Oct. 28 Terry Collins pregame interview
Q. Emotional game last night, a draining game; draining to watch, draining to cover. I can imagine only to manage and play in it. How do you bounce back 19 hours later, physically, emotionally, the whole package?
TERRY COLLINS: Well, it wasn't the World Series and it wasn't the playoffs, but we went through a lot of those this year, grueling losses. Of course, the one in everybody's mind is the one against San Diego, when we were trying to win the Division, and crushing loss for us. And you've got to bounce back. That's Big League baseball.
I heard the guys last night when they came in after the game, they said, We've been here before this year. We got to pick it up and get after them tomorrow.
As I said after the game last night, Tonight if it's 4-3 in the bottom of the ninth inning, Jeurys Familia will be standing on that mound. That's just what you've got to do. And you've got to realize it's all part of the game.
And we talked about the Royals' ability to come back. They do it all the time. So tonight we've got to get after it again.
Q. I'm sure you'd love DeGrom to go the whole way or win 15-0. Would it be a nice situation to get Familia right back out there?
TERRY COLLINS: No question about it. Matter of fact, these are the times you've got to do it. Not just for tonight, just for the whole future. You've got to get him back out there. It's a tough spot, but he needs to be back out there. Yeah, perfect scenario is to look up and have Jake hand the ball to Familia and let him start the ninth inning and go at them again.
Q. What's Colon and Niese's availability tonight?
TERRY COLLINS: Colon won't be available. One of the reasons why we took Jon out when we did is we thought we might need him tonight, so we wanted to limit him a little bit. So he's probably still available. But Bartolo will not be.
Q. With the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, that's all it is, did you guys after the game last night think about talking with Familia about the quick pitch? Because his stuff has been so phenomenal, in the second half of the year he's been so good. And the question is: How important is it for him to have that?
TERRY COLLINS: Well, once again, he's been really effective with it. Try to throw a split off it last night, you know, again, by the rushing he didn't stay on top and left it up. The one thing you want to try to do though is not, when you quick pitch, not just use one pitch. He just left it up.
As we know in sports, again, the game is played by great, great talented players who once in a while make mistakes. He made a mistake, he just didn't get the ball where he wanted it to. He paid the price for it. And that's what happens when you play good teams.
I try not to say, Don't use that anymore, because it's been an effective move for him. So we've got to realize when you do it, if you're going to miss, you've got to miss in the dirt, not in the middle of the strike zone.
Q. Juan was just in here. Can you tell me how he handled the fluctuation in his playing time midseason to here and how valuable he's been to you since then coming off the bench and spot starting?
TERRY COLLINS: Obviously those guys signed a nice big contract in Spring Training as our guy. Coming off the Gold Glove year. There were times early in the year where he played, there were times where he struggled, especially against right-handed pitching. And when we got Yoenis, he was so hot, somebody had to sit. That's why I said, for this whole time, to watch these guys who had been everyday players, even Michael Cuddyer was one of them, who all of a sudden became platoon players, they said, Hey, look, I'll do the best I can when I'm in there.
And anytime I talked to him about it he said, I'll be ready, I'll be ready tonight when you need me. And he always has been.
When you look back at the last two or three games that he's played, he's had as good at-bats as anybody in the lineup. So I've got him in there. Johnny, tough on everybody, but the numbers right-handed hitters have against him are a lot better than lefties. This is a perfect opportunity to see if Juan can stay hot, because we need him.
Q. Harvey threw a lot fewer fastballs than usual. Was that about he felt about his stuff or the respect you have for the Royals, the way they hit the fastball?
TERRY COLLINS: I think it was a little bit of a quality of both. I think Matt knew early he wasn't real sharp. We also know they hunt the heater early in the counts. He wasn't making pitches with his fastball, so I think he went with his secondary stuff. I think that's why late in the game you saw him fatigued because he had to work so hard.
Originally it was not, Hey, look, let's just make some pitches. The first pitch of the game, the game plan was to come in here, and he left it out over the plate. That was an immediate example of, wow, we've got to make pitches against these guys.
Q. You and Ned both got your jobs through the more traditional routes; managing the Minors, coaching the Big Leagues. You see guys now get their jobs in unconventional ways. How much better a manager do you think you are because of the path you took?
