Q. How does this feel different from the previous three post-seasons, this team, the chemistry, the clubhouse, or is there a difference?ANDRE ETHIER: Yeah, there is. I said this the other day, someone asked me, what distinguishes -- the difference of this from the previous teams. I think this is
Q. How does this feel different from the previous three post-seasons, this team, the chemistry, the clubhouse, or is there a difference?
ANDRE ETHIER: Yeah, there is. I said this the other day, someone asked me, what distinguishes -- the difference of this from the previous teams. I think this is my eighth time now in the playoffs with the Dodgers, and something I've tried not to do is compare those just for the fact that I don't want to get -- fall in a trap, because those previous seven times we haven't been too successful.
Confidence-wise, player-wise, I think it does have a feeling similar to a couple of those early teams I played on, in 2008, 2009, that were real successful. But you know, it's just you add different players, you add a different mix of guys. There's so many different characteristics and intangibles that are tough to relate, but you can see the fight and the drive this team has by the way we came back there in that last game, is really I guess kind of the mark that this team has had all year.
I know I haven't been there, but I've been watching it and been a part of it and cheering these guys on. You can see how when their eight games down in the West, they fight back, figure out a way to get it done and are standing here today.
Q. Can you talk about how it's been this year for you, the ups and downs, and the satisfactions, as well, being able to come out of that and to hit a great hit the other day?
ANDRE ETHIER: Yeah, you know, it's been one of those summers that I've never really experienced before. Every time I've gotten a chance to play baseball from the time I can remember, five, six, to now, I've never missed a season because of an injury. And being in this circumstance was definitely a different one, especially being in the circumstance where I was so far removed from the game.
You know, they kind of told me -- I thought things were up, kind of going to be a lot longer than I thought, when both Dave and Freeman just told me to go home and take a vacation with my family once the team started back in April. And I'm just looking at them like, What, you don't want me to be a part of it. And they kind of looked at me like, No, you're going to be out of it for a little bit. So that's where things kind of sunk in.
I made a conscious effort on myself to pay extra attention to our games. I would sit there every night, or as many nights as I could if I didn't have stuff going on with my family and kids, and watch the game and just kind of play manager, kind of play situations in my head and try to learn some stuff that if you're playing and going through it, you're not really paying attention to. Hopefully it's benefitting me now.
And then just the grind of sitting there, working out every day, spring training, sighting Camelback and going through it and not knowing whether I would be back was tough. But I had a lot of guys pulling in my corner to get me back here and it paid off in the end.
Q. You've been in the game for several number of years but you've seen how statistics are so prevalent and easy to access. How much of the hitting statistics do you ever look at yourself and like look at to analyze your own performance? I know now it's a lot of launch angles, but did you ever look at that stuff?
ANDRE ETHIER: I don't think I've gotten that far into that, those type stuff yet. I was kind of pushing back at first, probably a couple years ago when all this stuff really started coming from you, and you were getting -- it went from maybe like one sheet of paper on yourself and on the pitcher to a whole packet, seven, eight, nine, ten pages deep of information of what that guy is going to throw, from two-strike counts, what does he do 1-0, 2-0, runners on first, all that stuff that goes into play.
The last couple of years I started looking at that a little bit more. I'm still just trying to rely on my old instincts of playing baseball and that's just seeing it and hitting it and going up there, and if he makes a pitch that I feel like I can tie him up right, I'm going to take a swing at, and maybe -- we've got a lot of guys there in our front office that are bringing all the stats to us. And if I feel like it's something that I can help adjust my game to better fit it, then I'll definitely introduce it.
You know, it's something where I've been kind of tailoring the last couple weeks, especially in the role I've been playing where primarily you've been used just against right-handed pitching and pinch-hitting off the bench when I don't start that day.
Q. Obviously Corey Seager had a great year.
ANDRE ETHIER: My favorite player.
Q. Okay. Why?
ANDRE ETHIER: Well, it's easy, he's one of the best players. I just always tease him that he's my favorite player, but when he doesn't get a hit he's not my favorite player anymore. I tell him, I'm just teaching you how quickly this game can get. You can be a favorite and you can't if you don't get hit.
He's just had success because I think he's just so steady in his fundamentals. You know, if you're just talking about the hitting side, just the way his fundamentals, how simple his swing is, has his hands -- which I see, and I've kind of got to myself right off his shoulder where it's easy to launch, to get your bat in the hitting zone. And it doesn't hurt that he's a big, strong kid himself. Like he's been able to just continue and not change mechanics over the course of a year, and I think he's so talented in just being able to recognize situations and pitches and know what they are trying to do to him.
