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December 5, 2011

Buck Showalter


Q.  Are you going to sign Prince Fielder?
BUCK SHOWALTER:  No.  Leave that to the big boys.

Q.  How is this one, I don't know, how has this been different so far with Dan than it was last year?
BUCK SHOWALTER:  Oh, there's some similarities.  We met this morning as a group, the travel party, 8 a.m., and spent some time talking about things, made a lot of assignments to different clubs, and gathered some more information, and some similarities.
Everybody has their own personality and how they choose to do things.¬† A lot of different ways to get it done.¬† But it's been fun.¬† It's an exciting time for people that are looking to improve, knowing that inning sometimes we make too much of this time frame of these four days.¬† If you don't get ‑‑ it's like a process, starts last year when you're having a conversation at the trade deadline, and you've got the GM meetings, and carry a lot of those conversations over here.¬† And we've already met with five clubs and have a lot of stuff set up this afternoon and tomorrow and the next day.¬† And we'll see where it takes us.

Q.  When you were going through your list right now is pitching pretty much 1A and 1B?
BUCK SHOWALTER:¬† It's funny, everybody is doing that, it's the premium.¬† It's the one common denominator, in our post game meetings and pregames, you've got to figure it out pitching‑wise.¬† Obviously Texas got it right and all the teams playing in October.¬† It's one of their strengths, and we'll continue that pursuit.

Q.  Is there a preference right now to upgrade the rotation before the bullpen, or is it whatever deals is represented?
BUCK SHOWALTER:  I don't think we're in a position to say he's not a starter, so we're not going to talk about him.  We're banking on some of the maturation process with some of our pitchers.  It's a two or three year process for most of them, especially in our division, and you've got to be true to that process.
We've talked about that many times.¬† We think a lot of guys were primed to take that next step and are capable of taking it.¬† And we get the health back to Jake Arrieta and Brian Matusz, they're having a good off‑season, so far so good.¬† But the starter presents ‑‑ inning the answer to the original question, inning, more the initial focus has been on starting pitching.¬† But talking to other clubs, that's what they're looking for, time.¬† It's a premium.¬† You look at what Tampa has done and the depth they have in their starting rotation and they built a bullpen.
It's a lot easier ‑‑ neither one of them are easy, but a lot more challenging to put together a rotation in the off‑season than it is a bullpen.

Q.¬† How is the team supervising Matusz's off‑season?
BUCK SHOWALTER:  He's been working out.  It's been monitored directly by Brady.  He's been working out with Joe Hogarty and have gotten great reports back on his progress; he feels great.  He started at it at a very high clip, very quickly after the season ended.  And Tommy Hunter is getting ready to join that group and Tillman is out there.  And I've gotten reports back on Jim Johnson and Wieters is showing up in Sarasota for the last couple of weeks.  That's under way.
I know Brian has been working some, too, Roberts, I sat down with him two or three times in the off‑season.¬† So far so good.

Q.  I know Dan had mentioned this, as well, right now is the mindset Roberts is going to be a hundred percent and full go at Spring Training?
BUCK SHOWALTER:¬† We don't have any reason to think one way or another.¬† This is an in exact thing.¬† I can't sit here and act like I'm an expert on con cushions.¬† Inning we learn something every day.¬† So far so good.¬† I fully expect Brian is going to come into camp and see how he feels and see how things go.¬† I'm not spending a lot ‑‑ we spend time on what if in every position.¬† But everybody knows that you operate every year with one of the best lead off hitters in the American League all year, and we'd love to have him back playing for us.¬† I'm as curious and anxious to see where it takes us as anybody.
But it's just so hard to handicap.  But if you look at some history with other players that have had these issues, and not every concussion is the same.  But listening to a lot of the experts talk about it, since it's happened, the one thing I've come to the conclusion is that there are a lot of things you just don't know.

Q.  Is he doing baseball activities at all?
BUCK SHOWALTER:  He's done some off and on.  There's a progression they have.  The people that are expert at it.  But there are different stages he's going through, so far he's been able to handle everything that's come his way.  Very few setbacks, if any.  I'm not aware of every one of them.  You try to leave guys alone a little bit, you don't call them every day.  But you checkup on them now and then.  I get a lot of reports back from the trainers and the medical people, not just him, but Arrieta and others.

