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December 7, 2010

Ron Roenicke


Q. Have these meetings been different as a manager now that you're the guy in charge on the field?
RON ROENICKE: Yeah, they are different as a manager. As a coach, you know, you just kind of have to listen and learn more. As a manager so far, you've got a little bit of input and I think you're asked different questions that you know, that mean more I guess.

Q. You said after you were named manager that one of the first thing you wanted to do was reach out to as many players as you can on the telephone. Where are you in that process?
RON ROENICKE: I've probably talked to about half the guys now. Just got off the phone before this with our newest addition, Marcum, and had a nice conversation with him. All of the conversations so far have been great. You know, it's hard when you go into a place, you don't know anybody, and I certainly would like to go into Spring Training with at least having a conversation with all the guys.

Q. When you write out your first line up card, do you expect to write Prince's name in the lineup?
RON ROENICKE: I expect to, yes, because I think somebody as a high-quality player that he is, I don't think those guys move as often as you think they will. I think that if we have him, we have a tremendous lineup, which I am looking forward to. And so I'm planning on him being there, and if it doesn't happen, it's because of something else really good that we're going to get back.
So he's a great player. He's going to be hard to replace. And if they do replace him, it's going to be somebody good. But that's really Doug and Gord. That's thing. And it's hard for me to have that much input on guys that I don't know. When they say, would you trade so and so for so and so, when you don't know half of that, it's tough to make those suggestions.
With Marcum, we faced him a lot, I know with the Angels what he was against us and I know what kind of a competitor he was tough every time we faced him. It was an easy call when Doug asked me about him.

Q. Have you talked with Prince? Is he one of the guys you've talked to?
RON ROENICKE: I haven't talked to him yet.

Q. Have you talked to Braun yet?

Q. How did that go?
RON ROENICKE: Very good.

Q. Who is the first guy you called?
RON ROENICKE: You know, I don't want to get into who was first or whatever.

Q. It wasn't alphabetical in other words?

Q. You won't tell us who you liked the most so far?
RON ROENICKE: No, (laughing).

Q. Lawrie was supposed to be in the Fall League and he didn't show up?
RON ROENICKE: Who was supposed to be in the Fall League?

Q. Lawrie.
RON ROENICKE: You know, same thing. I'm just coming into this. I don't know the guys. I don't know the situations, what's gone on. That's more of a question for Doug.

Q. So you don't know if he asked out?
RON ROENICKE: No, I don't.

Q. The Brewers made a big investment in Gallardo a few months ago, for him, basically, I guess, to be their ace or something close to it. You coming into, are you really looking for big things from the top of your staff?
RON ROENICKE: Certainly, he's got the ability to be a premiere pitcher, which there are not a lot of. I mean, when you start looking at guys who you can consider to be No. 1 pitcher, not No. 1 on your staff, but that you can consider to be a No. 1 pitcher, you know, you run out of fingers pretty quick. Or I should say, you don't run out of fingers very quick.
You know, the Halladays and those type of pitchers, there just are not many of them. This guy has a chance to be a really great pitcher.
Now, I don't want the pressure to be on him to where he's going to have to be one of those guys. And getting Marcum I think really helps him, because I think we expect and everybody else expects Marcum to be a great pitcher.
He was Toronto's No. 1 last year, so you know, I think a little bit -- I don't want to put pressure on pitchers. You start labeling guys No. 1 and all of a sudden, they feel like they have to do something different. The reason they are so good is because they do what they do. They don't try to do too much. They are great pitchers. You hope the makeup -- I know when we were looking at Marcum, the makeup was a huge part in getting him. So you hope the makeup is really good with these guys with the great abilities.
When those two combine, you have a superstar.

Q. So you feel he has a chance to get into that stratosphere?
RON ROENICKE: I think he does. Again I haven't been around him, I don't know his personality. I get what they tell me and from what I hear, yeah, he's got a chance to be really good.

Q. Is he a guy you've chatted with yet? Not to keep running down the list?
RON ROENICKE: I have not talked to him yet. Rick talked to him, and talked to Rick, so you know, they had a nice conversation. And Rick has talked to almost all of the pitchers. He's got a couple more guys he's got to talk to.

Q. As you introduce yourself to players and in turn learn about them, albeit over the phone, what are you looking for in those conversations?
RON ROENICKE: I think it's more just introducing myself and getting a feel for them and if there's any, I don't want to say needs but if there's anything that they think we need to address, or to help this team. When I talk to Ryan Braun, hey, what can we do better; are there things we need to address to make sure that in September that we are still in this thing.
And for every year, not just one year, but just things to bring this organization to where they want to be which is a contender every year.

Q. Was his list a long one, things he would like?
RON ROENICKE: He along with the other guys I talked to, they just think it's just minor tweaks here and there; that we are a very good team and we feel like we just do a couple of things better and that we are going to be really good.

