can think back to when we were playing Houston. That's as bad as I've seen us play and we were playing as rough or rougher than that. When you think back about it, we couldn't step on a base, we couldn't round a base, we couldn't do nothing. Really, that's hard to explain.
But those things happen and things that happen in the inning. You might not never see some of those again, but at the same time, that's the way it goes sometimes and that's kinda what happens.

Q. Is it all about experience?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think -- you know, I think it's just the way the ball is going sometimes. People like to call it "Baseball Gods wasn't with ya." That's the way to look at it.
Those guys are definitely not trying to do that, and if anything they might be trying too hard and that might come from more experience. But at the same time, that's just the way it is.

Q. When you took Roy out, you needed four innings out of your bullpen and you were executing your plan to perfection. How comforting was that, and you got to use each one of of them in key spots.
CHARLIE MANUEL: Yeah, our bullpen, we put in J.C. Romero, couple of left handers, and he did his job, he got them out. And then Jose Contreras and Ryan Madson and Brad Lidge, they were super. I can't say enough about Chad Durbin and Ryan Madson and Jose Contreras and Brad Lidge. And it's good to see J.C. Romero get in there and get a couple of outs, too.

Q. Charlie, Cole Hamels early in his career pitched some dominating games here, 15 strikeout game after his major league debut. How is he different now than a young guy who was dominating early in his career?
CHARLIE MANUEL: When you talk about experience, I think right now this year has playing for Cole. I think the experience he got last year and the fact that he had a downer season, and he went through a whole lot. And those are things that you have to go through in this game if you play long enough. And I think from bouncing back and having himself in the condition that he's in and throwing the ball like he is right now, I think that comes from the experience so far that he's got in the game.
I said this over and over, I can only see him gettin' better. The games that he's pitched here before, I've seen him pitch some real good games here. But at the same time, you can throw those out the window. Tomorrow is a different day, different setting, different day, different time.
I just want him to go out there and pitch the way he can and feel relaxed and concentrate, and he'll be fine.

Q. Charlie, how much has Davey Lopes meant to your running game, and how important is that to your offense? Werth got a stolen base last night that ended up not affecting the game in terms of how he scored, but he ended up scoring that inning and putting pressure on by stealing that base. Can you talk about that a little bit?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Davey Lopes is the best base running coach I've ever been around. When I played in the minor leagues, I played against him, and later on when I got traded to the Dodgers and I spent a little while in the major leagues with the Dodgers, he was a teammate of mine. And I always thought he was a tremendous base runner, and not only that, a great player.
Since he's been with us, he sees things I don't see from the standpoint of base running and pitching. And he has a tremendous way of studying pitchers, their delivery and things. And when he came over here as a coach, I turned our base running over to him, and the only thing I do is stop our runners, and if we take a chance that don't work, I've never said anything like -- like -- I back him 100% and I always will.
Because the percentage of base running and how many we steal, percentagewise, speaks for itself. And before he got here we used to hardly steal any bases. Victorino, if I'm not mistaken, stole four bases the year before Davy got here. And ever since then, our base running has been very important to us. And I give him the right to send our runners whenever he wants to.

Q. In 2008, your bullpen was a key at the back end. Are you as comfortable with your bullpen as you were in 2008?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Our bullpen in the last -- I would like to say the last two months, or since we got Ryan Madson back and the second half of the season, our bullpen, especially from a back-end, from the 8th to the 9th inning, has been very good. I'm happy with it and I have a lot of confidence in those guys. And I like to show 'em a lot of confidence.
They've been gettin' the job done and they've been doing a heck of a job for us. J.C. Romero is the only one who has had it tough as far as injuries and things like that and getting his command down, his control. But at the same time, he's still very capable of pitching good, and I like the way last night he got a couple of left-handed hitters out.

Q. When Chase either may or may not have gotten hit at the plate or may or may not have been safe at second, in a way, does that show the intangibles he brings? He does pretty much anything it takes to win?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Yeah, well, first of all, Utley has -- he leads probably the league, our team in getting hit with the ball. And to Utley, a walk or gettin' hit with a ball, I guess, that's the same as a single. If you talk to him, that's gettin' on base and that's something for your team. Utley is a winning player. He thinks winning play.
If he goes 0 for 4 tonight and we win the game, he's happy because we win. And if he goes 4 for 4, and we lose, he's the kind of guys that is not going to be happy and rejoice because he got 4 hits. I mean that. In his way, he'll think he hit good, but he would rather see us win the game. And we have more players than Ut like that, and that's what it takes to be a team and win.
KATY FEENEY: Thank you, Charlie.

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