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Oct. 7 Joe Maddon pregame interview

October 7, 2017

Q. Do you expect the aggressiveness of Turner and the Washington offense to attack Jon with bunts and baserunning if they are on the base?JOE MADDON: I do expect a lot of aggressiveness once they get out there. The big key is to keep them off base obviously. Turner is

Q. Do you expect the aggressiveness of Turner and the Washington offense to attack Jon with bunts and baserunning if they are on the base?
JOE MADDON: I do expect a lot of aggressiveness once they get out there. The big key is to keep them off base obviously. Turner is exceptional. They have other guys that are really good, too, but he's very, very good at that baserunning thing.
So the best defense right there is to keep them off base to begin with. They have others, like I said, that are also very proficient. We have our methods and we will try to incorporate those, also, in the event they do get on base. It's just part of the game. Last time we didn't do so well versus them. Hopefully we'll do better this time.
Q. Anything new you can throw at them?
JOE MADDON: I don't think so. I don't think so. We pretty much -- the stuff that we do, we really try to simplify. I'm really not into complications, and this time of the year, to really try to add new twists and turns, I think most of the time will backfire. I prefer simplicity, tried and true.
And even having said that, just by execution, it may even look like something new just by executing it more efficiently.
I really, really like simplicity.
Q. Wanted to ask about Quintana, a lot of experience but not in the Postseason. How do you feel like he's prepared to handle it?
JOE MADDON: I think he got his first taste of the Postseason in Milwaukee a couple weeks ago. He really handled that moment in a spectacular fashion. When he first came on board, just talking to him, he was really excited about the potential of going to the playoffs. Now he's here for sure.
Listen, I have all the faith in the world in this guy. He is so sincere. His work is so good. He's prepped. He's ready to go every time he plays. But I mean that sincerely, that first game in Milwaukee was a spectacular performance and that pretty much set us apart at that point. So I know he's going to be ready when we get back home. I'm really excited for him, because this is a guy that's earned the right to pitch in a game like that, and I really believe. I know he'll be ready for the moment.
Q. We were asking Jason earlier about the value of past Postseason success on a night like last night when Strasburg was so effective; that somehow you could get to him eventually. What's the value in your mind from a team that has been there and done that on a night like that?
JOE MADDON: Well, I think I've talked about, you know, it's the experience thing. Once you've done it before, I think it was Game 163 last night for lack of a better way of putting it.
Listen, we understand the importance of it. We understand where we're at; we get it. But you can't treat it as anything but Game 163. You have to keep your mind that slow. You have to keep your thought process that slow. You have to understand that, you know, we may not do so well in the beginning, but our pitcher is pretty darned good himself, and that's the key to the whole thing. You only win a game like that because you pitched better than really good pitching. That's what it really comes down to.
But I think when you get to this time of the year in our profession, in Major League Baseball, the group that's able to treat it like 163, 164, 165, has somewhat of an edge, I think, overall. I'm not going to say that that edge is going to play out in victory all the time. Just going into the game last night -- I tell you what, our guys before the game, I couldn't have been happier lining up on the line. There was an eagerness about us but there was no, you know, anxiety, in a sense. It's just we're ready to play.
I think, you know, I think that's what comes with it. And again, I'm not trying to over- or understate anything. I'm just trying to answer the question. I believe that's the learning process that you go through, and I'm really pleased with the way our guys have handled this entire season, and right now, how we're handling the moment.
Q. A good part of your success, obviously you said coming in, when you first got the job, was having good players. But keeping people engaged, and then hitting the reset button again in Postseason to keep everybody engaged; Jason talked about the fact that he knows he's not starting, but he's going to be engaged knowing he's going to be in there at some point. How key is that and where did that come from for you?
JOE MADDON: Well, I'm really happy that Jason -- Jason is such a professional. And I really want that out of the entire group out there tonight. Look at Jonathan Jay last night. He had playing a lot, did not start, but comes up with a big knock and a run scored last night. I think our guys obviously see during the course of the regular season, that if you don't start the game, that doesn't mean you're not going to finish it.
Where does that come from for me? I really believe in having everybody become part of ownership regarding the team. And you only get that if you actually play people. More specifically, during the season -- like bench guys, guys who normally don't play a whole lot, I don't want them sitting there and you expect when you put them out there to do well. That's a bad expectation on my part.
Probably from where I come from, I'm the ultimate grunt. I was signed as a free agent and never got drafted, and I really respect that those people treated me equally as well as the guys that were number 1, 2, 3, or 4 round draft choices. And those are the guys I really respected as coaches and managers. I pretty much follow that tack, because I don't care what round you're drafted in and how much money; I don't care about that stuff. It's about people.
