Oct. 10 Bob Melvin pregame interview
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Oakland Manager, Bob Melvin.
Q. Bob, could you discuss your lineup changes today?
BOB MELVIN: I think like any game, particularly in the postseason, particular in a Game 5, you're lookin' to try to get your best lineup, your hottest hitters up there as much as times as you can.
Similar to what they're doing with Jhonny Peralta at short, they're trying to get their best offense in there, and that's the reason Callaspo is in there.
Q. When you made the decision to start Gray today, how many people confer in that process?
BOB MELVIN: A lot of people take a look at the variables in it, but it comes down to Billy and I and Curt, and what David Forst, guys like that, Farhan Zaidi. But then and Billy and I make the decision.
Q. So that's five that you named. And when you say "variables," what do you mean?
BOB MELVIN: A lot of things. Style of pitching, history, recent match up, try to match up styles against certain hitters in the lineup and so forth. But at the end of the day, this came down to the way Sonny has been pitching and certainly his last game.
Q. How much more have you given thought to the possibility of using Bartolo or Jarrod out of the bullpen?
BOB MELVIN: Jarrod is going to play catch today, we'll see how he feels. Bartolo is a tough one for me based on his routine to start. He's 40 years old. I don't know that I would put him in a great position if I do that. He's willing to do anything, obviously, but I really haven't made up my mind on that yet.
He will play catch when we go out on the field and we'll see how he feels and I'm really not sure on that yet.
Q. What about Gray's demeanor that gives you comfort going into this start?
BOB MELVIN: Nothing that we've thrown at him since he's been in the big leagues has bothered him. That's one of the reasons we feel he's capable to doing this. He does have similar experience just five days ago, so I think anybody who watched him pitch in that game saw his demeanor on the mound, how confident he is in his stuff and that he's a fighter and it all played into it.
Q. Bob, one of the changes in your lineup is moving up Yoenis Cespedes to the clean up spot. Could you talk about the meaning of this and the kind of series he's having right now.
BOB MELVIN: That has a lot to do with putting him in the clean up spot. There a times with Brandon Moss being a 30 homer guy, I try to insulate him in between a couple of righties. But Cespedes swinging as well as he is right now, I just wanted to move him up a spot. Seth Smith is swinging the bat real well right now and so move him up and Brandon Moss moves down to the six spot. It's all about moving the guys who are hitting the best up in the lineup.
Q. Could you share your philosophy, elimination game, haven't been in this situation for 12 months. How aggressively you would like to manage this and what you learned from last year?
BOB MELVIN: I learned that we need to get some guys on base. Against Justin Verlander, he got into a rhythm pretty quick and we weren't able to put any pressure on him. Hopefully like any starting pitcher, if you can get to him early before they get into their rhythm, try to attack a little bit there, you look at trying to make a guy work and get his pitch count up, even if you're not scoring.
I don't know that a pitch count is going to matter to Justin Verlander today. If he's pitching well, he could end up with 130 pitches or so. So it's more about making him work, get him in the stretch and get a good pitch to hit.
Like any game, there is some feel to it and how it's going and there is some personality to each and every game. Those are a few of the things we look at.
Q. Will pitch count matter with Gray?
BOB MELVIN: I'm not going to have him throw 130 pitches, but he's thrown 116 and 111 last time out. So he's capable of throwin' some pitches.
Q. Up to this point, you haven't tested Miguel Cabrera a lot with bunts to that side of the diamond. Is it late in the game to change who you are or have you thought more about that?
BOB MELVIN: First, he's playing right in your face in bunt situations, so he's not having to move too much to get a bunt. I think Sogi hit a ball here Game 1 or 2 that looked like he was moving side to side, and it looked like as the series has gone on that he's starting to get healthy. And then he had a play where he had to run after a ball the other day where it looked like it bit him a little bit.
If an opportunity is there, we will certainly do that and the guys that do bunt, he's been up in their face and daring them to hit it by him. You don't want to bunt it right to the a guy who is staring you in the face, so that's part of it, too.
Q. Offensively, he's not been quite himself, obviously his lower half isn't doing what it typically does. Are you pitching him differently due to that or do you go about what you do with him and hoping the results follow?
BOB MELVIN: We have a game plan each and every day depending on who is pitching for us, so we will go according to that. Obviously with anybody, you pitch them according to how they're swinging. We've gone back and forth with him over the years depending on how he's swinging at the particular time. How we pitch him, I'm not going to get into that.
Q. Can you compare the mood of the team today versus this time last year in this situation?
BOB MELVIN: Not too different. We have a little bit more experience now in the postseason than we did last year. But this team is really good about playing for a particular day and not letting a particular loss, like a couple days ago or day before yesterday, affect them.
It's always nice to have separation a day after in between a tough loss, but this team has been resilient after tough losses, not only this year, the year before. So we look at things individually on a day to day basis and I don't think it affects our demeanor or attitude.
Q. Bob, what is it that Dan Otero has done to take him from a guy who was claimed on waivers to now, a prominent bullpen guy?
BOB MELVIN: As I said earlier with our beat writers, you looked at his numbers in Triple A and we're going "wow" and we're finally getting an opportunity to get him here, and he's doing the same thing as he had in Triple A all year, throws to both sides of the plate. Has two different pitches, one that breaks this far one way and the other, the other way. So he splits the plate with two pitches and he keeps the ball down and I don't care who you are, it's going to be tough to deal with. He has good movement.
Q. Bob, what did you guys see when you traded with the Angels to say Callaspo would play infield again?
BOB MELVIN: He is better than he was when we first got him here because he was playing third base only for the Angels for several years. But you can see him get more and more comfortable with the position. He's got very sure hands. It's our job to move him around as far as range wise and get him into the position. We do shifts and so forth, he's getting used to that.
Once a guy that has played in the middle of the infield, it's almost like riding a bike. Once you get them back in there and get them reps and get them comfortable, we didn't think it would be a problem.
Q. Can you talk about what big Coco Crisp has been to this lineup and getting things going?
BOB MELVIN: I have been lucky enough to be able to talk about that for the better part of two years. He really is the guy that gets us going.
You know, he's actually gotten better as far as his power numbers. He hit over 20 home runs this year, 40 some stolen bases last year, he has over 20 this year. He has a great idea when he needs to run and put pressure on the team, when he needs to stay put because we're swinging the bat well, you don't want to potentially run into an out.
He understands the game very well. He's a smart baseball player. The more you're around him, the more you understand that about him. Really the one guy here that you take the cuffs off completely and let him play his game.
I let him run when he wants to run. He knows when not to run, and you see what he does at the top of the lineup when he's swinging the bat well. He's putting pressure on the pitcher and the catcher and the fielders to get the ball and get rid of it. For us, he's a terrific player.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.