Q.  Are you comfortable with Robert and I guess you have Antonelli and (Indiscernible) as possibilities.  Are you comfortable with the group you have right now with Adams playing?
BUCK SHOWALTER:  I think Robert really established last year that he can make a contribution to the team whatever role you put him in as evidenced in last year Robert has kind of gone to the next level.  And in a perfect world he'd be playing somewhere every night in a different position, just to allow people to be a little more rested.  But I feel good about what he did last year.  I'd still like to have both of them.  It would make us a better club, and that's what we're hoping for.
But Roberts, I like the level of what‑ifs and the depth we brought in with Antonelli and (Indiscernible).¬† Both of them are baseball players.

Q.  Have you talked to Markakis, is he back on track, he took some time off, because of the strain?
BUCK SHOWALTER:  It was that and basically a deep bruise, diving and laying on his belt buckle about 20 times in the turf in Toronto.  He's just about completely gone.  He's going into a specialist to see.  He's pretty close to being a hundred percent.  I know Chris Davis had that deep groin at the end of the year that we thought might have to have surgery, but after looking at it looks good.  We talked to him the other day, on his money moon.  I was trying to figure out why he answered the phone.

Q.  Is he your first baseman, Davis?
BUCK SHOWALTER:  I think Chris or Mark could play there.  We have options that both those guys could play either corner.  We'll see what presents itself, what direction we want to go.

Q.¬† Couldn't Antonelli get a lot of playing time, if it doesn't workout there ‑‑ if Mark plays first, could Antonelli be sharing time with Chris at third?
BUCK SHOWALTER:  I think initially I'm not that familiar, other than you listen to a lot of people I railroad.  I met Antonelli, people have had him speak very highly of him.  I'm excited to see what he can do.  One of the things he brings is that he played positions.  Sometimes that can get in the way, they're too versatile.  But I like the things I read and hear about him, talking about things other than skills.

Q.  What would Jim Johnson bring to the starting rotation, if you guys decide to move him?
BUCK SHOWALTER:¬† I think Jimmy is a luxury that he's capable of doing both.¬† He's established ‑‑ I think he's another guy that turned the corner last year.¬† Especially the way he pitched in September in very meaningful games against good competition in our division.¬† Very obvious, but I think other people saw it, too and could tell.¬† Where Jimmy would fit as a starter is yet to be seen.¬† We know that he can do the job that he had last year.¬† It's just that he hasn't done or been given the opportunity.¬† A lot of people questioning where his health is more likely to fall.¬† 50 percent say one, and 50 percent say the other.¬† I think Jimmy physically is ‑‑ I've talked to him, he's let me know he's ready to do either one.

Q.  What will determine whether or not he's a starter in the rotation?  Is that something we have to decide before Spring Training?
BUCK SHOWALTER:¬† Oh, yeah, we will.¬† A lot has to do with what we do between now and then.¬† What presents itself that might change that.¬† Whether we're able ‑‑ that's why it's such a key piece, because now it could go either way.¬† And he can do the job.¬† But we hate to rob from Peter to pay Paul.

Q.  What's his repertoire like as a starter?
BUCK SHOWALTER:¬† I think similar.¬† I think the curveball will become a factor, change‑up, Jimmy can keep the ball in the ballpark.¬† Not a whole lot different.¬† But he's always been athletic and a big strong young man, six five, six.¬† I think he got the attention in the American League last year, on what we wanted to see on a consistent basis.

Q.  What about Yu Darvish?
BUCK SHOWALTER:  I don't know, other than watching reports and seeing him pitch.  You can see where people would be excited to potentially have him, if he comes out.

Q.  What you've seen, what makes you think he might be successful in the majors?
BUCK SHOWALTER:  Repertoire stuff, good clean delivery.  You look at things that will play.  I think he has a pitch to put people away with.  And just the pure stuff and the command.  He has a good presentation, something you don't see all the time.

Q.¬† Is he the kind of guy you want Dan to go out and surprise ‑‑
BUCK SHOWALTER:  Do I want to?

