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December 7, 2011
Q.¬† When you look at the way your roster shapes up, what would you like to see happen before the start of Spring Training?
FREDI GONZALEZ:¬† You know what, I think the season starts right now, you feel pretty good about your roster.¬† You really do.¬† I'm sure in a perfect world, in a fantasy world, you'd like another right‑handed bat some place.
But right now you feel pretty good.¬† You feel like the strength of your team is your pitching staff, that goes a long way.¬† But with Christmas coming around the corner and you want to add another piece, it will be a big bat.
Q.¬† It's a tough way to end the season, is there anything you look back and say this is kind of what went wrong for us or is it just kind of a bunch of things?
FREDI GONZALEZ:¬† You know what, it's one of those things that you look back and you kind of reflect for about a month and there is a lot of that stuff, should have, could have, done this thing differently and all that stuff.
But Spring Training will start here in a couple of months.¬† And going through that last month of September it's got ‑‑ I wouldn't wish it on anybody in any sport.¬† But it's got to help us going forward.
Q.¬† What would you say about the bat that you're pursuing?
FREDI GONZALEZ:¬† No, he was asking me if a perfect world or fantasy world or Christmas coming around the corner, what would you want.¬† And my answer was you feel good about your club right now.¬† But if you want a package underneath the Christmas tree, maybe another bat.
Q.¬† Do you think you can do that without trading Jair and Prado or one of them?
FREDI GONZALEZ:¬† No, I'm not looking to trade any of them.¬† But I'm just saying another bat would be nice.
FREDI GONZALEZ:¬† Somehow.
Q.¬† What about Prado and J.J.?¬† Where do you stand with them in your view?
FREDI GONZALEZ:¬† I think they're good players, good Major League players, and they're Atlanta Braves.¬† And there's been a lot of rumors out there for these two guys.¬† J.J. was an All‑Star last year, Prado the year before.¬† They're good baseball players.¬† And I think I started Mark's answer, saying the season starts tomorrow you feel good about your club.
Q.¬† What are the health of the three top‑starting pitchers?
FREDI GONZALEZ:¬† I think going into Spring Training or coming out of Spring Training we're going to be fine.¬† Jurrjens was on schedule.¬† If we would have gone forward in playoffs, he was on schedule to start one of those games.¬† I think the day after, I think on Friday after the season ended, I think he had thrown five or six innings.¬† So he's fine.¬†
¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Tommy Hanson, he went down to instructional League and started doing some strengthening exercises on his shoulders, and I think he's going to be fine.¬† Tommy Hanson ‑‑ Huddy, had surgery a week ago now more or less, and talking to him, he said that he feels like he's three weeks ahead of last year, to start his throwing program.¬† So those are all good things.
Q.¬† Kris Medlen is a better fit for long relieve out of the bullpen?
FREDI GONZALEZ:¬† He's your wild card.¬† He could do both, and do both extremely well.¬† The last game of last year he came in with the bases loaded and I think there was no outs and did a nice job getting out of that jam.¬† We've seen him start.¬† We haven't decided.¬† I think we haven't made a decision on whether he's going to be a starter or bullpen on him.
I think we'll work him as a starter, keep stretching him out.¬† You can always back him off in the bullpen.¬† He's a wild card for us.¬† He could fit in a lot of different roles for us.
Q.¬† Nice luxury to have?
FREDI GONZALEZ:¬† Yeah, and he's healthy.¬† He showed he was healthy there last year with his Tommy John.
Q.¬† With the way the season ended, the fans get anxious if you're not making moves, but theoretically, would you be comfortable if you brought back the same team that you had?
FREDI GONZALEZ:¬† Yeah, you know, I think nobody was comfortable, or nobody liked the way the season end the.¬† I think you make moves, if our team was old, it's an old team.¬† But for the most part our nucleus of baseball players are pretty young and pretty talented.¬† So you hope that they learn from that month of September, experienced it and are better off for it.
You look at any Major League team any given month, even the guys that won the World Series, they had a bad month.¬† We just chose our month to be the last month of the season.¬† Which makes it hurt even more.¬† I think in the beginning of the year the Cardinals couldn't win a game.¬† And they were not real good in April or May and they got hot in September.
So we were the other way around.¬† We got cold in September.¬† And that happens in sports.¬† And I think in baseball more.
Q.¬† The only old guy you have, obviously, in the lineup is Chipper.¬† Does that make the practiced owe situation different than it might if he were just a left fielder?
