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Winter Meetings interview with Bud Black

Q. How much input have you had and do you expect to have during the offseason with Jeff?
BUD BLACK: You know, it's been great with Jeff, even for the last -- well, since I've been hired, because he's been open about where he sees this team going. And I think from my vantage point, I think he likes the fact how I saw the team from the other side and what I do know now about the players and the group. He's asking me a lot of questions.

Again, I think I'm just part of the decision-making group. And there's some really talented guys in that room that I've come to find out, experienced guys, Bill Smith, Danny Montgomery, a bunch of guys who have been around a long time, and the younger guys who are bright and creative. So just another one of those voices that lends an opinion.

Q. How much input have you had and do you expect to have during the offseason with Jeff?
BUD BLACK: You know, it's been great with Jeff, even for the last -- well, since I've been hired, because he's been open about where he sees this team going. And I think from my vantage point, I think he likes the fact how I saw the team from the other side and what I do know now about the players and the group. He's asking me a lot of questions.

Again, I think I'm just part of the decision-making group. And there's some really talented guys in that room that I've come to find out, experienced guys, Bill Smith, Danny Montgomery, a bunch of guys who have been around a long time, and the younger guys who are bright and creative. So just another one of those voices that lends an opinion.

Q. And specifically, suppose if you guys do close in on a reliever, which has been a hot topic about this team, would you be consulted?
BUD BLACK: Oh, sure. Yeah.

Q. Listen, this is a guy I like for this reason or that reason?
BUD BLACK: I would give my opinion. Ultimately it is Jeff's decision. But I'm one of the guys that, amongst others, were asked those questions.

Q. When it comes to bullpen, the way you handled it in San Diego, as you've said, very conventional. Did anything that happened like in the post-season, where floating relievers, back and forth, really good relievers, does that change how you would look at a regular season?
BUD BLACK: Yeah, I think that obviously what we saw in the playoffs this year is really -- and you'll hear other guys talk about it. You know, managing a bullpen during the regular season is different than managing the bullpen, especially as you move down the line.

But, you know, what does work, if you have those types of relievers that have multi-inning performance, who can throw parts of innings and continue, that's very valuable. And there are some guys who maybe that's not their bag. You know, maybe they are just get them up one inning and when the inning is over, they can't come back out.

But if you have the versatility and you have guys who do perform and you can sort of mix-and-match, and if, again, like the Cleveland model, per se, with Miller and Allen, they had two good guys, and you throw in another really good guy like Shaw, it's really nice.

I think with what you saw Joe do late in the year with Chapman, he felt as though he might not have other weapons.

Q. When you were in San Diego, it seemed like, especially your better years, you were able to go one inning at a time with some specialists.
BUD BLACK: Oh, yeah, I was fortunate that the years I was there we had some All-Star closers: Trevor and then Heath Bell, Huston Street. Those guys all made All-Star teams. If you look specifically at Street and Trevor, they were pretty much one-inning guys. That's what we were built for.

Heath was a little bit different. You see early years of Heath when Trevor was there, multi-innings. He threw a lot of innings in '07 and '08. And then he transitioned in, and then here came Gregerson and Adams, and they were solid.

But, again, if you have those players who can hold their stuff through 30, 40 pitches, it's great, and are able to bounce back and be resilient enough to throw upwards to 80 innings, you can see that.

But the postseason management of the bullpen is extremely different than the regular season management.

Q. We've seen so many teams that have a big chip, be able to trade it and kind of transform their club. Carlos Gonzalez is somebody whose name always comes up at trade deadline time and over the Winters. What are your thoughts on bettering the Rockies through a move like that?
BUD BLACK: Well, every GM will tell you that when you have a player like Carlos, he's valuable in a lot of different ways. He's valuable for to you win. Right.

For us, right now, present day, he helps us win a lot. So our mind-set as relates to him is, you know, he's here. He's a Rockie. He's going to help us win 2017.

Now, there are times, depending on where you are in your team's cycle, that valuable of a player might help transition into another cycle. I think for us, right now, he's a Rocky, and I know that there's -- I've only been here a month, but I think from what I've heard from both sides, there's a willingness for him to continue being a Rocky past 2017.

Q. So he'll be in the Opening Day lineup, you think?

Q. Is there a guarantee?
BUD BLACK: Is there any guarantees (laughter)? Yes.

Q. Where are you in your team's cycle?
BUD BLACK: I believe that this team is trending up.

Q. What did you tell your pitchers walking into Coors Field, and does that -- whatever it is, does it play over the course of 81?
BUD BLACK: I think so. I think that the main message was -- and this goes to anywhere you pitch, more specifically in Colorado -- the true pitching fundamentals, if you don't adhere to those, they are exposed more in Colorado. First pitch strikes, staying ahead in the count, avoiding walks, don't beat yourself, do what you have to do as a pitcher in all phases to be successful. Because mistakes, whether they are not fielding your position, not controlling the running game, pitching behind the count, a bad walk, all those things come up, will bite you more. Because one swing from a number of players in the lineup can get you.

So if you minimize those over the course of 750 innings of, basically, a home season, a home regular season, you should have success. And you have to have the pitchers from a talent standpoint to be able to do that, and that's where I think that we're getting to.

But specifically, when I was coming in as a visiting team, was, hey, don't walk anybody, not don't keep the ball down, if you're a high ball pitcher that you've had success throwing the ball up in the zone, Chris Young, others, hey, pitch your game. You can't pitch tentative in Coors Field.

Q. That maybe turns you into my follow-up question. There have been five or six managers that have come before you, and countless pitchers, who have all said the same thing about pitching there, and many of whom have failed. Is it the tentativeness? Is it the notion of it?
BUD BLACK: I think there is a perceived notion, and, again, it gets over time there's a momentum that builds up over pitching there. It started in 1993, or it started whenever the Denver Bears -- or prior to the Denver Bears.

I think, again, we talked about this. Besides the talent, I think there's a mental toughness that you really have to identify. I think there's a mental component that has to be strong. And, you know, there are 350 Major League pitchers, and they are all sort of built differently, mentally and physically. And we have to find those guys, of the 350, and even the2,500 Minor League pitchers, we have to identify those guys that have that ability, mentally tough, to be able to handle the adversity that happens there.

And, you know, a three-day stretch as a visiting team, you don't see that as much. I saw a little bit. I saw certain players, over nine years, in however many games I managed there, 60, 80, whatever it was, that had a tough time. Other guys, it depends on the player. You have to get the right player.

Q. From that perspective, with having younger starters, does that present more of a blank canvas in terms of bringing guys along and attempting to develop the mental toughness?
BUD BLACK: Again, I think develop is a good word, because you look at some of these pitchers coming through the system now, they were drafted as Rockies. They were born as Rockies, developed as Rockies. You know, this, from what I hear now, over the last month of being there, there's a mind-set that's been taught and talked about through development in our system, and that's a good thing.

You know, with that, I think we'll see -- hopefully, you know, as this organization moves forward, we'll see results.

Q. Getting back to Carlos for a moment, have you talked to him?

Q. Him playing first base at some point in his career, is that something you're looking at or is that an idea down the road?
BUD BLACK: Our talks, no, we didn't specifically talk about that. I've seen him, just short windows.

I know from talking to our guys that he has a first base glove. If needed, he can go there. But I think for me, and I think the organization, he is our right fielder. There's no talk of him moving to first base as we move into 2017 and as we move into Spring Training, no.

Q. Your outfield is very crowded. Now you have the new kid that came up last year. What is your perspective of Gerardo Parra? He also played first base. What's your perspective?
BUD BLACK: I've seen Parra a lot over the last number of years. You know, he adds to a very talented outfield group, and he'll get his at-bats. I do like the fact that he went to first base, and he played it well, from what I was told. I've seen some video, some games on TV that I caught last year, and he handled that fine.

He is always an option at first base, as well as outfield. We have some flexibility with the outfield group, which is great, and he's a part of that. I'm a proponent, and I think that all of us that are in uniform and executives, the more talented players we have, the better chance we have to win, and he's in that.

Q. So when you look at him as a first baseman-outfielder, outfielder-first baseman or outfielder that can play first base?
BUD BLACK: OK, I'm going to go back. I think it's the last one. I'll take C, an outfielder who can play first base.

Q. What did you take from your year with the Angels and running around, doing all that stuff? Has that made you a different, better manager in any way, do you think?
BUD BLACK: It was a great experience for me to get back in that type of role. I did that in the late '90s with Cleveland to a certain extent. I was younger, obviously, from retiring as a player.

But, again, it sort of reinforced what I came to realize over the course of my time in Anaheim and in San Diego; that collectively, to win, it takes everybody, from ownership, general manager, his group of support staff, Major League team, scouting, player development.

I was able to sort of see that and work with Billy and work with Mike and everybody, John Carpino, the president, all these parts of the organization. It truly takes everybody, and there's got to be a collective inclusion that I think needs to occur to win.

And that was sort of brought back to me again. I mean, when you're managing and you're day-to-day, going through it, you know that and you try to really stay involved. It's hard, because you have a lot of things on your plate. To see it and bounce into the Minor Leagues and bounce and watch high school pitchers and college tournaments and be in the draft room, go talk to Minor League managers and coaches, it was great. It was great.

And Billy, being very open about, you know, his job, who he's talking to, other GMs and his relationship with Arty and everything, it really reinforced how important everything is to everybody. And whether that makes me any better, I don't know.

Q. How far off do you think the Angels are, based on your 20,000-foot view that you had?
BUD BLACK: When I was there last spring, we had a great spring when you look at it. Richards was throwing great. Heaney was throwing great. Skaggs was making strides. Tropeano, Weaver. C.J. had some setbacks in the spring, so that was a little bit of a bummer.

But, you know, Albert, Trout, all these guys were all -- great spring. From an injury standpoint, it got bad in a hurry. It was tough to bounce back. If they can pitch, they can contend, because they are going to put runs on the board. I think they play good defense. But you've got to pitch, and there's a lot of factors that will determine that based on health and what they can do to help the pitching depth.

Q. I know you've talked a little bit about this, but how enticing was this job because of the young, talented lineup the Rockies have? And second part of that question, how good, when healthy, if Story comes back healthy, et cetera, how good can this lineup be?
BUD BLACK: That's the thing, not only I knew that, but other people in the industry, people that I talked to, my close friends and others talked about, where this group is talent-wise, position players-wise.

I don't need to go through the names. I mean, they are real players. And they are at a stage in their career where they can continue this and maybe do some better things. It's tough to top National League batting champion, leading in homers, RBIs, Gold Glovers. This is a good group. The shortstop missed the second half of the year. It's a good group. Young catching that has some promise. We are going to have to stay on top of that.

First base, somebody's going to play first base, and we think we have a chance to maybe improve there. Reynolds had a good year. We'll see what happens.

But that was a big part of it, for me, was the excitement. And then you look at the other side, the pitching and the talent there of starters as a group, some of the young guys coming, legit, legit talent. We've talked about this before, the bullpen needs to bounce back, and I think a lot of those troubles were maybe not having guys at full strength and not having them available all year.

But the promise of the base of talent is exciting.

Q. When you pitched in Coors Field, late in your career, do you remember the challenges? Looked like you pitched once and had a pretty good game. How did you deal with that -- at the Mile High, I meant.
BUD BLACK: 1993. Gave up two runs in the first inning. Eric Young, Joe Girardi, Dale Murphy. If we got access to that game, in this day and age, could we pull that up?

Q. Were you nervous about the stadium?
BUD BLACK: As a visiting player, you come and you know you're going to pitch there once. I pitched there I think in '82 against the Denver Bears. I pitched when I was with the Omaha Royals.

You sort of know what you're going getting in for. But, again, if you make pitches, now, from a starting pitcher's standpoint, or even a reliever's standpoint, and I tell this to pitchers regardless of the ballpark, hey, listen if I pitch in Yankee Stadium where everybody says, hey, it's great for lefties, check out my career record at Yankee Stadium, it was awful. Dave Winfield, all those guys, they were hitting the ball 500 feet on cold days in April and humidity days where the ball doesn't travel (laughter).

Pitchers get bombed in good pitcher's parks, too. But if you make pitches, you'll have success. Now the trick is, now if you're a starting pitcher and let's say you're going to throw a hundred pitches, the goal is to throw a hundred good ones -- I used to talk to Maddux about this all the time. His goal and ultimate challenge was to throw a perfect pitch 110 times.

Now, he probably came as close as anybody to achieving that. You're not going to do it. The good pitchers throw pitches where they want to with the right action and the good location, maybe 70, 75, 80 times a game, and that would be a great game. So that's the trick, is to try to really throw a pitch, as intended, every time you throw.

Q. Is the action of the pitch --
BUD BLACK: The ball is going to end up somewhere. So that's what you've got to do. And that is the trick, to be able to have that skill in altitude to have that pitch end up where you want to and even when you go to San Diego or go to Atlanta, go to Detroit, might have a little better action in those places; it's a little tricky. It's tough. But we've got to make sure we do the best we can to help our pitchers achieve that. A lot of it's the mental side, the aptitude, and understanding that.

Q. Is part of the skill living with where the ball ends up, whether it's a glove or a bat? Is it just living with the result?
BUD BLACK: We talked about the adversity earlier. That's anywhere. Living, accepting the good pitch resulting in, whether it's a broken bat hit or a good swing where a guy makes good contact, that's part of pitching.

Same thing on the hitting side. If you're a hitter that hits the ball consistently on the nose and you line out, you're hitting the ball hard, making outs. Again, so much of this game is about the mental component and being able to hang in there and have the resiliency in your makeup to overcome that.

Q. Have you started your process of figuring out that mentality for your guys? Have you started calling them? Do you find out June, July?
BUD BLACK: I've started that process on the phone with guys. I've met some guys live in Arizona, and I'm getting a lot of information about our players from Jeff and his guys, from our coaches who have been retained, and from other players, talking about their teammates. I'm learning about our guys as quickly as possible.

Q. Where are you in your coaching process?
BUD BLACK: We're going through it. We hired Mike, as you know, really excited about that. Mike's here in Washington. He's going to be a big part of our staff. We retained Steve Foster and Darren Holmes and Stu Cole. We're going to hire two or three more guys, two guys on the hitting side. We're going through the process. We're getting there.

Q. Are you going to ride the ferris wheel?
BUD BLACK: Yeah. What time we going to go? (Laughter).

Q. The experience that you had last year with the management search with the Nationals, did that help you? Was it different?
BUD BLACK: Not really, no. I've been through a couple of interviews, even going back ten years ago. I think any experience you go through it helps you.

Q. What's the personal challenge for you here? You've done a lot of stuff, pitched. So if you're taking what is arguably the toughest big league gig out there --
BUD BLACK: There's 30 big league gigs, and I think they are all tough in their own way. Every team, every city, every managerial job is different, and they all have their, I think, unique challenges. This one, obviously is as it relates to where we play.

And I'm not quite sure what that means just yet. The 81 games of it is going to be new. I think I know what this challenge is going to be, and I'm looking forward to it. But, again, I think it's multi-faceted, from talking to coaches and managers who have been in this chair with the Rockies, not only from the pitching side, but from the hitting side; playing games here and then going on the road.

And for many years at San Diego, it was sort of a reverse, the first couple years, how we played, having a slant towards the pitcher. There was some challenges with the offense. So it's sort of reversed. So I know from that perspective, and hopefully that experience will help me sort of flip.

Q. You have a rotation of guys that are 27 and younger and you have young catching. There's a theory that teams need that veteran to come in -- I've heard that you need that guy to show you how, but can you win with young pitching, young catching and maybe the fact that you have been a pitcher, you've got a catcher as your bench coach?
BUD BLACK: Now, this guy is a potential Hall of Famer, right. Giants won with Buster Posey as a young pitcher. Yes, it can be done, no doubt about it. These guys, there a learning curve, absolutely, on both sides, for the pitchers and the catchers. And this group of catchers, if you're talking about, you know, Walters, Murphy, there will be some other guys in Spring Training and we might along the way bring in another guy into camp.

But there's no doubt, the expectation that we're going to place on our catchers is high. And that's just sort of what I expect anyone -- I'm big on the pitcher/catcher thing, big on that relationship. I felt it as a player. When I got to Anaheim, one of the things that early on in my relationship with Mike, was he felt the same way, from his perspective as a catcher.

So that has never left me, and over time, I've realized how important it is. Again, talking to our guys, they are high on Murphy and Walters on their makeup, their aptitude, their work ethic, what they believed in, what they need to do to help our pitchers, and they are young, no doubt about it. But Mike and I and the pitching coaches, we'll give them everything we can to make them the players they can be.

Q. So it's not getting that guy who has played in the playoffs for a bunch of years to set your staff?
BUD BLACK: You can only have 25 guys on the roster. Would you like to have certain players around the league? Absolutely. Sometimes you just can't get them. Sometimes you feel good about the players you have, and you've got to trust them, even though they are young, you've got to trust them. I think we've all seen teams throughout the game -- and that's where we are. I think Mike's going to be a great aid for our catchers. Talking to our two pitching coaches, they are getting to know the guys, and they will help. They will have a lot of input.

Q. Is already Mark going to double as bench coach/catching coach, as well, or are you going to hire a specific catcher?
BUD BLACK: I think Mike will handle the catching aspect. We have a Minor League catching coordinator that will be in Spring Training that will help Mike. When you talk about the specifics of it, going through Spring Training, going through the drills -- his eye will always be on the catcher, and that comes natural for him. If you hear me talk about, I see the game through a pitchers's eyes, he sees it through the eyes of a catcher. He gets that. That will be a big part of the growth of those guys, and they have got a great coaching crew and system, our pitching coaches. Mike now will be able to expand on that.

Colorado Rockies