Oct. 6 Clint Hurdle pregame interview
Q. Hey, Clint, you're lineup has been pretty consistent over the past last couple of weeks with the exception of your shortstop. How do you anticipate playing that position out moving forward? Is it going to be a match up thing or a feel thing for you?
CLINT HURDLE: It's been match ups, based on a lot of different criteria. We'll factor in offensive analysis, hard numbers, projectile numbers, defensive metrics, pitcher on the mound. There's no secret sauce, but we're going to keep an eye be mindful of a few things. That's directing our choice of shortstop.
Q. We've talked about it throughout the year playing guys in platoon situations. Justin Morneau came up in, I think, the fifth or sixth inning in Game 2 with guys on base. You have Gabby on the bench. What is your general philosophy, was that too early in the game to go righty, lefty and bring Gabby in for Justin? And how do you plan on looking at that throughout the series?
CLINT HURDLE: I think what we'll try at least what I'm looking to do is keep get Gabby in play when there's an opportunity to tie a game or get ahead of the game.
If we have a cushion and get on top, I'm pretty mindful of keeping Morneau in play. Morneau has had some at bats. The Texas Ranger series jumps out, some at bats against some firm left handed pitching with spin. Gabby's numbers speak for themselves as well.
What I don't need to do is lay out all my position making process with the media before the game and probably won't. But I'll give you a direction and how we're going to use Gabby.
Q. I remember a game last year in April where it started around 5:00 and in left field there's a particular challenge. Is there anything like a Marte or somebody can do to mitigate that challenge from the sun?
CLINT HURDLE: No. No. It's the time they picked to play if that was earlier in the season, later in the season. We were out there running around yesterday trying to figure out how you were going to play. You were out there as well. I don't think it's the same as earlier in the season. I think we're going to be fine.
At the end of the day, I don't think from an outfield standpoint the shadows will be too challenging.
Q. Same question I have for Charlie, when Cole got called up, a lot of times a rookie will change the dynamic in the clubhouse and rotation, new energy. How has he changed, if he's changed, your clubhouse chemistry and just the rotation?
CLINT HURDLE: I don't think he's impacted the clubhouse chemistry. I think what it's done is given him an opportunity to be part of some different clubhouse chemistry.
I'm sure he had good chemistry at UCLA being one of the big men in that process. Coming in here, we've got some guys with some experience, some players that have been on the same club for three years. I think he just kind of fit in.
The rotation chemistry, when you can add that type of pitcher as your fifth starter, and then the boys all they watch each other. They'll watch each other's bullpens from time to time. They run together. You start getting the feel of this guy, how he prepares, what his routine is, the attention to detail during the game. Not every starting pitcher is the same when he's not pitching. Four days he's picked up on a routine all our guys have. That's very professional.
From that standpoint he's been able to learn a lot and been able to bring a lot showing the energy and edge he has on the mound. And obviously the way he was able to finish in September and pitch into October, that streak as well.
Q. Clint, a few years back everyone talked about there wasn't enough pitching to go around in the Major Leagues. Now it looks like there's just a big wave of good young pitchers like Gerrit and Wacha that's pitching tomorrow and things like that. Do you think the quality of pitching overall in baseball has gotten better here in the last few years?
CLINT HURDLE: I think the only there was sometimes where I can't remember a time probably from 2000 at least 2007 on where it hasn't continued to ramp up and get better.
For me it's been we're in the sixth year of it. In Colorado that year, we were able to add Franklin Morales and Ubaldo Jimenez to our rotation, two rookies that both pitched in the second half of the season. They were integral parts of that rotation, getting us in the playoffs and World Series. Other teams have them just as well. I think this part of the game has continued to have a little more efficient HOV lane as far as getting players to the Big Leagues.
We've seen some position players make the transition as well, but never before the volume of pitchers you're seeing. And I saw it specifically when I changed hats and went to the AL in 2010, being in the AL West, watching a number of young pitchers that were coming in the American League specifically in Oakland at that time that were showing up and performing. There's not an attrition part of the game for me.
As far as coming off the mound right now, it's been as strong as it's been in a long time.
Q. What makes Wacha's change up so effective? And what's behind some of your club's struggles with the change up this season?
CLINT HURDLE: You keep asking me struggles about our offense. You've been here watching us. I mean, come on. Every once in a while you have to get out front and put something down you think.
When you can throw it 98 with your hands up top, Travis, and then what you're trying to do is get that 98 lower than that to swing at. And it looks like it's that fastball, but then it turns out to be that change up and that one bottoms out, it's a really tough combination to handle. So you're going to try to push the fastball down and get the change up up to the best of your ability.
