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Oct. 19 Dave Roberts pregame interview

October 19, 2017

Q. Looking at Clayton's outings against the Cubs, a couple this year and one in the playoffs last year, where they've been able to kind of neutralize his dominance, how have they done it? What have you seen?DAVE ROBERTS: For the outings this year, it's been the slug. They haven't

Q. Looking at Clayton's outings against the Cubs, a couple this year and one in the playoffs last year, where they've been able to kind of neutralize his dominance, how have they done it? What have you seen?
DAVE ROBERTS: For the outings this year, it's been the slug. They haven't really put hits together. They've just capitalized on some mistakes. And I think that's the case with any pitcher. We expect Clayton to go out there focused, and he's obviously prepared and going to help us win a baseball game tonight.

But as far as what's happened this year, I think there's just some mistakes that he's made out over the plate, and those guys from Contreras to Rizzo earlier this year, Contreras again, just balls that are out over mistakes.

Q. I thought the relationship between a pitcher and a catcher is very important. You've got a guy that doesn't have a ton of experience with Clayton. How has Austin Barnes really developed that this year with Clayton and the whole staff?

DAVE ROBERTS: I think that was one of the things that we tried to develop as far as having all of the starting pitchers to be comfortable with whoever is behind the plate. Yeah, Yasmani's caught him a lot of those starts, certainly.

But Clayton's comfort level, they have a -- not only just as teammates, they have a relationship off the field, they have a great rapport, understanding. And Austin does a great job of following the game plan. He receives really well. Obviously we like him in the box, and Clayton, to his credit, has continued to support me in the sense of not really caring who is behind the plate catching him.

Q. Was there a moment this spring or early this season when you knew that Chris Taylor was a different kind of hitter than he had been when you got him?

DAVE ROBERTS: Yeah, it was actually the first day of full squad workouts. At that point in time he was on the back field. So as I was kind of making my way around the different hitting groups and the different fields, and you see Chris and the way the ball's coming off, and he completely changed his swing mechanics. There is that angle that he used to have that he really, you know, had -- he really had a loop in his swing and really couldn't get the velocity. And that kind of changed, and the way he's using his entire body. The ball was just coming off a lot more hot. I remember talking to Andrew at that point in time saying this guy's a real player right now, and he became so offensive really quickly.

Just a credit to him, just committing to it. To be that kind of fringy, 4-A player, and to really try to shoot the moon as far as commit to a swing change, he did that, and it's really paid off.

Q. We've seen a few examples of that, guys who change their swing and completely change who they are. Is that something that -- when you were playing, was it a lot more rare to see that kind of thing?

DAVE ROBERTS: I think so. I think it was a lot of hitters, people, I guess, are creatures of habit. I can't say I would have done that. It's really a big leap of faith. But I think now with a lot of the information and exit velocity and how people are kind of valued as offensive players in this day and age, and just seeing a guy that can slap the ball to right field and can catch it. Those players aren't as valuable as much.

But Chris can do that with his two-strike approach, but also he can hit the ball out of the ballpark and play all over the field. So I think he just made himself a way more valuable player.

Q. Curtis and Chase struggled yesterday. Looked like they kind of had some trouble with the velocity of both those righties, Arrieta and Wade. How do you battle, I guess, obviously, the lefty-righty matchups and the statistics with just what you see with their eyes when they're struggling like this?

DAVE ROBERTS: I think both those guys struggled with the breaking ball, actually. I think they were getting ahead with the breaking ball, and then going down below the zone and late they were trying to challenge with the fastball, then you're in protect mode still thinking about the breaking ball.

Pitched both those guys very similarly. It's just one of those, those guys just got to keep grinding. I'll make decisions going forward what I feel. But this entire season, I used my eyes, information, and also how guys are feeling.

But ultimately it's about winning one game on that particular night. So they're going to work themselves out of it. They're grinding, like I said. As far as setting a lineup when that day comes, then I'll make a decision. But they're on the bench tonight, and they'll be ready when called upon.

Q. In '88 when the Dodgers beat the Mets to win the pennant, do you remember what you were doing? Were you watching that game on TV? Also, did you watch Gibson's home run?

