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October 13, 2011

Ron Roenicke


Q. How did you come to your right field decision today?
RON ROENICKE: Just Corey's scuffling lately, and he scuffled against Lohse. So I talked to him last night after the game, and it sounded like putting Kotsay out there was a good way to go about it.

Q. The Cardinals have been complimenting Albert about his general performance this year being unaffected by the contract status and just being his normal self, and wonder if you had the same experience with Prince throughout the course of the year. And secondly with him, just his general role in the clubhouse, you've got a lot of characters in there. What kind of leadership has he provided over the course of the season?
RON ROENICKE: Yeah, I think they are both kind of in the same position. Both great players, been with one organization, with a possibility of maybe moving on. Both of them have performed great. I know Albert got off to a slow start. But his performance lately has been incredible.
Prince is a guy that is a leader in our clubhouse. He's had a great season. We couldn't be here without what he's done for us this year on the field and off the field.
But he's the guy that's really been focused on what needs to be done. We talked in spring training about where he was with his free agency. I just wanted to make sure that he kept his thinking the right way, and I felt like that during the course of the season, if I needed to talk to him about that, if I saw something that got a little bit off from him, that I would need to have that conversation; never had to. Focused the whole year, kept the clubhouse in order, kept it light when we needed to keep it light. His personality has been great this year.

Q. The context here is that you have two very good hitting teams. Thus far, the starting pitchers have not dominated by any stretch, even some very good ones. With that as a context, in your opinion, is there ever a time, be it this series or an All-Star Game or whatever, where the adage that good pitching always beats good hitting doesn't work that way.
RON ROENICKE: Well, you're right, I think most cases, good pitching is going to beat good hitting, most cases.
When I was with the Angels, we won the World Series in 2002; hitting, great hitting. We absolutely killed the ball in the playoffs. We had a great bullpen. Starters, okay. So, I've seen it where you don't have to have great pitching. It doesn't happen very often. Almost every year, you look at it and it's because of the pitching.
This year, our pitching got us to this point. We had really good pitching. Starting pitching, all five of them, consistent through the year, bullpen was outstanding. Offense did a good job. We weren't the best in the League. St. Louis was the best. But that's why we got to this point.
The playoffs, you don't know what's going to happen. Yesterday I thought low-scoring game in the first three innings, and I'm going, wow, where is this thing going? Bullpen came in, both teams, and did a nice job to keep it there. But yeah, it's hard. It's hard to figure out. I think it's going to be pitching and sometimes it isn't.

Q. Is it different managing against Tony than other managers when it gets into sort of bullpen attrition sort of game and you're watching him juggling matchups and doing things like that? Do you have to think more against him than anyone else?
RON ROENICKE: I don't know if I have to think more. I know he's always going to be prepared, always going to be on top of things. So when I decide that I want to make a change somewhere, he's going to be prepared for it.
The changes that he makes, there's other managers that do the same thing. They have their right-hand and left-handed guys, they have left-handers in the bullpen that always come in to get out the big left-hander. So that's not a lot different. But I know he's going to be prepared for what I do on our side, and I won't catch him off-guard on anything.

Q. Going back to the starting pitching, your starters have I think it's a 15.7 ERA in the first inning. You've talked in the past about how you're not surprised if a guy struggles early on; is that number a little bigger than you expected? Can you pinpoint the trouble in the first inning?
RON ROENICKE: No, I can't pinpoint it, but that number is way bigger than I thought it would be.
I know trouble happens in the first inning or two usually with a starter, but yeah, that number's huge.

Q. In the post-season, Greinke has kept you in both ballgames, but both outings have been below par compared to what he's done this year. Any explanation for that?
RON ROENICKE: I don't know the explanation for it. Most of the time it's because you're playing better teams.
You know, any time you get to the playoffs, Arizona can score a lot of runs; if you're not on with your pitching, they score a lot of runs. They surprise you. But they have got a good offense.
This team, everybody knows this team has a good offense. So when you're not on your game 100%, they are not going to go score runs. Zack has kept us in games. That's what you ask from a starting pitcher, especially in the playoffs, but he has not been the lights-out guy that we have seen for quite a while.
So I still, every time we have him going on the mound, we still think he's going to throw a good game and that's what we ask for.
The other starters, you know, it's a good team, you have to command the baseball against them. In the zone, they are really dangerous. You know, my big questions are, what do we do with Albert, and we talk about whether to keep walking him or not. I can't keep walking Albert. They have two good hitters behind him. Today Berkman's not in there, but Holliday, he's going to hurt us. We got away with it a couple of times yesterday, but it's really hard to do, walking Albert all the time. We walk him once, ball in the dirt, he's heads up and on second base and now a base hit scores two runs.
We are not going to keep getting away with what we did yesterday.

Q. What's clicked between Kottaras and Randy Wolf this year, why has that combo worked?
RON ROENICKE: Randy is a rhythm guy. The quicker you can get down the sign for him, the better off he's going to be, so that rhythm is huge for how he gets along in a game. If he's always having to shake and he's frustrated, things are not going to flow well for him and he's going to struggle a little bit more.
For whatever reason, George has been on a little bitter sync with Randy is thinking and how he wants to pitch. And I don't mean that Luc isn't going to do a good job with him, but for some reason, George has been clicking a little better with him and that's why he's doing it.

