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NLCS Game 4: Roberts pregame interview

Manager Dave Roberts takes questions before the Dodgers take on the Cubs in Game 4 of the NLCS.
October 18, 2017

Q. When you guys went through that spell where you lost 16-17, I wonder what you learned about your team, what surprised you about it, and if there's anything that stands out that getting through it shows.DAVE ROBERTS: I think we learned that we could get through something like that and

Q. When you guys went through that spell where you lost 16-17, I wonder what you learned about your team, what surprised you about it, and if there's anything that stands out that getting through it shows.
DAVE ROBERTS: I think we learned that we could get through something like that and come out on the other side. Also saw that it was encouraging to see that guys continued to stay the course as far as the preparation. There wasn't any finger pointing. We still banded together. Stayed focused on trying to win baseball games, so didn't deviate from how we prepared as we were doing the same things we were doing when we were winning baseball games.
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So, like I said, to come out on the other side and to prepare yourself for a postseason to win 11 games in October, I said it before the postseason started, I don't think we've been in any better position to win 11 games.

Q. Given how well Yasiel Puig has played this postseason, how would you describe the difference it's made for the Dodgers compared to last year?
DAVE ROBERTS: Yasiel, obviously he's had a different season. He's had a complete year and played really well on both ends of it as far as on the base running -- I mean on the defense and his at-bat quality all throughout the season. Right now he's playing at such a high level. But I think that he's really bought into how important every pitch is, and that's something that as this season has progressed, he's really understood that importance. You just can't flip a switch and now it's the postseason and now it's important.

So it's been a process for him, and the results are showing. But obviously when you have a talent like Yasiel, how he can impact the game defensively and in the batter's box, it makes us considerably better.

Q. You were on a team that was down 0-3 as we all remember, and going into Game 4, do you remember what the Red Sox mindset was, if you guys talked about it or if you had meetings or anybody said anything inspirational?
DAVE ROBERTS: I think that was a once-in-a-lifetime thing. Teams can't do that anymore (laughter). No, it was a special group. It was a very lax group but professional. Obviously we were written off, but we did a good job of trying to focus on that game at hand and not getting ahead of ourselves.

But it also takes some luck involved too. Because I think if you look back in that series, there are a lot of plays and things that could have gone a different way that went in our favor. But, yeah to win four straight games was tough. But it took a special team that we had in 2004.

Q. Grandal coming in, first time this series behind the plate, also you have Alex Wood who hasn't pitched in 22 days. Any worry for you about rust in this game? If so, if you see that, what do you do to combat it?
DAVE ROBERTS: From Yasmani, I don't see the rust. He's been catching simulated games. He's been catching off the machine. His legs are fine. In the batter's box, obviously hasn't taken the at-bats, but I still think he'll be prepared in the batter's box.

With Alex, I know he's going to be amped up. I think the stuff will come out hot early. Just to control his emotions is probably going to be a charge, but I think that -- I don't see there being rust. I still -- five days ago, I think it was five days ago, he threw a five-inning simulated game.

I think it's hard to gauge adrenaline, and this is going to be his first postseason start, I think. So we'll keep an eye on it. But Alex is another guy that's going to go out there, compete, make pitches and give us a chance to win.

Q. A lot of managers in the Big Leagues, first-time managers have a tough time adjusting to the job. You've had two really successful seasons. When did you know that you'd be good at this job? And what about it has been harder or easier than you thought?
DAVE ROBERTS: I guess you never know until you do it. I thought that -- I'm very fortunate to have a lot of good people around me, and we have a lot of good players. I do think a strength is for people to -- I connect with people and players. I think that it's always important to get the most out of your players. As a teacher, that's your job. On the field, personally.

So I feel that I can do that. But the players, the coaches, the front office, like I said, I think that a lot of the credit goes to them in helping me grow.

But I'm learning constantly. Each day is different, but just really trying to empower the coaches and the players. I think that I've really got no problem doing, and they've reciprocated by performing.

Q. Any specific part that was tougher or easier?
DAVE ROBERTS: I think probably the toughest part is staying focused on just trusting your eyes, your gut, your information. I think this day and age there is just the way that our culture is, there are a lot of opinions. I think that to try to drown out that noise and keep the clarity is something, obviously, the more practice you have doing it or the longer you've been doing it, you might -- I guess it comes easier, I guess.

But I think that's just something for me to continue focus and seeing the game the way I see it, and really just trusting that and the decisions that I make.

Q. When it comes to in-game decisions, especially pitching changes, how do you balance the information you might have about matchups and tendencies, what you know about someone's workload, with your gut instinct, and what it says to go with?
DAVE ROBERTS: That's the question. I think that it's a combo of your eyes, the information, but ultimately I finally decide on my gut. And I think that from a lot of the people that I've been -- that I've had as mentors and people in this game that I really respect, I think that it's one of those things where if you make a decision and it doesn't go well, can you live with that decision? Can you sleep well if it doesn't?

For us as an organization, we do a good job of not just chasing the results. It's a process that we believe in. I know I believe in the coaches, and we'll bet on the result. If it doesn't go well, then we'll regroup.

Q. You guys have a pretty robust front office, from executives and former GMs. What's it like for you in terms of all these people offering you advice and suggestions? And especially the pre-game prep for -- like who do you use in game planning and all that stuff?
DAVE ROBERTS: Well, I think it's great. I think to be able to lead, you've got to be able to listen. I've got a lot of great people around, and we exchange a lot of great ideas and challenge each other. And I think that's healthy. What was your second question?

Q. Just in terms of before a game and the process.
DAVE ROBERTS: Yeah, before a game, it's myself and Rick and Josh Bard, the bullpen coach, Bob Geren, the front office, and we kind of all just go out there and throw these crazy scenarios out there. Whether it's a first inning, ball off the shin, or it's an 8th inning 80-pitch performance by the starter, and so you kind of go through it and look at their lineup and see every situation that might present itself.

I think that's healthy for me as an exercise, and it slows the game down. So I couldn't do this on my own. I have a lot of good people that really help me.

Q. You guys have done a really good job this series keeping Rizzo and Bryant in check. From your point of view in the dugout, what's stood out to you about what your pitching staff has done in kind of shutting them down?
DAVE ROBERTS: I think with those two elite players you can't -- obviously, you can't make too many mistakes. But you've also got to -- it's tough to repeat pitches, whether it be the type of pitch or the location. You've got to keep them, obviously, guessing. You've got to pitch to all quadrants and change velocities. You've got to move them front to back. They're just too good to keep trying to go to the well and be specific with one game plan.

So I think that our guys have done a good job crowding them a little bit and then going off and top quadrant, down below. So we've done a really good job. Fortunately, haven't made too many mistakes.

Q. Last night the decision to let Darvish hit, how much of that was gut and how much was info? Also, was that one of the scenarios you guys envisioned when you were talking about things that might happen before?
DAVE ROBERTS: We didn't get to that scenario. That was probably 99% gut. I just felt that right there, if it was a one-run lead, I would have hit for him. With a two-run lead, the way he was throwing, I felt that he needed to keep going.

I think that the idea of a guy coming off the bench, whoever it is, to get a hit and not just to hit a grounder or a fly ball is not as easy as some people think it is.

Edwards is tough on left-handed hitters. There is a walk in there, so regardless of who is in the batter's box. So that was probably the gut one.