Q. Not a baseball question, I understand you take pride in playing the guitar. How's that coming along?
DAVID ROSS: It's all right. I'm not very good, but I'm getting better. That's what practice is for. I'm practicing a lot.
Q. The challenge of facing some of these Mets pitchers and talk a little bit about Noah Syndergaard, who is pitching tonight, is the fact of his explosive fastball is obviously there, but the other pitches that he throws, how difficult does that make him to hit?
DAVID ROSS: I think the thing about the young pitchers is, what I've noticed just from a distance, is they're getting their secondary pitches over a lot better kind of later in the season as they've matured as pitchers. I think they do a great job with the catcher. Knowing their game plan and how to work the scouting report, guys' weaknesses, and trying to exploit those. Because the LA series was so late, we got to watch a lot of that.
They're a very young, talented group. So when they're getting those secondary pitches over, like you saw yesterday, and they throw that hard, it makes it for a tough day of work.
Q. Since you've seen Kyle Schwarber since Spring Training working with him at catcher and now you see him now, can you talk just a little about his development over the course of the year?
DAVID ROSS: Oh, it's impressive. The way he works, to be honest with you, for such a young guy, getting to the field so early, he goes about his business like a veteran. His mentality is very even keel throughout everything that's happening to him on this stage. Theo pointed out this guy was in Instructional League last year; that blows my mind. To think all these guys, especially, but Kyle in the way he's swinging the bat in the big moments, doesn't expand outside of the strike zone, stays with it within himself, great approach, great person, great teammate. I could go on and on about this kid about what kind of person he is as well as what kind of a talented baseball player he is, and he's a pretty good catcher, too, that nobody's getting to see, in my opinion.
There's no secret that our team and lineup has definitely changed since he's gotten here.
Q. So Jake spoke about the fact that you and Jon have sort of been sharing stories with him all year to prepare for this moment, both of you guys having gone through it. I'm wondering if there are any of those stories that you can share with us?
DAVID ROSS: I don't really think anything specific we talk about the atmosphere, the importance of pitch execution. We talk about game management a lot, like maybe it's a bad matchup that it's okay to walk a guy. There's nothing wrong with walking a guy that may be a bad matchup in a key situation. I don't know what story specifically he was talking about, but we just talk about we try to talk about winning. We talk about Joe's big on the process. That's what it's about. It's about going about your work every day the same, and in this environment it's even more important to not change and go out there with a lot of confidence, which our team has, and of course Jake has with the year he's had, and the way he's grown as a pitcher is amazing. I mean, this guy is, if not the best in the game, one of the top two. So it's fun to be part of, and it's fun to watch.
But we just talk about the experiences that we've gone through. I think that's what we pull from most, and that's the most important thing that I think an old guy like me brings to this team.
Q. Just being around you two years ago with the Red Sox, it seemed like you had as much fun in October as anybody on that team, just sort of taking in the environment and everything that this is all about. I was wondering if you have two years later a lasting memory of that whole run? And also how often you've heard from some of those guys now that you're back here?
DAVID ROSS: I've heard from those guys a lot. Nap texted me the other day, Dustin, David, Johnny, he and I talked towards the end of the year. We got to play Kansas City for a make up game and just talking about some of the playoffs stuff.
Yeah, the memories, I'm not enjoying it as much this year, I'm so stressed out, because these young guys are just so talented and I want what's best for them and to see them succeed on this stage, and they've by far exceeded my expectations of the way they handle things.
But I just, again, I'm having fun. It's a great group to be a part of. These guys, they're only concerned with each other and caring about each other and doing what's right for the team, which is special for the talent and the high round picks, and guys that have come up as prospects. Nobody's got egos. Nobody's selfish. It's a really unselfish group, and it's all about what's best for the team and winning baseball. So it's a lot of similarities in the '13 team and this team and the mentality of the team where it's an unselfish group, and they want to bring their lunch pail to work that day and try to beat the team, and then tomorrow they're going to do the same thing. That's why you've seen us, I think we're, what are we, 19 2 the last few weeks. It's a confident group and they come about it the right way. They go about it the right way.
Q. Looking back at two years ago in Boston and this year in Chicago, are there certain key events, moments where confidence and self belief starts to build with the group?
DAVID ROSS: Oh, yeah, of course. One, playing well in the environments that we were coming down to the last two months where you're chasing the best team in baseball in St. Louis, and probably the second best team, I don't know what the record shows, in Pittsburgh. We were a distant third with 97 wins or something like that.
Yeah, I mean, you've got KB's home run. It's a special one. Coming back when you get these come from behind wins like we had all year. Joe does a great job of keeping his poise throughout the year. There is no panic in him. You know how laid back he is, and I think it's great for the group. Obviously, Jake Arrieta having the year he has and putting us on his back down the stretch and winning all those games in a row. There's just a lot of Kyle coming up and doing what he's doing. I'd like to see his numbers for the whole year including the Minor Leagues as far as home runs. I don't know what those are. I don't know what he's approaching now for a year of home runs for a rookie. But what he's been able to do has been super impressive.
For me, as a bench player, a guy like Starlin Castro losing his job at short, sitting the bench, coming back, learning a new position and then contributing right now, maybe one of our hottest hitters, other than Kyle, and great at bats and driving in runs. He's had a couple more than three or four walkoffs for us.
So a lot of that, it's the body of work, I feel like. The body of work throughout the year, especially in the second half. And beating and proving to yourself that you can beat the best teams. We were there with St. Louis. Early on we beat ourselves more than we got beat, to be honest with you, in my opinion. We didn't know how to win yet, and they learned that.
Q. Looks like we're going to have some wide temperature swings in this series. It's supposed to be a little warmer first couple games back in Chicago. Do guys change their approach based on the conditions, and should they change their approach?
DAVID ROSS: I don't think they do. It's just hard. They still got to throw it over the plate. I don't think so. The wind here swirls a little bit, so I think it affects more defensively than offensively how the wind's blowing. We were talking about that a lot yesterday about positioning the outfielders and how we were going to pitch guys, trying to put ourselves in the best situation to defend these guys and where they might hit the ball.
But that's the home field advantage. Hopefully we get a little bit of that when we get home.
Q. What do you like about working with Theo Epstein? Has he helped out with the music at all?
DAVID ROSS: (Laughter). No, he brings around Eddie Vedder, so that's never a problem.
No, Theo's great. I mean, he's been there, done that, this in another organization. I know him from Boston. He's a straight shooter and honest, which I really appreciate. He communicates with the players, which is rare for a GM, I feel like, or the GMs I've been around. There's no secrets. If he. If he has a problem, he'll come and speak to you about it. If there is an issue with another player that he feels you can get more out of him because he knows them better or their stats, he'll come talk to me as a catcher about a pitcher. What is their strength of maybe a young guy coming up and how he's had success in the Minor Leagues of getting out hitters, whether it's righty or lefty. The communication for me.
One thing he told me when I was over in Boston was he told me I got released by Cincinnati, and he was honest with me and told me what Cincinnati thought about me, and that hit home because I didn't see myself as that player or person. But it made me realize that you're always being watched, you're always being judged. So for me to sleep good at night, I needed to do everything I possibly could to make sure I was doing my job. That was probably a career changer for me, to be honest with you. Those kind of conversations when you get guys that are making all the decisions, to be honest with you, that's important. I think all of us as human beings want people to be honest with us and shoot us straight. We may not like them Joe says this a lot, "I'll be honest with you, you may not like me right now or next week, but if I lie to you, you'll hate me forever," and I think that's an important trait that is missing sometimes in baseball.
Q. As fellow players, when you watch Kyle Schwarber hit the ball as far as he does, do it once, put it on top of the scoreboard, that's one thing. Do it again last night, that's
DAVID ROSS: And he hit one in the Allegheny, too, I think in Pittsburgh.
Q. But to be able to do that not just once but repeatedly, how impressive is that? It's impressive to us as people watching the game, but for fellow players?
DAVID ROSS: It's super impressive. At this stage I'm not shocked anymore because I've seen it for so long with all these guys and how they come up in the big moments and the big moments don't affect them, especially emotionally. I think if anything this young group early on was too hard on themselves. They expected greatness, because they've had it their whole lives. In the Major Leagues it's hard; the other side gets paid too, and I think that's some of the lessons they learned about just turning the page on day to day.
But a guy like Kyle, man, again, personality along with talent, it's very impressive to watch on a nightly basis. And the stage isn't too big. The stage isn't too big for him. You see it over and over again. Doesn't matter who is pitching, some really good pitchers, he's gotten some big hits off of, and he can really hit it a long way. It's given me a complex about how bad I am to be honest with you (laughter).
Q. You touched on it earlier a little bit about how your job in your mind has changed for the playoffs dealing with your teammates. Can you tell us how you get these guys to think about just this series, just being a group of one game at a time? Although we here generalized about it, it's probably much more difficult to do.
DAVID ROSS: Well, I think being the same person when I come in or Joe comes in or Jon or the veterans, we don't change day to day. There is no panic in this group. We don't get down. What is the point of getting down on yourselves? You know, last night we came out and played as hard as we possibly could. They were better than us last night. The ball bounced their way when things happened, and that happens. When you've won as much as we have in the last three to four weeks, there is no reason to get down on yourselves. All you're going to ask from your teammates is come in and do the best job you possibly can that day, I can sleep fine. I can sleep fine. This is a hard game and there is a talented group on the other side that's doing some good things, too.
So let's go out there, let's fight tooth and nail, and lay your head down fine win or lose.
Q. The changeup last night off Harvey that you pulled into the seats, did you know right off the bat that it was going foul? And if it hadn't, would that have helped the complex?
DAVID ROSS: That would have made me feel a lot better about my at bats. But, yeah, I didn't know it was going foul right off the bat. I thought I got it, and it started hooking, I was trying to sway it a little bit, but that was some solid contact I had. It made me feel good for a minute, you know, just for about 20 seconds or so until it went foul. And then I was depressed again after I struck out (laughter).