Oct. 13 Mike Matheny workout day interview
Q. Do you plan to make any changes to the roster or stick with Shelby or go to another lefty?
MIKE MATHENY: No, the roster is going to stay the same.
Q. What time did you guys finally get to the hotel and what was the mood like on the plane?
MIKE MATHENY: We got to the hotel around 6:30 a.m. and the mood was pretty under control. I think the guys got it all out of their system in Washington. There were still people smiling as we got off the plane even at 6:00 in the morning, but it was a pretty under control flight.
I was hoping they wouldn't take this too lightly and that they did enjoy it for as long as they could. But they seemed pretty focused about moving forward and getting this next series started.
Q. Even though you didn't get a good night's sleep, is it any more or less improbable what you achieved last night?
MIKE MATHENY: You know, on our flight, we were able to catch some ESPN, so a lot of highlights came through, and watched the same thing multiple times and really still kind of taken back. I'm going to have to watch that game over again. It still hasn't really sunk in, at least to the extent of what these guys did. The bats they put together, the innings that the bullpen threw, I mean, it was one that goes into a category like I've never seen before personally or been that closely a part of.
So it really hasn't sunk in, but that day will come. Right now we can't spend too much time on that, we need to get ready for the next one.
Q. Do you have a favorite memory or two when you were with the Giants and is there somebody from that coaching staff, maybe Righetti or Wotus, who influenced you as a manager?
MIKE MATHENY: Yeah, I believe I was influenced by everybody I've been able to work with and under going way back. I think coaches at all levels really don't realize the impact they have in the development, especially kids. So I think about things that I've learned from coaches back in Youth League.
But obviously coming into the end of my career here in San Francisco I was able to spend a good amount of time with Dave Righetti, with Ron Wotus and Mark Gardner, and it's a quality group of people over here. And I was very fortunate to be a part of this organization for a couple of years and watch some young careers begin, like a Matt Cain, I knew Tim Lincecum was on the way. And Buster Posey through the Minor League system. Brian Sabean and the ownership here in San Francisco has done a great job of setting a great foundation for what this organization is all about, and the fan base has been phenomenal in their support. It was a nice place to play, and definitely learned a lot of things.
Q. Just to go back to last night one more time, you were on those Cardinal teams that did a lot of winning and a lot of big nights. Can you describe what that dugout was like in the 9th inning when all that was happening and the momentum kept building and you're getting closer and closer and closer? I know you're trying to run the game, but what was it like just living through that in the dugout?
MIKE MATHENY: Yeah, that was something that I tried to explain to my wife this morning, is I really wish most of the time that's not something you'd wish is to have the dugout atmosphere kind of recorded and monitored, but there was so much going on in that dugout from the first inning. And I give a lot of credit to Chris Carpenter, to Skip Schumaker, guys that weren't necessarily right in the mix at the time, but there was an atmosphere there that I'd never seen before. And it was borderline high school football, where the guys are screaming at the top of their lungs.
But the message was pretty consistent, was keep playing this game, and something good's going to happen. And then it turned into, this is going to be a story people are going to remember if you guys just keep going. It was impressive because it became contagious.
And then I think one of the things that pushed it over the top was when we see Adam Wainwright give up six runs, go up in the clubhouse and then come back down, and was on the top step cheering as loud as anybody, instead of hanging his head. And I think that just says volumes about the character of this team and these guys individually. But there was a life to that bench like I've never seen. I don't think it would have happened without it.
Q. I'm not sure how much of the Giants Reds series you were able to watch, but you're familiar with going to Cincinnati and how tough it is to win there. What is your impression of the Giants winning three straight elimination games in that ballpark?
MIKE MATHENY: Yeah, that's a tough ballpark to win. Especially going into late innings and having the home team advantage, the ball jumps out of there and things can turn in a hurry. It's a good club. We saw plenty of Cincinnati this year, and they have a good team. And for this club to be down like they were and go into Cincinnati and take care of business is something I know that they're very proud of and should be, because it's not an easy task.
Q. That was sort of along the lines of my question, so what does that mean for the last two World Series winners here, how this series might go, when both of you had these remarkable comebacks?
