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September 30, 2011

Charlie Manuel


Q. The Cardinals were very complimentary of how the Phillies played against the Braves. What was your philosophy going into the last three games?
CHARLIE MANUEL: My philosophy was we were going to play the game just like we always do, and even at the last game there, we did some things that more than likely we wouldn't have done during the regular season. We put Madson in to pitch the eighth inning because we were losing and wanted to make sure he got an inning in. There were some things we did in the game.
I guess the Braves just couldn't take advantage of some of the things that we did. But actually getting started, we were actually planning on winning the game. We tried to win all three of them.

Q. When you faced the Cardinals this year, of course the last time you faced them you were in the midst of a horrendous stretch of games and had different lineups and so forth. Where is your team from a mental and physical standpoint going into this series?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think we're ready. We've been ready for a few days. I think that we're looking forward to it, and I'm sure they are, too. I think from our season series and things like that, yeah, we've got -- they beat us six out of nine times. But at the same time, after we clinched there was kind of a break in there, but that doesn't have anything to do with it. They've got a real good club. They've got a real good hitting ballclub. If you look and go down every guy in their lineup and what their average is and how they balance out, Pujols and Holliday gives them a really big middle, and they've got a real good hitting team, and they've got enough starting pitching to definitely -- if they play right and things fall for them, they could go all the way.

Q. Any update on Gload? He know he came up from Atlanta the other day. And second part, your lineup that you put in on Sunday has had pretty good success. Is that the one you figure you'll stick with in this series?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Yeah, the line up is probably the one we're going to stick with. I think that's our best line up and that's the best way to go right now as far as it gives us balance and I like it. I mean, I think without a doubt that's the line up right now we're going to use. Gload is going to be ready to hit. He'll be ready to pinch-hit and stuff in the playoffs.

Q. When you look at this team, you just kind of referred to it, do you think this could be the toughest first-round opponent you guys have faced in the playoffs?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think that they have a good team. How many games did they win? They won 92? They won 90. Yeah, this is a good ballclub. Take nothing away from it, they are very good.
Like I said, right now they're playing good. They're playing good especially the last two or three weeks of the season, and without a doubt we've got our work cut out. Three out of five is a short series, and for us to be playing them at this time, we've got to play good baseball. We've got to beat them, and we've got to pitch and we've got to hit.

Q. How much of an advantage is it to be well rested going into the series as opposed to the Cardinals who had to play every day for the last several weeks just to get in and them not being able to set up their pitching rotation probably like they would like to?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think when you say well rested, I think in baseball sometimes I think it is a repetitious sport and you have routines, and I think it's better sometimes to stay in your routine and don't get out. I think that's kind of how it goes. I think it's up to someone -- the manager and the coaches and the staff, you like to know -- think about when somebody needs a break or a rest, and I think we've definitely got enough rest, but also I think right now that we're ready to start the playoffs. I think we're ready to go, and I'm looking forward to it, and I know our players are.

Q. This goes along with that last question, but you guys were somewhat beaten up in the last month. How satisfied are you now with the overall health of your guys? And in particular I was wondering about Jimmy Rollins, what condition you thought his legs were in right now?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Jimmy Rollins is fine. He's doing good. He's had problems with his legs for the past couple years, but right now I think he's moving real well. He's very -- he's capable of stealing a base, and his hitting has definitely picked up in the last three or four days. His swing is good right now, and hopefully it'll carry right on through.
He's been playing good baseball, and he's definitely healthy. Ryan Howard's foot is better than it was. That's something that can kind of act up from day-to-day, depends on how he has to run on it and what he has to do. Starting out and slowing down and hitting and everything like that, that can hurt his foot. But at the same time, he's ready, and he's been playing with it mostly all year, and it's feeling better right now. If you go ask him, probably better than it has for a long time.
Health-wise, I don't think we could be in -- we're in the best health we've been in all year. This is the healthiest we've been, I should say, all year long.

Q. If you need an anything pitcher with a lead or a tie game, is it the starter or Lidge?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I don't know, man. We'll figure it out when we get there, seriously. A lot of things happen in a game. If we're standing there, I like Lidge, I've had confidence in Lidge ever since he's been here. I also like Bastardo. There's situations in a game where we can use him, and if I don't use him at the right time, then I guess you guys can second-guess the hell out of that.

Q. I think a lot of people probably thought Garcia would be pitching Game 1. Were surprised that at least as of now it's Lohse going?
CHARLIE MANUEL: No, because I manage the Phillies. No, not at all. I let other people manage their team, and like I said, I have enough trouble managing the Phillies, and you can do whatever you want to do. I mean, that's part of handling your team.

