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July 11, 2011
MATT VASGERSIAN: On behalf of Major League Baseball and the host Arizona Diamondbacks, welcome to Media Day for the 82 midsummer classic. As you know, a record 32 and a half million ballots were cast for this year's game, and that's a fact that the league is very excited about, very proud of and one of the many reasons we look forward to a great couple of days here in the valley.
It's my pleasure to start the program and bring up a gentleman who has worked in baseball since the 1950s. He has been with his current uniform, the Philadelphia Phillies since 1969. Please help me welcome to the podium, Phillies chairman and Honorary National League President, Mr. Bill Giles.
BILL GILES: Thank you, Matt. You can applaud if you want. I would like to remind my friend, Jackie Autry, that the National League is on a roll. We have won two of the last three World Series and of course we won the All-Star Game last year. It's my privilege this morning to introduce the manager, the National League manager of the All-Star Game. He's in his 17th season as a Major League manager, his fifth with the San Francisco Giants. He was Manager of the Year in 1996 when he was with the San Diego Padres. His teams have made the playoffs five times, culminating last year with the San Francisco Giants' great victory, first time ever for San Francisco to win a World Series. He has won 1,326 games as a big league manager, and he's one of only eight people that was born in France. It's my privilege to introduce the manager, Mr. Bruce Bochy.
BRUCE BOCHY: Thank you, Mr. Giles, and welcome, good morning to all of you.
First of all, just tell you what an honor it is to be here with the best players in the world. As I was flying in here, you still think about it, because this is one of the premiere events of all the sports, and so I still consider myself so fortunate to manage these great players and very, very honored to be here.
I think my role is to make my lineup so that's where I'll start right now. Leading off will be Rickie Weeks. Hitting second, my DH is Carlos BeltrÃ¡n. Matt Kemp will be hitting third playing center field. Prince Fielder, my first baseman, is hitting fourth. Brian McCann, who helped us get home-field advantage last year with that big hit, he will be hitting fifth. Lance Berkman is hitting sixth. Matt Holliday, he's hitting seventh, playing left field. Troy Tulowitzki will be playing shortstop hitting eighth. And Scott Rolen will be playing third base hitting ninth. And my starting pitcher is Roy Halladay. Couldn't have a better guy to start the All-Star Game for us.
You know, you talk about elite pitchers in the game, and you look at his numbers this year, very deserving, but when you talk about the best, this guy is always at the top. It's been like this the last few years, so really, looking forward to seeing him starting the game and excited to name him starter and look forward to the game, going against Ron again and his great squad, and just have a great game. Thank you.
MATT VASGERSIAN: Thanks, Bruce, and moving to the American League side of things, it is my pleasure to bring up a lady under whose stewardship the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim flourished, she represented the American League in an honorary capacity since 1999 and former owner of the Angels, Jackie Autry.
JACKIE AUTRY: Well, I'd like to welcome all of you here to Phoenix. This is the sauna I left in Palm Springs, so I hope you are all enjoying it.
As for Bill's comments about winning an All-Star Game, every once in a while, a blind pig finds an acorn, and you have to give up something once in a while, because he was so forlorned, I had to give him at least one game. You're welcome.
In any case, I'm here to introduce Ron Washington, in the midst of his fifth season managing the Texas Rangers. He guided the Rangers to the post-season and led the Rangers to their first World Series in franchise history in 2010. Texas has posted increased win totals in each of Ron's first four seasons as manager, including the team's fourth all-time winning season of 90 games in 2010.
Prior to managing, Ron spent 11 seasons as a coach for the Oakland Athletics and the final ten seasons as the club's third base coach. He appeared in 564 career Major League games as a player, spending all or part of his seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Minnesota, Baltimore, Cleveland and Houston. He has done a number of speaking engagements for Arlington high schools, and he has also participated in several African-American initiatives during his tenure including hosting a clinic at the South Oak Cliff Boys & Girls Club and attending receptions for the African-American Museum and the Jackie Robinson Foundation.
It is my honor and privilege to introduce last year's American League winning manager, Mr. Ron Washington. Thank you.
RON WASHINGTON: Thank you, Ms. Autry. I appreciate it. I'm honored to be here at the All-Star Game and to be here in the clubhouse with some of the best players that baseball has to offer, and that opportunity doesn't presents itself to managers that often. I'm certainly looking forward to it. And I think the fans and the players did a great job of putting the American League team together, and you know, I just hope I can stay out of the way.