Q.  Do you want to?
BUCK SHOWALTER:  I'll take him.  Is he coming for free?  I don't think so (laughter.)
Q.How about one other guy that you won't have to bid on (Indiscernible)?
BUCK SHOWALTER:  I'm not familiar with him.  I'm familiar with a few other ones, though.  But I'm sure other clubs are, too.  Everyone makes the transition a little differently.  You look at certain guys the first year they came over and what they look like two or three years later.  You've got to think about the five man rotation as opposed to the 6 and 7.
A lot of things people miss about guys coming over here.  Not so much that it's a different game.  It's a different presentation of the innings and how often you pitch.  So there's a lot of risk involved.  But the chance for a good return for a guy like him.

Q.  When you look at the rotation and the young guys, are you guys committed to them as part of the future, as you've said, last year, you're banking on their future.  What do you think were some of the struggles they went through?
BUCK SHOWALTER:¬† Just about all of them do.¬† Jake's struggles, I think, were mostly physical.¬† In talking to him, he's got a kind of ‑‑ the question we have with him is his arm was here with the bone spur, now he's got complete flexion, which is going to be like pitching with a new arm.
There will be some adjustments to make there.¬† We're happy to see how good the ligament was in there when they went in there.¬† We pitched, what, half the season without him in, really Brian seemed like most of the season.¬† But like I said last year, some of the best development of young pitchers happens in the off‑season, when they step back after two or three weeks and so if they've got it ‑‑ I said last year, the success dictates how quickly they develop.¬† It doesn't mean it was delayed doesn't mean it's denied.¬† We'll see.¬† They do have options.

Q.¬† If you end up moving J.J. to the starting rotation, would you be comfortable with Kevin as your closer again or do you want to see something ‑‑
BUCK SHOWALTER:¬† You know, that's like I said, when we examine everything out there and what's available, you know, we're fortunate to have two guys that have been able to do it somewhat in the American League east and we'll see what the off‑season presents.
I'm not going to get into if he goes here we'll do this, too many bridges to cross and too many possibilities that change from day‑to‑day to say something today that may not come to pass in five or six months.

Q.  Dan talked about getting another outfielder, someone to back up Jones.  How does that affect where Ryan fits into these organization's plans?
BUCK SHOWALTER:¬† I think Nolan could occasionally, but we look at him as a backup.¬† You're talking about what‑ifs, if Jones goes down.¬† We were fortunate last year with Adam and Nick and Wieters, to think that Matt is going to catch 140 games every year is probably you're real lucky if that happens.¬† We hope it does.
I think everybody this time of year, especially the GM's are looking for what‑ifs.¬† And I think to have somebody that can cover Jones in centerfield, if he needs some time, same thing with ‑‑ you can see where Nolan's year progresses this year.¬† And I know it's something that if we look at Matt Angle.¬† We like some of the things he did last year.¬† We'll see where it takes us.¬† We're looking around, but it's not at the front of the burner.

Q.  Have you spoken with DeMarlo Hale since Bobby Valentine came with the Red Sox?
BUCK SHOWALTER:  That would be illegal, because he's under contract.  DeMarlo is a friend of mine.  He's very well respected in the game of baseball.  He's well thought of.  Bobby and I have talked some, since he got back, finally hooked up when I waned to congratulate him.  I know Bobby and I consider him a friend.  And to say that the name didn't come up, we discussed it.  Both of us want what's best for our club and for DeMarlo.  He's a professional.  He's a good human being.

Q.  What are your thoughts about Bobby being in the AL East and being in the Red Sox?
BUCK SHOWALTER:¬† I thought a lot about the manager they had, and I think a lot about Bobby.¬† It will continue to be a very tough proposition.¬† One less ‑‑ one more challenge we have to face.¬† Gary did some very good things obviously that hadn't been done in Boston.¬† And Bobby will be a good fit to continue those things happening.

Q.  How do you think his management style will play with that veteran clubhouse?
BUCK SHOWALTER:¬† That's not something I'm going to worry about.¬† I think that's the least of their ‑‑ they're so talented there, and so deep, that Bobby ‑‑ he'll figure it out.¬† He's a smart man that's been around a lot of different baseball.¬† He'll do well.¬† They've got good people in place all through there that will figure out what has to be figured out.¬† We have to worry about ourselves.