MIKE MATHENY: Yeah, I see a knockdown drag out ahead of us. I'm certain Major League Baseball has to be very pleased with the caliber of baseball that's happened so far this postseason. And I don't see any reason why the excitement wouldn't continue. In my opinion, we're looking at two very well rounded teams.
We have a lot of respect for Bruce and the Giants and this club and what they have. And they have all the components you need for winning baseball, with the pitching and defense and offense that can run up some scores. So we understand that, but we're also very quick to look in the mirror and realize that we've got a pretty good club, too.
Q. Descalso, can you talk about the game he had last night and his emergence this season. And secondly, what kind of strategic problems do the Giants present for you?
MIKE MATHENY: Well, the first part with Daniel Descalso, he's somebody that has the respect of our entire clubhouse. A group of guys who have had a lot of accomplishments, really understand and appreciate the style of baseball player that Daniel Descalso is. And I think he's shown the world what he has. He's just a ballplayer. He's gritty. He's hard nosed. He's smart. He plays instinctually. He's always been able to play very good defense. We've moved him around all over, and really ran him through the ringer this season, where it was platooning, he was a bench player for a while. There were times he was having trouble getting his swing going, and he was pressing.
But he really did figure out how to take advantage of the opportunity when that opportunity presented itself, especially when Furcal went down. We needed somebody to take control of second base and Daniel Descalso did that, and he's been just huge for us down the stretch here; both guys in the middle of our infield have.
Strategically as you try to plan out, you can't script what's going to happen. And that's the beautiful thing about this game. We know some of their strengths, but I think it's more important that we focus on our strengths and adjust as we go.
Q. As a former catcher, does it intrigue you at all to see the matchup of catchers, Molina and Posey, and looking across, what are your impressions of Posey?
MIKE MATHENY: I've always been a big fan of Buster Posey. I was able to talk to him as he was a young player coming through the Minor Leagues in the Giants organization. And it didn't take too much foresight to realize that he was going to be special. You could see his makeup, leadership, natural leadership skills he has. And obviously he can swing the bat a little bit.
But he's done a terrific job, especially as you look at the obstacles he's had with coming back from a tough, tough injury and still being able to get back behind the plate. I admire the fact when many of the conversations were going towards him moving to first base how adamant he was that he was a catcher. And I understand that mentality. But he's done a great job. He's had a fantastic season.
I will, however, stand behind the fact that Yadier Molina has impressed me more than any catcher I've ever witnessed. The things that he does that are intangible that you can only see by watching every day, and watching from a very critical eye. But he has everything that you would ask for from a catcher defensively.
And then there are some things offensively people didn't think he would be able to do, and that was just enough motivation for him to figure out how to do it. And that's the makeup of a Yadier Molina. I know Buster has to have a lot of consideration as the most valuable player, but from where I sit I don't know how Yadier Molina couldn't be in that conversation, as well.
Q. Can you recount kind of your earliest impressions of him when he was coming up through the system and how long did it take you to realize that he was going to be a very special catcher?
MIKE MATHENY: Yeah, I've shared this story a few times, but when I came over to St. Louis I remember coming home after a Spring Training workout and I told my wife I saw the kid that's going to steal my job. And I knew he wasn't ready yet, as he was still young. But there wasn't much question. And the thing that stood out to me was how respective he was and how open to learn and to improve and to grow, which you wouldn't expect from a young player who has two brothers in the big leagues already in that position. You'd think that he already had it all figured out. But he was the complete opposite.
And all he had to do wanted to do was work. He was in the hands of Mr. Dave Ricketts, who was one of the finest catching instructors that I've ever seen.
All that combined with just a toughness. And I always wanted to give credit where credit is due, also, and Albert Pujols made a huge impact on Yadi as a player, helped him with his offensive approach. I think we all saw that Yadi, just from his ability to stay away from the strikeout and put the ball in play that he was going to be a good hitter some day. But I think Albert helped him take that to another level. But Yadi had a lot of people investing into him with his family and people from the outside, but he had to do it himself. He had to take what he was given and make the most of it, and continues to get better. I don't know that we've seen the best of him. I think there's even more there. He's special.
Q. Lynn, Carpenter, Lohse, Wainwright, is that correct for the rotation?
MIKE MATHENY: Yes.
Q. And secondly, how do you, in your words, how do you lose Pujols over the winter and then you lose Berkman, Furcal late in the season and it doesn't matter, here you guys are again.
MIKE MATHENY: The first part of that is we had very clear conversations that we were going to focus on what we have. This game presents many distractions for these guys. There are so many that you could become completely numb if you allow yourself. But it's a mind game to not allow yourself to go there and for our guys to focus on what we can control and the things that we do hold and not to be somebody that we're not.
So to have someone go out and feel that they had to be an Albert Pujols, they were setting themselves up for failure. For a young manager to come in and be a Tony LaRussa, I was setting myself up for failure. And we looked at ourselves and said what we have here is good, let's trust it and trust each other.
With that being said, the adjustments being made and the adversity that this team has faced has been overcome to me because of a very strong, talented group of men with high character. And with character comes the perseverance, the relentless it's just a makeup and side of them that I believe was something part of them for a long time. I think it was strengthened last year through 2011 on what they did down the push and all the way through the postseason.
But all things considered it's been a very talented group of guys who have willed themselves to be in the position they're in right now.
Q. You just touched on replacing Tony LaRussa, in that vein could you talk about how Derek Lilliquist has come in behind Dave Duncan, and how that transition seems to have been?
MIKE MATHENY: Forgive me for not bringing up Duncan, I think everybody in the game knows the impact he's had on this organization and on the game of baseball. And the reputation deservedly so that he has.
The same thing rings through, we weren't asking Derek Lilliquist to be a Dave Duncan, as the guys would see right through that. And that phoniness usually doesn't lead to anything productive.
So Derek has been himself and has been very, very impressive. He has a great sense for the game. He has a great sense of people and how to communicate. He has a great balance of mechanical knowledge to where he helps these guys where they do need it, but not overbearing to where they won't be effective.
His biggest asset, in my opinion, is that he has a great idea of how to put together a game plan. Keep in mind, too, we're all better because of Yadier Molina behind the plate, as far as game calling goes. And as far as the game presentation, Yadi and Tony Cruz have done a terrific job of putting their time in, but don't want to look past what Derek Lilliquist has done because he's done a great job.
Q. With Yadier Molina and Posey and Mauer being among the batting leaders, is there an increased glamour in the position of catcher, and become more appealing to young players? And you talked about the mentality, could you explain that, maybe explain what drove you to become a catcher.
MIKE MATHENY: Well, I think there should be an increased awareness, and I think the offense production helps that for the young players. I think all the gear and the cool accessories that the sporting goods industry has helped put on the catcher I think is helpful.
But there's not a lot glamorous about the position, and it just makes it that much more rare that we're talking about some very effective offensive players who grind through that position. The rigors of that position day in and day out, physically and mentally, are really hard to describe.
But I see these guys setting kind of the framework for that to change. I think that it's a position that once you fully dive into it and as for my personal experience, once I figured out how much goes into the position, how involved you are, it was truly hard for me to play anywhere else.
I started at the age of ten catching and really only caught. I don't suggest that for most kids, and any coaches out there listening, not necessarily the right way to go. I think kids should just play the game and increase their athleticism by playing multiple sports, multiple positions.
But for me it did work out that way. But I fell in love with the position and continued to. And I thought I was going to really struggle this season, because typically I couldn't just watch a game to watch. I was analyzing pitches and pitch selections and sequences and the movements of the catcher. Fortunately I've had enough other things to keep my mind on I just let Yadi do his job and got out of the way.
Q. Can you talk about a player like Ryan Theriot how he helped your ballclub last year, and how you feel about having him in the opposing dugout this year?
MIKE MATHENY: Well, I wasn't that involved with Ryan as a position player. I was involved with the catchers more last year and with the front office, so I didn't get to spend that much time with Ryan, but I know that the guys in this organization have the utmost respect for him as a professional and a guy who knows how to win. It's been a situation where if you have a lot of talent and you have experience, seems to make you an asset to any team, and obviously Ryan has been an asset to the Giants club.