FREDI GONZALEZ:¬† Chipper ‑‑ yeah, when Chipper was‑experiences in baseball he'll play at 40, 39, 40 years old.¬† And last year he played 125, 30 games, something like that.¬† We'll probably cut him back a little more.¬† Having Prado, that luxury to move him to third anytime we needed to give a rest to Chipper, it's a big plus for us.
So that's a big piece for us, for practiced owe.¬† And also George is in the rotation.¬† I think that sitting here you hate to say you'd never trade anybody.¬† Or you won't trade anybody.¬† We're in a position that we would trade somebody if it makes our team better.¬† And we sit there and go, well, this could make us better.¬† Other than that, I think we're okay.
Q.¬† You said you wanted the guys to decompress.¬† Is there anybody you've reached out to?
FREDI GONZALEZ:¬† I've talked to a few guys.¬† I've seen a couple of guys in person.¬† I saw hey ward.¬† He looks great.¬† It looks like he's been working out.¬† It looks like he's slimmed down little bit.¬† I think that's what he wanted to do, for whatever reason.¬† He wanted to feel better if he did that.¬† He's going to start working out with Greg here on Monday a couple of times a week, hitting in the cages.
So I'm looking forward to seeing him.¬† Is I talked to Huddy.¬† I talked to Venters.¬† Spoken to a bunch of other guys.¬† Freeman.¬† You like to keep in touch.
Coming here in the next few weeks this is when you start to reach out and talk to more and more guys.
Q.¬† I was going to ask you about Heyward, how comfortable are you with or confident are you that he'll bounce back from last season and be something like the player he was as a rookie, be your every-day guy in right field from day one?
FREDI GONZALEZ:¬† We're hoping that happens, we really do.¬† We saw the stretch of September we saw games ‑‑ we saw glimpse of him being really, really good.¬† And I think it's just a matter of him getting confidence, working with Greg and be the same guy.
I think maybe some of those nagging injuries played a factor.¬† Some of the lack of production on the offensively.¬† But maybe alternatives sophomore slump.¬† All of the above.¬† But he's a big piece for us.¬† That's a big bat in the lineup.¬† You get him going, get him straight and it will help us tremendously.
Q.¬† You intend to go into the season, then, playing him every day?
FREDI GONZALEZ:¬† Yeah, yeah.¬† I think so.¬† Obviously see how Spring Training works out and all that kind of stuff.¬† But he is ‑‑ I'm always the guy that you've got to give people opportunities.¬† As long as he works and we see improvement and we see some consistency we'll give him an opportunity.
Q.¬† It looks like his shoulders ‑‑
FREDI GONZALEZ:¬† Have you seen him?
Q.¬† It's like he is more athletic.
FREDI GONZALEZ:¬† Yeah, but he looks good.¬† He looks good.¬† And I'm really looking forward to seeing him start working with Greg and Scott Fletcher and get some swings and see how that develops.
Q.¬† Is there one specific aspect of his swing that Greg has already said I want to zero in on this specific aspect or is this whole approach stemming from the box all the way in?
FREDI GONZALEZ:¬† Now I'm speaking for Greg, which I think he's just got to let him ‑‑ he's got to watch him and then make changes or make suggestions accordingly.¬† I don't think it's a total revamp of a swing or a set up.¬† I think he's just going to watch and see where it goes from there.
Q.¬† With Greg and Scott, the setup, having that advance scout is good?
FREDI GONZALEZ:¬† I think it's going to be interesting.¬† I think it's cutting edge, a little outside the box.¬† Not that we are the first team to do it.¬† I think the Cardinals did it.¬† McGwire and now John, he was helping out with the hitting coach.¬† Dave Keller and Rudy Jaramillo kind of shared it a little bit in Chicago.¬† And our theory is usually the pitching coach and the bullpen coach are pitching guys.
So you divide kind of the responsibilities, two guys between 12 pitchers or 13, whatever you might have.¬† And why not do the same thing as a hitting coach, as long as those two hitting coaches work together, there's no ego, and it's for the better of that individual and also the team.¬† And there is some history there between Greg and Scott.¬† And Scott having the video background, I think he's going to help us.
As far as him being ‑‑ I call him like the vampire coach.¬† He's going to see daylight for about 20 minutes every day.¬† He's going to throw a group into BP or back in the cages or in the video room.¬† His outside exposure is going to be very limited.¬† I think it's going to help us because usually your advance scout watches three games, Friday, Saturday, Sunday series.
