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Oct. 6 Torey Lovullo pregame interview

October 6, 2017

Q. Just looking at the lineup, can you take us through decisions at catcher with Mathis over Iannetta, and then Lamb not in there, which he hadn't been this year against Kershaw?TOREY LOVULLO: Well, the one reason you just mentioned with Jake is he hasn't faced him. I just felt

Q. Just looking at the lineup, can you take us through decisions at catcher with Mathis over Iannetta, and then Lamb not in there, which he hadn't been this year against Kershaw?

TOREY LOVULLO: Well, the one reason you just mentioned with Jake is he hasn't faced him. I just felt like we've been doing something like that for the course -- through the course of the year since we got Rosie, and I felt like I wanted to just stay with the script. I didn't want to switch things up too much. The hard part of it was, as I was mentioning yesterday Jake had four hits in the Wild Card game. He's locked in. But we're built to understand there are certain reasons I was in line with him and talking to him throughout the whole process, and just felt like this was the best option for us to attack their starting pitcher.

A little bit of the same, but you can flip-flop the thought is that I just like the way Jeff matches up with Taijuan. C.I. is going to find himself in the middle of a lot of games. We went with a two-catcher combination throughout the course of the year, And this is what I wanted. Well, two, really three, but they split a lot of time and I wanted to stay with the script.

Q. Along those same lines, can you walk through your decisions on the roster with Fuentes off, adding Christian Walker, and also C.O.'s situation and kind of what factored into him not being on there, Herrmann as well?

TOREY LOVULLO: Yeah, well, we had a lot of really good baseball conversations, and these were tough decisions for us. These were guys in the case of Rey Fuentes and Chris Herrmann, they were taken off the roster. They've been main stays and helped us win a lot of games this year. But we just felt like we were projecting the Dodgers roster that we wanted to maximize certain situations. Well, we had to give something up. You can't have every match-up you want. You have to kind of stop it somewhere. We just felt like the balance of the lineup shook down the way we structured it to give us a chance to match up and win moments.

As far as Chris Owings, he's going to be playing tomorrow in an Instructional League game. He had strong consideration. We were up late last night talking about him as a group. And we just felt like he was close but not exactly perfect. I've been saying all year long we're not going to put our athletes in a situation where they're not comfortable. Not 100% physically, and he's getting there. He's very, very close. Could he have played in this game? Probably. But we have other options that we felt like could get us through this, and he's very close. C.O.'s getting closer, and he's going to continue to work out and continue to get it perfect, get it right.

Q. A couple questions about fernando Rodney. One, filling the role he does for your baseball team at that age, and also, what was your first thought when you said he wanted to play the Dodgers in the postseason, wanted to see the Dodgers?

TOREY LOVULLO: I didn't really pick up on the comment that he wanted to see the Dodgers. So now that you're telling me it's probably after we clinched it the Wild Card victory. I just think our guys are anxious and ready to challenge themselves against the best team in baseball. Their record indicated so. Indicated they were the best team in the National League, and what better challenge could we have coming into this stadium against the L.A. Dodgers for Game 1? I think we're genuinely excited about that. I forgot the first part of the question. Just my thoughts about Fernando and what he's done?

Q. Being a closer, yeah?

TOREY LOVULLO: As far as what he's done for our team, we would not be here today. We would not be in the position we are today without Fernando Rodney. What he allowed us to do is shore up a bullpen behind him. Allow guys to develop. Archie Bradley developed right before our very eyes as an elite reliever throughout the course of the year. If we don't have Fernando, we're trying to figure out who is going to throw that last inning, which is typically one of the hardest innings in baseball to finish. Fernando solidified that entire inning. It allowed me to work backwards. From talking to other managers, I think how you manage a game from the bullpen, you start from the ninth inning and start building it backwards.

In that case, Fernando made things very easy for me.

Q. With Iannetta and Walker, it looked like in that last start back at Chase field there might have been a little thing that happened, a little friction between the two of them. Was that a factor at all in this decision?

TOREY LOVULLO: I know that they have a longstanding relationship and they're like brothers out there. I know certain things you may have seen throughout the course of the year would give you the feeling that it wasn't a great relationship, but believe it or not it's a strong, kind of pushing-forward type of relationship. It really was not a big factor for me.

Q. Obviously, it's early in the playoffs but we've already seen really good starters get beat up pretty good, like it's been a consistent theme early on. Any thoughts about why this is happening? Is it a lot of innings behind those guys, or are these hitters just that good?

TOREY LOVULLO: Well, I tell you what, it makes you appreciate what Doc Halladay would do, and some of these other pitchers when they'd walk into a big game and throw eight or nine innings, because I think it's very challenging today for these guys to prepare, to stay on the right level with their energy and focus. This is a very, very emotional time. October baseball is the best thing in the world as far as I'm concerned. I think these players feel it for so long that maybe they walk out on the mound, give what they can, and their tank is emptied a little sooner than later. And you have so many things you're walking into today. With today's players, they're able to equip themselves with all sorts of information, video, advance scouting. They can direct their own swings and prepare their own swings to attack starting pitching. I think there's a lot of things that go into that. We're prepared for a very, very good Clayton Kershaw today. We're expecting his best and I know our guys are trying to be prepared and be at their best as well.

Q. You mentioned that you wanted the 25 guys who would match up against the Dodgers 25. I'm wondering if there are any surprises in there? Did the Dodgers pick the 25 guys you guys figured they were?

