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NLCS Game 4: Maddon pregame interview

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Q. Kris Bryant said last night that some of the players -- he thinks some of the players are tired. One, do you see that? And, two, you had made a concerted effort during the early part of the season to make sure that didn't happen.

JOE MADDON: Right. Well, it's just that I think everybody is. I think if you talk to the Dodgers players, they'll say the same thing. They don't feel like they just woke up in Spring Training. It's a long season. We've been through a lot.

For us, it's accumulation of three years, not just this year. Really proud of where we're at, once again. We're not conceding anything. But I think it's natural for any Major League player to say at this time of the year they might be a little fatigued. So I don't know exactly where he was coming from with that, but I just think that's a normal reaction.

Q. Two years ago the narrative was you had a catcher playing left field in Kyle. How have you seen him progress as a left fielder? He's throwing guys out and making plays out there for the most part?

Q. Kris Bryant said last night that some of the players -- he thinks some of the players are tired. One, do you see that? And, two, you had made a concerted effort during the early part of the season to make sure that didn't happen.

JOE MADDON: Right. Well, it's just that I think everybody is. I think if you talk to the Dodgers players, they'll say the same thing. They don't feel like they just woke up in Spring Training. It's a long season. We've been through a lot.

For us, it's accumulation of three years, not just this year. Really proud of where we're at, once again. We're not conceding anything. But I think it's natural for any Major League player to say at this time of the year they might be a little fatigued. So I don't know exactly where he was coming from with that, but I just think that's a normal reaction.

Q. Two years ago the narrative was you had a catcher playing left field in Kyle. How have you seen him progress as a left fielder? He's throwing guys out and making plays out there for the most part?

JOE MADDON: Well, you've seen the good and the bad too. The ball he drifted on a couple days ago, I think that's very correctable. I think what you're seeing is he's really coming along well. The kind of work -- Davey Martinez and Brandon Hyde spend a lot of time with him. I think the physical side of his work keeps getting better, i.e., the throwing. The throw in L.A. that went unrequited because of the call at the plate, that is perfect feet. That is perfect feet on the throw, and you saw the arm strength. The same thing yesterday playing the ball off the wall, getting off the wall far enough, et cetera.

So the stuff you see to this point that you don't like maybe is very correctable. And when you have a guy that works like he does, you have to believe it's going to happen. So I'm really happy for him. Proud of him. Right now he's got a great look going into the game. He's so focused. That's just who Schwarbs is. So if you don't think that his defense is up to par yet, it will be, because he's going to make sure that it does.

Q. The whole campaign has been a trying one from the first half, second half you got going. If you had to encapsulate one part of the season, what part was the most trying, taxing on your staff overall? Was it the last part, say, let's start with the Milwaukee series, going back, or before that?

JOE MADDON: Well, I think it was before that, and I think I've talked about it. You're always trying to define things. You often hear about World Series hangover, you hear about sophomore jinx. You hear about all these different applications that are plotting, and what does that mean. It's easy to say something like World Series hangover. I thought -- I finally thought what that meant was that the adrenaline present to you in April and May is not the same adrenaline that's present to you in the latter part of the year, especially when you've come off of doing something spectacular like our guys did the last year, the last two years.

So the first part, trying in a sense. The first part prior to the All-Star break, I could sense it, you can smell it, you can feel it, it's true. Okay. So what's that mean? It means that our guys are somewhat fatigued from the end of last season. When you watch them, it's not familiar because they're not playing with that same mental energy that you're normally used to seeing. So what's that mean? That's my definition.

I think the other part of the season when you come off of something that wonderful, that the adrenaline that you need to really be in the moment like you need to be isn't as plentiful, bountiful. You have to create it somehow. So what's that mean? You've got to stay handy. You've got to stay in the running. You've got to stay in the race. So here's the break. We're still behind Milwaukee significantly. And then post break, we catch some rest, and we play like we can. We start smelling it. You go to Milwaukee in September, and this really became familiar again, the method. How we go about our business, the adrenaline rush, the mental energy, the focus, all that stuff came back to us.

So, again, whether you agree with that or not, it doesn't matter. Maybe my calculations are off, but this is what I think.

So finally we got back to that point where these good baseball players, these young, good baseball players are starting to really smell it, feel it, see it again, and all of a sudden you became more familiar.

So I think the part that's more trying in a sense that you've got to be patient, like I talked about. You've got to rest these guys. Don't push them too hard. Finally they came back to normalcy, and they've gotten us to the NLCS third year in a row. And I hope that's something that nobody ever takes for granted here or anywhere else.

I think any fan base throughout Major League Baseball would be very appreciative of a group of players that gets this deep into the season three consecutive years.

Q. Jose's pitching tomorrow. Where does Jon Lester fit in tonight and/or tomorrow?

JOE MADDON: Right now he fits in back in Los Angeles. It is all hands on deck, but I don't know that I want to push Jonny right now. I don't know if that would serve any useful purpose. If it's absolutely necessary -- if this game goes, hopefully not, way, way late, but John Lackey's available tonight to do that kind of work.

Duensing, you could get multiple innings out of Duensing, also, Stroppy is in pretty good shape right now, and here comes Wade Davis back with multiple innings again.

So it's a different method tonight. I don't know that you want to do that yet, just for the sake of the pitcher himself. So however, if it gets far enough along, anything could happen.