Well, with the video stuff you can watch three games a day.¬† You can go back in history and watch the Philadelphia Phillies play the last 12 games and break it down, come up with a game plan, and watch to see where ‑‑ executing that game plan, and make adjustments accordingly.
So we have a guy there.¬† So we'll see if it works.¬† I'm looking forward to it.¬† I've never done it that way.¬† But I think it's a good way to do it.
Q.¬† Technology is probably getting to that point where not only are you getting all those games at one time, now you can log them and say this is where ‑‑
FREDI GONZALEZ:¬† Yeah, and you can watch all those games, you can replay it, you can watch different angels.¬† One thing I'm going to tell Scott is I want the body mark.¬† There's so much information that the other team's broadcaster says, bow went, his knee is hurting, he's not running real well, but that's part of scouting.¬† He can write it down.¬† When Mark gets on first base, he can play behind him if he's not running well.¬† There's so much information, even your own broadcasters even give it away.¬† You probably listen to you guys ‑‑ when you watch the game, you're listening to what's going on, all the information.¬† So we are looking forward to that set up.
Q.¬† How much did you learn in the second half from the way you used your relievers?¬† Because you made an adjustment at the All‑Star break.¬† Are you going into this season, will that be beneficial knowing what they can and can't do.¬† You talked yourself about not using them sometimes?
FREDI GONZALEZ:¬† Yeah, I think going into the season we'll probably end up using them the way we did the second half.¬† Kimbrel and Venters and O'Flaherty, using them, where we were with a tie.¬† I think we had 26 extra-inning games, so there's a bulk of games that they pitched in for that reason.¬† So, yeah, you know, and if Medlen is in the bullpen you can use him a little bit more in that situation.
And the games in April and May count as much as the ones in September, if not more.¬† So the games in the Major Leagues are hard to win.¬† And when you get an opportunity you've got to try to go for it.
Q.¬† How close is I take ran to be somebody you can count on in the Big League level?
FREDI GONZALEZ:¬† Very close.¬† He showed us some good stuff last year.¬† All those guy did.¬† When Tommy Hanson went down, Jurrjens went down, we asked Delgado, Teheran and Minor to pick up the load in September.¬† And they did a terrific job, they really did.¬† They pitched some great ballgames coming down the stretch and they held their own.¬† And I think those games that they pitched, it has to help them.¬† They're not facing the Philadelphia Phillies.¬† And they're not facing ‑‑ one game left, playoff type atmosphere almost the whole month of September.¬† It's going to be good for them.
Q.¬† The moves that the Marlins have made, how do you feel about that, in looking at the division, it looks like it's obviously getting tougher, and it was already a tough division?
FREDI GONZALEZ:¬† Tough division, making some good moves, making that team better with Reyes and Heath Bell and Ramirez and you name it and Buck and all those guys.¬† I'm a big fan of St. Louis Cardinals right now.¬† I'm hoping they keep the other animal in St. Louis and not bring them to Florida.
But everybody is getting better in that division.¬† The Phillies are the Phillies.¬† The Marlins are getting better.¬† Washington is getting ‑‑ they're getting dangerous.¬† They're getting close.¬† They've got some good players.¬† You're expectations are we should be in the playoffs.¬† It's a tough division.
Q.¬† You still confident in your own team?
FREDI GONZALEZ: ¬†Yeah, I like my team because I like the pitching.¬† I like our pitching.¬† And I think that guys are going to be better off ‑‑ or have better off years this year.¬† And it's going to take some of the pressures off that pitching.¬† I think our lack of offense last year kind of killed our pitching, by playing extra inning games.¬† I think we led the world in one run games.¬† That's where.
Q.¬† Did Hudson's back surgery, in your mind, did it kind of a red flag go up, maybe we need to keep Jurrjens even more, because he's your most experienced now with Lowe gone, obviously?
FREDI GONZALEZ:¬† Yeah, but I think Huddy's surgery, I think he's going to be fine.¬† I really do think he's going to be fine.¬† And right now as we speak, and the if the season starts tomorrow, and in no particular order you feel Hudson, Jurrjens, Beachy, Hanson and then one of Minor, Delgado, Teheran.¬† This is right now talking at 4 o'clock ‑‑ 3:30 in the afternoon or whatever it is.
So, you feel good.¬† You feel like ‑‑ even if we have to improve the club by losing Jurrjens, you still feel pretty good or losing any of the other ones, you feel like you've got a good core of starting pitching.¬† All those rumors are out there.¬† Only if somebody really knocks your socks off and you feel like, okay, this makes us better.