TOREY LOVULLO: Yeah, not to say that they were predictable, but there were between 23 and 26 guys, 27 guys that -- I'm sorry. From 23 to 27 we were wondering how they were going to fill it in. So we were pretty good through 23. There were a couple guys we weren't sure if they were going to take the extra catcher. I thought D.R. might take a pinch-runner. So we walked through a few different scenarios in preparation. But they were really close to what we thought they'd do.

Q. You mentioned staying up late last night working through scenarios. Can you give us an idea of the range of emotions how much you've slept in the last 48 hours to this point?

TOREY LOVULLO: Wednesday night, I'll say this, Wednesday night was probably one of the most emotional days that I've had in my career as a player or as manager or a coach. I mean, I've walked into some pretty tough environments and been in World Series games, and I've been a part of some championships. But there is nothing like that one that I've ever experienced before. So I thought I was sleeping okay. But evidently by the end of the day I was exhausted. I went home and played a couple of games of Quoridor with my wife and children. And about two games in I was like, I need to go to sleep. Something just hit me like a block wall. So evidently I was tired and not sleeping well.

But the past couple days, the past 48 hours or past 36 hours since that time have been normal. I'm home. I came back home. I'm a Valley boy. I have a lot of people that are trying to include themselves in what's happening around me, and I want to engage them in the best way that I possibly can. So it's been business as usual for me.

But I had a good night's rest last night. I woke up about 8:30, walked around, got a cup of coffee, went to CVS on Grand Street, went to the hotel and came back here. Normal day for me.

Q. With Lamb having not faced Kershaw, I know you're trying to win every game in the regular season, but in retrospect do you wish you would have gotten an at-bat against him at some point or a start against him at some point?

TOREY LOVULLO: Well, I mean, that's something that the front office had asked me. Great question. But we've got to remember that Clayton Kershaw was hurt this year and we didn't see him. And it wasn't every single time that we played the Dodgers that he was throwing against us. I know he threw against us I think it was twice. But I was trying to maximize situations at that time. I was still getting to know Jake Lamb, and I still think he was evolving as a hitter in my eyes, and I was still trying to figure out strengths and limitations. But, yes, in a perfect world, I do regret not getting an opportunity to get a spin at them. But at that time you can't project forward and figure out that we're going to be sitting in this seat at this moment. So to live and learn, I'll probably walk through something like that again and have a different approach. But we feel very good about the team we put out there today.

Q. Just a five-game series versus a seven game, how do you approach this philosophically? Is it different? How do you look at this series?

TOREY LOVULLO: It's a five-game series. It's a little bit shorter and we're all aware of that. But the urgency is right now. It's today, and taking care of business right now. I think we've done a really good job all clear long of staying in the moment. This team has challenged themselves to take care of today and see where we land tomorrow.

So I think we're going to take that same mindset. Obviously, it's playoff baseball. We know the stakes are a little bit higher. We're not going to do anything different. I'm going to manage any differently. I've asked these players to be themselves throughout this whole entire process. So to change or worry about the shortening of the series, I don't think, would be advantageous to us. I talked about eliminating noise, stay in today, and we'll take care of that.

Q. When you were in Boston, how well did you know Mike Hazen? Did you ever think that's a huge shadow in Fenway being player, coach, executive, but the idea of what he could accomplish if he was out from underneath that shadow and running a program? And look at the success you've had this year?

TOREY LOVULLO: I've known Mike Hazen since 2001. I had a strong relationship with him. We were both in player development with the Cleveland Indians. So I think I know him as well as anybody in baseball, and vice versa.

But he's going to kill me that I'm talking all mushy-mushy about him, but I think he's one of the best baseball executives, young baseball executives in today's game right now. He's played the game. He understands it from that level. He's sharp and intellectual and can walk through any type of environment, any type of conversation. He can go from bazooka Joe all wait to Albert Einstein. So he's extremely versatile. And on top of that, he's passionate.

The people that know him and get a chance to spend time with him will use that word quite often. There is a ton of passion in what he does.

Q. You've got Robbie tomorrow, and have you set your starter for games three and four? Have you decided which one of your starters will be in the bullpen for the series?

TOREY LOVULLO: Well, yes. So I'm sure the release went out. You know that Robbie's going to be starting tomorrow, so that's official. It looks like Zach will be starting Game 3. After that we haven't pieced it together yet. Look, we're expecting some wars out there -- you know what? I take that back. We're expecting some dog fights out there and some really, really strong battles, and we're going to use every bit of force that we possibly can to make sure that we take care of today. So where that lands us on Game 4, we're not sure at this point.

Q. You said yesterday before you were ready to announce the Game 2 starters that you wanted to see Robbie check some boxes. So what did you have to see and how did he respond?

TOREY LOVULLO: I talked to him after his throwing program yesterday. He said he felt fantastic. I had a conversation with him today, and he said he felt even better. The type of relationships that I've established with these guys is built on trust and communication. So it was a swift and easy conversation. I think he would have probably told me if he wasn't feeling exactly perfect. So within three or four minutes I could tell by the look in his eyes that he wanted the ball tomorrow and he was ready. We had minimal concerns. He threw 34 pitches, and I think he threw 32 more pitches to go in the Wild Card game. So I wanted to give it as much time as we could until we made that decision.

But we had to start lining things up and let the players know and I wanted to do it as quickly as possible today, and that's how I came to that decision.