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Oct. 22 Joe Maddon pregame interview

MLB.com

Q. You have been in this scenario many times as a coach, as a manager, but with this specific franchise and this specific moment, what do you do to control your emotions in knowing what could be fought for this weekend?

JOE MADDON: You just rely on your training and do what you've been do you think all along. I appreciate it with the players all the time, I want us to go out there and just be ourselves once again. Go out there and play the game freely, play the kind of game we're accustomed to playing, which would be we would want to pitch well, catch the ball on defense and work good at-bats. So when you get to this particular moment, to try to avoid being outcome based, we try to do that all the time, just go out there, continue to work the process, which is inning by inning, win -- score first, win the inning. Those the are kind of thoughts that get you beyond this moment. So at this point you don't want to change anything else you do, and the best way I could describe it is to rely on your training.

Q. Two questions, first, can you explain the lineup change tonight with Almora in for Heyward? And, second, can we get some comments from you concerning the latest on Kyle Schwarber?

JOE MADDON: Yeah, Kershaw's pitching, so I wanted to get one more right-handed bat in the lineup, and also with Albert I don't feel like we're losing anything on defense. I know Jason's a Gold Glover, but I think Albert, given an opportunity to play often enough would be considered a Gold Glove-caliber outfielder too. Kyle, yeah, that's kind of a surprise because I -- that just came up. I've been talking to him often, I mean, I watch him in the -- in our weight room, training room there, running the treadmill, they're doing the ellipticals, whatever, and he's doing really well. So he comes in the dugout, I say, man, you look really good, next Spring Training's right around the corner. And I'm trying to keep him pumped up about that. Then all of a sudden a couple days ago he goes for a checkup, and the doctor said, hey, he can hit. And that was the first -- that was really a surprise to me and all of us.

So, we're going to explore that. It's up to us to get to the next moment in order to see if that can actually work out or not. So, we're just trying to be prudent, a little foresight, see how he's going to play in the Fall League and see where that takes us.

Q. When you got here, the Cubs had already made a lot of good trades to give you some impact guys -- Rizzo, Russell, Arrieta. But what has impressed you or what stands out to you about this front office and kind of how they go about player acquisition?

JOE MADDON: The thing that impresses me -- okay, impresses me the most is their willingness or ability to balance both the numbers and the person. It's not just a numeric exercise, it's not just a sabermetrical exercise. It's also about the guy. And even when I talk to the boys, you're able to talk about makeup and character in meaningful way. I think sometimes in the game today it gets to the point where it's just about a number, acquiring a number. So for us -- and I'm a big believer in that, but I also like the balance between the person and with this -- what the back of his baseball card says.

So I think our guys do a wonderful job of balancing the math with the actual person. And I'm all about that. I'm all for that. I've been doing it in a different way for a bit, even as a bench coach, several years ago I was utilizing the stat sheet in my own little novice way, attempting to glean information from that that can help you make better decisions, and eventually it's arrived at the point now where you just have to punch a bunch of numbers in a computer and you get all this different info. Wonderful. But don't forget about the heart, don't forget about the mind, don't forget about the motor that exists within the person, that all matters when it comes to success.

I think that's what you have to be careful with. When you get to this point where there's so much information, don't forget about the human being. And I think our guys do a great job of balancing all that.

Q. You mentioned stressing working the process with the players, but what was your sense just yesterday and today of the fan base, of the community, people you ran into? Is it excitement, is it nervous anticipation, what's your read?

JOE MADDON: It's all of that. There's angst, there's all that kind of good stuff. It's just a fan base that's been waiting for a while. We're definitely on the verge of doing something wonderful, and they're absolutely engaged and involved. At the end of the day, again, it goes back to my advice, is like with everybody else, let's just do this one thing at a time, let's try to score first, let's try to win some innings and just play our game. That's the best, that's all we can do. That's what we can control.

And so I know that some of the folks like my babble, some don't, and that's okay. But it's a really passionate fan base, obviously, and it's generational. And it's wonderful. So, my interaction with the fans has been great on the streets or wherever, in a restaurant last night. Went out to dinner last night, and they couldn't be more kind. So, it is. That's what it is. And you accept it and you nurture it and you understand it. But at the end of the day, our boys have got to go out there and play the game like we can tonight, and I want that with a free mind and moment by moment.