Q.¬† The two free agents who fit the positions you need help, that you said you need help, Furcal and Andruw Jones, chance any of them becoming a brave?
FREDI GONZALEZ:¬† We haven't spoken about those two guys.¬† Those are two examine Braves and two good players.¬† But, yeah, we haven't gotten to that point of speaking to those guys.
Q.¬† With all the young pitchers that you have relied on and will rely on that you have been mentioning, is there anything you have to see from a young pitcher before you're ready to rely in a real key role for a guy that hasn't done it before?
FREDI GONZALEZ:¬† No, I think what we saw in September of last year, with Delgado and Minor, obviously Minor did it more than other guys, you feel like you could ‑‑ you could carry those guys in rotation.¬† Can you carry three of them?¬† Maybe not.¬† But we seem to have a knack, the Atlanta Braves have a knack of plugging one guy in that rotation, and it kind of keeps flourishing.¬† I would feel comfortable using those guys in rotation, if not all of them.¬† If they're all in rotation, that means something bad happened with a couple of those guys.
Q.¬† The guys that you have plugged in, even Venters and Kimbrel, is there something they have in common that allows them to succeed right from the onset?
FREDI GONZALEZ:¬† I think we have a good player development system.¬† And we have a good program for pitching, especially.¬† And we've got very, very good scouts.¬† We really do.¬† You ask any manager that faced us, when that 7th inning came out, here comes O'Flaherty in the 7th.¬† Here comes Venters in the 8th.¬† Even the other two guys were homegrown.¬† So you've got to give a lot of credit to our scouts and our players.
Q.¬† What do you make the division.¬† There's a hundred people talking ‑‑ with everything Washington has done ‑‑
FREDI GONZALEZ:¬† It's tough.¬† It's a tough division.¬† It really is.¬† And with Reyes, with the Marlins and Bell coming over and like you said, Washington is ‑‑ they're close, if not already there to be con tenders, they've got a good core of people.¬† The Phillies are going to be there.¬† We're a pretty good baseball team.¬† It's not easy.¬† It's not an easy division.¬† And like anything else, like any given year it's going to come down to health.¬† Who stays healthy.¬† Who doesn't stay healthy.¬† But they're a good ballclub.
Q.¬† How long did it take you to get over last September?
FREDI GONZALEZ:¬† About a month.¬† I think the first baseball game I saw was Game 6 of the World Series and I turned it off after the first five innings because it was a boring game the first five innings.¬† I Tivo'd it to see if something happens.¬† And sure it did, the last four innings was one of the best breaking ball ‑‑ but I watched it the next morning, after I missed it.¬† But the first, five, six, innings was not a very good baseball game.
You want to let it go, what happened.¬† You kind of live through it, you learn from it, you experience it, let it go and start spring, start fresh.¬† And hopefully we're better for it.
Q.¬† Are you comfortable with Pastornicky going with an unheralded guy, you trust the player development guys and Frank?
FREDI GONZALEZ:¬† Yeah, and I saw him a little bit.¬† We got an opportunity to spend a little time with him Spring Training, and you like the kid's makeup.¬† And I think the big key is maybe getting a veteran guy that can spell him every once in a while, not just throw him completely into the fire, Pastornicky, get a veteran utility guy that every once in a while they're facing tough pitching, saying you've got it today.
And little by little get him in an every day shortstop.¬† But our reports say they're pretty good.¬† And I like the kid's makeup.¬† And he is a baseball player.¬† He grew up around baseball.¬† And as a young kid, he's got some athletic ability, can steal some bases.¬† Give him an opportunity.
Q.¬† Make it easier to throw a guy that young when you have a good defensive first basemen on the other side of the infield as well?
FREDI GONZALEZ:¬† Yeah, he makes a difference, there's no doubt that Freddie Freeman makes everybody else in that infield a lot better.¬† I would like to really see who's better than him picking balls in the dirt.¬† If there is, there's only maybe one other guy.¬† But there were some balls that he dugout that really saved us.
Q.¬† Last year at this time you said you already had started fidgeting with lineups.¬† How much easier is it going into this season knowing how the top of the lineup stands?¬† How much easier does Michael Bourn make things on the flow up lineup?
FREDI GONZALEZ:¬† There's no changes, really.¬† As we speak right now there's no changes, Bourn and a combination hitting second, third, fourth, the only thing that's changed is that if he starts out like he finances.¬† Heyward has a good third year.¬† And everybody else has their normal year.
