Oct. 11 Davey Johnson pregame interview
Q. I apologize if you already announced the lineup, but is there any changes to the lineup?
DAVEY JOHNSON: Nope. Going right with what we had yesterday. Going to have a little better outcome.
Q. Is Jordan available out of the pen for you today?
DAVEY JOHNSON: Yes, Jordan Zimmermann didn't throw but 60 something pitches in his last outing, so this will be his throw day and he will be available out of the pen.
Q. You've been associated with a couple World Series championship teams; what are some problems that a team encounters along the way?
DAVEY JOHNSON: You know, it's just a mind set. It's always tough to repeat anything in the game of baseball. There's so much parity. But we're going to try to change and make sure they don't repeat. We have got a big one in front of us today.
But they have a fine ballclub, and they are swinging the bats good and their pitching is set up pretty good, but they have to get through us first.
Q. Sort of along the lines of Jordan being available today, I know up to this point you've managed the same way you would all season, when it gets to this stage, do you manage the game different?
DAVEY JOHNSON: Yeah, you pretty much... I mean, depends on what happens in the ballgame. Like our starters usually have been our strength all year long and they have been giving us quality starts all year long, shoot, and that's been our strength.
These last three games, it's been a little rough not getting quality starts. So there's not a game plan, a really good game plan for when you don't get a good start from your starters. I've got a long left, a long right, but this is a ballclub that you need to locate. And left handers have trouble with this ballclub.
We're in a situation that if Det has a problem, I would go to Zimm earlier.
Q. Why has Danny been bunting so much? Is it anything that the Cardinals present in their defense or anything he's seeing out there?
DAVEY JOHNSON: You know, he's trying to get on base, trying to make something happen. That always has been a weapon in his arsenal. He's always, coming up through the Minor Leagues, been a good bunter, bunting for a base hit. He had one the other day if the umpire got it right.
There's not... we don't give him a bunt for a base hit sign. I have one but he hasn't been getting it.
Q. Have you had more trouble with the bottom of the Cardinals lineup than you anticipated you would?
DAVEY JOHNSON: Yeah, Kozma's been swinging the bat very good against us. We have made really pretty bad pitches to him. He likes the fastball and he likes it down the middle, and we've been giving it to him.
And second baseman Descalso, .220 hitter, he looks like Rob Canó out there, with power.
When you make... both of them are good fastball hitters and you make fastballs down the middle, they are going to hurt you.
Q. We saw Alex Rodriguez get pinch hit for in the ninth last night, and the Giants have moved Lincecum into their bullpen. How difficult is it for a manager to softly handle a slumping star who might have to be moved out of their regular spot in certain situations? Is that maybe one of the toughest situations for a manager to deal with?
DAVEY JOHNSON: There's no doubt about it, I've had that happen to me managing. I have... last comes to mind, I had Ron Gant and Reggie Sanders really struggling against the Braves' starting pitching, and Ray Knight even suggested I not hit them third and fourth, but I didn't like the... they got us there. They were going to have to do it to get us to the final dance and they didn't do it.
I still think even a slumping star has the best chance. But that was obviously a great move in New York.
But I don't have all the history, maybe Ibañez has hit this guy very well and it was a last ditch effort to stay in the game. That's the toughest decision a manager ever has to face. It's not... I've never really hit for the middle of my lineup, pinch hit for them. There's times maybe I've thought about it but I haven't pulled that trigger.
Q. Yesterday Mark DeRosa said he might speak to the team before today's game, kind of taking on more of a fastball mentality, one game for your life sort of thing. Do you think that you need to say anything, and do you think it's good that a player may do something like that today?
DAVEY JOHNSON: Well, you know, I talked to the guys more individually like, you know, I talked to a few of the boys, told them that it's too early in October to be thinking about going home and starting your winter.
I don't believe in having pep rallies and whatever. But DeRosa has been kind of a... kind of a spokesperson the guys have looked up to. He's been in situations. He's a real good baseball man. I mean, he's also been the karaoke leader in the clubhouse; you have to watch when you walk through there, you might be called out, or might be called on to dance or something.
But he's the guy that's kept the guys loose, which has been great. And so maybe during the karaoke session today, he'll say, let's tighten it up a little bit and start getting a little meaner or something.
But a meeting by me is more of a... putting more emphasis on, this is more important than every game we face; the mentality of this ballclub has been that that's an important game. I mean, they read the papers. They can add and subtract. They know how important it is to go out there and beat the Cards.
Q. You said you might do something... manage the game a little different because of the situation; do you think the players should approach it any different?
DAVEY JOHNSON: Well, you know, when you face veteran pitchers, and I think young hitters are learning that they don't give in, and sometimes you have to make adjustments to center on the ball.
Every pitch has a purpose from a veteran pitcher, every pitch. You go away a couple times to come in. You come in hard to go soft away. Especially with a veteran pitcher, you're not going to get your pitch, so you have to sometimes look in the areas and go the other way, and that's how you hit, period.
This is a learning curve for a lot of these young hitters. Important games, pitchers are not going to give in to you. They are not going to groove a fastball when you're behind. They are liable to throw you off speed or a changeup in hitting counts and you have to make those adjustments.
Experience comes into play in that regard, and we sometimes show our inexperience in certain at bats.
Q. Some of your guys talked about leaving the ball up in the zone and you've been struggling with command; can you pinpoint a reason why this is happening now? Is it excitement, fatigue?
DAVEY JOHNSON: Well, I mean, we have some power arms, and you can get by... if you can keep the ball on one side of the plate at times when there's not a lot of good hitters in the lineup, because hitters make adjustments if you stay one way.
And I don't care... I mean, I don't care if Sandy Koufax, he could pitch with his fastball, but he had a great curveball and fastball and pitched in and out. You have to use all your weapons and you're facing a good club. And when you get to this time of the year, all the clubs are good. They are balanced offensively, defensively, pitching, and you have to make adjustments to be successful.
That's the name of the game. I mean, there's no softies out there at this time of year.
Q. Yesterday you said your back has been up against tougher walls. When you think about that, what comes to mind, the tougher spots, and how did you and your teams get through those?
DAVEY JOHNSON: Well, I think you have to have a mentality, you never take anything for granted. I mean, I don't take anything for granted if we have a nine , ten run lead. The game ain't over until it's over.
The thing that jumps to my mind is '86, two runs down, two strikes, two outs, bottom, we come back and score three runs.
So you can't take it for granted at any time, whether you're up or down or whatever, that it's over. That room over there, the guys I've got, they have that mind set. You take nothing for granted. We don't feel like we are out of this by a long shot, believe me.
Q. Is there a situation where you would use Gio today, or would you like to stay away from that?
DAVEY JOHNSON: No, I need him for tomorrow's game. If I throw everything but the kitchen sink here, I may not have a chance tomorrow. Gio is going to pitch Game 5.