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December 5, 2011

Davey Johnson


Q.  Davey, what do you feel is the team's biggest need during the Winter Meetings, do you think?
DAVEY JOHNSON:  Well, I agree with Mike on all his assessments.  Right now we do have a big gap in our bench that will probably have to be filled.  If we don't do anything here with younger guys, which I prefer not to do.
As far as us making a big splash, we really try to do that to upgrade our club.¬† I'm pretty comfortable the way we finished up, and i think this young left‑hander is pretty close to getting up there.¬† I wouldn't want to make too big a major move and block it for him. But I think our ballclub is one or two players away from really being a heck of a ball team.

Q.  How comfortable would you feel if you went an open day (Indiscernible) as the centerfielder?
DAVEY JOHNSON:  I talked to Jayson last season.  He loves centerfield.  He feels more comfortable there for some reason.  But he's a heck of a right fielder.

Q.  With regard to the bench, what was your reaction to see that Laynce, somebody who kind of fit the profile of what you were looking for signed with a division on another team?
DAVEY JOHNSON:¬† I like Laynce and I talked to him over the winter.¬† The bigger blow, was Marrero, because Marrero, hopefully Adam is going to be a hundred percent recovered.¬† But also, too, while he's recovered I could have a right‑hander, too, over there.
His injury was kind of left us another man short, as far as I'm concerned.

Q.  Is there a sense of what the time is going to be?
DAVEY JOHNSON:¬† From what I gather, probably All‑Star break.¬† So the right‑handed bench player, utility player is I think very important.¬† I feel a hundred percent sure Adam is going to be fine.¬† But it would be nice to have a guy over there like we did last year.

Q.  It was reported that you that you spoke to Mark DeRosa, I was wondering what you said to him and what are the chances of you getting him?
DAVEY JOHNSON:  Well, I looked at his last two years, they weren't too stellar.  And I know he has injured his left wrist or a tendon in his left wrist.  But I had him in the World Baseball Classic, really quality guy.  I really like him.  If he's healthy, he fits the role about as good as you can get.

Q.  Can he play all over?
DAVEY JOHNSON:  Yeah, he can play just about anywhere.

Q.¬† Do you feel like ‑‑ you mentioned how it might be ideal for young guys to be on the bench.¬† Do you feel¬† (INAUDIBLE).
DAVEY JOHNSON:¬† When you carry a young player that has at talent that must rose I does, I'd have to get him in a lot of games.¬† I can do that if it's just one young player.¬† He can play probably any position in the infield.¬† I could probably throw him in the outfield.¬† I kind of looked at him as ‑‑ like when I had Ben Zobrist, switch hitter, smart player, knows the game, can play just about anywhere.

Q.  What, if anything, would you need to see between now and opening day?
DAVEY JOHNSON:  Well, I think it would be pretty obvious in the spring.  He had a really good spring last year, I think he had 390.  But I think that the main thing is that I think could he handle it mentally?  And I think in his mind he's already figuring to be starting on the club, if you ask him.  And I haven't talked to him, but I know that he's done everything in his whole life to succeed at a higher level and compete with the best.
And I think he's the kind of individual that probably puts Steve last year in Double‑A probably puts more pressure on himself to try to get to the big leagues.¬† I think he'll be much more relaxed if he's there and can compete.
But I just want ‑‑ it's kind of like I told Rizzo, I said, I had to fight for a young pitcher, who was 19 years old in New York, and just keep an open mind and let's see what he does in the spring.¬† And then evaluate whether he makes the club or not.¬† And after many conversations I finally got him to agree to that.¬† And the rest is history.
But I think he's pretty mature.¬† I don't look at him age‑wise as I probably should.¬† But I think he's definitely going ‑‑

Q.  He said he likes to have guys play at every level.  Do you think Mike has an open mind and how much have you and him discussed this?
DAVEY JOHNSON:¬† I have nothing wrong with that.¬† So he kind of went pretty quick, from A ball to the big leagues.¬† You know, it's ‑‑ is he the best candidate out there?¬† I mean, is he going to make our club stronger?¬† I'd like another left‑hander batting in the lineup.¬† Right fielder is probably going to hit 7th in the lineup.¬† I'd like to kind of have a more balanced lineup.
So I'm open for him competing for a spot.  Whether he can handle it or whether he makes it in June or July.  I said in the spring, guys were asking me, when do you think harper is going to get there, I said I think he's going to have to go back to the big leagues when he's 19.  So he's 19.