So I like everybody being a part of ownership, and the only way to do that is to back it up by giving guys an opportunity to play. I think once you arrive at that point, if Jason doesn't start a game, he can give you that kind of a comment because he is part of ownership, and he knows how this thing interacts and how it plays out and how important it is to have everyone pulling at the same end of the rope, same sheet of music, whatever you want to call it.
Q. Lester being the number one pitcher most of his career in the playoffs and now he's got the second spot, how much do you take into consideration when you are naming Kyle that maybe this might hurt his -- that he might be -- take it the wrong way or something like that. He's been great about it. Did you think about that at all when you made the decision?
JOE MADDON: You're always concerned about everything. Whenever you are making a decision, you take into consideration all the components of that person that may be impacted in a negative way by that decision.
But I mean, I really think, you know, respectfully, from Jon, that he saw what Kyle had been doing and why we did exactly what we had done. Furthermore, if Jon had not been injured when he had been injured, I'm pretty certain it would have been just the other way around, at least.
And same thing with Jake, Jake being injured pushed him into the fourth hole. All of these things are residue of things that occurred over the last couple weeks or months.
Jonathan Lester is such a team fellow also, that I really believe that he -- conversationally, there was no pushback because he got it. Now from our perspective, having Kyle be the leadoff hitter last night and doing what he did, now we come into this game with Jon, I believe, well, totally well, and coming off a really good performance.
The difference between Jon's really good performances and those that are more pedestrian is just fastball command, and I thought I saw a better level of fastball command the last time he pitched. So, if you're seeing that, then that cutter is really going to be effective, and that's what we're looking for tonight.
So one more day for Jon; Kyle did his job last night. Moving forward, man, it's really exciting because I'm really eager to watch Jon pitch tonight. But I think more than anything, if you really break it down, I think it's the fact that Jon had been injured that put us in this position in the first place.
Q. You talked about how teams will sometimes challenge Jon, will drop bunts, whatever. Do you expect the same kind of thing -- what kind of balance is that from taking a guy out of his normal offensive game?
JOE MADDON: That's going to be obviously -- that conversation is going to come up, no question. It will come up when Jake pitches for us, also. Now the next part is: Who are good bunters? Who is actually going to do the bunting? I mean, seriously.
You look at this team, Trea Turner is a really good bunter, he'll do that. There are other guys that can bunt, but they are not necessarily as proficient at it. When you want guys to steal bases or lay down bunts or do these different things to take advantage of somebody's misgivings, whatever you want to call it, it's not as easy as it seems. It's just like when you run a shift out there. Why doesn't he hit a ground ball to the shortstop slot? Because he can't. Because he's not good at it and that's why you shift in the first place.
And on paper it looks easy. And listen, and it might only take one or two, or maybe even just one well-placed bunt to have mission accomplished, there's no question. But it's difficult to just lay it on the entire group to all of a sudden become efficient at a play that they are not, where a left-handed hitter all of a sudden hits ground balls at the shortstop slot, which is not.
Those are the kind of things that I've talked about that need to be nurtured in the minor leagues. All of these shortcomings need to be nurtured on the Minor League level. It's hard to teach Major League players to make that adaptation now. Believe me, it's hard, not easy, brother.
Yes, on paper, it sounds very logical and good, but it's not as easy as it sounds.
Q. When you were talking about the ownership that the players take and Jason being willing to come off the bench, it can be easier when you have success when you win.
JOE MADDON: Of course.
Q. How do you get that buy-in before that success, and before that winning comes?
JOE MADDON: Conversation. Conversationally. If you want to do things like that, you have to talk to the player in advance of the moment. You just don't all of a sudden ambush them with situations.
Conversation. When you're building your team and you know what it's supposed to look like and you have all these different pieces or parts, and you have in your mind you want to try to do these different things and you think it's the right thing to do, talk to the guy. I think if you talk to any Major League player and are very straightforward with them, they will get it. They will be good with the whole thing.
If you try to just lay it on them and back-channel it or just lay it on them in the moment without any forewarning, that's when it could backfire on it you. Right or wrong, that's the way it is. Back in the day, Dick Williams could do whatever he want. Gene Mauch could have done whatever he wanted to. It's just not that way today. So just know how it is. For me, if you want to avoid those moments, I don't think I've met one player yet that has not accepted a frank conversation about a situation like that.