Q.¬† Bobby is doing what you did ‑‑

Q.  No, being out of the game, watching from the other side?
BUCK SHOWALTER:  I worked with ESPN a little bit.

Q.  Do you see any different perspective to the game since you came back, and might he see something different having been on that side of it?
BUCK SHOWALTER:  I don't know.  Everybody is different.  That would be a question for him.

Q.  What about you?
BUCK SHOWALTER:  Of course you do.  We all change.  We all in some form or fashion the things we're exposed to or the things we're involved with, we look back on them.  You try to do what's best and treat people the way you'd like to be treated.  It's a very competitive business.  I respect Bobby.  In the other dugout, it's on.  He knows that.  So we're both looking forward to it.

Q.  You've still got time to do Japan one day?
BUCK SHOWALTER:  No, Buck won't be doing Japan.  Not that they would have me, either.  Thinking more about the Cape Cod League or something.

Q.  You mentioned the uncertainty about Wieters could handle all the games?
BUCK SHOWALTER:  He could.  If you look at his curve, each year is getting better and better and better.  I said at the time if he didn't get the Gold Glove this year, there are some good catchers, but what a year he had.

Q.  Given the profile of player he is, switch hitter, a guy that's coming into his own, defensive presence, is there interest in a guy like Varitek, a veteran who has a lot of those attributes?
BUCK SHOWALTER:  I think where we are with Teagarden and some other things we're trying to do.  I think we're in good shape right now.  We're still trying for add to that depth, the catcher we liked from Arizona, and we've got some depth there.  But, no, I'm sure somebody will be very happy with Jason.  Maybe Boston.  But right now it's not a fit for us, but who knows.  We like Teagarden, what he can bring for us in the capacity we're going to use him.

BUCK SHOWALTER:¬† We've done our homework ‑‑ are you talking about the shoulder?¬† Yeah.¬† We had our doctors look at it and we feel like that while we know what we're dealing with, we think if it's managed properly it shouldn't be a problem.

BUCK SHOWALTER:  I don't know, I didn't know that.  We were talking about nine.  So stay tuned.  DeMarlo would make nine.

Q.  Is that something you go on knowledge you gathered?
BUCK SHOWALTER:¬† Not necessarily me.¬† We have a lot of people very connected scout‑wise.¬† So I'm not ‑‑ in fact some of the guys we've brought over I hadn't had, didn't know, Strop, didn't see Davis play.¬† Same way with Hunter, I've never seen him before, he pitched against us.¬† Never seen Phillips.¬† Probably most of those guys I haven't seen before.

BUCK SHOWALTER:  I wouldn't say totally that.  You're a smart guys, I mean, nobody can keep a secret, right?

BUCK SHOWALTER:¬† I think there's still room for him to grow.¬† But he ‑‑ I think the way he took to it.¬† And I think what people miss a lot when you play first base and third base because you take a lot of footwork out of it, it's a matter of catching the ball ‑‑ in third base you're trying to get your feet in position to throw.¬† When you took that equation out of it seemed to settle him down a little bit.¬† I think Mark is a lot better third baseman than he showed last year.¬† And I look to him to have I better year, whether he's playing at first or third base.¬† You're talking about a shortstop basically by trade that's moved around a little bit.
It's the first time a young player has moved from an organization he's been in his whole life, and all of a sudden he shows up and there are a lot of things swirling around there.  When he gets settled in, you'll see him a lot better.

Q.  If you guys have to trade for a pitcher, if that's the issue, do you get a sense in the market from what you know so far that there's a lot of pitchers available?
BUCK SHOWALTER:  There are pitchers available.  They may not be the level that everybody hopes to attain.  I think just trading for a pitcher, you can do it, but like all trades, what are you going to give up, and what do you think you're getting back.  You can sit in the room and you hear about a five starter or four starter, maybe a three.  You don't hear many discussions up there about a two or a one, I can tell you that.  Most of those guys, if you've got them, you're keeping them.  Somebody throws that number around everybody comes to attention saying what do you want to him.