Q.¬† Does it make it easier to fill the lineup because you have that legit leadoff guy, do all the other pieces fit a little easier ‑‑
FREDI GONZALEZ:¬† Because Bourn is there and you've lived with him for three months and you know what he can do?¬† Absolutely.
Q.¬† Right now you look and Chipper is still at three?
FREDI GONZALEZ:¬† It could be Chipper at three.¬† We tinker a lot with it.¬† Mac was three.¬† And Danny was four.¬† And Chipper fifth.¬† Chipper at second.¬† We had the pitcher hitting 8th a couple of times.
Q.¬† Those three being in 3, 4, 5?
FREDI GONZALEZ:¬† Yeah, and hopefully ‑‑ you know what, we forgot about Freeman.¬† We forgot about Freeman.¬† There was a point in the season Freeman carried us for a month.¬† They both had ‑‑ what did Danny finish, 33?
Q.¬† At least a 33 game streak?
FREDI GONZALEZ:¬† I think Freddie had ‑‑ hitting streak ‑‑ was it 33?
FREDI GONZALEZ:¬† Two?¬† Is it two?¬† 33.¬† And Freddie had in the 20's, too, right, or high 19's or something. ¬†So those two guys carry us.¬† And Freddie hit in the middle of the lineup most of the year, as a rookie.
Q.¬† You had Alex No. 2 a lot.¬† You had to find a replacement for him at No. 2?
FREDI GONZALEZ:¬† Yeah, we had a whole bunch of stuff.¬† I'm wide open right now.
Q.¬† Heyward, have you spent a lot of time talking to him since the season ended at all?¬† And what do you need to do to get him on track, what was his problem?
FREDI GONZALEZ:¬† I think it was a combination of a lot of different things, a couple of little nagging injuries that he said have been bothering him with his swing, maybe a sophomore slump, all of the above.¬† A combination of the two.¬† I've seen him, I laid my eyes on him.¬† He looks great.¬† As soon as the season ended he worked out and slimmed down and looks really, really good.¬† He's going to start working with Greg on Monday, a couple of times a week.¬† Starting working on hitting and see how he goes.
Q.¬† Anything you want him to specifically focus, as he starts working on hitting, are you on him to try to focus on any aspect of it to get back on track?
FREDI GONZALEZ:¬† Greg has seen a lot of videos of Jason Heyward, and also the entire time team.¬† Question, that question was asked and I'm going to answer it the same way, I think Greg is going to watch him and make adjustments accordingly.¬† And I don't think Jason Heyward is a complete remap of a swing or set up.
So I think a good hitting coach ‑‑ it's the first week of December, so we've got time.¬† We've got time for Greg to watch him and make adjustments accordingly.
Q.¬† You said last year after you got hired that you were kind of surprised and felt good, you sensed how important being a manager of the Atlanta Braves was, when people recognized you in south Florida.¬† Did they still recognize you this off‑season?
FREDI GONZALEZ:¬† Did I specifically say South Florida?¬† Was it here?¬† Because we've got this record, we can look it up.
Q.¬† This off‑season, did they and if they did, did you wish they hadn't?
FREDI GONZALEZ:¬† You know there was a month I stayed in the house.¬† This is the way I feel, maybe I was wrong, you know, I don't think I was wrong, but I stayed home the first month because when stuff like that, your goal is always to make the playoffs, not only for the organization, but for your fan base, for the city.¬† And you feel like you let all those people down when you don't make the playoffs.
So the first month after that, I stayed home.¬† I didn't go out very much.¬† When you go to the stadium those first couple of weeks after the season ends and you see those people working or cleaning the stadium and you know what, they could have two more weeks of games or another week of games.¬† And you read the story I think in St. Louis, the World Series kind of saved ‑‑ I may be wrong, two or three hundred jobs, because they had the extra four games in St. Louis.
They didn't have to shut down something, because the World Series got into St. Louis.¬† And you know what, I wish we could have had that for Atlanta.
Did I answer your question, or am I going the wrong direction?
FREDI GONZALEZ:¬† The first month I kind of hid.¬† And now I think people are ready for baseball to get going again.¬† I think this time of year they get the juices going, get back on the field and try to put one of those pennants back up there.
Q.¬† You didn't get egged or anything?
FREDI GONZALEZ:¬† No, no.
Q.¬† So with the two Wild Cards you would have made the playoffs?
FREDI GONZALEZ:¬† Yeah, we would have had one more game.¬† We would have, yeah.¬† We were prepared to do that, we were all prepared to go to St. Louis if we had won our game and it just happen.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports