Oct. 5 Mike Matheny pregame interview
Q. Mike, Chipper Jones was talking about how bad the shadows will be at 5:00 o'clock, and a race to score first. In the past you had guys hold up in the shadows when you had a problem at Busch. What kind of problem does that create when there are shadows there. How tough is that to see? Does that change the way you go about the game at all today?
MIKE MATHENY: Well, if it's a problem, it's an equal problem. So everybody is going to have to deal with it, and guys have done it all season. It's part of the game. It does make it more difficult, but one team doesn't have an advantage over another. So changing your game philosophy doesn't make sense.
Q. A couple hours here before your first game as a manager. How are you the same or different when you approached the playoff games as a player?
MIKE MATHENY: I think the message that we've had, and you've heard me say this all season long, there are so many different things that I believe are an advantage or disadvantage by how you approach it mentally the mentality we have in this clubhouse is that we're going out to play a good baseball game and try to stay consistent. Now is it a different situation? We all know that it is.
But as far as the preparation goes, it's another game, another opportunity to play the kind of baseball that we know how, and to perform. So it's going to stay the approach as of right now, and I think guys have bought into it. They're loose. It's like another game, and that's how we want them.
Q. This team hasn't seen you in person since late May. For you, how would you characterize the differences in your team compared to then?
MIKE MATHENY: Well, we talked about this yesterday. The first time we matched up with them, we were struggling a little bit and they were red hot, taking some very good at-bats. I think we saw them at one of the better stretches that they had. So that's something we stick in our mind and a motivator that we've got to be sharp.
How they perceive us is how they perceive us. But I know that we have a lot of respect for the way these guys play the game and the way they've gone about it, and what they've done this season. But when it comes down to a game like this, all the chips are out. Let's just play it. It doesn't matter what happened in the past, doesn't matter how long it's been. We all do our work, prepare, and throw it out there.
Q. I believe the phrase you used the other day was this is the player that you think he is with could see ma. I wonder if you could describe how a guy who was thought of as a utility guy in Triple-A or at least being conditioned that way, has shown you that he can be a starting shortstop at this level in this kind of situation and how it goes beyond just a guy having a hot streak and what you see in the numbers?
MIKE MATHENY: You see his hands, his movements at shortstop. He's been very consistent for us he was thrown into a tough spot straight into a starting opportunity role right when the team's in the position, not kind of eased in. We needed somebody to come in and catch the ball, and little did we know we were going to get the offensive production that we got from him.
But you don't do that for a team in the middle of the chase like this. If you don't have that in you. So the skill set is there. There's no question. You always wonder how a kid's going to perform when you put him on a big stage. And we put him on as big a stage as there was in the game at the time, and he rose to the challenge.
I don't know to be honest with you, what we would have done. We would have kept musical chairing it for a while with a couple of other players until we found somebody to take control. But, fortunately, Pete Kozma stepped up, took charge of the position. He's continuing to do well, and we're excited to have him out there. To me, this is the player that I think he is, because he hasn't shown me anything different since we've had him.
Q. How do you balance your faith in Kyle with a do or die atmosphere?
MIKE MATHENY: Well, faith in him, first of all puts him out there first day. So he knows that. That's a huge compliment to him that we didn't have any question who we wanted out there today. All things considered, with rest, and how he finished up the season and the kind of year that he had, so that all in itself shows the faith we have in him.
These guys are all baseball people. They understand. Most of them have been here before to realize that it's all on the line right now. We have to make good baseball decisions. Their job is to go out and execute at the highest level and bring everything they have.
So it will be a balancing act as we go, but there is not a preconceived idea that X, Y or Z who calls us to do something else. We'll just do what we've done all season, with a higher level of urgency. Pay close attention, and make adjustments as we need to.
Q. For the last two months you've been deliberate with how you've used thought and Motte. With the urgency of a one game like this, if there is a game-changing situation earlier, are you more likely to go away from that formula?
MIKE MATHENY: Once again, it's going to come down to in game and what it looks like the match-ups are. You don't take anything off the table in a situation like this. Whatever it is, it's going to give us an opportunity, and it could be one of those guys going more innings than what they've done in the past. We're not ruling that out. We've got to take our best shot.
The best shot is the best guy at that particular time with all the variables in place, and thought about. We've gone through and put some potential situations out there we feel we're pretty covered. But we do like what the back end of our pen has done. You can't ignore the success they've had as we've kept them consistently in those roles.
So it will be a balance there as well. But once again, it's a different animal we're dealing with today.