Q. Randy Wolf's body of work has been so solid for you this season. When he runs into a start like the one he had in Arizona, do you consider that just a fluke or an aberration and no cause for alarm?
RON ROENICKE: Well, I think so. I hope that's what it is. He probably had one other game this year that was kind of like that, but he bounces right back and has a good game. That's what we expect from him today. But you'll see, if he's got that good rhythm going, he's changing speeds and he's hitting spots. He's going to pitch well.

Q. Back to the intentional walks for a second. What goes into your decisions to actually intentionally walk a guy, and when you do that, does it sometimes just eat you up inside knowing that you're giving somebody a free base and putting a baserunner on without having to do anything?
RON ROENICKE: It does eat you up at times. It eats you up more when you see the results maybe of a guy driving one in the gap or -- we had a Grand Slam against us earlier in the playoffs against Arizona.
Sometimes it's definitely the right move. The walk that we got before we got to Goldschmidt in the playoffs, it was the right move. Montero had a couple of at-bats off Marcum, drove it off the wall, got another base hit. This is a guy that doesn't have many holes. It was the right move, second and third and two outs. We put him on, and Grand Slam.
But that's why I'm saying, the more times you do it, it's going to get you. And I just have to pick the times that -- talking with Rick Kranitz and talking with Jerry Narron and we're saying, where are we in the game, what's more important; do we need to do it, and if it makes sense, if it's the right move, we'll do it. Doesn't always mean it's going to work out and certainly the more times you do it, it's not going to work out.

Q. Counsell's spectacular numbers against Lohse, was there a large temptation to try to sneak him in there somewhere today?
RON ROENICKE: That, and just counts, and just knowing that he's been in these playoffs. He's been in the World Series. You know what you're going to get from him. It's always tempting to put him out there.
A lot of those numbers are a long time ago against Lohse, so mostly, I'm looking at more recently what guys have done against somebody, if I'm going to put him in there. But then, it's where do I put him in? Yuniesky (Betancourt) is swinging the bat really well and Hairston is swinging the bat really well, and that makes it really tough to make that change in the outfield, and that's a change we are making because the guys are not swinging the bat well and their matchups against those pitchers have not gone as well.
Just like today for them, Berkman is not in there. That's because his numbers really are not very good against Randy, and it makes sense to me. You try to figure out things, and I know it's the playoffs and I know sometimes you put some guys in there that may be against what you've done all year; not really against it, but you don't do it as often.
I know you guys hammered me for Kotsay yesterday, but you know, Kotsay is a good outfielder. I didn't put somebody out there who was a bad outfielder. I just didn't have Carlos Gomez in there. Carlos is a fabulous outfielder.
You know, so the things you do, I feel good with Kotsay in the outfield. And I like his offense. Really, what it comes down to is Kotsay versus Nyjer, and it wasn't Gomey, because Gomey is great in the outfield, but he doesn't play against right-handers, he hasn't started against a right-hander in, I don't know, four months? I don't know how long. So that was really the options there.
And then they get tough in the playoffs because you can't ride things out sometimes if a guy is in a little funk. Sometimes you want somebody in there that has a chance to get hot. Kotsay did what he was supposed to do yesterday. He got a home run and two walks in front of our big boys. That's what he was supposed to do. Okay, got caught off second base, okay, Kots, I know, wasn't happy about that play, but he did what he was supposed to do.

Q. I have buyer's remorse on my question after that answer. (Laughter). Kotsay splits against Lohse -- because Randy is more of a fly ball pitcher, what is your balance against Gomez and Nyjer in the outfield.
RON ROENICKE: Again, Gomey, it's against a right-hander. We have not played Gomey against a right-hander. Kotsay is more in the at-bats -- Dale (Sveum) went back and looked at the at-bats he had against him this year, he's had good at-bats against him this year. It's like I talked about early in the season with Kots. He'll have great at-bats, and he'll hit three line drives and come out with no hits. So that was more it, plus I think Kots is really swinging the bat well now.
And his defense I don't see any difference there. His defense in right field, yeah, it's pretty good.

Q. Going back to Counsell for one moment, does his experience and his background, pinch-hitting in such situations also lean you towards keeping him out of the lineup to use him in late-game situations, and at the same time does having Kotsay in the lineup affect him the other way?
RON ROENICKE: It does some. I think with counts, you have to go back sometimes a ways when you start looking at the numbers, and the good numbers for him pinch hitting. But certainly his experience in playoffs means a lot to me. It also hurts him getting in the starting lineup because I like to use him for Rickie late for defense if we're winning the ball game. Sometimes those things come into it, like today, it's really nice for me knowing that Corey Hart is on the bench as a pinch hitter. He's dangerous. They can't bring in a right-hander to face him because they think it's going to bother Corey.
So the advantage is, when you put a right-hander up there, a good right-handed batter, you don't care if it's a lefty or righty that they are using against you. On the other end, if I have Counsell there, if I have Kotsay there and they bring in a left-hander, sometime I'm going to have to use two guys, because you're trying to weigh, well, is he going to be better off hitting lefty-lefty or do we bring in the right-hander and use two guys.
So that's the questions that when you're trying to think about starting guys and what you have on the bench and who they have in their bullpen and what you are going to do late in the game.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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