Q. Just to clarify with Schwarber, is there a chance that if you get to the World Series that he would be available?

JOE MADDON: There's a chance.

Q. Likelihood or --

JOE MADDON: Chance. I mean, I don't know, he's going to play tonight, so, again, that's like everything else, you evaluate -- he's taking batting practice well, he's hit assimilated against an actual pitcher well. He's hit the ball well. The movement kind of stuff, running and change of direction has all gone well, his arm's fine. Again, I don't know to what extent we would be able to use him or not, but right now we're just trying to explore all the possibilities.

Q. I know this isn't first time you had to deal with this with Heyward in the postseason, but how tough is it for you, especially in a game where you guys can clinch the pennant, to sit a guy who has a contract like his and has been a part of your team like he has been, and how did he handle the news?

JOE MADDON: It's never easy. And, again, just like last time, I texted him in advance, which we normally do. So I'm certain that he's not very happy with the whole thing. I wouldn't be if I was him either. But moving forward, this guy is so impressively good against left-handers. And if we didn't have the options that we do, I couldn't do it. But under the circumstances that we can, I think Albert gives us another opportunity there offensively while not hurting ourselves on defense.

So, at the end of the day, man, you just got to make some tough calls, some tough decisions. And, listen, he's been a huge part of our success this year. But for right now, this little micro moment, I thought it was better to go with Albert tonight.

Q. With no Heyward and Almora and Contreras catching, can you just comment on how young of a team it is you're playing in this game? And along those lines, did you give any thought to Ross catching and Contreras in the outfield to have some more experience?

JOE MADDON: Yes in all that stuff. First of all, the youth, you look from Baez to Contreras Russell to Almora. I mean, that could be somebody's Triple-A team there just based on experience and age. I'm very proud of the fact that they're as good as they are. That's a testament to scouting and development as well as the person, the motor, the heart, the mind of all these kids. You see what Javy has done so far, you saw Contreras's at-bats the other day, you saw Addison responded after having a first tough couple games. That's the person, that has nothing to do with numbers whatsoever. So, again, I mean, you just can't throw those names out there lightly. You have to have a lot of confidence and faith in the group, and we do. So, they're out there, and they're playing. And I feel actually really good about it.

The other part of the question? David, yeah, I'm sorry. Yeah, I think that Willie has been really good with Kyle this year. And thing about Willson, you have to understand, and, again, you're not able to -- privy to see it, he's really good at game calling and managing our game plan. He's outstanding. So, if I thought there was a real big separation between David and him regarding doing something with that, I might have done something differently, but I have all the faith in the world that Willson can deal with all that, plus his ability to control a running game and situations. It's just -- it's comforting to have him back there blocking the ball, the arm, everything. So, again, knowing the person, you believe he can handle the moment, so you give it to him. And that's what we're doing.

Q. Getting back to your earlier question about the Cubs front office. What do you recall from your interview with Theo and Jed in Arizona this 2003 when you interviewed with the Red Sox? What kind of impression did they leave on you, and do they seem like pretty much the same couple guys?

JOE MADDON: They're definitely the same couple guys. Obviously I got to know them better. That was just like a real one moment at the Phoenician -- or not the Phoenician -- Biltmore, yeah, thank you. Yeah, and what I remembered was the organization of the meeting, the well-thought-out component of the meeting. For example, they gave me maybe a list of 10 different items, and I had to list them in order of importance. For example, creating your lineup, handling your bullpen, talking to the press, empowering your coaching staff. I think those were four of the examples. I mean, it was like five or six. And then you have to list them in the order which you think is the most important thing to do on a daily basis. I thought that was interesting. So, that was part of it.

And then just handling difficult moments. Certain player becomes difficult and he's a star or got a great status, how do you deal with that? So you have to run by that potential scenario also. Another good question. So I just I remember that. That was -- I had done an interview with the Angels with Stoney prior to that when Sciosch got the job. I think the next significant one was that one. And I was really impressed with the questions and them. Josh Byrnes was also in the room, too, if I remember correctly. So it was a great opportunity for me. It was -- at the time I said they made the right decision. I thought Tito was more prepared for that moment than I was at that time, and I'll stand by that. I got the right job at the right time with Tampa Bay. Tito's the right guy back then. But the experience for me was fantastic moving forward. Same guys, but now I'm finding out that they're even funnier than I knew.