So leading off, I've got Curtis Granderson at center field. I have Asdrubal Jose Cabrera, at shortstop. Adrian Gonzalez will be at first base. Jose Bautista will be in right field. Josh Hamilton will be in left field. Adrian Beltre will be at third base. David Ortiz will be the DH. Robinson Cano will be at second base. Alex Avila will be the catcher.
I've named Jered Weaver as my starting pitcher. And I think if anyone in this room follows the American League, you can understand why. I've never competed against a more competitive pitcher and a pitcher that will do anything it takes to make sure that he keeps his team in the ballgame, and as you can see this year, with his record of 11-4 and 1.86 ERA, that he has not had a big problem with doing that.
So with that, it's my pleasure to once again mention that Jered Weaver is my starting pitcher. Thank you.
MATT VASGERSIAN: Thanks, Ron. Before we open it up for your questions, we just want to hear from each of the starters regarding the honor of being named All-Star starter for tomorrow night's game, and we'll start with Roy.
ROY HALLADAY: It's a tremendous honor for me. I don't envy the people who have to make these decisions, decide who is going to pitch. There are obviously quite a few guys who are very worthy of it, and I just want to acknowledge that and congratulate those guys and say what an honor it is for me.
It's always a great experience coming to play here, and to get a chance to go out and compete against the best players is something you look forward to. So it's a tremendous honor for me and I'm looking forward to it. Thank you to Bruce and the National League for letting me go out there and compete.
JERED WEAVER: Tremendous honor for me as well, growing up as a kid, thinking that I would be part of an All-Star team. I was able to be a part of it last year, and that was pretty special. And now having a chance to pitch, like Roy said, against the best players in the world in the National League and be able to share the mound with a guy like Roy Halladay and all of the other pitchers, it's a very humbling experience. I'm definitely looking forward to having my family out here to be able to experience it with me and I'm just looking forward to the experience.
Truly honored and it has not really set in yet so I'm looking forward to getting out there and competing.
MATT VASGERSIAN: We are now going to open up the floor to questions.
Q. Jered, do you like the idea that you have an opportunity to help deliver home-field advantage for your team, potentially, in a World Series?
JERED WEAVER: Yeah, I think it's very important. Obviously we saw it last year. Home field can be a very important component in winning the World Championship.
So I think it's a great thing for the best players in the world to go out there and compete and work for that home-field advantage. I think obviously it's a very important thing.
Q. Bruce, we heard Roy allude to the tough decision of who will start the game. What are the factors in picking Roy to start?
BRUCE BOCHY: Well, I talked about it a little bit earlier. If you look at how he's pitched this year, I mean, the numbers are certainly deserving. But as I mentioned, when you talk about the great pitchers in our game today, the elite pitchers, or a pitcher that you would want to start in a game that you would have to win, Roy's name is always at the top of the list with just the incredible career that he's had. He's doing it again this year. This was really an easy one for me that he would start this game.
Q. Ron, what factors went into you putting your lineup together the way you did?
RON WASHINGTON: Well, you know, I looked at it and it was filled with run producers. So I thought I would do as much as I could to balance it out. Granderson one swing of the bat, he can get you a run. Cabrera is a switch-hitter, so he fits there.
From that point on, Bautista, Hamilton, Beltre, Ortiz, Cano, those guys produce runs. You have Robinson Cano hitting eighth. So all I can say is, watch out, Bruce. (Laughter.)
Q. Bruce, a lot of people like to talk about the number three spot in the lineup being reserved for the most dynamic offensive player. You have Matt Kemp there. Can you talk about his development and what you have seen from the other side of the National League West and whether you think he might be the most dynamic offensive player in the league right now?
BRUCE BOCHY: Unfortunately I see too much of him, being in our division. He's a guy with speed, power, a guy that can beat you with a base hit or a long ball. He's what you call a complete player, tremendous defender, but more so in the 3-hole, he can do so many things for you. He's so dangerous. The pitchers don't want to walk him, and yet they don't want this guy to beat them with the long ball.
Q. Roy and Jered, when you look around and think of all of the great hitters that are going to be in this game, how do you explain the trend for pitching to dominate a little bit more this year, adding on to the last couple of years?
ROY HALLADAY: You know, I think -- I don't know if it's ever -- you feel like you're dominating. There's definitely good hitters out there. It's been a challenge. You know, it's never comfortable, I can tell you that. I think that there's -- I think a lot of great players in both leagues, and you know, I think it's just one of those things that sometimes the numbers work out to where they may sway one way or the other.
