Oct. 11 Mike Matheny pregame interview
Q. Have you received a report from Jaime's visit to New York today?
MIKE MATHENY: No, I haven't received a report yet but might have something later today.
Q. Sticking with the same lineup today?
MIKE MATHENY: No, same lineup. Except Lohse is pitching.
Q. How is Holliday feeling today? Obviously he's playing but any residual effects of the ball off the leg? Is it 100%?
MIKE MATHENY: Yeah, he's sore. We have had this happen to him quite a few times through the season, whether it's hit by pitch or foul ball. He's tough. I mean, the guy has played just about every day for us. Absolutely has the respect of the clubhouse for that, a guy comes in banged up and still finds a way not to just get in there but to do something big for us.
Q. What is Lance Lynn's availability for today?
MIKE MATHENY: Lance Lynn's available today. Not a lot. But he will be able to come out of the bullpen, so today would be a day for him to get a little throwing in anyhow, so we decided to be able to use him during the game.
Q. I was wondering how you looked at if you were to win this series in four versus five games, just because of the implications of the rotation?
MIKE MATHENY: Yeah, really not looking at that at all. Just trying not to go too far ahead. Stick with the same plan we've had all season. One at a time, realize we just need to win today, and then we'll be able to put everything else together later, if need be.
Q. We seem to ask you a lot about Jay's defense in center this year. I wondered if you, having watched all of last year's game, thought if what he did this year was an improvement over last year and if he's continued improving over the season and if that traces back to any work he did in spring training; I know that was a focus for him to round out his instincts and approach to center field.
MIKE MATHENY: The largest area of improvement was really just him taking control of the outfield. That's a pretty tough spot for a young player to be put into where you have Matt Holliday on one side and Carlos Beltrán on the other with a lot of accolades on their shelves.
But you know, he got past that. I think that was something he began to do at the end of the season last year, and right from the beginning of spring training. He took control and that's a huge part of the center field position is being able to not be afraid; to tell a guy, hey, you need to get over closer to the line.
And then the guys realized how much he was paying attention; I think the word would be conscientious. He's watching every pitch, he's following tendency, spending time with Yadi talking about how we are going to approach certain hitters, and that takes the pressure off the corner outfielders and then they trust him after he moves them a couple of times and they're right in the right place. They certainly have respect for Jon and his instincts now, and that's a huge step forward.
Q. There are some schools of thought that the post season is random and it's a small sample of the hottest team wins, and other people think certain teams are better geared for the post season and play better this time of year. Do you think your team is a particularly good post season team, and if so, why?
MIKE MATHENY: I think that would be a very bold statement to make.
We don't really classify ourselves as one thing or another. What I would like to say about our team is that we've shown a lot of heart this year. I'd say, also, they don't quit, and it's hard to beat a team that doesn't quit. Those are things that they have done.
Now, what it takes to be successful, I don't have the most experience as a manager in the post season. So I can't tell you, but what I've seen so far is a very consistent group of guys who go about their business the same way every day regardless if it's October or whether it's April.
To me, that is fun to be around, and it gives yourself a chance to compete every night regardless of what the situation is.
Q. I think by his own admission, Beltrán had a bit of a lull toward the middle of the year or the end of the regular season, but seems to have rejuvenated in the post season; does he just feel healthier or does this time of year just bring out the best in him?
MIKE MATHENY: Well, he's had a good track record late in the year. And he did have a rough go, maybe one of the roughest he's ever had in his career. It was tough navigating through that, trying to figure out how to get him right and how to set him up to be successful again, because he's such a big part of our offense.
But you know, to me, it's always the mind and the body go hand in hand, and his body was breaking down just like everybody else's was, and he's a year older and he's an experienced player.
And you have new challenges as you age in this game, and I think he was just trying to fight through some things, and when that happens, your mind starts to doubt a little bit when you're not bouncing back as quick as you would like and then the next thing you know you're making mechanical changes that you didn't need to change. It's just a pretty vicious cycle.
We had an opportunity to get him a couple days here and there to kind of get centered again and fortunately had some depth on our bench to where guys could come in and be productive and help us out. But he figured it out. He's been a pro. He's been a joy to have on our team in every regard and somebody who is very well respected, not just on our team, but league wide.
Q. Some of the Nationals guys were saying that they have had a lot more trouble with the bottom of the order than I guess they anticipated with Pete (Kozma) and Daniel (Descalso). How much has that made you guys a lot more dangerous with the depth they have brought to the lineup?
MIKE MATHENY: You can't beat having eight guys in that lineup, nine yesterday including Carp, who were putting tough at bats together. There's no room to breathe.
I think Danny has snuck up on some people because he really, first of all, his manager didn't give him consistent opportunities through the season, the way that things started. Descalso didn't get the playing time to really get locked in, and lately he's been able to play, and that's really going to give yourself the best chance of being consistent.
As far as Pete Kozma goes, nobody knew what to expect. Pete's been just a great shot in the arm for us, much needed, as we lost our shortstop and needed somebody to come in and do the job of catching the ball, and any offense we got was going to be a bonus.
And coming into that 8th hole in this lineup, sometimes that does cause a team or a pitcher to take a breath. Next thing you know, like yesterday, Pete comes up with a big hit, and that can be a little bit of a shocker.
But he's done a nice job, so has Dan, and then you have David Freese and Yadi in the middle, late part of that lineup, too, that can hurt you at any time.
It's been pretty well rounded and we hopefully just keep that going.