Oct. 10 Joe Maddon pregame interview

October 11th, 2016

Q. How long did you wrestle over the little bit of more offense, trading it for defense early in the ball game?

JOE MADDON: Actually, a lot. Started yesterday -- well, actually started a couple days ago, just thinking it all the way through, knowing that Bumgarner is going to be pitching today and it would be Jake also. So, that part was probably easier.

I felt really good about Miggy catching Jake, so that was part of it. Then after that tried to balance it out by not playing Jason, who do you play in the outfield? It could have been Contreras also. That's where I was hung up, between George and Willson, for a variety of different reasons. I chose George. For me right now it's the right way to do it. George, among all of our guys, has as much power as anybody. I think a home run could be a very pertinent play tonight. It's difficult to string base hits against Bumgarner. So we chose to go that way.

Of course, if we were fortunate to grab a lead, then we could do things differently at the latter part of the game for defense.

So it was that, and then on top of that, where do you play him? This ballpark provides different looks with right field being as it is compared to left field, more conventional. And so just chose George in left zone right and rock and roll and try to make good decisions game in progress.

Q. What do you recall of Lackey's performance in the 2002 World Series with Angels and the Giants?

JOE MADDON: Well, I remember that -- the game I remember the most I think is the last one, Game 7. Part of it -- big part of it was that John was so young. He was just coming up during the season that year. And I think it was a point where we brought him up and sent him back down and then had brought him back up. He fit in so well so quickly.

It's unusual that you definitely want to give the ball in the Game 7 to a guy with that little experience. But we felt good about it. I think only pitched five innings in the Game 7, but the point is that John was such a great battler. We felt good about that, plus we felt really good about our bullpen. We had a really good bullpen.

I tell you, there's not a whole lot of difference between him then and now. He's the same guy. He's actually in better shape now I think. He looks better than he did in 2002. Better diet, better lifestyle, I think, a better life coach, whatever.

So I think John's made a lot of practical improvements since then. But he's actually same cat, the same guy. Stuff's almost the same. If you look at the gun readings, they're very similar to what it was like back then. I used to go out -- he was one my drinking buddies back then. I used to hang out with the relief pitchers and some of the starters and had a lot of great conversations with him. And it's very similar. There's nothing -- I'm telling you, the guy hasn't changed at all. He's just in better shape.

Q. Is that a difficult discussion with Jason Heyward, given his stature?

JOE MADDON: Not at all. Actually, during the workout yesterday, I was kind of like -- different things going on, so I had Davy walk up to him and tell him we were going to do this. And he was fine with the whole thing. He said whatever it takes, man.

The guys get it this time of the year. They understand. I've already prepped them on it in our meeting prior to the playoffs beginning, just to be ready for anything, actually. And they are.

So, I'm certain he'll be in this game at some point. Hopefully we'll grab a lead and then get his defense out there. But from the beginning of the game, like I said, I thought the tradeoff would be Miggy for Jake, and then we'll get one more right-handed bat in the lineup with Jason, and that was going to be Soler.

Q. You mentioned this in your first answer, home runs maybe being a pertinent part of tonight's game. You've seen them all over playoffs this year. Is that somewhat surprising because this time of year is known for generally close games, or does it make sense given the fact that there have been so many homers hit during the regular season too?

JOE MADDON: I just think it depends on the makeup of your team. You talk about Kansas City and how interesting that's been, the fact that they're just contact primarily. But they had power. But they will move the baseball with two strikes. They don't strike out a lot. They put the ball in play. They make you execute.

And you go back to 2002, that Angel team was a lot of the same. We had some power on that team, but we definitely moved the baseball. The Giants move the baseball. I guess at the end of the night you're going to -- if the home run won it then, the home run was pertinent. If the ball in play with two outs and runner in scoring position, whatever. I like having all of it actually. Kind of greedy when it comes to that.

I like the fact that we can hit homers, but I also like us to get better at, and I think we have, moving the baseball with two strikes. I think we're doing a better job with that. We started out in Spring Training making that a high priority going into the season. We were really good in April. And May, okay. Then we got less good. And eventually had another talk about it, and I think that toward the latter part of the season, now, September, we got better in moving the baseball again.

So I don't think there's anything wrong with wanting it all. You have to convince your big guys, the guys that really power the baseball to do things like that. Look at Rizzo. Rizzo with two strikes chokes up probably as much as Barry Bonds choked up back in the day. As much as Joey Votto does right now, and Votto is pretty good.

The biggest thing to get these guys to understand is when you choke up, it doesn't mean you have to lose power or you're less virile because you're choking up. It's really -- it's incredible, guys just don't want to understand that getting your top hand closer to contact could just provide more contact when it's needed. I know that there's been this ongoing dialog, narrative about strikeouts are all the same and it's just another -- I totally disagree with that. I've talked about that ad nauseam.

