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October 20, 2010

Charlie Manuel


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Charlie Manuel.

Q. Obviously made a change in your lineup, Francisco over Ibanez. Last night you said it was maybe getting too late to make a change. Can you talk about why you decided to go with Francisco over Ibanez?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I wanted to put another right-hander in the lineup. And also I talked to Raul and I feel like Raul is trying too hard and overswinging, chasing bad balls, the swing's getting long.
Plus I wanted to put another right-handed hitter in the lineup, was probably the biggest reason. But at the same time I like Francisco, because of the fact that he did finish a season hitting the ball good.

Q. He hasn't had a ton of playing time here lately. He didn't have a ton in September and then got hot in those last four or five games. What are the challenges that he faces in not having played a bunch and can that hurt a guy or can it help him?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think the biggest thing about it, it would be his timing, and also getting comfortable at the plate. He has a knack for -- he can stay on the ball and he has a knack for hitting. He's a good fastball hitter and he works the count pretty good. And usually he'll pick good pitches to swing at.
And like if he has any kind of timing, I feel he has a chance on the guy today.

Q. Do you have Contreras tonight? I think he threw 24 or 25 pitches last night.
CHARLIE MANUEL: Yeah, probably. We can probably use him. How much, I don't know.

Q. If you were ahead in the series, do you think you would have brought Ben Francisco in or is this partly also to make a change and maybe it gives a sense of urgency to everyone?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think, first of all, today I wanted to get another right-hand hitter in there and I thought a whole lot about it. And I think how Raul is swinging at this time right now has something to do with it, of course, but at the same time I also think of Francisco on left-hand pitchers and this guy's numbers are righties a little bit more than lefties. And also I wanted to do it to eliminate one of our left-hand hitters out of our lineup.

Q. What have you seen in Halladay's two outings against the Giants this year where they've had a little more success against them than most teams do?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think, first of all, I think Roy is a strike-thrower and, I think these guys, I think they go upswing on him.
The Giants, I've made the statement ever since I've been managing in this league, the Giants for some reason like to play us. They've always kind of kind of got into playing us. They always had a lot of life and they take their cuts. I think they look at it and they just enjoy like wanting to see if they can beat us.
And I think that they're aggressive and I think Roy's mostly around the plate and they're apt to get some hits when you're swinging. If he's not putting the ball exactly where he wants to and stuff like that, you'll run into a couple or some hits. And that's basically what happened. But the other day, the game he pitched last week, I felt like him and Lincecum were pretty much even up.
They got the big hit when they had to and they caught the ball and they hit one and pitched when they had to. We didn't -- they kind of outplayed us that night. But as far as both their performances, I thought they were pretty close, pretty even up.

Q. You said you talked to Raul, when did you talk to him? Was it last night or today? And when did you make the final decision?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I talked to him this morning. I talked to him, what time is it? 2:45. I talked to him about 1:00.

Q. Roy doesn't normally get to see the same team two times in a row in a short span. Do you think the way he prepares that might be an advantage for him, that he has seen these guys just five days, four days ago and he gets to see them again?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think the biggest thing for Roy, first of all, he's going to be prepared. And there's no doubt about that. I think the first thing, when you see a pitcher like Roy Halladay or Lincecum, either one, when they're putting the ball where they want to, when they're really what you call really on and they're putting the ball where they want to, I think they're going to be successful, because that's what makes them stand out over other people. And so therefore like I think that's the difference in him being real good or giving up a few runs.

Q. Have you talked at all -- you talked about Raul trying hard and talking to him about that. Seems like maybe some other guys might be pressing as well as the hits kind of, you have trouble finding hits. Have you talked to any other players, in particular, about just maybe relaxing a little bit, not trying to press so much?
CHARLIE MANUEL: We've got guys on our team and you say about that, like in baseball it's knowing how to know thyself. Most of our starting lineup is 30 years or older, and you've heard me make a statement. I talk to our guys every day in some way, eye-to-eye contact and I talk to them, mostly the hitters it's about their hitting.
But at the same time like if you watch us sometimes when you're not hitting the ball and you make an out, you can always say, well, they're taking too much. I see first-pitch strikes and things like that or double-up fastballs, they look good, and I say why wouldn't you swing at that.
Then when I stop and think about it, believe me, that's kind of how it goes. And like on some days, like you'll see a guy he'll be hitting those fastballs and some days he won't swing at them and some days he'll be hitting breaking balls. That's the game. That's the whole process.
And then when I think back I know every one of our players, and you can see -- when you see somebody overswinging, like Raul is right now, I would say, when he's trying real hard, he strides fast and he swings and he chases balls up out of the strike zone and swinging kind of wild, I mean, our guys are not -- some of our guys are not doing that. If anything, we've taken a lot of pitches.
But there again, that's also kind of the hitters that they are. Like if you work a count and you go deep in the count, that's usually when you become a real good hitter you're not as scared to hit behind in a count with two strikes on you and things like that, but getting a ball to hit is the big thing.
If you take pitches a lot and you help the pitchers, there's a drawback to that. Some pitchers you make pitch because they can get wild and you want to run the pitch count up and that's a way to get them out of the game. Other pitchers, the ones that throw strikes, a lot of times you should like to swing at them if you get something good to hit.
And it's hard to explain, but definitely I don't know if we -- I don't think we are overtrying. I think if anything, it's just the fact that, I don't think -- actually I don't think we're trying too hard. I look at our players they definitely seem loose.
And they're not pressing. I mean, I would say from Raul's standpoint he's kind of a warrior and he tries hard all the time. That's who he is. And first of the year he was overswinging and things like that. I've seen that in the last couple of days from him.
I also saw him when he had good swings, when he hit Chapman down there, hit two balls off Chapman, it's probably two of the prettiest swings you'll ever see. And Chapman was running 100 miles an hour. Very disciplined and got good balls to hit and he had a short, quick swing. That's the difference I see in him.
But the hitters, when you look up and I see, if you look -- I'm not talking about one guy. I see gaps in our hitting. Basically what I see that you don't see, you see our hitting from two years ago. I see our hitting today. Does that make sense? You follow that? You see the numbers. You see the homers. I haven't been seeing those today. Really, our offense is down. And I'm not talking about one guy. Our offense basically is down. And reasons, I guess that happens sometimes. But when I get right down on it and I find out the reason, I'm going to try to correct it because I want our guys to hit just like they used to.