Q. At times during the season you had some lulls, and your ball players said, we're not worried, we're not worried, and then like almost on a dime, it's like they come right out of it. With the final week of the season as an example of that, they went through the Mets, and then they get down to Atlanta and all of a sudden it's like they turn a switch and they take off. Do you think that your club has that ability? And what do you think of that?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I've been in the game 50 years. I've been on quite a few teams, and I think you don't turn it on and off. I think it's a day-to-day process. I think how we foresee things and our philosophy and the players that we have, how they look at it is what counts. And I think that when we lost eight in a row, I don't think our players -- I don't think they were panicking. I think we were at even keel, but also we knew it was time for us to get our best team on the field and get our best pitchers out there and win some games like before the playoffs started. I think who we are, that's the way we play, and our team stays even keel. We don't get too high; we don't get too low. And when we see them that get high, more than likely I'll pull you in and talk to you.
I think that's what makes us go. I think we come to the ballpark every day to play, and we've got a bunch of guys that really love to play. I've always given them credit, and I will until it's all over. Really, they've played, they go out and play, and they buy into everything that we sell. But not only that, that's the way they like to do it. They do it just because we like to play baseball and we like to play the right way. Right there is kind of what makes us.

Q. Being a hitting guy, what do you see in the Cardinals that has made them such a good offensive team this season?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Those guys, if you notice, not only the big three guys that I mentioned, but they've got guys, Molina, the catcher, is having one of his better years. They've also got guys -- if you run down the batting averages and things like that, they've got contact hitters, they've got guys that can hit the ball out of the yard. They do not possess what I'd call a lot of speed. But at the same time, they can handle a bat. And every one of them, if you go look they, they're hitting anywhere from .280 to .300. That's a sign of good, consistent offense. They lead the league in runs scored, if I'm not mistaken. I was looking at it today. And they've had a big offensive year, and of course they've had a good year.
They hung in there when they were down. They got down and they hung in there and they fought just like we did when we caught the Mets a couple times. That's basically why they're in the playoffs.

Q. We talk a lot about starting pitching, and rightfully so. Can you talk about how important and maybe how difficult those last six outs are in a game, especially in the post-season?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think if you were watching the game the other nights, those games every night, I think you understand what the importance of an out can be. What about two strikes and nobody on, you end up giving up a couple doubles and a hit and you end up getting eliminated. I think that speaks volumes.
But I do think there's something in -- I think from the 8th and 9th inning, I think hitters are definitely in swing mode, and that's why you see hitters chase balls out of the strike zone. I think they're very pumped up and they want to do something good and they know they've got to do something if they want to win the game.
And then on the other hand, I think the closer is out there and he's determined, and he's got to really be upbeat. If there's anything that creeps in that disappoints him or a negative or anything like that, the ball gets a little bit heavy on you.
I have an old saying when I was in the Minor Leagues, when I see a pitcher throw the ball and he's throwing hard, the ball will get heavy. And what it means is he grips the ball a little bit tight and he gets tensed. That ball, he's throwing for the corner, it'll wind up right down the middle of the plate, more than likely. And the reason is he's looking at the catcher and he's trying to throw the ball over, he has to throw the ball over. The least time a closer can get in a have-to count, like where he absolutely has to throw a strike, I think that's the guy that's going to succeed.
And if you do get in a have-to count, you still have to make pitches, you just can't throw the ball in the middle of the plate, if that makes sense to you.

Q. What Roy Halladay did in Game 1 of the Division Series last year, in your mind what makes him a great pitcher? His talent? His skill? Or what's between the ears?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think actually the quickest way for me to answer your question is that you just covered what makes it. He has all those. So, therefore, which one does he have more than the others? I don't know. He's the most prepared guy I've ever seen; he works harder than anybody I've ever seen. And what does he got? Four pitches, maybe five. His ball is always moving. He can command all of his pitches. He's not afraid to throw any pitch on any count.
I sit there and sometimes watch him with the bases loaded, and he'll go three balls and two strikes, and he'll throw them a little curveball up there, and I'm thinking, man, what the hell is he doing? If he gets it over, we'll win the game. So I walk in and that's what you call good pitching. I mean, that's someone who believes in himself, and actually that he thinks he can throw any pitch he's got over the plate at any moment, and that's what makes him good and that's what makes him tough, and he's more determined.
I've seen him have the bases loaded, and you have, too, nobody out, and he works his way right out of it. I wouldn't call it luck because he puts so much into trying to get out of it. He knows he's kind of got a great feel for pitching, everything about it. Everything about him, he's ready, he's prepared, and he's ready to meet the challenge, and the biggest thing about him is the desire to stay out there. He wants to be there.

Q. You often hear your pitchers say they rarely shake off Ruiz. What is it about him that he's been able to gain their trust?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think over the last couple years, maybe it goes back even three years ago, I think our pitchers definitely -- they really kind of like him because he became better. He became a student of the game. He studies, he's more relaxed, he's more confident.
When he came to the Big Leagues, he kind of shied away and he was real quiet. I think now that he's -- actually he's kind of more of a comedian now at times, too, and I think that helps him as far as being relaxed. And I think that he -- but he's a tremendous defensive catcher, throws good, blocks the balls excellent, and at the same time he's not afraid to call balls that -- actually where we bounce balls at times in the count late in the game. But as far as handling the game, he studies the reports good, and he's very coachable. He listens to his established pitchers and also he listens to his coach.

Q. Have you decided on your post-season roster and will you take 11 pitchers in the first round?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Our roster will be announced. We haven't really stamped it yet, but I mean, it'll be announced before the deadline.

Q. Will you take 11 pitchers?
CHARLIE MANUEL: There's a good chance we'll take 11 pitchers.

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