But I can tell you, as far as the pitching standpoint, you know, it never seems like it's -- it never seems easy. Doesn't seem like it's pitching-dominated. It's always a challenge. I just think for one reason or another, the numbers may lean one direction or the other. It doesn't always feel as easy as they say it is.
JERED WEAVER: I'll definitely agree with that. It's definitely not as easy as they say it is. You definitely have to go out there and battle against some great lineups and obviously you have a game plan going into it, but again, the game plan is going to be a little different with each team you face. So I would have to agree with that.
Obviously having some success as far as pitching goes, but you never know what you're going to run into on any given night in a given lineup, so you can't take anything for granted.
Q. Jered, how and when did you get the news that you were starting and what was it like to get news from that against a guy that you competed against your entire career?
JERED WEAVER: Kind of caught me off guard. Scioscia came in and tapped me on the shoulder when I was in the weight room and said, "Congratulations."
And I said, "For what?"
He said, "I just got word that you're going to be starting the game." He said that Ron had called him. I obviously want to thank Ron for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this and to have a chance to start. Like I said, it's a very humbling experience, and I'm looking forward to getting out there.
Q. Bruce, just wondering what went into your decision to make Carlos BeltrÃ¡n your starting DH.
BRUCE BOCHY: I like the fact that he's a switch-hitter, he's got speed. He's in the 2-hole. He's having a very fine year for the Mets. I saw firsthand; we just finished playing them. I had some other guys I would like to put out in right field, too, that's part of it. This is the way I decided to go. He'll probably get two at-bats and I'll probably make another DH at that time. It gives you another dynamic in that 2-hole, which I think is going to help us against a tough right-hander, so I wanted the lefty there.
Q. There's always two or three guys that get left off the team, but this year, Tommy Hanson teamed to be ranked in the top four in the League in just about every statistical category. Was he particularly tough to leave off?
BRUCE BOCHY: He was very difficult, and I know how well he's pitched and I feel awful for this kid, with the season that he's having. It was just really a tough choice between he and Craig Kimbrel. Late in the ballgame, I think the reliever will benefit us a little bit more to give the starters a bit more time. I have quite a few starters on the club, but it was very difficult to get him on the club. Obviously I want to get some of my guys in there, but I do feel bad, because he certainly deserves to be here.
Q. Can you talk about the potentials for multiple 20-game winners this year? We haven't seen that in quite a while.
ROY HALLADAY: I don't know if I want to touch that one.
Obviously we are fortunate in Philadelphia to have some quality pitchers around the league and around baseball. But win totals are something we rarely talk about. I think that, you know, when your ultimate goal is to get to a World Series and try to win a championship, finding ways to win games is important. And as a starter, really I feel like your job is to give your team a chance to win, and whether you come out with that decision or not is sometimes icing on the cake, but never the ultimate goal.
I think those things may just kind of take care of themselves, and you know, you go out and try and help your team win. If it happens, it happens. But I think if you put a win total on the forefront, it makes it tough.
JERED WEAVER: Yeah, same with me. Wins are great from an individual standpoint, but the most important thing is for your team to get a win. You know, that's what the goal of a starting pitcher is, like Roy said, just try to keep your team in the game and give your guys a chance to win, and if you get a win out of it, great. But most importantly, first and foremost, is for the team to get a win. If you mix in some great defense and some timely hitting, get some runs and make some good pitches, you're going to get a couple W's. I think that's been the case so far.
But like I said, first and foremost is going out there to get your team the win.
Q. (Mariano) Rivera is not in the American bullpen for the first time in a while; what are your plans late in the game, maybe going to Brian Wilson?
RON WASHINGTON: For me, if you look at the All-Star Game today, especially in the American League, there's a lot of first-time -- there's quite a few young arms that's in the American League that's at the back of the bullpen that saves the ballgames. And without Mariano there, I wanted to make sure that I have a veteran that can handle whatever pressures that the game may offer. That's why I chose (indiscernible). So I protected myself in that way.
But all of those arms are great arms, but once again, the youth is taking the American League by storm, and it's a lot of first-timers. I want to win bad, and I just want to make sure, once again, that I had someone that can withstand whatever heat is applied.
BRUCE BOCHY: For me, I tell you right now, that definitely leaning towards Brian Wilson closing the game. He went three days without a day off, and he pitched yesterday, so I will check on him today. That was part of my reasoning for taking Kimbrel over Hanson. Now, they both deserve to be here, but I wanted another reliever down there to help out late in the ballgame.
