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Oct. 7 Jason Grilli pregame interview

MLB.com

Q. Jason, in 2011, in July of 2011, when you were released by the Phillies and then signed by the Pirates, what were your first thoughts when you heard Pittsburgh and you knew they were coming after you? What were your thoughts about this franchise, this city, this organization?

JASON GRILLI: At the time they were in first place, so going from Triple A to a first place Major League Baseball team was very appealing. And knowing what was going on, I mean, in the minor leagues you've got games on ESPN on, MLB on, any time there's a game on you're paying attention to what's going on.

Q. Jason, in 2011, in July of 2011, when you were released by the Phillies and then signed by the Pirates, what were your first thoughts when you heard Pittsburgh and you knew they were coming after you? What were your thoughts about this franchise, this city, this organization?

JASON GRILLI: At the time they were in first place, so going from Triple A to a first place Major League Baseball team was very appealing. And knowing what was going on, I mean, in the minor leagues you've got games on ESPN on, MLB on, any time there's a game on you're paying attention to what's going on.

Me being I played for Clint, made a few phone calls to see if there was a fit for me. I had to get out my contract. It's tough to sell yourself to a club when you're in the situation I was. You're in first place. It's not really like they needed a lot of additional pieces. But they felt I fit in here.

When I got over here, I was more trying to make an impression upon your teammates. When you come to an organization, say, yeah, you're worthy of the work that they've created to get to where they were. I just wanted to help out and fit in. But I was really excited to be part of this organization for sure.

Q. When you played for Clint in Colorado, what was it that you liked about him and what do you think it was that he liked about you that he ended up taking a chance on you?

JASON GRILLI: Well, truth be told, long story short, or short story long, however this comes out, the introduction when I got traded from Detroit to Colorado, met Clint in the short right field, and he was asking me how was everything. You got here okay? Your family is okay? What kind of check in? He took me by surprise when he asked me what do you want out of your career. I thought that was a pretty loaded question for making an introduction to my new manager. I felt there was an opportunity in time to just tell him that I wanted more out of my career. And he says, "What do you think you can do?" I said, "Well, I know I'm capable of doing a lot more. I want to do something significant if I'm going to be pitching in the bullpen and work my way towards the back end, whatever the back end may be." I said, "To be an eighth or ninth inning guy, especially a closer."

I know a lot of waves had to part for that to happen, because you have either a big contract in a closer or more experience. And I didn't have very many career saves at that point.

But he says, "What makes you think you can do that?" And I just said, "Well, when you're doing the middle relief job, thankless role. Holding runners is a stat not many will people pay attention to." I'm a closer now, but I said we have a lot of closers in our bullpen. If you look at our middle relief, it's stellar. Any one of our those guys in my opinion can be a closer, and they are closers. And we have a lot of them.

That was the introduction I had with Clint. I'm very appreciative. He believed in me from that conversation and gave me every opportunity to succeed. And that's why I'm at where I'm at. It's partiality because of him.

Q. Jason, forgive the silly question. As a team are you still riding the power of Zoltan or was that so 2012?

JASON GRILLI: You can see it's still going on. Everybody is looking for that unifying thing. And I know our offense has used it. It's something that is just a signal, like, high five from second base to third base to first or whatever it may be. It's something that's continued to be a unifying thing for the offense for sure.

Q. Clint talked yesterday about how this team sort of mirrors Pittsburgh, gritty, hard working team. Do you agree with that? And also is the rest of the country missing a great story by not really paying attention maybe to what the Pirates have done so far?

JASON GRILLI: Well, the first part of your question, yeah. This is an extremely hard working team. From Spring Training on, I can say the guys have definitely put in their hard earned work to get where we're at for sure. And it's continuing right now. People don't see what goes on behind the scenes prior to coming here. It's not just coming here and putting on the uniform and going out and playing the game. There's a lot that goes on preliminary beforehand.

Yes, we mirror the people here. When you see how passionate they are, how hard working they are, it's easy to fit into that and want to be a part of that. It's inspiring because when you get crowds like we're getting, it's easy to play for these people, because they give us a lot of energy.

Are people paying attention to us? If they haven't, they sure are now, I think.

