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October 6, 2012

Buck Showalter


Q.  Obviously the decision to go with Hammel, I know we had talked about for a while this was going to be the first game he would be available.  He said yesterday was bullpen was outstanding.  Did that convince you he would be ready for this?
BUCK SHOWALTER:  Well, it is a process.  We had a lot of different variables, but we felt like all along we didn't try to push that and stay with the process of getting him ready.  He's not so far removed.  It's not a pitch count thing or anything.  Plus, having the facility and the instructional league games, he basically pitched the equivalent of a baseball game on Monday.  I think as much mentally knowing all that shouldn't be a challenge for him.  The challenge is going to be the Yankees, and they'll let us know how he's pitching.  We're excited about the possibility of getting him back.
It was a pretty short conversation.¬† I was going to talk to him last night on the plane, but about two hours into it, there was a lot of guys asleep.¬† It's kind of funny, he and Wieters and Saunders were all lined up there asleep.¬† I was going to talk to him‑‑ it was like disturbing‑‑ I don't want to say a sleeping baby, but you don't want to disturb them.¬† He worked hard.¬† I was watching Hammel around on the mound last night, and I was going, man, he looks pretty good physically.

Q.  Last night was the reining AL champs, now you have the Yankees.  Do you like how your team is going to respond early on in the playoffs playing the creme de la creme of the AL right off the bat?
BUCK SHOWALTER:¬† Do I like how we're going to‑‑

Q.  Where your team is right now putting them up against situations where you've got the Rangers, now you've got the Yankees.
BUCK SHOWALTER:  Yeah, well, those are the type of teams that are playing this time of year.  I think our guys have a lot of respect for the competition and the people they're playing.  There's not a lot of secrets this time of year.  You play too many games and there's too many things.
You know, it's what you get if you keep playing and you keep winning.  It's the competition that continues to be good and gets stronger, and the Yankees definitely fit that mold.

Q.¬† Are you ready to announce the rest of the rotation yet and‑‑
BUCK SHOWALTER:  Come on, I just gave you the first one.  Now you're moving on to the next one.
No, we've had a meeting today with the staff and then Dan and I, we're going to sit down again after the so‑called workout and shore that up.¬† There's a couple variables, like Betemit swung the bat and felt real good today.¬† First time he took extended batting practice, and he's coming along quickly.¬† Looking at a few injuries.
Right now we're probably looking at Chen and Gonz√°lez in 2 and 3, but that could change, depending on the rain‑out.¬† If we have a rain‑out tomorrow, then a lot of things change because we can resubmit a different roster provided we don't exchange lineup cards.¬† So if we have some rain issues tomorrow, then the roster would change more than likely.

Q.  How much of having a bullpen like you guys have had is just the arms and the talent, and how much is kind of how they fit together and having different guys who can do different things and have different skill sets?
BUCK SHOWALTER:¬† Well, it starts with starting pitching.¬† You cannot put a bullpen‑‑ a successful bullpen together if your starters are spitting the bit in the third, fourth and fifth inning for a majority of the game.¬† It doesn't happen.¬† That's why you see Tampa so effective.¬† One, it's because their starters are so effective.¬† I think that's the first part of the equation, too, is they have to have talent and be able to bring a skill set which our guys have, and then the last part of it is‑‑ it's like the guy says, if I pitched more, I'd pitch better.¬† Well, pitch better and you'll pitch more.
Some guys have evolved into different‑‑ the potential to do different things and not just one facet.¬† But we've been able to put them in a position where they do what they do because we've gotten deeper in the game with our starters.¬† I mean, that whole game sets the dynamics of it gets changed around if Joe Saunders doesn't take us where he did.

Q.  Can you describe what the last month has been like in this ballpark and just what it means to be playing a playoff game in this city for the first time?
BUCK SHOWALTER:¬† Well, it's a little hard to describe.¬† It's not one of those things I don't know how it's going to be.¬† I think our players, they'll be‑‑ regardless of the outcome, there's going to be a real nice feeling to sharing in what the fans are feeling.¬† We landed last night, and the guys got to the bottom of the steps and five or six flight support guys were down there clapping for them.¬† Seeing how excited our bus driver was.¬† We got back here at 5:00 or something in the morning, I'm not sure what it was, and there were six or seven fans that I don't know if they just stayed up or got up real early were standing by the players' parking lot gate.¬† We're excited.¬† Everyone is excited with them and for them.
Like I said last night, it's sudden life.¬† It's always a challenge to kind of keep that under control and funnel it in a good way, but I am glad a lot of our guys got last night under their belt.¬† I'm not saying they're any more relaxed, but right now everybody is kind of drying out.¬† Not alcohol‑wise, but I'm surprised that I don't smell a lot of the stuff that had to get washed in the sleep.¬† Everybody is working on a short night, including a lot of people here, I'm sure.¬† It's that time of year.
I just made a couple strolls by the weight room‑‑ I mean, by the training room, and that looked good.¬† That was very sparse, which is a good thing this time of year.