Q. For Ron and Bruce, there were a number of pitchers who threw on Sunday who came to pitch today and also some injuries, how difficult was it to reconfigure your rosters after all of these players dropped down?
RON WASHINGTON: Well, the process that we have for the All-Star Game in my opinion is awesome. As the manager, you have so many choices, and then as players begin to get injured, those that pitch on a Sunday finally fall out, well, there were other pitchers in line. And each one of those pitchers, I know particularly in the American League, deserve to be an All-Star.
So in my opinion, you know, we miss those guys. I would like to have the Justin Verlanders, C.C. Sabathia, Felix HernÃ¡ndez from Seattle. I would love to have those guys but we replaced them with also pitchers that are deserving of being an All-Star.
I think the system works pretty good. And I think the fans and players did a good job of voting. And maybe they prepared for this, but it fell in place for me.
BRUCE BOCHY: For me the pitching side, there were no surprises. I knew (Cole) Hamels was throwing on Sunday and we had a plan how it would go. I knew I would take a pitcher from Atlanta. On the position players, you know, we had some surprises there. When (Ryan) Braun went down that was a fairly easy one, got hit fairly hard with (Andrew) McCutchen and was happy to get him on the club. And we lost two third basemen; (Scott) Rolen being a player of choice, he will start the game but it did allow me to bring Pablo Sandoval, who is in the midst of a 21-game hitting streak, playing great and I know he's missing time and he deserves to be here.
My last choice, really difficult, there are some good first basemen out there, and I was talking to Roy about their first baseman, (Ryan) Howard, I don't know how many RBIs he has, but I have three first basemen, so I decided to go with a catcher to give me flexibility late in the ballgame, left-handed bat, (Miguel) Montero is having a good year.
But that's the reason I went that way. But you are scrambling a bit when you have the number of injuries that we have to deal with before we chose the team.
Q. Your thoughts on Justin (Upton) and what you've seen from him?
BRUCE BOCHY: I was excited to bring him here, tremendous player. When I talked about Kemp earlier this year, what just a great young player he is, and Upton is right up there, too. He has the whole game, and being from -- playing for the Diamondbacks, I was happy for him, and the Diamondback fans. But he's played a huge role in how they are playing this year. But when you have a guy that has speed, power, the whole game, he'll be up there at some point this year and very excited to have him.
Q. Can you talk about the different type of lead-off hitter Rickie Weeks is, and with the configuration of your lineup, was it easy to put him on top?
BRUCE BOCHY: If you look at our lineup, he makes the most sense. He's been doing it, but I don't think there's a stronger hitting second baseman in the game. He's got great power. And he's really gotten better as a hitter with his discipline, he has speed and can steal you a base, and he's one of those lead-off hitters you have to be careful with. You can't say, all right, I'm going to walk him because he can beat you with the long ball.
Q. There are several set-up men on your team; is this a reflection of more acceptance of their role and how important they have become?
BRUCE BOCHY: Well, I think there are unsung heros on teams. If you look at the back end of a team, that's had a lot of success, you have a tendency to look at that closer and the number of saves. But somebody has to help get him there, and the starters are not all going eight innings or even seven innings.
So I think not just baseball people; managers, players, but fans, also, are starting to realize how important these guys are. I have two very important set-up guys (Sergio) Romo and (Javier) Lopez, I had to consider those guys, too. A guy like (Tyler) Clippard, what he's done. It was tough in San Diego, their set-up guy and closer. But those guys, they are out there as much as a closer usually and they have to save the game, too.
RON WASHINGTON: In my case, when I chose my set-up guy and ended up being (David) Robertson, I wanted to make sure that my bullpen has some left-handers and when David Price had the opportunity to not be a factor, then I went to Robinson (Cano), because he's having, number one, a tremendous year in New York and number two, I would think the hitter that is up there matters to him, he is get both lefties and righties with a tremendous breaking ball and tremendous fastball and he knows how to use it in the strike zone. You always need that one guy that you know when you put him in there, it doesn't matter what hitter walks up there. He can make the pitch to get him out. So that's why.
Q. Baseball is America's best pastime but also a game that's also closely watched and followed around the world. Tell us about your desire to go out and wow the world with your best stuff.
JERED WEAVER: Going to go out there and give it a go, that's for sure. Obviously it's a world-watched game, a lot of people watch it, like you said, from all over the world. I'll try not to think it too much, keep it in the back of my head. It's fun to compete against these guys and I'm just looking forward to the opportunity.