Q. As far as the center field situation, you have Carlos in the Dominican right now, and everybody has been waiting for him to really be that center fielder that they thought he would be, how do you see that playing outgoing into Spring Training?
RON ROENICKE: Well, you've got two quality center fielders in Cain and Gomez, and I think you know, you go in with -- I can still consider him kind of a young guy. Cain is obviously a young guy. So when you go in with two young guys, it's comforting to know that there's somebody else there. So if somebody struggles and you just need to give them a break, you've got a really good replacement.
One of those two guys, they are going to really do well and I'm sure take the job.
But, if they don't, you've got a really nice combination of the two. You know, with the Angels, for the last few years, it's been Mathis and Napoli as catchers and either one of them could be a No. 1 with somebody but the combination was really good. When somebody needed a break, the other guy stepped in and did well. I don't want to say whose job it is because I think they will show whose job it is when we go to Spring Training.

Q. And this might fall into the category of you haven't been around the guys, but Carlos as far as hitting, there have been some things the organization has wanted him to do better. What do you think he has to do to establish himself?
RON ROENICKE: Well, we saw him a little bit with Minnesota. Toll-wise, his tools are ridiculous, they really are. I mean, he's got everything you need tool-wise. To put them all together, you know, you would like to see him be a little more disciplined at the plate. I know when we faced him, you know, you knew if you maybe bounced that breaking ball, that he had a good chance to chase it. Well, if he learns to layoff this thing, he's going to be really good. He hits the ball well in the zone, it's just getting back in the strike zone and not just corner to corner but get back in the place where you want to hit which is outer third to inner third. Nobody really wants to cover the whole thing, maybe Guerrero covers the whole thing, and maybe a little bit off, too, but most hitters, they have to bring that zone in a little tighter. And first pitch if it hits on the outside corner, you wants to swing at it because percentage-wise, what are you going to hit on it, 200, so you want to bring that back into the zone and he needs to do that.
We saw the tools, you know, great base stealer, fabulous range in the outfield, tremendous arm. But to bring all of those things together, he needs to keep being better all the time. He needs to improve on every little phase of his game and hopefully you get the tools that you see, they all come together and you have a great player.

Q. Are you guys hoping to find a veteran catcher to pair with Lucroy, a developing guy. Are you hoping to find somebody that you can still do that with this year?
RON ROENICKE: I think Doug is looking at a lot of different things, and I think any time you have a veteran catcher with a young guy, especially if it's the right veteran, it's really going to bring that young guy along.
We just think of guys, Bengie Molina, when he goes over to Texas, and here is a guy that really gets it behind the plate, really understands calling a game, understands what that role is with the communication between the pitcher and the catcher, which is really important.
So any time you have that with Von, trying to do that with Von, it will just help that young guy understand what it takes to be that total package catcher. It's not just blocking balls. It's not just throwing out runners, but it is about game calling and it is the communication that you have with a pitcher and when he's struggling and in between innings you walk over to talk to him about what's going on and get him back on the right track, that takes a lot of experience. But when you have an experienced guy out there helping you with it, it makes it a lot easier.

Q. Bengie is out there, right, available.
RON ROENICKE: I don't know if Bengie wants to play again, I don't know.

Q. It's hard to find those guys, the veterans.
RON ROENICKE: It's really hard.

Q. Sounds like you guys like him --
RON ROENICKE: I think Doug is looking to improve all areas of the team. Any time you can improve an area, you're going to look at it.

Q. I was going to say, on the flip side how do you feel about having a young catcher as your every day guy?
RON ROENICKE: Well, if it's the right young guy, yeah, that's fine. You know, I don't know how many games that you can expect Lucroy to catch, but if it's anywhere from 100 to 120, I think that's pretty good. So the other guy who ever his backup is going to be, is going to get some playing time.

Q. What's your thinking right now on your relief pitcher situation? Realizing you haven't managed your first game yet, but just going over the personnel?
RON ROENICKE: It's hard for me. I've been looking at a lot of video the last couple of days as I did when I went up to Milwaukee to try to get familiar with the guys. Parra is a question, is he going to start or is he going to relieve. There's question marks there that it's hard to say, who is going to fill in, but we have got some nice arms there, and I can see that. And it is along with everything else; if you have a good arm, you've got to bring that into the zone where you want it. You can throw a hundred, if you throw it down the middle and it's going to get hit.
Even though they have got good arms, you are always wanting them to be strike throwers and there are certain teams that Toronto, Minnesota, who really emphasize pitchers and they get pitchers that throw strikes and it's really worked for them.

Q. That's Marcum.
RON ROENICKE: That's Marcum, that is.

Q. Doesn't blow you away but picks you apart.
RON ROENICKE: Yeah, great command in the zone.

Q. How much bonding have you got to do so far if any with your coaching staff?
RON ROENICKE: Not much. Same thing, I really don't know those guys either. I met with Jerry Narron and I met with Rick Cranitz it's and I met with Dale Svuem and so I've met with all of them -- I take that back. I have not met with Eddy Cedar. Talked to him a couple of times over the phone. Talked to Garth over the phone. So some of those conversations, it's still early. We need to -- but pretty soon here, we need to really start talking about Spring Training and how we want them to run and you know, what's the best way to do it. I talk to our strength coach, we have a new strength coach yesterday and trying to figure out how he likes to do things. It's a lot of getting to know the people and how we want to go about it. It's not just what I want, because what I want sometimes doesn't fit in maybe with somebody else in the program they have been doing. Maybe there's a compromise there that I tried to listen to how they like to do it, and hopefully we come up with the best plan.