TERRY COLLINS: I don't know if I'm better than those guys that are getting them right away. Mike Matheny has done pretty good. And a few of those other guys have, too.
As we've all talked, the game of baseball is different today. And that's just the way it is. Guys are going into the front office. They are assistants to general managers, where the conversations are about the team every day, and general managers are hearing these guys are sharp. They have a great feel for perhaps talent or perhaps how the game should be run, so they're getting jobs. Where years ago you had to go through the Minor Leagues.
I was a Minor League director. And I tried to run it the way I was brought up, and that was let the guys manage in the Minor Leagues, and that's not really done today. Lineups are being written for them. This guy has to pitch today at this amount and you can't pinch-hit. These guys got to hit the whole game. They don't manage anymore. They're kind of dictated what goes on.
Again, I think it's all part of the new era of the game of baseball, professional baseball. And again, I don't look at it and say, Wow, they should have done this. I wish they would have, because they'll appreciate managing here a lot more. They've forgotten a lot of times when you are a Big League player for as long as some of these guys are, you forget about that bus ride from Williamsport to Three Rivers, Quebec (laughter).
Q. You talked about the resilience of this team briefly. What is it about the fabric of these guys that allows them to do so?
TERRY COLLINS: Well, again, I always go back to the leadership in the clubhouse. That means so much when you have a young team. And these guys, they've been here, they've been in Postseason, they've been through tough times. They know what it takes. They know not to get too high when things are going good. And last night when the game was over not be dragging in when they're coming in, pouting, throwing their equipment in the clubhouse.
It was one game. We have six more to play. We had a chance to win the game, we didn't win it. Well, let's get another chance tomorrow night. Let's put ourselves in the same situation. And I think that leadership spreads.
Q. Was Wright running on his own in the ninth inning with Murphy up, after that he seemed to have a tough extra innings, with a strikeout, a coupe of fielding plays, what went into all that?
TERRY COLLINS: Well, once again, we're handing out scouting reports, I don't like to do that. He's got to pitch tonight, same guy, might come out tonight.
He ran out of pitches. The guy was 1-7 at the home plate. If you're 1-5 or above 1-5, you should be able to steal second. We knew that going in, we gave him the green light. We thought he was safe, and obviously he wasn't.
I know Dan is swinging good. But they have a decision to make, do they want to face him or Cespedes? In that situation we kind of liked the chance of seeing if we can get a guy in scoring position to add on a run, and they just threw him out.
Q. Do you ever get superstitious, either now in these games or during the season, as far as what uniform you wear or what style of uniform the team wears?
TERRY COLLINS: As Katy can tell you better than me, this is all dictated by them right now. Tonight we'll have a different uniform on, when the game is over, they will take, stamp it and we'll wear a different uniform tomorrow. So it's pretty hard to be superstition. There were times when you didn't wash your stuff. Now it's on eBay the next day (laughter). It's a little different. Those superstitions are kind of gone.
I wear the same stuff every day. Now I can't do that anymore, it's all gone.
Q. You mentioned how the quick pitch has been helpful for Familia. There's been a few times where teams have disagreed about its use and tempers flared. Has the acceptance of that technique changed at all, what are your thoughts?
TERRY COLLINS: When you're looking at how Johnny Cueto does it and how Jeurys Familia does it. It's a little different than how Hansel Robles did it or a couple other guys.
It's all about making sure the hitter is aware the pitch may be coming. Now, you can disrupt that timing in the batter's box. Anybody who has a lot of movement or big leg kick, a quick pitch can affect them. As long as they're paying attention. It's when they're not paying attention where it becomes an issue.
Again, it's all part of the game now. The hard part is calling it consistently. Instead of throwing your hands up and calling the pitch a ball, hey, if he's in the batter's box and has his head towards the pitcher, it's legal, it should be okay to do it.
But once in a while there's that fine line you walk, and you have one umpire, as we all know, says, I don't like that, so I'm going to call it. And then another umpire said, It's okay. But, again, it's part of the game, it's a useful part, because it does disrupt the hitter's timing.
Q. Regardless of what happens tonight Noah is going to be pitching a huge game when you guys get back home. He's 23 years old, he's been in the Big Leagues five months. What are the things about him that have been the key to his maturity as a pitcher? We've seen the growth as a pitcher. What is it about him besides the 100-mile-per-hour fastball that makes you confident in pitching that game?
TERRY COLLINS: First of all, he's a very fast learner. I've told you guys all season long, the most impressive thing I saw from Noah Syndergaard when he first got called to the Major Leagues, and we've got DeGrom, we've got Harvey, very similar guys, he stood next to our pitching coach night after night, saying, Matt threw his slider in that count, is that be a good pitch for me to throw or should I do this or that? Trying to learn how he's going to be successful.
Because of that he's trying to study the game and learn how he can be better, he has no fear. He believes he belongs here. And that speaks volumes. When you've got that kind of stuff and you're not afraid to throw it and you're not afraid to give up a hit because you think you can get the next guy out, you can get dangerous. Noah just got better and better and better as the season went along with the confidence he had that he could be successful here. It all comes with his desire to get better.
Q. Wilmer Flores has his very special style of fielding ground balls, especially with the short bounce, he just throws his glove at it, I don't know if it's to get an extra step on the runner. What do you think of the style of play of Wilmer and who does he remind you of?
TERRY COLLINS: Well, everybody is different. As long as they catch it. You go back years ago, I got to see who I thought were two of the best shortstops in the game, Tony Fernandez, who I thought was fabulous, was a one-handed guy, and then you had Ozzie, who at times was one-handed and at times was the conventional two hands.
As long as they catch it, I don't care. I don't think you can change guys. Wilmer is a big, tall, lanky guy, who likes to use one hand. But again, I think he's learning some confidence to play shortstop.
Because he's so big you can compare him to just a few guys who have played that position in the past. I try not to make comparisons to anybody. Then somebody says, Geez, that other guy would have made this play or that play. Wilmer is his own guy. We know when he's swinging the bat he's dangerous, no matter where he plays.
Q. A lot of fans online seem to think you should be greatly aggrieved at the still pictures of Sal Perez using what looked like pine tar on his shin guards. Assuming you're not greatly aggrieved, why not, and does your guy do it too?
TERRY COLLINS: I don't know if Travis does it, he probably does. But I've seen throughout baseball, everywhere, you have it. And again, catchers, they've got to get a grip, too, especially on cold and damp nights. They need a grip on the baseball, so they use pine tar for themselves.
You know what, it's so obvious, the umpires see it, too. And if it's that obvious they would do something about it. But because it's only really concerned with the pitchers, and I don't think there's really enough to put on there that you can wipe it on and throw the ball back to the pitcher to where it's going to affect how the pitcher throws the baseball.
I go back to my days in Albuquerque when it was cold and dry, and I had pitchers, you couldn't shake their hand because you couldn't get your hand away from them. The argument was, you can either do this or you can let this wild sucker throw some balls at 95 miles an hour with no command. I think any hitter would say, Let him have a little command on it, it's okay.
Q. That's very tough to follow, but I'll ask you about Lagares, how much of getting him in the lineup tonight is based on defense, windy, big park, and everyone has an opinion on last night's first play, difficult play, but how much did you see last night and say, I've got to get my Gold Glover out there?
TERRY COLLINS: This has nothing to do with the first play last night. Both guys I thought had a shot to catch it. Michael, he was there, he thought he heard Yo call for it, so he backed off. The ball could have been caught. The same thing could happen if Juan Lagares was out there, same exact play.
I thought tonight we were looking at the matchups with Johnny Cueto, that's my first and foremost thing. Right-handers hit this guy better. And secondly, you look at if you're going to put him in the game, so you can DH Conforto, and then the ballpark comes into play, and the wind tonight comes into big play. We knew it was going to be windy. We just said, Look, we'll put him out there and we can always -- if the situation comes where he's got to face Wade Davis, he may have to hit. We'll worry about that towards the end of the game.
Last night was a perfect example, we got the lead and we got the defense in there. It didn't make any difference. It's easy to say the next day, If he'd have been out there he would have caught that ball. You can't say that. He might have shaded him farther over than Yo did and wouldn't have got there at all.
So I just said, right now tonight, I go by the fact that right now Juan is swinging the bat pretty good, so hopefully he can get some hits.