ROY HALLADAY: Being a sport that you love and are passionate about, and being able to be in an experience like this, it's such a big part of your game that can grow the interest of the sport, you're always excited to be involved and be a part of that.
Obviously as a player, you want to win games, but I think also you're trying to always keep the best interests of the game in mind. This is a great chance to do that, and to showcase baseball all over the world.
Q. For Ron, you touched on the process of selecting the roster. Can you walk us through sort of the difficulty sometimes with all of the different rules of picking a pitcher versus an outfielder; I'm from Kansas City so thinking of Aaron Crow and Alex Gordon, who is having a tremendous year.
RON WASHINGTON: When the roster is put together, the outfield is already taken care of. So by the time I got to Kansas City to have to make my choice, pitching at the time was the most important thing for me. And what I did after that, the guys in Kansas City, like Gordon, and Butler, and the guys that are having a great year over there, I put them in the final pool.
But pitching at that point, when I went over to Kansas City, was the most important thing to me, and I knew Crow was having a great year, and I just felt like he could be a big asset for my roster.
Q. Just want to ask about your No. 5 hitter, Josh Hamilton, up and down season with the injury, and last week, an emotional week for him; how is he handling everything right now?
RON WASHINGTON: Josh is handling everything with class, which he always does. You know, as an athlete, especially a baseball player, you know, when you have things that are affecting you off the field, you can't wait to get on the field because that's the one opportunity that you can focus on that you need to focus on, and not focus on something that can be a distracting factor.
He's handled everything that he's had to go through with a lot of class. Hamilton is fine. He's learned what balance is, and he's also learned how to separate. Those things come with being in the fire and gaining experience, and he's certainly getting to the point where he's becoming an elite athlete and also an elite person.
Q. Bruce, Albert Pujols recently expressed a desire to come to the game after coming off the injury list, was there any way to get him in?
BRUCE BOCHY: I guess there was a way if I didn't take Montero. I caught wind of that really late to be honest that Albert wanted to come here, but I had pretty much made up my mind that I was going to go with the third catcher to give me flexibility.
Again, first base, that's usually the most difficult position to choose somebody from. I just had pretty much made up my mind to be honest. I have three first basemen, so I just didn't feel I needed another first baseman on the club. And the thing that intrigues you about Albert is he could have gone to third base, but I had made up my mind pretty much already, though.
Q. Do you think there's a way that players who are originally named should be here for this very important baseball event, regardless of whether they are playing in the game or not?
JACKIE AUTRY: When you say "originally named," are you talking about players who were named but now are on the disabled list and can't play?
Q. Maybe like Derek Jeter. (Laughter.).
JACKIE AUTRY: Well, Derek Jeter is an outstanding player, as we all know. Yeah, I'd like to see other players honored and maybe we should have an honorary ten-man roster that would participate not on the field but participate in the activities. I think it's up to ownership to perhaps examine that opportunity, because in other organizations, they have honorary positions, and I think that's a very good question. Thank you.
BILL GILES: Yeah, I think it's too bad that Jeter in particular is not here, because of what he accomplished over the weekend, and I think it is a bit of a problem and baseball should study it. We used to used to have honorary captains of the Hall of Fame, I think we ought to go back to that, also, to be honest about it.
Q. To the two managers, knowing how important it is to protect pitchers, but also knowing someone like Verlander could maybe give you an inning Sunday night, the rule where pitchers who throw on Sunday cannot participate, is that a good rule or well-intentioned rule that maybe should be re-examined?
RON WASHINGTON: I think most teams, once you get to the All-Star Break and come out, I think they do the right thing by trying to protect their pitchers, because it's halfway through the season and there's still a lot of baseball left to be played. I certainly reached out to every pitching coach that I have on the American League team and try to find out exactly how they wanted me to use their players, and I'm going to stick to that. Because personally, I want to return those guys back to the team just as healthy as they walked in here. You know, you want to win, but you don't want to win at the expense of hurting someone.
So, you know, I'm all good with it.
BRUCE BOCHY: I agree. I think it's a good rule. I was caught in this back in '99 where a couple of pitchers pitch on Sunday, and I was actually told that they would be available for an inning, that once they got there they would prefer them not to pitch so puts the manager in a tough spot there. I think that takes care of that, if he throws on Sunday, he can't pitch, and that way you don't come out shorthand. We need to have all 13 pitchers available.
MATT VASGERSIAN: Thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports