Oct. 5 Buck Showalter pregame interview
Q. How tough were the rosters to make today?
BUCK SHOWALTER: They're all tough. You know, we hope that I think everybody knows that that can change very quickly. I hope we have the opportunity to look at it on the plane going back tonight. But you'd like to be able to see somebody else's roster before, but that's not going to happen. But it doesn't really there was only like, I think, one, maybe two discussions. But a lot of it had to do with how things went in Tampa. We had it wired, and there weren't really we had a meeting the last day in Tampa, that morning, and nothing really changed from the input that Dan and I got from the coaches and scouts and things. We feel good about the way the chance we're going to get with the roster we have.
Q. This is the first ever wild card playoff game. Was there any precedence, or was it difficult to prepare because there's never been any precedent for a game like this?
BUCK SHOWALTER: Well, just from a roster standpoint, there's not some handbook that you go through and say, this is what it wasn't like running the expansion draft and looking over what Colorado and Florida did. But I think everyone was in agreement. It's not really as deep as maybe we made it, but you still look at it as one game. It's not our approach is it's sudden life, not sudden death, and there's something good, real good, that can happen. If you had told us at the end of the season last year that we'd have a chance to put a roster together for one game, we'd have signed up for that in blood. I'm sure Texas feels the same way. You ground that kick for seven, eight months for a chance to roll the dice in October, and that's what we're doing tonight.
Q. We tried to handicap everyone's roster two or three days ago. Can you talk about why you chose (inaudible)?
BUCK SHOWALTER: Well, Tolleson was very much in the mix, too. That was right towards the end, too, a couple potential pitching things. But when we made the evaluation where the inning total is and the health risk with Chen and González and Tillman, that was a very short conversation. They're a precious commodity that we're going to continue to protect and hopefully have available for us if we are fortunate enough to win tonight. But there's some versatility tonight where Q is concern, trust factor with experience, and some things that we think those guys bring. And Xavier is a weapon underway, and we think we have some guys that aren't far behind that. But you look at our lineup and things that we I think more won't do as opposed to what we would do or could do, it wasn't there was some talk about taking X. That's why he was here and didn't go directly to Sarasota. We were going to let it play out. Same way with Tolly. Tolly has been good for us in certain situations, and Q gives us some versatility at second base, especially if we do some things with Ryan and Robert, Q covers us there. You've always got to ask yourself, if J.J. breaks his wrist the first pitch he sees, what are you going to do. Q is probably one of our better backup shortstops. I'm sure people here in Texas know him. He's a threat at the plate, too. Very smart guy, gives us a good option.
BUCK SHOWALTER: It's just normal. There's not really a normal lineup. Our guys have become I think they know how much confidence I have in them, and they understand. No, I think you would have seen this lineup regardless of which right handed pitcher was pitching tonight. He's pitched well for us and presents the most challenges to not only the starting pitcher but the options that Ron has behind him there in the bullpen that we think we can do some things with. But the whole game starts with our ability to you've got to present when you see pitchers like Darvish or the really upper echelon guys, a lot of times you can put a lineup together against certain pitchers to make sure that you're okay when the bullpen starts, but with the upper echelon pitchers, you've got to present a lineup that gives you the best chance to get them out of the game because nothing can start until they do. And that's going to be a challenge for us.
Q. Was there a point during any of the incredible things your team has done in extra innings where you felt like the players started to believe that this could happen?
BUCK SHOWALTER: It's kind of a quiet confidence. It's not something that you talk about. I think they have such respect for how hard this is to do and what they were doing. This is a team, more than anything, that never takes anything for granted. They turn the page as good as any team I've ever had. They stay in the moment. They grind the heck out of nine innings and see where it takes them. They look back at it after those three hours or whatever, and then they move on to the next day. You've got to have that ability to not dwell on the positives as well as the negatives. There's so much of that during the course of the season. Our guys will tell you, there's many times that they have to bring some of that stuff to their attention. They don't dwell on it. But this is an engaging group. They engage in the competition, and that's why they've given themselves to have success. It's pretty well when your bullpen pitches well, your chances in those games are a lot better. But we're going deeper into games with our starting pitching, which allows you to put your bullpen in positions where they face the people they should face. We had last year Clay Rapada pitching in the fourth inning to three right handed hitters because that's what we have. This year having a conversation like I do every night, this guy gets hit in the kneecap with a line drive, who's pitching. We had a lot more options available to us, in terms of baseball, with call ups, we had enough to sign an arm every night, and the middle relief allowed us to stay in the game. We could talk about September call up baseball. Hopefully they're going to make some adjustments in that.
Q. How much does the playoff experience factor into your bullpen?
BUCK SHOWALTER: We'll see. It's human beings, and there's a different feel in the air because of the finality. Regardless of what happens tonight, our experience that our players, young players and older, and for the organization, for the players, you can't measure that. I mean, I know this group. They're going to let it rip. They're not going to be timid about anything. This is they trust each other. They've stayed together through thick and thin, Spring Training, very quiet confident group that had a lot higher opinion of their teammates than maybe some other people did. You see guys injured that want to be here, want to be a part of it, want to contribute. We've got two or three statements out of people that aren't playing tonight in advance meetings just trying to be helpful. It's a lot of fun to watch because that's the way it's supposed to be. The only way you gain experience is experience. I'm excited for them because they're getting back what they put into it, and they put a lot into it.
Q. When some of these relievers kind of morphed into their role, did you foresee a situation like that where those guys could be used as kind of an atmosphere like this, a Game 7 kind of atmosphere?
BUCK SHOWALTER: Could I have envisioned it? No. You see what they have in store for you every night. This club continues to be a little different from what the norm might be. You know and a lot of you guys have been around the game for a long time, that's what used to be done. Guys got their innings in the Minor Leagues and started when they came up here as a reliever and morphed into a starter. Did anyone think that Brian Matusz' starting days are over? We'll go to camp next year and see what the needs of our club are and how Brian is doing. But it does behoove you to have people that crunch the numbers and see how well Brian has done in regards to thick and thin against left handed hitters and how they all get ready quickly. There's some things you have to ask yourself. We learned a lesson with Chen in the double header. You won't see him pitch the second game of a double header again. When he's rushed, not good, and that was my mistake. But every pitcher is different. Miguel would take longer, Chen, you could not put him in that atmosphere where you had to get up and hurry and rush to get into the ballgame. Tillman would be the same way. But Jake, you ask your pitching coach, he gets ready quickly. Steve Johnson gets ready quickly. Zach Britton, 10 pitches, Tommy Hunter will throw three and try to tell you he's ready. Someone asked me in the local media about are we going to have somebody ready, throwing when Joe came out of the bullpen. Orel was in a little later. I said, Orel, how would you have felt if you heard a mitt popping as the door closed behind you? He said, well, it depends on who it is. Early when I first got to Baltimore, you try not to make a call to the bullpen while a guy is in mid pitch or getting ready to pitch because we didn't have as many fans as we have now and you could hear the phone ring all over the stadium. It's not a good feeling for a pitcher to be in mid stroke. One thing I did do is I turned the ringer down on that thing until we started getting more people. Nothing worse than throwing and hearing the phones ring all over the place, even when a guy is going out and pitching six innings as a starter, always wait until he leaves the dugout before I make the phone call, but I know they are looking in, why's he throwing a pitch when he's already got somebody going. You've got to play those kind of games sometimes unfortunately.
Q. You've been around and had an awful lot of teams in your managing career. I know you don't like to compare teams, but you seem to have a special kind of affection for this group and where they've come from. Is that fair to say, it's a special kind of team?
BUCK SHOWALTER: Well, I think this is a team that has a lot in common. They just have a lot in common. They've had their nose bloodied together and they've gotten off the deck and said they aren't going to take it anymore as a group. I would love to think that anybody as a coaching staff or anybody would love to think they have something in common with these guys because it's fun to watch them. It's entertaining in a good way. And none of them have put themselves in that diva status. They just want to compete. They want to engage. They enjoy the competition together and feeding off the good and the bad. Sometimes how you handle adversity is more important than how you handle success, but I've been real proud of how they've handled success, too, and the stuff that's come their way. They see how things have changed and the attention, more people in clubhouse and different things going on. They've handled that well, too. That bodes well for us in the future.
Q. Do you feel kind of bad for them, especially for Brian?
BUCK SHOWALTER: Well, Brian has been detached because he has to be. He has to be in Colorado rehabbing, and we've gotten some real good feedback on that for next year, but yes, I do, because they would have been a part of this. I know how much it means to both of them. My heart really tugs at me every time I see them in the clubhouse. And Nick, no guy can drink more milk than Nick Markakis has trying to heal a bone overnight. He's got it all going on. I'll tell you, it's been a rallying cry in our clubhouse. We've done the math on Nick. If we could somehow get through this and get later into October, Nick has got a chance to play. I can't tell you how special that would be to everybody.
Q. You mentioned wanting to get Darvish off the mound
BUCK SHOWALTER: That's a lot to ask. We're going to try. That's the thing, everybody talks about we haven't seen him, but at the same time, he hasn't seen us. It works on both sides. You know, you do your homework and you present every player is different. You don't Mark Reynolds' approach, you let the players, they know themselves. They're the ones in the batters box. So easy to sit here and put everything in a box about what a guy needs to do, and this guy, will he be ready to pull this pitch and this pitch sequence he's going to do this. You've got to feed off the game. Just because a guy has thrown X amount of cutters or whatever the last game, doesn't mean you've got to be able to adjust on the fly, and that's what people miss a lot about games. You've got to be able to adjust to what's going on because not everybody is a robot out there.