So it's about the situation when the strikeout really is pertinent or matters more than other times. But I want it all. I want our guys to be able to power the ball and then know how to move it with two strikes.

Q. John Lackey 2002, and then I would think Longoria in Tampa Bay, young guys that get thrown into the deep end of the pool and then kind of are fine doing it. Do you see benefits to that, and does that sort of apply to Willson Contreras this year? It seems like he's certainly has had a lot on his plate.

JOE MADDON: There's that. You could also make the argument that they're not going to overthink it. You're always concerned about them being maybe a little bit unnerved or nervous about it. But I think it's they have so much confidence in their own ability that that doesn't really enter the equation. And then on the positive side, they're not going overthink the moment, which I really like.

I thought B.J. Upton at that time was very good also. I just saw a pertinent double that he hit yesterday for Toronto. Had a lot of young guys down there. Eventually Delmon Young was a big part of what we did.

So, I mean, I think that the young guy, the young confident player is not going overthink the moment, which I think is spectacular. And eventually they make their mark, and they playoff for so many years, and then they get back to the playoffs, and then it becomes more of a routine and they're able to pass on their knowledge to somebody else.

But I've been fortunate as a manager to have these kind of players. Listen, I didn't do anything wonderful except show up here and all of a sudden I got all these really good young players that have great makeup.

Q. Two for you on Chapman. Aside from the obvious 104-mile-an-hour fastball, what else has he brought to your bullpen in terms of just solidifying your late-inning formula?

JOE MADDON: Yeah, I think that -- what's the right word? Is it courage? Is it fearlessness? Is it there's a comfort zone there based on the fact that you know he's there? Anchors are always nice to have. When have you a legitimate person like that in the bullpen, it takes a little bit of the load off the rest of the guys, knowing that he's always there.

And then, furthermore, when you're able to back guys into earlier part of the game that are capable of pitching in the 9th inning, I think that makes them better. All of a sudden Ronnie becomes pertinent in the 7th or 8th, Stropy in the 6th or 7th. You saw Carl, that was the other night, you saw how well Travis was is throwing the ball. You haven't even seen Grimmer or Stropy yet.

There are a lot of guys that throw the ball. So my point is, when have you that, these guys become more available earlier in the game. And then you could actually shorten the game by having all these different tools at your disposal.

If you don't have the guys in the 9th inning, then you have to spread out this work to get through those three outs in the 9th inning and that sometimes four now with him or even possibly five.

So it just -- from their perspective, you want to talk from the players' perspective, I think it provides like a comfort level knowing that he's at the end of this and I could go out there earlier in the game and just let it all -- let it all hang out, man, because we know that Chappy is there at the end.

Q. Personality-wise, and then off the field, there was a lot of controversy that accompanied him to New York and then to Chicago. Were you surprised by how easy the transition seemed for him and how quickly people took to him?

JOE MADDON: Well, of course, I was aware of all of that when he got here and because of that I thought it was really important for me to get to know him quickly, and we did. We talk a lot, me and him, and with his interpreter. He does a great job.

For me the most important thing to do there is to build a relationship with him, and we have. We have a really easy conversation right now.

So for me, I mean, it's been kind of seamless, I think, from the entire group. If you asked all of our guys, they will feel the same way. He's fit in perfectly. He stays ready, his work is spectacular, and he's been very good.

So, again, I'm aware of what had happened in the past, but I'm telling you while he's been here everything has been obviously very good, and I anticipate it to stay that way. And I think he's made everybody else around him better. You watch him during the game, you see when Contreras comes out, puts his arm around Contreras and talks to him, Javy will come in from second base and he talks to them. There's a real strong bond among these guys already, which to me that's very important and that indicates how well they are accepting of one another. And I think that's a part of our strength. So, I love when he puts his arm around Contreras when he comes on out there to talk to him, I think it's great.

Q. Did you talk to your players at all about this being a potential closeout game, or do you keep that just like another game?

JOE MADDON: Game 165. And that's all I want them to think about. There's nothing different about our prep today. I promise you. Nothing. My prep, other than agonizing over the one outfield spot, and only agonizing over that, I am, because there are really good options -- there's many times you don't have that many sincerely good options to think about and it's easy to make a decision like that. Whereas when you have a variety of options, it makes the decision more difficult.

That's been it. Other than that, workout was really calm yesterday. The weather was great. Saw some guys out having dinner last night. Getting on the bus, they all looked the same. I really, really believe it's important to not do anything differently, good or bad, and in this particular moment. Meaning, if you're in a good situation or bad situation, you really need to approach the day the same way there. So there's not going to be any sterling speeches from me.

Q. We're in this gray area where you don't know if we're going to have a game tomorrow, but if we do have game tomorrow, you will be going against one of your own former pitchers, Matt Moore. I was wondering if you could talk a little bit about what type of guy he was for you and your team in Tampa? And also you put him in a pretty tough postseason situation one time as a young guy.