But the kid's change up is very, very good. That no hitter game, I think one of the hitters, he threw Zimmerman four straight change ups right on right. You have to have a good change up to go with that and the change up is a very good pitch.
When you can run it at that velocity, hand high, up in the zone where it has finish and get some strikes and throw the change up, Kelly does that as well. It's a tough combination.
Q. You were talking about the young pitchers coming into the game. It wasn't too long ago that Liriano was one of those. How much of what he's gone through and then coming back this year is sort of mirroring what this club is doing?
CLINT HURDLE: We have a bunch of poster guys in there. As I said before, it's similar to the city of Pittsburgh. It's a blue collar mentality. We're going to persevere. We're not perfect. We're going to get knocked down. We're going to get up. We'll get knocked down again, we'll get up again. We're relentless in our pursuit of what we want to do and what we believe in. We're much more in tune to the fact it's going to take all of us, it's going to take everything we've got from all of us all the time to get something done. There's not one guy that has to be the focal point, because every guy in there has been picked up by a teammate and an opportunity, whether it be a starter or a bullpen guy sometime along the time, whether it's been lack of performance or injury. We've had that next man up mentality throughout the season.
So that as much as anything. And I think every club has that mentality. That's a formula you are looking for coming in. And some it plays better than others. The clubs that are in, playing ball right now, I think there's not one of them that you wouldn't say can't doesn't grind and doesn't play hard. The difference is being able to do what you want to when you have to late in the season. And these eight clubs have shown that, our club has shown that.
We get asked a lot about what we can't do, but we've done enough to win a number of games and still play. And it's basically been predicated on pitching and defense. And that still wins games. It's an old school mentality and some of our guys have actually bought into that. There's a lot of new things going on, but they call it old school for a reason. I don't hear the tune new school bouncing off the balls in any clubhouses. And I think our guys have just gotten real good with good old fashioned effort and grit. That's been a formula that's played well for us.
Q. Clint, how tough has it been for Alvarez on some of the down times? And also how much not just with him, but with other players do you think it's been beneficial to have pre disposed games off when you hit the reset button and put them down for two or three days?
CLINT HURDLE: I think whatever was going on with Pedro, I think it can be a benefit. I think there's a couple of days or nights you need to go home and know you're not playing the next day. You can put your head on the pillow and you don't have to worry. One of the things I've learned over the course of time is it can really benefit a player to send him home knowing he's not playing the next day. You're not going to use him unless the game is going to get put on the line and he can make a difference in his area. Too many times I saw players come in and their name is not in the lineup, I've heard the manager say I'm giving you an off day. Well, he didn't know it was an off day when he went to bed, he didn't know it was an off day from 9:00 when he woke up to all afternoon. By the time he gets to the park, it's really not an off day. We try to help with that mentality. Pedro hasn't needed as many lately. You've seen ti put the whip to him down the stretch other than the scheduled days off.
You try and be a mentor to him and sometimes it's what you heard from your dad, you know, sometimes they don't know what's best for them. They want to play. And it's a man up thing. I need to play. I need to stay in there and show I can get through the tough times. Agreed. Sometimes it's my responsibility just to get them a breather, give them a chance to hit the restart button.
Q. Clint, probably a better question for Liriano, but since he's not here, in the American League it seemed like he obviously had stuff and great outings but not that much command or consistency. Was there a mechanical thing that happened to help him develop the command that he's had for you guys?
CLINT HURDLE: He talked about wanting to make a little adjustment with his arm slot in Spring Training. And he has that part of it. He also understood where his shortcomings were. And I think that comes down to the grit part of it, where trying to be too mechanical with getting the right results. It became a mindset. I'm not going to do this anymore. I'm not going to fall into those traps. You'll hear him talk about I've got to try not to do too much. He talks about it today. He talked about it yesterday. Every time before he pitches. But there comes a point in time you have to do it, and I think this year he's done that with more consistency than ever before.
I think he talks about it in the past, but when he got on the mound, push come to shove, first and second, I need a strikeout, I need to throw it harder, I have to spin it better. Before you know it, three batters later the inning has got away from him. He's been able to keep things I think in a better place and systemically just go at it one pitch at a time and keep it very simple.
Q. If the series is to go five games, you have to make a decision about the starter. When do you expect to address that and will A.J.'s performance historically in Busch Stadium impact the decision making?
CLINT HURDLE: I'll make an announcement when we have to make an announcement. Our focus as a club is on Game 3 right now. Thank you.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, Clint.
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