Q. You said the offense is down this year. Have you changed anything about the way you manage based on the identity of the team this year versus what it was two years ago? And, secondly, do you change anything about the way you manage being down in a series whether it's talking to the guys before the game or what you do during the game?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I don't think so. I think I kind of -- the game, at times, it kind of runs, and you've got to be -- you've got to make moves and stuff in the game or play the game the way that you think is best and try to put -- as far as situations and things, put the right people in the right places and things like that. They're the ones that they have to execute for you.
I don't think I manage any different. We've been in a lot of close games. I'd say when you get back to our offense, we have had a lot of guys hurt this year and things like that. And I don't make excuses, but that can be some of it. I said some of it. That's not all of it. And whatever. Our pitching is definitely one of the reasons why we're here, a big reason, and we've been in some real close ballgames and we've played real close games basically because our offense hasn't been as good as it has in the past.

Q. I think it was Shane who said you guys play your best when your backs are against the wall and you've shown that time and time again. Do you feel like now facing elimination here, possibly not going back home, are your backs against the wall enough now?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I would say, yeah, today we're 1-and-2. You lose four games and you're going home. Like I say, if we -- in order to survive we better start playing, if that's the case.
To me, I like to see us jump in and win four straight. I mean, I didn't necessarily come here to go seven games, something like that. Basically I want to win four. But at the same time if we won four straight it would have been fine with me. But I don't think that's going to happen. So I'd say we better buckle down and get after it.

Q. To go back to the offense. The Giants have thrown you a very high percentage of breaking balls. And yesterday, for instance, you didn't get a single hit off a breaking ball. Do your hitters need a different approach to either hit the breaking ball or to get more fastballs to hit?
CHARLIE MANUEL: You know something, we go over that all the time. We talk about that a lot with a lot of our hitters. And what happens -- one of the problems with our hitting is you've got advance scouts and all the TV and Internet and things like that, and nowadays they go to school on your hitters, and they pitch us backwards a lot.
When I say backwards, that means when we're ahead in the count they don't give us fastballs, they give us breaking balls and change-ups and they pitch to us more. Especially our little guys, they don't throw those guys the fastballs they used to.
We're basically a fastball-hitting team. And a lot of times you see them a count will go 3 and 1 or 2 and 1 or 2 and 0 or something like that they'll throw us a breaking ball or something like that we swing at it and we put it in play and dribble it.
Those counts two or three years ago, those were fastballs because they would look and see the middle of our lineup and they didn't want to get down to our third and fourth hitter or even fifth hitter in some ways, but at the same time those other guys got more fastballs. They've gone to school on us.
We talk about that a lot. Our guys like to swing. And the whole thing about it is when you get up in the count, you're supposed to get a good ball to hit. Sometimes we do not get a good ball we can hit or handle. And that doesn't mean -- we put the ball in play. We try to put the ball in play, of course, with two strikes on you, if you've got to cut your swing, put the ball in play, don't strike out. We don't make some of the adjustments.
And you can talk about these things, but they've got to hit home and you've got to work on improving on those things. It definitely might take a while. But the league kind of has adjusted to some of our hitters if you sat there and watched the games. If you are a baseball guy and you've seen how we used to do it -- and I used to say watch the game and it tells you how you win and how you lose, if you look at our lineup and you see the adjustments we've made in the last couple of years and how the pitchers pitch us now, then we still gotta make some adjustments against how they pitch us.
Can we? Yeah, definitely we have the talent to do that, I feel like.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Charlie.

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