Q.  Earlier this year you said, "I've had my heart broken so much, every stop I've been to I've approached it like it was my last."  Do you still have that mentality, and do you feel like this year and this stop in Baltimore has helped mend the broken heart?
BUCK SHOWALTER:  I don't know if that's completely accurate but I understand the gist of the emotion.
I think everybody does.¬† You put your heart‑‑ the players put their heart on the line every night out there, and they put themselves up to ridicule and‑‑ let's face it, we see as many mishaps on highlight reels as we do good things, and that's part of it.¬† You put yourself out there every night.¬† Every situation is different, every challenge.¬† This is hard to do.¬† What they're being asked to do is hard.¬† That's why they're the best players in the world.¬† That's why this time of year it's a level that a lot of people can only‑‑ can't really fathom.¬† That's why I've always challenged them along the way to stay together because people don't really get the reality of what they're being asked to do or trying to do other than themselves, and they stay together.¬† I don't think I've answered your initial question at all.

Q.¬† Not at all.¬† The previous stops, the way that they all ended, has this, your tenure here in Baltimore, helped really, I guess, get you past that and get you past those times‑‑
BUCK SHOWALTER:  Oh, I've been past that.  I have.  Everything is for a reason.  I've been past it.

Q.  What has this job meant to you then?
BUCK SHOWALTER:¬† Just an opportunity to be in professional baseball in the Major Leagues and be around good people.¬† It's a day‑to‑day thing.¬† I don't get too deep about that.¬† Things happen.¬† Everybody has different challenges, and every situation presents different needs that you try to serve.¬† It's not near as deep and analytical.¬† If you've got good players and they perform well, what do they say, the opportunity to‑‑ the return for a job well done is a chance to do it a little bit more.¬† The higher you go up it, the more accountable it is.¬† And I think everybody in these jobs, players, coaches, managers, understand what the job description is, and it's just‑‑ the shelf life is certainly a lot shorter nowadays because of the world we live in.¬† But you can choose to live in that world mentally or not.¬† I choose not to.

Q.  Do you feel that you have to guard against (inaudible)?
BUCK SHOWALTER:¬† No.¬† That's a good question.¬† No.¬† This is not a group that's‑‑ I think they understand the chance to roll the dice and do things and take advantage of an opportunity.¬† And you were there last night; I think you could answer your own question, but I know you had to ask me.

Q.  With the Orioles getting back to the playoffs for the first time since '97, you getting back, too, and it's the Yankees that are standing in the way of the next step, is it coincidence?  Are there some larger forces at work here?
BUCK SHOWALTER:¬† No, because the logic is they're real good.¬† They're so good, sometimes it's almost like they get a couple challenges just to kind of‑‑ they're going to‑‑ it's a given.¬† They get a great return for the things that they put into their organization.¬† They pick not only good players but good people.¬† That combination is hard to overcome.¬† It's something that we've tried to do, but they're a special group of athletes.

Q.  Is beating the Yankees more meaningful than beating another team?
BUCK SHOWALTER:  Well, just from the standpoint that you know at some point during the season that the road to trying to win a championship more than likely is going to pass through there, so if you can pass through there and come out still standing, then you get a chance to keep playing games.  I don't think anybody is surprised that we're standing here looking at them.  I understand the surprise might be a little bit who's looking at them.

Q.  How is Mark Reynolds' hand and how big a concern was it when he was hit last night?
BUCK SHOWALTER:¬† Well, he was hilarious.¬† You guys have been here.¬† This guy is a very tough, durable man, but that one had a little different look in his face.¬† I initially thought it might be broken.¬† But when he started kidding around‑‑ Richie was actually tapping on the top of it to see‑‑ pretty colorful, his response.¬† Let me take a hammer and slam your knuckle and then let me tap on it a little bit and see how it feels.¬† He didn't exactly say it like that.
We were kidding Michael Young, we used to have this thing called crybaby deek where a guy gets hit on the foot and you go out there and that's kind of a signal to steal second base on the first pitch.  Dang, if Reynolds didn't take off, Michael.  But I haven't heard anything yet, but I'd be surprised if he's not a player tomorrow night.  That's something I am going to check on.  We sit down and gather all the information we get from the workout.  I'm hoping not to hear that.

Q.¬† With the format this year being the 2‑3 and the lower seed starting at home, do you see any advantage playing the first two games here as opposed to Yankee Stadium?
BUCK SHOWALTER:¬† No, I think everybody would rather have the home‑field advantage.¬† It is what it is.¬† If you want the home‑field advantage, play better.¬† There's an opportunity to get that, and they did, and they have it.¬† It's like the guy asking for strokes on the first tee with a guy that's practiced harder or done better.¬† Play better.¬† You don't always get things handicapped.
No, the format, I don't think they announced the format a couple days ago, it was a long time ago, and you knew what you had to do in order to take advantage of the other, so should be already warned.