Q. Do you think you will designate one of those, a camp director Instead of doing it yourself or do you like to run as far as the date --
RON ROENICKE: I'm going to organize how I want things. Now, Jerry Narron, and I've talk to him whether he's doing it on the computer or whether Eddy Cedar is doing it on the computer, all of us are going to be talking before we put it on the computer, the schedule for the day. And that's basically what I did the last five years. So I knew what we had planned. But Mike would come in every morning and basically change what we had.
So, you know, it's a lot of adjustments.

Q. Is it too early to ask what a Ron Roenicke led Spring Training will look like?
RON ROENICKE: It's not that much different. Everybody basically does the same thing. I would like to get the stretching, and talking to the strength guy, I would like to get that done in the morning so the conditioning is done first and then we're just baseball skills after that.
You know, it's rotations in different areas, especially pitchers and catchers for the first week they are there. Just trying to get their legs in shape. They will be throwing their bullpens and once the regulars get in, now we have got to get to the batting practice, the life BPs. It's not that much different. I just want it to be high energy, let's get it done, get it done right, and not be out there for ever.

Q. Not having a past relationship with your coaches, is that daunting or concerning?
RON ROENICKE: Yes, until I talked to them. I felt like this is going to be hard, but you know, once I started having conversations with them, it's going to be easy. I really like all of the things that they are telling me. The ideas that I have they say, oh, yeah, we can work that out. I thought about that, you know. I thought, well, I'm going to have to get to know these guys just like the players. But after the conversations that I've had with them, knowing what kind of people they are, it's going to be really easy.

Q. Was there a moment since you were a manager where you woke up and said, I'm a Major League manager, something that struck you in some way?

Q. Because when it first happens, it comes at you so quick and then you don't --
RON ROENICKE: And you don't have a chance to slow down at first. So those first, really, week, I never knew I knew so many people. I mean, you know, the texts I was getting, I know nobody had my number. Once that quieted down, then it was like, you wake up and all of a sudden, you know, Mike may call me and say, hey, we have got an interview you need to do, and I'm like, you know, I'm the manager now and I'm not a coach any more where I'm just answering one or two questions. Now it's talking about the whole team. It was always before, it was always specific to what I was doing, so it was outfield questions and baserunning questions. It was when I was a third base coach, do I just send a guy --

Q. Now it filters through out.
RON ROENICKE: Now I have to talk about everything. Which I really enjoy. I really missed that, when I was coming up managing, being able to talk about the whole game and my input, also, in the whole game, that's what I enjoy.

Q. Alcides did not have the kind of year at the plate that everybody really wanted him to --
RON ROENICKE: Who is that?

Q. Escobar. What do you see in him that you would like to see him improve on in the spring so he can have a little better at-bat?
RON ROENICKE: It's almost the same thing with Carlos, because that zone is big for him. He's got the ability, he's got very good hand-eye coordination. I talked about Vlad Guerrero; it's good to have that, and sometimes it's bad, because you know, they can hit balls that are six inches off the plate. You know, you see Vlad do it all the time. Well, I saw tapes on Escobar, and he's got really good hand-eye coordination. Sometimes that's not necessarily good because now you think your zone, instead of, you know, for instance, myself. I had the zone that was about this big that I could hit in (indicating small).
I knew I could hit this pitch but if you threw it on this corner or that corner I had a little bit of trouble, so I took more pitches because I knew I couldn't hit this paragraph par so now my zone is right here, which is a pretty easy zone to handle. Those guys can hit this and they can hit this. So now they swing at it and this becomes another two inches and they swing at that and now you've got this.

Q. And in Triple-A and AA it was easier --
RON ROENICKE: Because you can make more mistakes. When you go into a scouting meeting and talk about a player that's a free swinger, you say, don't put it in the zone. You know, even if you're 3-1, you can still go corner, off, he's going to chase it. That's where you've got to shrink that zone back.
He's hit. I looked at his numbers in different areas in winter ball and he's hit before. I think when I see that, you know, when you go in and you look at guys stats, 230, 240, 250, he's never hit, so why do you expect him to hit in the big leagues. But when you see 320 and 290 and 310 and 330, the guys hit. So there's a reason why he has hit in the past. Now we have got to get this part good (mental) so face it, the guys in the big leagues, it's better stuff or either way better up here, the pitchers.
So the hitters have to adjust just like the pitchers do. They have to get better upstairs. They have to shrink the zone back into areas where they can handle the ball more often and square it up more often.

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