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October 5, 2012

Chipper Jones


Q.  Chipper, Kyle Lohse has had a great year, but what were your initial reactions finding out you'd be facing a right‑hander for tonight's ballgame, given the fact that this team's had an up‑and‑down nature against left‑handed starters?
CHIPPER JONES:  Well, it doesn't bother me personally, you know.  But I would venture to guess to say the Freddie Freemans and Jason Heywards would rather see a righty than a lefty, but it's not going to be an easy task either way.
Kyle's very good at his craft.  He works within his means.  He's not overpowering in any sense of the imagination, but make no mistake, he's a big league pitcher and he's got big league stuff.  He's got a great changeup, and a good curveball, sinker, cutter, four‑seamer.  He's going to do his best to keep us off balance.
I think it's going to be a little more difficult with the shadows at 5:00 o'clock, but you could be looking at a race to score first.  I think that's going to be huge in this particular game where shadows play a big part, and some good back ends of the bullpen on both sides.  So you very well could see whoever scores first win ballgames.

Q.  How does this feel?  Does it feel like a normal game or not a normal game, it's a playoff game.  But knowing it could be the last game, how does this feel right now?
CHIPPER JONES:  I'm good either way.  I was riding in with my mom and dad today, and I turned around and told my dad, I was like, this is why I know I'm ready to go.  I'm not even nervous.  I don't know whether that's just being prepared, you know and being confident.  But usually first game of the playoffs, I'm nervous before the workout the day before.
I'm just ready to play.  I'm ready to go.  Whatever.  I'm going to go out and play hard for nine innings, and hopefully not much further tonight.  Don't want to go into extra innings, but whatever happens, happens.

Q.  Have you given any thought to it being humorous or ironic that if you were going by last year's rules you guys would have been in the playoffs‑‑ I'm sorry, the Cardinals wouldn't be here today.  But if you were going by this year's rules, you would have been in it last year against the Cardinals.  Do you find that terribly amusing or do you say that's baseball?
CHIPPER JONES:  That's baseball.  Quite honestly, I think if we're going to continue to let teams in year after year, we might as well just say screw it.  Let's have everybody in.  Let's play 162 games to seed yourselves and then we'll let the Astros have a shot at it and whoever else wants a shot at it, six or seven game winning streak and you're the world championship.
We'll just have a 32‑team single elimination March Madness tournament.  That's the way I think we ought to do it.

Q.  (Indiscernible)?
CHIPPER JONES:  None whatsoever.

Q.  (Indiscernible)?
CHIPPER JONES:  To the playoffs, yeah.

Q.  No, you said 32 teams.
CHIPPER JONES:  I'm trying to give everybody an opportunity to make the playoffs.  I mean, think of the excitement in every town today knowing that if all you have to do is win however many games, six games, five games, a five‑game winning streak to end the season, and you win.  Anybody could do that.

Q.  On a more serious note, could you talk a little bit more about the shadows, and the view of the shadows this time of the day here and how long do they usually last?
CHIPPER JONES:  They're bad.  They're bad.  It will be usually about start time, normal start time, 7:05 is when you're actually able to see well.  Obviously, if it's overcast a little bit, that helps.  The lights will be on, that will help a little bit, but it's going to be tough.  That's why I say if somebody can breakthrough early in the game, it's going to be tough.  It's going to be a big advantage to score early, so we need to‑‑ our formula for winning is trying to beat teams to seven innings and turn it over to a dominant bullpen.  I think it's the race to score first today.

Q.  What did you notice about the differences in the way Fredi has been handling the team here the last month as opposed to a year ago?  And how does that affect the guys in the clubhouse as you get to this kind of situation?
CHIPPER JONES:  I haven't really seen all that many differences in the ways in the clubhouse.  You learn from the best.  You stay positive through both years.  I think the one big difference is the mindset of the individual players to say, okay, we're going to shoot for the Nationals and we'll let the Wild Card be the byproduct of not quite getting there.
I think that's why you saw us have such a positive September.  Fredi has done a good job getting guys rest.  Keeping everybody fresh.  Knowing, you know, kind of walking that fine line between still shooting for the Nationals and staying prepared for this game right here.  I think he's done an outstanding job any time you have a team go out and win 94 ballgames, that's a hell of a year.

Q.  You say you're not nervous.  Do you take any time to reflect around this time of the year?  Do you think back to the rocky series in '95 or the number of playoff games you've gone through?
CHIPPER JONES:  No, I think reflection is more for when it's all over.  I'm one of those guys that likes to look out the front windshield, not the rear view mirror.  I'm not going to get overly mushy and my sentiment here.  I'm going to stay focused on the task at hand.  We're in a Game 7.  It's crunch time.  Nobody cares about what I did in 1995 or what I did in 1999.  It's all about what you do October 5th, 2012.  That's all any of us are really focused on.

Q.  Is there any part of you that thinks you're ready for this game because we've been talking about it for a long time and the possibility of it.  Is there a sense that you're glad it's finally here?
CHIPPER JONES:  Yeah, like I said earlier, it's unfortunate that you play 162 games and you win 94 games and you're pressed into a one‑game playoff.  But it is what it is.  It's exciting for the fans.  I'm sure this place will be a buzz tonight and electric.  Probably one of the most‑‑ I don't know.  I don't remember a Game 7 here in Atlanta.  I don't.  Do you do you?  Maybe I'm wrong.  Has there been?  Oh, yeah, we beat them 15‑something.  I forgot about that.  I shouldn't have forgotten about that.
Game 7s, cut throat games, win or go home games haven't happened here very often in Atlanta.  So we're looking forward to the challenge.  Hopefully the city of Atlanta shows up in force, and sends us over the top.