Q.  When you took this job, obviously you took over a team that had done a lot of losing in recent years, but also an organization that has a lot of pride.  Were there any members or former Orioles who got in your ear to talk about restoring what this organization used to be?
BUCK SHOWALTER:¬† I think all of them.¬† I think one of the mistakes you make when you come into a place is you think everything there is bad.¬† I mean, there was a lot‑‑ I think the majority of people that are here were here when I got here.¬† You've just got to put them in‑‑ the more you win games, the better the environment gets.¬† There's a shocking‑‑ the better the‑‑ so it's the old chemistry thing, what comes first, or is it a chemistry class.
When you're around people like Jim Palmer and Rick Dempsey, B.J. Surhoff and Mike Bordick and Brady Anderson and Boog Powell every day and the more you're around them you realize things happen for a reason.¬† They were good pitching staff.¬† Yeah, they caught the baseball, yeah, they had some big hairy guys that hit the ball out of the ballpark, but the more you're around these guys you understand how much that meant to them.¬† And of course Cal, and I'm going to forget‑‑ we had Earl came down.¬† Earl, he speaks for ten minutes to our group and then once he gets going‑‑ we would sit there for two hours and listen to him.¬† You understand why things were what they were.
It reminded me of talking to Billy, once you got into the baseball, it wasn't some character or something.  Yeah, he argued with umpires, but his substance and the way that they did things, you can confuse change with a lack of respect for tradition.  But that wasn't the case.  We had a lot of people that we tried to lean on, the Mike Bordicks, everybody that it just meant something to be an Oriole and to be a part of this city and raise the bar.
Those guys‑‑ one thing that was obvious to me was their frustration.¬† Someone made a ridiculous saying, well, they really don't want them to win because then it would take away from their whatever.¬† That was crazy.¬† The more I was around it, believe me, that was not the case.¬† It makes everybody's job easier.¬† Mike Flanagan, everybody.¬† Constantly talking to them and seeing the passion in their voice and their eyes when they talked about the city and the ballpark and the fans and the winning, you can put Baltimore's tradition up against just about everybody.¬† Obviously one of the exceptions is New York.¬† But we don't take a backseat when it comes to passion and a background.

Q.¬† Is Reynolds going to get an X‑ray or anything that you know of?
BUCK SHOWALTER:¬† I don't know if they did or didn't.¬† Kind of tough to get him held down for an X‑ray last night.¬† Unless he has a problem with it today that affects his‑‑ I don't want to play medical, but I haven't heard any plans to do it.

Q.  I know the postseason is a different experience, but when you're playing a team like the Yankees, you guys won three series in the Bronx this year for the first time in 30 years, does that help mentally going in there, knowing they've won this year multiple times?
BUCK SHOWALTER:¬† Well, initially it does.¬† I think it was more of a seasonal thing just from a competitive standpoint.¬† But all that‑‑ this time of year this doesn't mean that, Joe Saunders is not going to be able to‑‑ it's human beings, it's a different time.¬† So what you've done this year is something that gives great fodder to talk about, an angle or a hook or whatever they call it.¬† But that's why we play the games.¬† Something happens, and you go, gosh, where did that come from?¬† That shouldn't have happened by the stats sheets.¬† It's fun to watch.
I'm as curious as everyone else.  Watching how guys reacted to certain situations last night, obviously a lot of good, so it bodes well.  I know our guys aren't going to be fearful of the competition but very respectful of the people we're playing.

Q.  I know that Hammel dealt with some injuries recently and I'm sure you saw firsthand a lot of that frustration from him, but he obviously played a huge role in your early season success.  How much do you think a guy like him is kind of anticipating a game like this, to help you guys in October?
BUCK SHOWALTER:¬† Oh, he's been chomping at the bit.¬† We intentionally, with the Monday game day, felt like he needed that time in between to put himself‑‑ we knew the schedule.¬† If we could get by that first game.¬† And this fits him physically.
It's been tough on him because he's been such a big contributor for us.  To finally get a chance, you'd like to see him have a good, clean inning like Joe.  I don't care how long you've been pitching, if you're 35 or 25, there's a certain emotion early on.  When Joe got his feet on the ground last night, Hammel will have that challenge.  I can't speak for Sabathia or Andy, but that's why you still do this, because you still have those juices that flow, and Hammel has got plenty of that.  He was happy for a lot of different reasons last night.  I talked to him about starting tomorrow, and it was kind of like, okay.
Was there anything else we were going to do?  Did I have any competition?  Sure, he did, but we've had some return for giving Chen and González the days they need, and last night was a big win for us to get those guys in a position to do as well as they can do.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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