Q. Just a Wrigley Field clarification, when Kike Hernandez reached into the ivy last night, should that ball have been live?

JOE MADDON: What happened was he put his hand up, and that's what we saw. First of all, I didn't see that. Give Bill Welke credit, because he saw that when nobody else did. So that was a good call. Once he puts his hand up, then he's saying I'm conceding the ball is in the ivy, it's a double. What you don't want to do when the ball's in the ivy is to reach in, without giving that signal, and come up empty and then all bets are off. It's like a fair catch. He called for a fair catch. So all of a sudden, that turns into a double, and that's it. So once he called for that and then reached in, that becomes moot according to how I know the rule.

Q. But on a fair catch, if you then run with the ball, it negates that. I thought you couldn't reach in for the ball.

JOE MADDON: You can --

Q. No matter what you signal.

JOE MADDON: If he had put his hand up like that and reached in, then anything goes. But the moment he conceded that the ball was in the ivy and the umpires -- ball under the tarp, under the wall, you go out there and see outfielders do this, and that means pretty much the jam's off. You walk away from it, and then they go out and look and verify that's true. In other words, the ball is lodged. Yes, it is a double.

So I thought Welke did the right thing. And then obviously Hernandez did reach in in order to grab the ball. So for me he called the jam off. He called it off. Fair catch or whatever you want to call it, double. I thought Welke did a great job.

Listen, we screwed up on the bases. I'm not denying that. We absolutely did, and that's true. But it can work against you too. I argued against it in the past when I first got here regarding that particular rule. But it is what it is. It is a double. There is nothing you can do about it.

Q. Did he screw it up because you should just never stop?

JOE MADDON: Who?

Q. Like Avila should have kept going?

JOE MADDON: That depends on Jonesy. Jonesy told him to stop. Jonesy was making his decision without taking that into consideration. He wasn't saying it's a ground-rule double stop. That's not what he was saying. He thought under the circumstances, being down by that many, why take a chance of having Avila thrown out at home plate if, in fact, this play really occurs.

So when you're down that many, you don't want to take that opportunity. I thought the umpire did a great job. We screwed up on the bases. I totally agree with that.

Q. Jose just sat up here a few minutes ago and told us in kind of a team meeting he saw in the eyes of his teammates there was no panic. You're big on reading body language, seeing guys in the eyes. What are you feeling? What have you felt the last couple nights and tonight?

JOE MADDON: Agreed. It's not about panic or not panic. It's about hitting or not hitting. It's really -- that's the question, Mr. Shakespeare. We've got to start hitting the ball. It's not complicated. We just have not swung the bats well this postseason. We got through the Washington series with limited offense. We are on the verge of extinction right now without any offense again. We need to hit.

It's going to be hard for us to pitch to the level to have 4-1 winning streaks right now without hitting. We've got to hit. So, no, there's no ultra overconcern or panic, no. But we've got to hit. The lack of hitting is not because guys are uptight. The lack of hitting is because the Dodgers have executed their pitching so well.

Q. How would you characterize Jake Arrieta's career here since you've been here? How impressed are you with the way he actually kind of reinvented himself this year?

JOE MADDON: Oh, I got to see it firsthand in '15. I wasn't back there for Mr. Gibson and Koufax and all those dudes, but it had to be pretty equal to that, what he did to win his award that year. To witness it on a game-by-game basis was pretty amazing. You know, against good hitters, good teams that he would totally dominate and pitch efficiently, like 8th inning with 100 pitches, 90 pitches, 110 pitches and be deeply into the game and just dominate without any really good, hard contact against him, that run was really incredible to watch.

So that was -- that was spectacular. He's been really good since then. That was definitely his moment. He's such a good guy in the clubhouse. I just talked with him before I came on out here. Talk about a Steady Eddie. There is no panic. He's just getting ready to pitch another game. He takes such great care of himself. He's really set a high bar regarding physical conditioning and diet and nutrition. He's into all of this.

Again, he's a great teammate. So, listen, I don't know if we're going to be working together again next year or not, but I tell you one thing, it's hard to beat this guy. He's all of that. He's all of that. Reinvented himself out of Baltimore. Became more of a strike -- the big difference was strike throwing. In Baltimore he had a great arm, but oftentimes you would see him pitching the fourth or fifth inning right around 100 pitches. He'd get them, even though the numbers were 95, 96, 97. So give him credit, man. He's really -- 27, 28 years of age, something like that, 29, that's when guys really come around. That's what he did. So bully for him. But he's one of the best teammates I've ever been around.

Q. You've managed now two LCSes in a row against Dave Roberts. From across the way, what impresses you or what do you notice about him as a tactician or manager in general?

JOE MADDON: Preparation. They're prepared. I've been through the method. I understand where they're coming from, their prep is really good. Their ying and their yang, whether it's right-handed or left-handed hitters, it's pitchers that match up, reverse split guys, elevated fastball guys. They have it pretty much scripted before the game pretty well. So for us to really -- like we did last year, we were able to do more offensively against them, that's what you have to do to beat them. Otherwise, once you get behind and they're able to fulfill the script, then it's really difficult because they do match up well.

So, from my side to David's side, as a young manager, he's really well prepared. The whole group is, what they do. Again, it's a familiar scheme to me, and the only way to beat it is that you've got to get on it early, because if you try to beat it late, it's very difficult.