Oct. 24 Joe Maddon workout day interview

October 24th, 2016

THE MODERATOR: First question for Joe Maddon?

Q. Two-part question for you: First of all, your thoughts on Terry Francona as a fellow manager? And secondly, like players do coming up in the ranks, they have players that they've looked up to and kind of mold them into who they are. Is there a manager or managers that maybe you've looked up to that you kind of were molded by?

JOE MADDON: Well, Tito and I got to be friends just through managing against. When he was with Boston, I was with Tampa Bay, we did a lot of talking. There were different times when they were attracted to some of our free agents and we talked about that. But, I mean, I've gotten the same impression that everybody else has, he's gregarious, easy to get to know, a good friend, and a very good manager.

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So we got to know each other on that level. It's not a social kind of a thing. We've never gone out. I've never had a chance to play cribbage with him. I guess he likes to play cribbage. But he's a wonderful man, and he's done a great job in a couple different places, so I'm very happy for his success.

Beyond that, the influences, you know, when it comes down to manager, it started for me, I think in the Minor Leagues when I actually became a coach was Gene Mauch, probably was the first one to make an impression on me in the Angels organization in the early '80s. I always thought if Gene said something, it had to be true. There was no reason to dispute it. He's also the kind of guy if you were sitting in a room and your back was toward the door and he walked in, you could feel him. That's just who he was. He had that presence about him.

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But his ability, his common sense was crazy good. I just really enjoyed listening to what he had to say. And he would always throw little jabs at me, little different things, and he made me think about stuff. And I loved him for that.

So he made the first impression. The other guy who is not a manager was Bob Clear. Nobody knows Bob, Bob's no longer with us. But Bobbaloo taught me pretty much how to teach in the game of baseball. He was with the Angels for a hundred years and then started out with the Pirates and knew all these, Clemente and all the dudes back in the day. And Bobbaloo was the best. Bobbaloo was the best. He was the best, and I know the Cardinals talk about their group of coaches reverently, and I think Bobbaloo, if you had talked to anybody that was with the Angels in the late '70s or '80s, they'll tell you about Bobbaloo.

Beyond that, you have an amalgam of everybody you've met. I really believe that. You take from the people you think are good, but I think more importantly you take away from the people that aren't so good. "I never want to be like that." And I've been in that moment, too.

But most influential is that. And beyond that, just a lot of it has a lot to do with reading. I think reading and reading and attempting to read people. I've had a chance to manage in different outposts, and I think that is the most important thing. To be in this position right now, I rely on my experiences a lot, Idaho Falls; Salem, Oregon, and Midland, Texas, and every place in between that. Instructional leagues, being back fields, trying things out where nobody can see it, and if you screw up, who cares. All that kind of stuff, I think it matters.

So I'm really grateful for the fact that took me so long to become a manager, because I think all the experiences I've had have permitted me to think the way I do right now.

Q. How much do you want your guys thinking about what this means to the city of Chicago and baseball history as opposed to just focusing on winning four games?

JOE MADDON: I think that would be something that's, you know, post-mortem. After you've actually done it, that's when you really dwell on that particular thought. In the meantime, I promise you, our guys are going to be in the present tense. I think we all have a tremendous amount of respect for history and what's happened before us or not happened before us. But, you know, you go in that room right now, they're very young. Really not impacted by a lot of the lure, I don't think, other than the fact that we are impacted by our city and our fans and the people that attend our games and the conversations that we have, absolutely, an impactful moment.

But I don't think when there's a groundball hit to Addie, he's going to be worried about stuff like that. Or there's a 3-2 pitch to KB down and away. They're going to be in the moment. That's what we've done, and that's all I preach. So at the end of the day, hopefully they'll be able to get this done, and at that point you can really reflect on everything and interact with the folks and really try to get down to the root of all of this. But in the meantime, man, I really anticipate and expect our guys to stay right in the moment.

Q. Players get asked this all the time about feeling pressure. I was just wondering from your standpoint, from the manager's standpoint, do you feel pressure in the situation you're in right now with the magnitude of everything that's happening?

JOE MADDON: I've said it probably a hundred times this year, I think it's great. I really addressed that point in Spring Training. In Spring Training, there was an inordinate amount of expectations and pressure that was heaped upon us, and I tried to convince our guys that's a good thing. Why would you ever want to do anything or be part of a situation or moment that did not have great expectations? And I think they're synonymous terms. Expectations and pressure probably become synonymous. And why would you ever want to run away from that? The alternative right now I could be in Tampa cooking steaks in my backyard, making sure DirecTV is working properly. And I'd much prefer this reality.

So I plan to enjoy it. I want our guys to enjoy the moment. I want them to take mental snapshots of everything that we're doing out here.

It's really difficult to get to this position. It's very difficult. This is, for me, fortunately my third time I've had a chance to do this, where our players, a lot of them, it's the first time. Most of them, it's the first time. Enjoy it. Enjoy it. Go play your game. It's another game.

I think when you go through that first moment slapping hands on the line, people screaming, towels waving, yeah, you're going to get a little bit of that rush. But once the first pitch is thrown, it's just like football, when you get that first hit, you can be throw-up sick in the locker room, but after you get hit the first time, you're not even thinking about it. I think that's the same thing that's going to happen there with us. You should be a little bit -- you should have butterflies, absolutely. There should be a high level of nervousness or eagerness. But, what else would you rather be doing?

Q. In your time coming up, was the old timers you'd speak to, the Jimmie Reeses of the world, do you have any appreciation for what baseball was like in the mid '40s or even earlier? And the enormity of time and how much the game has changed since the last time the Cubs were in this position?

JOE MADDON: I have somewhat, of course you have to live it to really understand it. But I've had great mentors, and you say that, I think of Gene Thompson. Gene was a scout I grew up with. Geno played for the Cubs and the Reds back in the day. Thornton Lee. I knew Mr. Hubbell, Carl Hubbell. I had a chance to sit with Mr. Hubbell at Fitch Park in Mesa, and I'd actually see his little Ford Fiesta, whatever he'd be driving between Phoenix and Tucson to go scout games at U of A. Mr. Hubbell driving this little car down Interstate 10. So I had chance to visit with all these guys.

Mr. Campanis, Mr. Campanis and I used to have a lot of conversations. He was running a Palm Springs team, and I was a Minor League farm director with the Angels when I was trying to fill up a team and actually signed his grandson Jimmy at one point. And on and on. I mean, Preston Gomez, I've had a lot of wonderful conduits of the past, and really conversationally I've nailed them down, man. I talked about all this stuff with all these guys.

The guy I wish I had met was Mr. Rickey. But Preston really filled me in a lot on Mr. Rickey and what he was all about.

So I have a strong appreciation of all of this. Jackie Robinson, you'll see his posters in my offices. There's one, there is a picture in my office here in Chicago, and I had one in my office in Tampa Bay. So, yeah, I think I do.

The other night my wife and I fell asleep watching the movie 42, because we had to beat the Dodgers before I could watch it. So once we beat the Dodgers, I felt comfortable watching the movie. Yeah, all that stuff. We put on Field of Dreams. Again, I'm that guy. I could be very -- I cry easily, so the connection to the past is very important, very important.

The Cubs, I'm late to the party, man. I was an American Leaguer for so long, and when you get to Chicago a couple years ago and then really feel what Wrigley Field is all about, pretty cool, man. I thought it was that. It is all of that. So now I'm learning all the Cub history. Billy Williams comes by all the time. Glenn Beckert, I knew Glenn from down in Port Charlotte. Randy Hundley is wonderful, Fergie. So I'm getting to know all the Cub guys now. So I've been really fortunate to be a part of this bridge from then until now. And believe me, man, conversationally, I've picked -- Wes Westrum, I talked about Wes recently when we were playing the Giants. I've talked to all these dudes about the past and what's going on right now. Of course, the game is absolutely the same and entirely different. If that makes any sense.

But I really think my roots are in traditional, fundamental baseball, whereas I'm also very much into whatever's available right now that's able to help you utilize it.

I think Mr. Rickey, had he had a computer back then, would have blown everybody away with it. He would have been the first one to really get into something like that. So in the early '90s, I'm packing a computer on airplanes and guys are making fun of me. Now everybody's got one in their briefcase or in their backpacks. It's just the way it is.

Air conditioning is popular right now, so is color TV. You've just got to change with the times. But I'm very happy that I've had the chance to be taught by these gentlemen.

Q. Kind of hate to take this from big picture stuff, which is really fun, to more narrowly focused questions.

JOE MADDON: Go for it.

Q. I have two: One is about Rizzo facing a predominantly right-handed lineup of pitchers, and what you think he can do with that? And the other is, Lester, there is not a lot to compare it to, but he's got a chance to be kind of the all-time postseason hero for the Cubs because of coming through in these clutch circumstances. Starting Game 1, what do you think he can do?

JOE MADDON: First of all, with Anthony, Riz right now is swinging the bat well. And when Anthony's swinging the bat ball well, he hits righties and lefties. Last year he was phenomenally good against lefties also. What's going on right now, is he's not missing his pitch, and he's making the pitcher throw the ball over the plate, he's not expanding the strike zone. That's what anybody does when they're hitting well. But Anthony's an exceptional hitter.

Going into this, I was looking at the work briefly, and a lot of their starters being right-handed. They have a pretty good lefty in the bullpen. But overall, it's just to win this series, like every other, I've talked about it the whole time, score first and win innings. You need to get on top, and not have to face their better guys at the end of the ballgame, otherwise you're going to be in trouble. Anthony specifically is in a good place right now regardless who is pitching.

Jonny Lester, yeah, Jonny, there is an incredible amount of calm that I'm seeing from the dugout when I'm watching him out there right now. He's really, really in the moment, he's calm. Gosh, he's just eager to get out and pitch.

So, yeah, he's definitely on his way. You see all those names on our scoreboard once in a while that go back to the early 1900s, with all this great lure and all this kind of stuff. Maybe 50, 60 years from now you'll see Jonny up there with the same kind of reverence. So I know he's ready. I know he's in the moment and throwing the ball really well right now. So, again, I'm eager to watch him pitch.

Q. You've managed against many times. I just wanted to ask you about the flexibility he gives Cleveland, and also if you can appreciate putting it all together ten years after being such a high pick?

JOE MADDON: Yeah, when he started out, he didn't have this kind of command. He had a great arm, but he did not -- he was more of a starter, just trying to find his niche. I got to meet him last year at Sammy Foltz diabetes event down in Tampa. A really nice fella. Really a bright, thoughtful man. But, yeah, he has reinvented himself along the way where he's become this really, a strike thrower with a nasty fastball and whatever that is, that slurve/slider/curvy thing that he's got.

But he's good against righties and lefties. He doesn't know righty from left-hander. He's very durable. When a guy can throw -- this hybrid kind of a guy that's starting to surface right now, can throw that at that high of a level that often for that many innings is kind curious and interesting. Although I still believe if you spread that over the course of 162 games, it would be hard to do that. More in a pocket like this in a playoff situation with days off more frequently, you could exercise that kind of ability more readily. But he has -- I've watched it on TV, seen him in person. He just kept getting better when he got to Baltimore and eventually now. Again, I'm happy for his success, because he's a good man. He's a good guy. He's a really good fella. But hopefully we don't have to face him in as many pertinent moments.

Q. As your catching situation has evolved over this season, how has Miguel kept himself relevant? Can you talk about the value that he still brings you guys even at this point in the season?

JOE MADDON: Yeah, I mean, he's gotten off to -- it was a difficult moment. He got hurt there for a bit. Then came back from that. Things just did not want to work out, but he continued to work, and I watched it. The last six weeks or two months, I'd say a solid six weeks his whole game improved. Everything got better.

First of all, he's a good receiver. He's always a good receiver. I really watched that closely with him, and I know all the different thoughts regarding guys that are able to really -- their guy, Perez receives the ball really well, too. And it matters. He's really good at that. He's got a little nuisance how he receives the ball, very similar to J. Molina, and I have a strong appreciation for how they do that. So it starts with that for him.

And then beyond that, he has a good feel for the game behind the plate. And his bat started coming alive again. His bat, you saw the grand slam, that was one of the biggest moments we had in that last series. But all of a sudden, he started catching up, and his at-bats got more confidence. And it's about confidence. So I think after a tough beginning, little injury, coming on back, give him credit. Give him credit for not caving in there as he got back. That's what he did. No big secret. Work, lot of work. Continued to believe in himself, and eventually it started showing up again.

Q. What do you remember about the day you guys got Chapman and thinking about how that was going to impact your team going forward? And the way that Tito's used Andrew Miller, bringing him sort of anytime he feels like it, would you ever think about doing that with Chapman, or do you like the way he sets up as that imposing guy at the end of the game?

JOE MADDON: First of all, Theo talked to me about it, and of course it was a wonderful thought. We waited for the right moment and the boys had to get together and understand and decide what we were willing to give up for him. Because I've seen Gleyber. Gleyber's a good baseball player, man. That kid's going to be really good. So you have to give up something to get something. But also our guys felt if we got Aroldis this year, we'd have a chance to be sitting here and answering this question, and they were right.

So that to me was a great feeling. It's an entirely different thing when you get a guy out there throwing 100 miles an hour. You feel pretty good about it, regardless of who is hitting. So he's really a big part of why we're doing this right now.

To be utilized like Miller, see, that's where -- everybody thinks that everybody -- I'm not talking about -- I'm just saying general terms right now. Not everybody is cut from the same cloth mentally either or the ability to get loose and prepare. Andrew Miller, having probably done a variety of different things in the Big Leagues as a pitcher is more suited to be able to be this guy that can get up in the 6th, 7th, 8th or 9th and warm up in a manner that gets him in the game both mentally and physically. Whereas Aroldis, if he wanted to do that, I think that would have had to be done from Spring Training. He'd have to differentiate his mindset. He'd have to have a different way to get ready. I do notice he throws a heavy baseball before he actually throws a regular baseball. That's his routine.