Q. Jason, we followed you all year. You always enjoy every game. You've overcome a lot of hurdles. Is the reality matching your dream that you had and what it would be when you got here?

JASON GRILLI: Yeah. I don't want to stop dreaming. I think the story is still written, history has already been written. We're just following wherever it takes us right now. There's a lot of confidence going on in that clubhouse, not just because of the recent games we're playing in playoff series. This has been all year in our clubhouse. It's been a process to get here, and we're still riding out that dream.

For me personally, again, being a closer, you get a lot of spotlight, you get a lot of microphones in your face. It's humbling. It is a reliever's dream to be the last guy on the field for that last out. It's a dream. But, again, I wouldn't be as successful or put in that situation had it not been for every guy, whether it's my crew out there in the bullpen or the guys on the field or the horses in the front end of the pitching staff. I wouldn't be able to do that without all those guys putting in their effort. So I just try not to screw it all up.

Q. Before this year, it's a good career: 56 54, five saves. What made you believe that some day you were going to be an All Star, because a lot of people would say that's a pretty good career. And I can continue being what I was. What made you believe you were going to be an All Star, a closer, everything else?

JASON GRILLI: Well, a lot of things, but I kind of was up last night thinking about a lot of stuff. One thing that popped in my mind, there's a Jacobs Ladder, a machine I work out with, with my trainer. It's pretty grueling exercise. You can look it up what a Jacobs Ladder is. There's a carrot right in front on the wall, a picture of a carrot on the wall. Whatever your carrot is, when you're on that thing, I just had all those kinds of things through my mind.

What's my carrot? Obviously a World Series is the ultimate carrot for me and for everybody in that room. You have your personal accolades, but every player has their personal goals to contribute to the team efforts. And if you perform at your best collectively, like I said I think the great thing about Pittsburgh the biggest story is it's been somebody every other night.

So there's always somebody that's put in their work, put in their effort, where they've gotten and carried us to where we are right now. But for me I've always wanted to do something special in the game. I have had lofty dreams no different than anybody else. You want to make a mark. I pride myself in basically they sign you, you get to go down through our dugout, it says you just appreciate, you feel like a super hero when you get to put on that uniform. We're doing something great, and we have a privilege to do is put on that uniform every day. You don't take that lightly. I love and respect the game. So that's pretty much what it boils down to.

Q. Jason, ninth inning last night with Jon Jay up, a lot has been made about the Pirates and the shifts you do. Each series, you and Ray and the guys in the staff go through how you want to attack guys, what you are going to do. When that ball was hit did you know where Jordy was? You looked like you reacted not to go for it. Did you know he was positioned where he was? Secondly, when you're talking about shifting and what guys are doing, are you approaching the guys in the same way you would regardless of where they are positioned?

JASON GRILLI: You know, I guess you look at anybody defensively, especially both of our shortstops, Barmes and Mercer, they cover a lot of ground. Usually when you go for some of those balls that are questionable, it's a quick moment decision whether to let it go or let them make the play. That's what I did last night. I felt like Jordy was in a position to make a better judgment rather than me tip it and create another situation, put another guy on base, and get some momentum back in their way.

So trust in your offense. Like I said, we have had each other's backs. The shifts have been in play, and they've worked in our favor. A lot of work has gone into that, more so than not. Like I said, those are the calls that the coaches make, and pitchers you stick to your strengths, but yeah, you know where your guys are. You trust they're going to make the play. Even if they're out of position, they're going to cover some ground out there.

Q. Jason, with the Cardinals facing elimination, what do you expect out of them effort wise today?

JASON GRILLI: It's a good team. Everybody knows it's a good ballclub over there. We can't take them lightly. I think they're going to come out with guns blazing, and so are we.

To be in our house, I know I don't want to go back to St. Louis. I don't think any of us do. I don't want to have to take another road trip. We've done a lot of those this year.

But we respect our opponent and we just know we have to play our game as we did and go for the jugular tonight.

Q. You're not going to give Sheffield inside and know that he's in the media?

JASON GRILLI: Absolutely. That's my agent, man. He's privy to that; he's got to be privy to that. (Laughs)

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