JOE MADDON: He responded really well.

Q. Reflect on that a little bit?

JOE MADDON: Yeah, that was -- when you're -- before you mentioned his name, I go right to Texas sitting in that little manager's office talking about -- or the coach's office, I think it was, talking about possibly starting him in that game and -- because I had not seen him pitch. I just heard about him. And going around the room, I remember Rocco Baldelli was very adamant that it was the right thing to do and of course the other scouts and let's do it.

And I remember the first hitter was Kinsler, and it was one of those twilight moments. And he threw like 95 or 96 fastball, and he fouled it into their dugout, and you could see his reaction was I didn't really see that ball that well. Nice. Eventually he just kicked it in from there and pitched extremely well in that particular playoff game.

So, it was -- it's unusual to give him that kind of responsibility. Responded to it extremely well and had a really nice career down there. I know he went through the surgery. Prior to the surgery he was like really good. He went through that moment there where he lost his command a bit. I think he's gotten it back now postsurgery. He's got really quality pitches. I like him. We're kind of good friends. He's a bright young man. He's wonderful. Good conversation. Actually talked to him by the batting cage at Wrigley Field. I have a lot of respect for him. So I thought the Giants gave up a good player for him also. I'm a big fan of Duffy's too. I thought he was a nice player. So I thought both organizations there did well.

Q. Given Bumgarner's postseason history, most of the attention is kind of on him and in this game. Do you think that motivates Arrieta at all?

JOE MADDON: Wow, I mean, Jake is so self-motivated, when it comes to extraneous factors, I'm not sure how much that really -- honestly, I don't know if that matters to him or not. He has got his own methods. If you ever watch him do his Pilates gig, it's incredible that a human can do that stuff. He's into his yoga. He does all of his stretching, his running. He's so focused internally I would -- I would bet not. I would bet, I mean, if I had a bet, that he would not -- would not matter to him. It would not be any more inspirational than just him doing his own work and his own prep.

He's unique. Where you saw last year was a residue of like extremely dedicated, hard work. And talent. So, it's -- I think it's a good question, but I honestly believe that I think that Jake is motivated by his own devices.

Q. You mentioned yesterday during the workout you were talking about some of baseball's historic pitchers. Question for you is, as a manager, Casey Stengel had a famous quote, I couldn't have done it without my players, and you kind of alluded to how good your roster is. How much does the manager have to do with the success of his team?

JOE MADDON: It's I like to believe there's some involvement there. I remember sitting in the stands with Wes Westrum, remember Wes Westrum. Wes was a scout for I think the Atlanta Braves at that time when I first started out. We were sitting at Packard Stadium watching Arizona State play, I'm sitting up on top there, and Wes is really good at calling pitches. Apparently, he did a lot of pitch calling for Mays and McCovey. I actually hope to ask him that question tonight if I get a chance to meet them. But I guess Wes would whistle on a breaking ball or something like that. And we're sitting up on top there, and I mentioned something about, geez, Coach Brock's got all the horses here at Arizona State, they're really good. And then Wes shot right back at me with: But you have to have the right jockey. And I thought that was pretty cool that he said that. Wes and I got to be good friends, the point being that, yes, you have to have a real really good team, but that one comment that he made to me, I thought was very pertinent. It's just like a good old horse race. You to have the right guy sitting on top.

Hopefully I've done some good since I've been here, but it didn't raise the players' game. Don't ever be deceived by that. It's about the players. You win because you have good players. You're a good manager because you have good players.

I got to become a smarter manager in 2008 because the players got better from 2007. I was very fortunate there. So, I think it's there's a combination of factors, but it's -- it is a player's game.

Q. Speaking of being the right jockey, I think you are, how do you funnel the energy the moment yourself and are you more cognizant of your expressions, the way that you are in the dugout during a postseason?

JOE MADDON: You know, I know it's San Francisco and I made comments about living up here, but the one guy I really like was Coach Walsh with the 49ers. And I read some of his stuff. And he used to -- and my point is I told myself that coming in this series and actually before. He sort of like kind of imagined he was standing behind a window on the sidelines to stay away from the emotion of the game. I think that's a great method of trying to just not be a fan during the game, truly running the game, keeping your emotion out of the game, making better decisions, to stay behind that window and just observe the game. Great comment I thought on his part.

So, from my perspective, I really try to avoid getting caught up in the emotion of the game. When do you that, man, you will miss something, whether it's getting angry with the call, getting angry with an umpire, angry with your own player, maybe you made a decision that didn't work out quite right and you get caught in that moment too long. You got to stay behind that window that separates emotion from the game.

And so that's something that Coach Walsh had talked about that I think is a really strong method regarding any, any time of the year, but especially this time of the year.