Whether you agree with it or not, that's just the way it is. So a guy like Aroldis, to ask him to attempt to dump his routine right now or in the postseason and do something else, I think you're looking for failure right there. So I'd rather him just -- we stretched him to five outs the other night, which is a good thing, I thought. So now going forward he knows he can do that. But to just haphazardly throw him in the sixth, seventh, or ninth, I think would be very difficult to do.

I think Jansen showed that he can do that, also. He absolutely showed that he can do that. But, again, moving forward, I think he could do it now, but to attempt to do that during a regular season, I don't know if Rollie Fingers exists anymore. It would be hard to get a guy to do that and have that kind of success, I think.

Q. I don't think you've addressed this yet, but what were your reports on in the Fall League? What is the likelihood of him serving as your designated hitter tomorrow?

JOE MADDON: Reports are good. He's going to play again tonight. He's been doing everything. He's swinging the bat well. He's running really well, actually. He's done some sliding drills, all that kind of stuff to just test the whole thing out. So we'll wait till he plays tonight, and then make an evaluation after that. We don't have to have the roster set until tomorrow, I guess, tomorrow at 10 o'clock. But right now he's doing everything well and right. He's given us another option to think about.

Q. You've managed plenty of really good starters in both Tampa and here in Chicago. In the postseason, sometimes those starters who excel in the regular season have not pitched the same, and you have someone like who obviously has thrived in October. Do you have any theories about why that is, why some thrive in October and others don't?

JOE MADDON: Wow, I honestly, that I don't know. I just know our guy, I know Jon, and like I said, I watch him pitch right now and when he takes the mound, extremely calm. I mean, he's in the moment. He's right there. I watch him communicate with David, so there is something about that internal level of confidence and the ability to, and again, this is an overused term, but it's true, slow things down. I think some players have that ability better than others. Some people, I think, might again look at the macro, others the micro of the moment. But you take those blinders off, it can become a little bit overwhelming. If you stay focused on the catcher, you have a much better chance.

So I think it's the heartbeat, the ability to slow the moment down has a lot to do with it, which also speaks to your confidence. And he has had a chance to do it for several years now. I mean, doing it at a young age up in Boston, eventually moving along in his career. So there is the experience component. But more than anything, I think it's the ability to slow the moment down and having that confidence in yourself in that moment. I think for a lack of better way to explain it, I think that's it.

Q. Continuing on in that, can you talk about the defensive mechanism that you guys have built in with Rizzo, the catchers, the second baseman and Jon, and how that has insulated these situations? Obviously, Jon is tremendously confident in these situations with that support around him?

JOE MADDON: Yeah, again, we've talked about this a lot since Spring Training, and a lot made to do with the base stealing and that kind of things. And I know that Cleveland's very good at this. So, again, we just do simple better. I've just tried to really have everybody simplify our tasks. Everybody's got an assignment per pitch, what we want to do. What Jon does as good as anybody in Major League Baseball is throw the ball from the mound to the plate, and that's it. I wanted Jon to focus on what he does well first.

I think that's sometimes leaks into our process as a coach sometimes. You always worry when somebody doesn't do well. You always worry about what they don't do well, and in the meantime you don't work on what they do well, and it becomes confusing. I'd much rather our guys work on what they do well and really nail that down. I don't want us to worry so much out of the other side, and that's something I got out of a book from Coach Wooden. Back in the day he was more about UCLA playing the game the way he wanted it to be played as opposed to worrying about his opposition.

So I think that's really what it comes down to. Because in today's world, you have to scout everything, you have to have all this data and all this information, and while you're doing all that stuff, you don't take care of yourself. I'd rather we attempt to take care of ourselves first and react after that. But that's what it's been, is us trying to accentuate our strengths first, and hopefully that we'll be able to control the opposition that way.

Q. You're talking about Tito, what specifically is the challenge? What is the fun in matching up with him, talking with him, going up against him?

JOE MADDON: Oh, you know, just you know how competitive he is. He's been with such good teams and good players for so many years. He was a good player himself. The challenge is just that you have to be on top of your game. Brad's right next to him. I've got Davey, he's got Brad. But the rest of it is -- he's got Callaway. Mickey Callaway and I worked together in California. Also I know Mickey. They have Q (Quatraro) there, I mean, there are so many connections there with the coaching staff.

So it's all of that. You look at the dugout, you know, you know. They know what you're thinking and vice versa. That's why at the end of the day it's not about me or Tito; it's about players. This game is always about players, and if your guys play better than their guys, you win. That's really what it comes down to. And you attempt to prepare your people. Don't complicate things. Try to put them in a position to be successful. And then work the process and look for a good result.

I haven't talked about winning one time. I've not talked about outcome one time. I think that's why the T-shirt, "The Process is Fearless." I want us to stay in the process and you do that, you don't get inundated with all these thoughts that take away from the task at hand and that's what I believe.