DAVE ROBERTS: '88, I think I had just come out of surgery, knee surgery. I was in high school, and I probably wasn't rooting for the Dodgers then. But I do remember watching the game, and I remember how dramatic it was, and I always liked the grit and the toughness of Kirk Gibson, and who could not love Tommy Lasorda?

I don't recall the moment where I was watching that game, but I do know that I was watching it live. But just to be back years removed from that and to be sitting right here, it's crazy. It's crazy is what it is.

Saw Tommy today in the lobby, and he gave me some more words of wisdom. So it's all good. It's great. And Gibby, I befriended Kirk. So it's just amazing. People are talking about the J.T. homer, and it's up to us to make that moment an iconic moment as well.

Q. Talking about Chris, people have kept trying to challenge him with velocity all year, and he's still producing. Are you beginning to see people start to say, okay, let's try to pitch him a little differently now? Have you seen any of that the last few weeks?

DAVE ROBERTS: Yeah, we've seen that all year. The thing is he has a way of continuing to gather information, make adjustments, sit on pitches when he feels.

The bottom line is he stays in the strike zone. So whether you're trying to crowd him, he can shoot you that way to the left or you're trying to spin him away. He can take those pitches. So when a guy uses the big part of the field like Chris does, he's very dangerous.

So they've come up with a lot of different things. But to have him at the top of the order and grind pitches, to set the tone for the lineup, it's a huge piece for us.

Q. To follow up on Bob's question, do you remember the circumstances of the first time you met Tommy in your life? And what have you learned from him or maybe appreciated now that you're manager that you didn't know maybe when you were playing for the Dodgers?

DAVE ROBERTS: Yeah, I was in Spring Training in 2002, and taking some extra work with our then hitting coach Jack Clark. Tommy was just telling me to chop down the ball. He took over the hitting session, and I was there for probably another two hours hitting, and telling me I need to hit curveballs. He could throw BP to me if I want. Called me the Okinawa kid. I don't think he knew my name. So until I became manager, I don't think he knew my name.

So, he's great. I think that the thing I get from Tommy is just his authenticity with people. He's just who he is, and I think players can respect that. That's probably the thing I take more from him. I'm not as volatile as Tommy, but I've got it in me. But I think just the way he connects with people is probably my biggest takeaway.

Q. Can you talk to us a little bit about the mindset of this team today, how comfortable the feeling knowing Kershaw's on the mound and that they want to secure the pennant in this game today?

DAVE ROBERTS: We're very comfortable, very confident. They played a good game yesterday. Jake pitched well. We had opportunities. Today we've got our guy going on the mound. He knows that it's not all contingent upon him. We've still got to catch it. We've still got to get guys on base and score runs. But to be in a situation like this, our guys are joking around, we've got music blaring in the clubhouse. So we're approaching it just like any other game, just like we have all year.

I like where we're at. So once that first pitch is thrown, I think that's probably the best part of the day. But we're excited.

Q. What do you see from Quintana in Game 1 that you thought he did particularly well, and what do you guys need to do to get on him a little bit earlier today?

DAVE ROBERTS: I think that he tries to get ahead. He pitches to the top of the zone. Good arm. And I think that we did a good job of kind of grinding him, getting him -- he went five innings. Didn't get him any hits, but he got some base runners. Got to the pen. Still, again, that was one kind of small snapshot. Haven't seen a whole lot of him for me personally.

But it's going to be a tight one. I think that for us, just got to be ready in the strike zone, which we are, and when he makes a mistake in the strike zone, we'll be ready to hit it. But if he nibbles, we'll be willing to take the walk. So, as long as we can stress him and do what we've been doing throughout this postseason, we'll be fine.

Q. You mentioned being on the Dodgers in '02, did you know then that you wanted to be manager? And if not then, when did that ambition come into focus for us?

DAVE ROBERTS: I had no idea. I was just trying to survive. I was happy to be a Major League player at that point in time. I think that as your kind of career evolves and starts to descend, you start changing roles as far as mentor, teammate, role model, and then helping younger players, and just loving the teaching component.

I think that I just love the game. I love to teach, I love the players. Then you kind of start thinking about it, and your wife asks you how long you want to do this, and is this going to be it, and you say yes, then things change. So it kind of just happened. But once I became a coach with Buddy Black in San Diego, that's where it really flipped for me where I was like, I've got to do this and I'm going to do this, Lord willing, as long as I can.