Q. You have been in this scenario many times as a coach, as a manager, but with this specific franchise and this specific moment, what do you do to control your emotions in knowing what could be fought for this weekend?

JOE MADDON: You just rely on your training and do what you've been do you think all along. I appreciate it with the players all the time, I want us to go out there and just be ourselves once again. Go out there and play the game freely, play the kind of game we're accustomed to playing, which would be we would want to pitch well, catch the ball on defense and work good at-bats. So when you get to this particular moment, to try to avoid being outcome based, we try to do that all the time, just go out there, continue to work the process, which is inning by inning, win -- score first, win the inning. Those the are kind of thoughts that get you beyond this moment. So at this point you don't want to change anything else you do, and the best way I could describe it is to rely on your training.

Q. Two questions, first, can you explain the lineup change tonight with Almora in for Heyward? And, second, can we get some comments from you concerning the latest on Kyle Schwarber?

JOE MADDON: Yeah, Kershaw's pitching, so I wanted to get one more right-handed bat in the lineup, and also with Albert I don't feel like we're losing anything on defense. I know Jason's a Gold Glover, but I think Albert, given an opportunity to play often enough would be considered a Gold Glove-caliber outfielder too. Kyle, yeah, that's kind of a surprise because I -- that just came up. I've been talking to him often, I mean, I watch him in the -- in our weight room, training room there, running the treadmill, they're doing the ellipticals, whatever, and he's doing really well. So he comes in the dugout, I say, man, you look really good, next Spring Training's right around the corner. And I'm trying to keep him pumped up about that. Then all of a sudden a couple days ago he goes for a checkup, and the doctor said, hey, he can hit. And that was the first -- that was really a surprise to me and all of us.

So, we're going to explore that. It's up to us to get to the next moment in order to see if that can actually work out or not. So, we're just trying to be prudent, a little foresight, see how he's going to play in the Fall League and see where that takes us.

Q. When you got here, the Cubs had already made a lot of good trades to give you some impact guys -- Rizzo, Russell, Arrieta. But what has impressed you or what stands out to you about this front office and kind of how they go about player acquisition?

JOE MADDON: The thing that impresses me -- okay, impresses me the most is their willingness or ability to balance both the numbers and the person. It's not just a numeric exercise, it's not just a sabermetrical exercise. It's also about the guy. And even when I talk to the boys, you're able to talk about makeup and character in meaningful way. I think sometimes in the game today it gets to the point where it's just about a number, acquiring a number. So for us -- and I'm a big believer in that, but I also like the balance between the person and with this -- what the back of his baseball card says.

So I think our guys do a wonderful job of balancing the math with the actual person. And I'm all about that. I'm all for that. I've been doing it in a different way for a bit, even as a bench coach, several years ago I was utilizing the stat sheet in my own little novice way, attempting to glean information from that that can help you make better decisions, and eventually it's arrived at the point now where you just have to punch a bunch of numbers in a computer and you get all this different info. Wonderful. But don't forget about the heart, don't forget about the mind, don't forget about the motor that exists within the person, that all matters when it comes to success.

I think that's what you have to be careful with. When you get to this point where there's so much information, don't forget about the human being. And I think our guys do a great job of balancing all that.

Q. You mentioned stressing working the process with the players, but what was your sense just yesterday and today of the fan base, of the community, people you ran into? Is it excitement, is it nervous anticipation, what's your read?

JOE MADDON: It's all of that. There's angst, there's all that kind of good stuff. It's just a fan base that's been waiting for a while. We're definitely on the verge of doing something wonderful, and they're absolutely engaged and involved. At the end of the day, again, it goes back to my advice, is like with everybody else, let's just do this one thing at a time, let's try to score first, let's try to win some innings and just play our game. That's the best, that's all we can do. That's what we can control.

And so I know that some of the folks like my babble, some don't, and that's okay. But it's a really passionate fan base, obviously, and it's generational. And it's wonderful. So, my interaction with the fans has been great on the streets or wherever, in a restaurant last night. Went out to dinner last night, and they couldn't be more kind. So, it is. That's what it is. And you accept it and you nurture it and you understand it. But at the end of the day, our boys have got to go out there and play the game like we can tonight, and I want that with a free mind and moment by moment.