Q.  Talking to Dan about Guthrie, potential, his name obviously came up, being a free agent.  How tough would it be to give up your guy who has loan 200 innings, when you want to fill rotation spots?
BUCK SHOWALTER:  It would be tough, we're not shopping by any stretch.  Obviously you have to get pitching back, and it's a pretty big leap of faith to see that you're going to get somebody back for sure that's going to give you 200 innings, but we'll see.  I leave it to Dan and everybody's hands.  We're up there meeting with a couple of clubs.  I'll be updated around 4 o'clock or 4:30, before you guys come in.  Nobody is shopping the guy that's thrown 600 innings in three years.  But there will be some people kicking the tires on him.

Q.  Is Joe in the mix at all?
BUCK SHOWALTER:¬† Joe is 25, 26, went to the Fall League, started out I think his third swing in the cage got hurt again.¬† When we can get him on the field, 6‑6, left, left first baseman, in the numbers when he can stay on the field.¬† I've seen a lot of guys that are not hurt.¬† A lot of the stuff has been freakish and sometimes you get that behind you.¬† Talent level is good.¬† He hasn't really been on the field enough to see it.¬† It's been frustrating for him and us to keep him on the field enough to take advantage of his.

Q.¬† What did the departure of Papelbon ‑‑
BUCK SHOWALTER:  If you're perceiving that as an impact, it is, because he's a good pitcher, and he's done a great job for them.  But they have so many capable replacements, it's just they don't have the track record he had, and they don't have the background of where he went to school at which was key for him (laughter.)
Q.The Astros moving to the American League and an inner league game taking place every day ‑‑
BUCK SHOWALTER:  Do we know when and where and how and who?

Q.  They're moving 2013.
BUCK SHOWALTER:  We definitely know what's happening in 2012.

Q.  We don't.
BUCK SHOWALTER:  That wasn't so dumb a question, thank you.

Q.  I'm talking about the Astros moving, it will be an early game obviously every day?
BUCK SHOWALTER:  You know the big challenge of that is going to be your pitchers, preparing them.  One of the things about American League and the inner league, you've got that period where everybody takes to get them acclimated.  Now all of a sudden how do you do that?  I'm anxious to hear some of the hitting coaches and pitching coaches ideas on that because it's going to be jagged.  The last thing you want to do is get a pitcher hurt through that process.

Q.  I was curious about your thoughts about the DH, and have the lines between the leagues blurred enough that there should be one rule.
BUCK SHOWALTER:¬† I thought the National League had the advantage, because they can always put ‑‑ they've always got somebody they want to DH.¬† Whatever is best, the fans help their love of the game.¬† Personally, I'd like for it all to be the same, grandfathered in or out.¬† Let's all play by the same rules.¬† Whatever the fans‑‑ everybody have the DH.¬† I don't think it's going to happen.¬† You'd like for it to be consistent.¬† It does create for some challenges for the players, especially during inner league.¬† I worry about the back and forth of inner league, not inner league, because the pitchers, you have to hit them for a while, there's not going to be consistency with that.¬† We'll see how it develops.¬† DH, I'm all for it, in or out.¬† I don't care if it's in or out.¬† I'd like it to be the same, but I don't really care.

Q.  That's unique, DH position?
BUCK SHOWALTER:  Not necessarily.  If there's the right guy, like last year, we would do it.  In a perfect world you leave that position over to float around, let some guys DH here and there.  There were some days this year we could have easily played a guy, but having Vladi very much closed it down.

Q.  What did the mean, the last series against the Red Sox, knocking them out of the playoffs, what did that mean to your team as you try to build some excitement?
BUCK SHOWALTER:¬† I don't know.¬† I don't think something like that, we were playing good baseball for the whole month, and it was good to end on a good note and finish off a good, strong finish.¬† We didn't take any emotion of somebody else's pain.¬† We were trying to finish up strong.¬† I know our fans enjoyed the competition, respected the way our guys competed the last month.¬† And other than that ‑‑ we finished up strong the year before.¬† We've won a few more games each year, the last two years, and we need the increments to be bigger.

BUCK SHOWALTER:  I don't think we're in a position to completely close the door on anything.  I don't think we're far enough along with anything to say that's in, that's out, but we'll see.

Q.  Internally you guys have talked about that?
BUCK SHOWALTER:  Not in depth.  I think everybody is aware there's been some speculation about him coming back.  I guess it's more than speculation.  But I think everybody this time of year kicks the tires on everything to see how things will fit for them.

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