Q.  Could you have imagined last year at this time sitting here and talking to us?
DAVEY JOHNSON:  No, no.  I wasn't planning on it.  But like I said last year, I really like the organization.  I think the front office is great.  The ownership is great.  The talent level, there's a lot of guys that have their feet on the ground a little bit.  I think they're going to be a whole lot better next year.  And I'd like to have a team from the get go that has a chance to win.  And I believe we do.

Q.  When you took over the club last year, would you have done it, if you knew you weren't going to be here this year?
DAVEY JOHNSON:  Yeah, I mean, I felt like I was the perfect guy, after Riggs resigned, to come in and kind of run the ship the rest of the year.  I felt like I'm pretty good with handling young players and helping them get their feet on the ground.
So I thought I was a good pick last year. And you know the story, I was consulted a month or so, or two months after, and my recommendation was to continue and they took it.

Q.¬† When you said you feel like you guys have a left‑hander that's pretty close to the big leagues, are you referring to Detwiler?
DAVEY JOHNSON:¬† No, a left‑hand hitter that's pretty close to the big leagues.¬† Ideally I would like to have at least two ‑‑ I mean three left‑handers in the lineup.¬† And that's Adam LaRoche, and looking for a guy every day that can drive in some runs.¬† (Indiscernible) is in that mix, too.
If we don't make a big splash with the front line centerfielder, he would get an opportunity to make it.

Q.  To the extent you can comment regarding outfielder, what do you know about the Japanese outfielder?
DAVEY JOHNSON:  I don't know a lot about him, I haven't seen him play.  I don't know how expensive he is.

Q.  How about two guys you managed against at the World Baseball Classic, Yu Darvish, what's your impression of him?
DAVEY JOHNSON: I like him.  Big, strong, hard thrower.  Actually throws a lot like Americans, you know, big, awful hard stuff.  He's got good command.  That's going to be an expensive deal, too, right there, but I do like him.

Q.  How about a guy that wouldn't be as expensive, Hisashi Iwakuma that you managed against, also?
DAVEY JOHNSON:  I think Japanese baseball turns out a lot of great players.  And even when I played back a long time ago, I said, man, there's a lot of guys in each club that could play on the big leagues, and then a few years after that they started making that move.
But I certainly like the fundamentals that they bring to the table.  We have scouts over there.  We have agents over there.  We're getting reports.  It's up to the GM.

Q.  Not to hammer you away with these, but what do you know about Tsuyoshi Wada?
DAVEY JOHNSON:  His name has come up in the meetings.  Again, nothing specific.  We're looking a lot of different directions.

Q.  Mike was talking about wanting to add, ideally, like a veteran type of pitcher.  What kind of effect would adding a guy like that have on your staff?
DAVEY JOHNSON:  You know, I really like my staff.  I like it as it is right now.  Anytime you can improve, go for it.  I haven't been pushing in that direction.  Mike's a smart guy.  I leave that up to him.

Q.¬† You talked at the end of the season about having at least one, if not two long men in the pen.¬† Would a guy like Detwiler, be a candidate for that or do you ‑‑
DAVEY JOHNSON:  I like him in the rotation.  He showed me a lot last year.  I think he grew up quite a bit.  I like two starters in the bullpen.  Obviously Gorzelanny did a good job over there, but he really pitched great.  And I thought he had a little more tender arm.  He showed me that he can come back and throw the next day, and wanted to.  Maya, Stammen was really impressive at the end of the year.  Those guys, the starter types, in case there's a guy that couldn't post that day, I like to have somebody that starts.
And what happened was the first couple of months I was there I didn't have enough long innings out of my starters and my bullpen.  I ended up trying to get the starters to go longer, and in the pen I was stretching guys.  And a lot of guys were like that.  Rodriguez, another one.  That didn't like that second inning.  But Gorzelanny started getting better, and made it easier on everybody.  Me, too.  I'm always nervous about someone getting hurt in the first inning.

Q.  What is your thought about Papelbon being in the National League east?
DAVEY JOHNSON:  I was hoping it would stand pat.  Some people going out there and trying to make a big splash.  I like him.  I think American League east, National League east, two strong divisions in baseball.  It makes it more fun when you win.