Q.  This is something that's brought up often around this time of the year in the playoffs.  Every year you can find a team that doesn't have a lot of it.  Does experience in the playoffs, does that neutralize talent?  What about it actually helps you do better this time of the year?
CHIPPER JONES:  I'm the calming influence.  This is what I experienced early on in my career.  The games at this juncture, they speed up, all right.  And your job and the most successful teams slow the game down.  You'll see.  That's why the Yankees play four‑hour, four‑and‑a‑half‑hour playoff games.  They slow the game down.  They want everything to be in slow motion, and that's a good approach.
I think the young guys have a tendency to just step in the box and take a swing and step in the box and get ready.  Everything's just really amped up and you have to slow them down, and calm them down.  The game's not playing any differently just because the stakes are a little higher right now.  You've just got to play nine innings, and get 27 outs, and three strikes, and four balls, and three outs, it's all the same.  You break it down to them like that, hopefully it calms then down.
You get them all sped up, they're going to be out there tackling balls on the infield and swinging at every pitch that's thrown up there.  You've got to get these guys to loosen up a little bit.

Q.  With that in mind, have you talked to guys individually or with more of a group discussion?  How have you told them?
CHIPPER JONES:  I think our guys are ready, man.  They've been waiting for this a couple of years now.  They're going to seize the moment.  You know, he'll know in seven or eight hours what the outcome is going to be, but I was impressed yesterday.  Usually in that workout the day before, everybody's amped up.  The regular season's over, and we're all amped up, and they go out and everybody's loud and everybody's trying to hit home runs in batting practice.
Everybody was focused yesterday.  There wasn't a lot of joking around.  There weren't a lot of guys swinging from the heels.  They were working on stuff.  That's a maturation process I was happy to see yesterday.

Q.  Speaking of getting amped up.  Your pitcher tonight, I assume you're not going to try to slow him down?
CHIPPER JONES:  No, he's got poise.  He'll be all right.

Q.  The second part of that is what is it like playing behind him in pitching?
CHIPPER JONES:  He's the closest thing I've played behind just in his repertoire, he's got the poise to boot.  Nothing seems to flap him.  He knows he's going to make a mistake here and there.  Relegated to a hard double with nobody on or a home run with nobody on the goal still remains the same, and that is to keep the team in the ballgame.  And I don't know of anybody who has done it as good as Kris Medlen in the second half.  So it's a lot of fun.
I don't know if t Rossi or B‑Mack on the outside corner, that's where the pitch is going to be.  That puts me in optimum position to make a play behind them.  Those are the things that Maddox and Glavine and Smoltzy and all those guys did back in the day, is they hit spots.  When the catcher called for them, they hit the spot.  They hit the spot that allows you as a defender to put yourself in an optimum position to make a play behind them.
It's no wonder we play great defense behind the Maddox, and Glavines and ultimately the Medlens, because they were strike throwers.  They filled up and were aggressive in the strike zone, and the defense was ready for them.

Q.  You have a couple of 23‑year‑old guys there who have taken postseason at‑bats in a shorter amount of time.  This is seven years without a postseason at‑bat.  Is it muscle memory?  You keep talking about everybody else having to stay calm.  It's been a while?
CHIPPER JONES:  It's like riding a bike.  Like I said, the stakes don't change.  The goal is still the same.  When you walk up there, the play is to be as tough an out as possible.  Know the repertoire of the opposing pitcher.  Stick to your strengths as a hitter, and hopefully your strengths mesh with his weaknesses.
I'm not nervous in the least for this game for the simple fact that I'm confident in my abilities when I walk up to the plate.  I'm confident in Kris Medlen, and Eric O'Flaherty, and Craig Kimbrel.  Hopefully, those are the only three guys we have to use today.  I just feel like those combinations are a good formula for a W.

Q.  When you think of good postseason pitchers, you think of the power guys.  Then maybe some of the softer you give up a base hit here and there and struggle.  Is Medlen somewhere in between?  He can strike a lot of guys out?
CHIPPER JONES:  Yes, he can.  I mean, he's got to have a generous strike zone.  He's got to have an aggressive predominantly left‑handed lineup.  That's why I think this match‑up right here poses a good challenge for him because I think he neutralizes more left‑handed at‑bats than right‑handed at‑bats.
You look at the majority of their lineup over there, a lot of right‑handed hitters.  So it's going to pose a new challenge for him.  I am of the belief that power pitching in postseason wins.  I believe a pitcher who is out there to get a strikeout after a mistake is one who can overcome more mistakes.  The guy who relies on people putting the ball in play, is not going to get out of as many jams as a power pitcher.
But that being said, Kris has been able to get the strikeout all year.  Guys on second, nobody out, guys on third, less than two outs.  He's gotten big strikeouts all year.  While he may save a little in the tank, he's certainly capable of getting a punch out whenever he wants.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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