Oct. 3 Don Mattingly Pregame Interview
Q. How many left handed relievers are you carrying? Do you think maybe the absence of Paco [Rodriguez] might hurt a little bit?
DON MATTINGLY: Well, when you do the roster, you go over so many different scenarios. The combination of guys, you really don't have a crystal ball, so you don't know if you need two or three. If you take three, then it limits you in other areas. Our biggest fight was do we take the extra play or the extra pitcher. And so we never know what's going to happen or what's going to be needed, but we just felt like this roster is our best chance.
Q. Getting the 8th inning covered at times was an issue for you guys. How much do you envision Kenley [Jansen] being part of that, maybe being asked to get more than three outs?
DON MATTINGLY: We'll definitely go four outs with Kenley. I think we did it three or four times this year and he was pretty good at it. The one outing I think he had trouble. But for the most part any time he's really rested, and it was a game we felt we needed, we would do that. We wouldn't do it early in the year, but as the year went on we got to certain points and this is definitely that time of the year that we would ask him for four outs.
DON MATTINGLY: It would be tougher to go farther than that, but you know what? You're going to do what you have to do to win games at this point. These guys didn't come here this far and go, Oh, I'm tired, I really don't want to get five outs, Donnie. They're going to go, I want to win. So that's what we're going to try to do.
Q. With Frias, what kind of role do you see for him? Is he more setup guy or more like long man holding back one of the starters?
DON MATTINGLY: We see a number of possibilities for Carlos. If a game would go somewhere early we can go to him. We felt like if it got really long we could go to him. His kind of stuff matches up with a lot of different guys. So trying to be a bridge to get to the back end, I think that's one of the beauties of Carlos was we felt like we could use him in a lot of different areas and he really helped our pen.
Q. What do you remember of Game 5 last year, the game Greinke threw to get you guys back to St. Louis in the NLCS? And how important is he in the whole scope of things behind Kershaw doing what he does?
DON MATTINGLY: Well, Zack's obviously that one two punch we have. We consider ourselves having two number ones when you have Zack. So he's really important. Hyun Jin is going to be important. All of our guys, every game is just so separate, right? You're just looking to win that game that day. You're not looking to the next game, you're not trying to save anything, or hold anything back. I think that's the one thing about post season, it's just every game you're trying to win that game. Then you go to the next one and you do what you have to do to win that one.
Q. Do you remember much about that Game 5?
DON MATTINGLY: Is that the one I think now with the new seven point whatever rule that is, I think that would have been a block, he would have been safe and we would have been going to Game 5. Was that the game? That's the game with the sac fly, right?
Q. To pick up on that point, younger guys like a Dee Gordon first time in the post season and such a big role, how have you had discussions with him about how to continue what he's done in the post season and not try to put too much pressure on himself?
DON MATTINGLY: Yeah, Dee was part of it last year. He wasn't in the same role, but I think with all our guys I think this time of year it's just an exciting time of year. I think our main message was: Be yourself. We want our guys to do what they do. Each guy, Dee has to be Dee. Gonzo [Adrian Gonzalez] needs to be Gonzo. We need our guys to stay within their own, who they are as a player. So that's the toughest thing I think post season; you get excited, there's a lot of people here and you want to be that guy. I think the biggest thing is to slow it down a little bit, be yourself and that's what we have asked Dee to do, is just be Dee Gordon.
Q. Sort of a two part question on Yasiel Puig. One, from July on this year clearly he wasn't the run producer that he once was. Second part, in the playoffs last year, St. Louis had his number and obviously his first post season he had some learning to do. Kind of putting those two things together, where is Yasiel Puig right now in your estimation and what do you look for from him?
DON MATTINGLY: I think he's good right now. He had a good finish. He did struggle, it seemed like after the All Star break and actually really before the All Star break he was struggling pretty good, didn't get noticed until later. It became a two and a half month thing. I think what we were trying to do late, getting into our last probably few weeks, we tried to give him some days off, we tried to back him out of the lineup, get him down in the six hole. I think we may hit him seven one day just to kind of take some pressure off of him. But then when we went into San Francisco, we just said, Hey, we're going and we put him back where we thought he was going to be if we were going to win and we were going to be the best team we could be, we wanted Yasiel in the middle of that. We threw him back in the two hole, flipped Hanley back to the five where we wanted him, and from there Yasiel's been really pretty good. He's kind of stepped up. I hope that last year was good for him. We have seen times this year he's thrown the ball the right place, did the right thing, and then we still see times where he gets excited and wants to make a play. So, we just keep talking about, there's a time to take chances, there's a time you don't. Within the game, the game tells you when to do it. So, it's part of the process with Frias, and really all our guys, when do we take those chances, when do you try to make a play, whether do you play a little more conservatively. So the scoreboard is going to tell us what to do, hopefully we have been able to get the message to Yasiel.
Q. What was the final determining factor in keeping 11 versus 12 pitchers? And who is going to come with you that isn't on the 25?
DON MATTINGLY: Well, the two parts to that, I think the biggest determination for us, we're a little bit differently at the end of the game than we were last year. Last year if we got to the 8th, it was one guy we knew we were going, we knew the 9th, and pretty much knew the 7th. So we were pretty settled at the end of the game. Now, we're matching up, we're multiple guys at the end of the game, so we're just using more pitchers to get where we need to go. I think that that was our biggest, again, back to our biggest issue was do you take extra player, do you take the extra pitcher. That's really what determined why we went with the extra pitcher. The guys that will stay with us, Darwin Barney will stay with us, Paco stays with us, Joc Pederson stays with us, Tim Federowicz stays with us, Roberto Hernandez stays with us.
Q. As far as Paco goes and Scott Elbert, what made the deciding factor as far as choosing Elbert over Paco?
DON MATTINGLY: The biggest thing with that at the end was Paco coming over the injury, we were a little uncomfortable with him finishing an inning and warming back up. So it kind of cut him into being just the one guy, the one little, one come in one sequence and he's done. Scotty, we felt more flexibility and felt like he was going to bounce back a little easier than Paco. Really taking the extra lefty for us was, we didn't have one all year long, so just a little luxury with this team over there. They got a lot of lefties, but they also got a lot of lefties that hit lefties. So, those were some of the factors.
Q. You talk about getting those outs from the setup guys, do you view Baez, Howell, Wilson, League as equals and you just go with the matchup or is there a hierarchy in that group?
DON MATTINGLY: Well, I think there's certain guys we're a little more comfortable with in certain situations. But for me to sit here right now and say these are the guys we'll use at the end of the game, I think we have we're not going to do a whole lot different than we have been doing all year. So, the one thing I don't think we're going to do in the playoffs is just come in here and all of a sudden try to change everything that we have done to this point and this is our team and these are the guys we have been able to have success with, pretty much stay within that box. Carlos [Frias] and Pedro [Baez] have changed that a little bit because they have been late additions, but they have been guys that had some success. Pedro has had probably more, but Carlos has given us some things stuff wise that we like.
Q. St. Louis pitchers have been pitching very tight to you guys. Are you ready for it or are you talking to the players about it?
DON MATTINGLY: We're coming to play. There's been some, there's been three or four days of that talk of last year and everything else. I don't think it's something you think as a hitter. I don't ever remember walking up there worrying about if a guy was going to hit me or not. That's probably not the way to go. We have never, since I've been here I know we have never thrown at anybody intentionally from the standpoint of we're going to try to hit somebody to hurt them or to get them out of the game. We have always protected our own guys, but so we don't worry about that kind of thing, we are here to play. Hopefully we play as the best baseball we can play. And our guys play up to their potential. If we can do that, I'll be really comfortable. We don't come in if they're going to throw at us or pitch tight. We're going to pitch inside, they're going to try to pitch inside. I don't think anybody's, I don't think St. Louis is walking in here intending to hit anybody just to intimidate or to hurt somebody.