Q. Just to clarify with Schwarber, is there a chance that if you get to the World Series that he would be available?

JOE MADDON: There's a chance.

Q. Likelihood or --

JOE MADDON: Chance. I mean, I don't know, he's going to play tonight, so, again, that's like everything else, you evaluate -- he's taking batting practice well, he's hit assimilated against an actual pitcher well. He's hit the ball well. The movement kind of stuff, running and change of direction has all gone well, his arm's fine. Again, I don't know to what extent we would be able to use him or not, but right now we're just trying to explore all the possibilities.

Q. I know this isn't first time you had to deal with this with Heyward in the postseason, but how tough is it for you, especially in a game where you guys can clinch the pennant, to sit a guy who has a contract like his and has been a part of your team like he has been, and how did he handle the news?

JOE MADDON: It's never easy. And, again, just like last time, I texted him in advance, which we normally do. So I'm certain that he's not very happy with the whole thing. I wouldn't be if I was him either. But moving forward, this guy is so impressively good against left-handers. And if we didn't have the options that we do, I couldn't do it. But under the circumstances that we can, I think Albert gives us another opportunity there offensively while not hurting ourselves on defense.

So, at the end of the day, man, you just got to make some tough calls, some tough decisions. And, listen, he's been a huge part of our success this year. But for right now, this little micro moment, I thought it was better to go with Albert tonight.

Q. With no Heyward and Almora and Contreras catching, can you just comment on how young of a team it is you're playing in this game? And along those lines, did you give any thought to Ross catching and Contreras in the outfield to have some more experience?

JOE MADDON: Yes in all that stuff. First of all, the youth, you look from Baez to Contreras Russell to Almora. I mean, that could be somebody's Triple-A team there just based on experience and age. I'm very proud of the fact that they're as good as they are. That's a testament to scouting and development as well as the person, the motor, the heart, the mind of all these kids. You see what Javy has done so far, you saw Contreras's at-bats the other day, you saw Addison responded after having a first tough couple games. That's the person, that has nothing to do with numbers whatsoever. So, again, I mean, you just can't throw those names out there lightly. You have to have a lot of confidence and faith in the group, and we do. So, they're out there, and they're playing. And I feel actually really good about it.

The other part of the question? David, yeah, I'm sorry. Yeah, I think that Willie has been really good with Kyle this year. And thing about Willson, you have to understand, and, again, you're not able to -- privy to see it, he's really good at game calling and managing our game plan. He's outstanding. So, if I thought there was a real big separation between David and him regarding doing something with that, I might have done something differently, but I have all the faith in the world that Willson can deal with all that, plus his ability to control a running game and situations. It's just -- it's comforting to have him back there blocking the ball, the arm, everything. So, again, knowing the person, you believe he can handle the moment, so you give it to him. And that's what we're doing.

Q. Getting back to your earlier question about the Cubs front office. What do you recall from your interview with Theo and Jed in Arizona this 2003 when you interviewed with the Red Sox? What kind of impression did they leave on you, and do they seem like pretty much the same couple guys?

JOE MADDON: They're definitely the same couple guys. Obviously I got to know them better. That was just like a real one moment at the Phoenician -- or not the Phoenician -- Biltmore, yeah, thank you. Yeah, and what I remembered was the organization of the meeting, the well-thought-out component of the meeting. For example, they gave me maybe a list of 10 different items, and I had to list them in order of importance. For example, creating your lineup, handling your bullpen, talking to the press, empowering your coaching staff. I think those were four of the examples. I mean, it was like five or six. And then you have to list them in the order which you think is the most important thing to do on a daily basis. I thought that was interesting. So, that was part of it.

And then just handling difficult moments. Certain player becomes difficult and he's a star or got a great status, how do you deal with that? So you have to run by that potential scenario also. Another good question. So I just I remember that. That was -- I had done an interview with the Angels with Stoney prior to that when Sciosch got the job. I think the next significant one was that one. And I was really impressed with the questions and them. Josh Byrnes was also in the room, too, if I remember correctly. So it was a great opportunity for me. It was -- at the time I said they made the right decision. I thought Tito was more prepared for that moment than I was at that time, and I'll stand by that. I got the right job at the right time with Tampa Bay. Tito's the right guy back then. But the experience for me was fantastic moving forward. Same guys, but now I'm finding out that they're even funnier than I knew.