Q.  What did you think about Randy Knorr coming on as a bench coach?
DAVEY JOHNSON:  I like Randy.  I thought he did a good job managing.  He's a younger version of Pat.  I mean I love Pat.  But he'll have better hearing than Pat.  It was kind of tough at times.  McCatty had a lot of trouble hearing out of his left ear, and Pat couldn't hear out of his right ear, so a lot of times I was reaching for him.  But I like Randy a lot.  I let him handle the catchers.

Q.  Was he a big help in September?  He had managed a lot of the young guys in the team.  Did he help you?
DAVEY JOHNSON:  He didn't come the first day.  And I squawked.  I said where is the guy that handles these guys?  I'd like to talk to him.  And get his take on them.  He's good, I like him.

Q.  What do you like in a bench coach?
DAVEY JOHNSON:¬† Well, you know, I mean he's the guy that's going to cross‑check me, he makes the lineup for me.¬† He puts it in the computer and it punches out and then he hands it to me and then I double check them and I double check them.¬† I value all of their opinions about the way they think guys are going, and who needs rest and who doesn't.¬† And just a smart baseball man.¬† All five of them are very valuable.¬† I wouldn't say one is more valuable than the other, but they all know what I'm thinking.
As far as game time decisions, I don't ask a lot of people questions at that time.

Q.  They keep in their head who was available left and right, is that the kind of stuff they do, give you information?
DAVEY JOHNSON:¬† It's all in the lineup card.¬† I know who they have.¬† I know who's on their bench.¬† I know who they're going to pinch‑hit for, what they do.¬† That's my homework.¬† But I discuss the game plan, when the game starts I don't want to have to ask somebody on the bench what they think, because they may be thinking different than me, and then I've got a tie.
But all the moves and how he go about and who's going to be available for me, those things are discussed on a daily basis with the whole staff.  So pretty much everybody knows what's going on.

Q.  You've been around Spring Training with this team, but this is the first time you're going to be in charge of it.  Is there anything you want to implement, the tone?
DAVEY JOHNSON:  We don't have enough time to go over that right now.  The only thing that will change a little bit is I thought we were a little too spread out.  We got a lot of work in but we had too many little individual stations that guys had to go through.  And in doing so there's a lot of time wasted going to different fields.  I like them closer.
I like to be able to jump right over there and see what's going on.  And I like more team interaction than individual work.  Individual work is important, but I don't like to separate all the individual work.  I like to do more individual work with other guys watching, other teammates watching what's going on and seeing how they're performing.
It's just the way I've done it every spring.  I have a comfort zone in being able to pay attention to what's going on.

Q.  Is that something you start planning now, or do you wait until the first of the year?
DAVEY JOHNSON:  Oh, you know, I have books and stuff everybody spring I have to put together.  I was always the guy that did the scheduling, how much time we did everything.  And I never had a camp coordinator.  But since I got that and he's done a good job since I've been here, I like him, I'll just go over the things I want with him and the things I'd like to spend more time on.  We can do all that stuff two or three days ahead of everybody else and have all that laid out.

Q.  Have you talked to LaRoche about how he's doing?  I know he was to be ready to go by spring?
A.The word I got is that he's a hundred percent right now.¬† He's feeling great.¬† So I'm sure he'll come down early.¬† He's been an every‑day player.¬† But I still want that right‑handed compliment to him so I can give him a little rest and make sure there's no setbacks.

Q.  Have you had a chance to talk to Wilson Ramos?

Q.  How did that go?
DAVEY JOHNSON:¬† It's great.¬† He's a guy who can give me a blow by blow.¬† All our prayers were answered.¬† It was hard to deal with.¬† Nothing you could do.¬† But I'm glad ‑‑ they might make a movie out of it or something.¬† That was scary.

Q.  What was the scariest part?
DAVEY JOHNSON:  Well, you know, the transportation.  When they took him out there and moved him around.  And he said the people in the house were actually pretty nice.  They fed him.  And then of course when he was scrambling to get on the bed or something, all the gun fire, life's just maybe seconds away.  But I haven't gotten any reports on how much he played.  But some of our scouts have said both our catchers look good.

Q.  Given his youth, what's the ideal number of games for him to play?  Did you see any fatigue at the end of the year?
DAVEY JOHNSON:  Not really.  Actually he got stronger, seemed like.  He went through spells.  When they actually first got there, the consensus was that after he caught two or three days he got tired.  And so I kind of stuck on that same plan.  But I'll just see how it goes.  When you have the depth we have right there in the ballclub, you know, there's no sense going to the whip real early, especially during hot weather, too.  It's awful demanding.

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