You always hear this: That you've got to make adjustments in the game. Well, he's making adjustments, not only game-to-game or at-bat to bat, but he's making them during the pitch, you know, from pitch-to-pitch. And when you're able to do that at a young age with his skill set, you're going to have the season that he has.
I can tell you that there's not one person in our clubhouse that's shocked by the way he's played this year. We all knew it. We saw it last year. We saw it before I know a lot of us had not seen him before last year. We heard about him a lot and heard that this is a guy that we can't get rid of, this guy that we need up here when the time is right, and he's definitely served everyone right in being up here and playing the way he has.
Q. You saw Max Scherzer as a rookie way back when. How has he changed and how has he evolved since then?
ANDRE ETHIER: I think he was more of a guy just relied on his fastball. He still has a great fastball, but I think he had a few miles per hour more on it. Back then he was able to dominate guys with that fastball.
I think Arizona is a tough place for a pitcher, especially a rookie guy with that type of stuff, where you're going to challenge hitters; and if you make a mistake in Arizona and you let them get the ball up or even let them get the ball out there, there's a lot of hits, a lot of home runs in that ballpark. You can see how once he got traded, he, you know, really developed into what he did now.
I don't remember him having the changeup he had back then when I first faced him when he was a rookie. That's the biggest equalizer for a left-hander, I feel, is you can sit there and gear up on a fastball all day, but if a guy with his stuff throws that changeup with the same arm action and repeats it the same way, and it blends in and it's eight, nine, ten miles an hour different, it's going to give guys a lot of trouble. I think that's what has made him so effective now.
Q. Kind of dovetail off of that, though, you guys, this team, this lineup got to him and there's a lot of lefties, his numbers are not great against lefties. So in addition to just the mechanics, what is the confidence like for your entire clubhouse lineup in facing him, because you were, as a team, able to get to him in Game 1?
ANDRE ETHIER: Yeah, I think it's a thing where this team is really confident going against right-handed pitching. You want to go back to the numbers, the numbers are put up on the screen every time we see it. We see what our numbers are against left-handers and what our numbers are against right-handers. There's a lot of stuff in our locker room about what we can do to correct the other one.
Against him, we're able to sit there, and we have a lot of experienced hitters, for one, that let him make a mistake, if he makes one during that at-bat. And then it's one where we just work him and grind him out and wait for that right thing and keep innings going.
I think that first game, we ground out a few at-bats and we were able to push runs across by -- struck early with that Seager home run and grinded out a few at-bats and got a few runners on and got some key base hits, which that's what we're trying to do every time.
It doesn't matter from him to even our guys, guys are going to make mistakes pitching, and it's capitalizing on them. That's what we were able to do the first game, and I'm pretty sure that's what our game plan is probably the same this time, just wait for that one mistake pitch he's going to make during that at-bat, if he makes it, and capitalize on it, and let's lay off the stuff he's trying to get us to chase.
Q. I'm sure you hear the cheers from Dodgers fans when you come out of the dugout. What connection do you feel you have with the L.A. fans and how important is it to do this for them?
ANDRE ETHIER: Oh, yeah, I guess a lot of ribbing from my teammates because we take pride in our walk-up songs, and they always try to hear my walk-up songs, and they said they can't hear it the last couple times because of the fans.
I guess on my only personal side, it's been a fun 11 seasons playing in L.A. I think it comes with some name recognition and a player that they can remember. When you start getting fans who grew up watching you and now they are in their 20s and they were ten years old when you were first playing as a rookie, and you were their favorite player when they were a little kid and now they are 20 years old, I think that's what helps.
I said the other day, a lot of times over the years here, playing in L.A., it's tough to try to relate and give the fans everything they want to hear and see from you. But it's one thing where they have always welcomed me I think from day one. I can remember being that young rookie that showed up to the stadium and they cheered me on and rooted me on, and they haven't lost faith throughout my 11-year career there. It's one where I'm so thankful for and I think that's the only thing I'm missing in my career is bringing that World Series home for the organization, for the city, for the team.
I can't tell you how many people from the regular haunts I go through L.A. now, my restaurants, my places I get coffee that know me, that for the last five, six years in the neighborhood I live in are always, "Hey, when are we going to win the World Series? How is Vin doing?"
That's the second question usually. When are we going to win the World Series, how is Vin doing, and have you met Sandy Koufax. Two of them I can answer, and the third one, I hope this is the year. It would be nice to bring it home for them.