Oct. 7 Mike Matheny pregame interview
Q. Mike, when your clubs have come from behind before, and I was thinking particularly Game 5 of the Division Series last year, what has been characteristic of those comebacks?
MIKE MATHENY: I think something that stands out is just the life, Game 5 was pretty special. You don't see many comebacks like that in a game where you're backed up against the wall. But I think a lot of it has to do with the life of our bench guys and people like a Chris Carpenter who were hurt and not even able to be out there, but kind of leading the charge of making sure guys know that we keep pushing, we trust in ourselves and each other.
I think that's what it's kind of been something that's built up over time. You saw that with the 2011 team. They just kind of kept pushing themselves and trusting that if they're if they don't do it, somebody is going to pick them up. That kind of trust, I think, is contagious.
Q. We just had Matt in here. He talked a little about the season he's had. I know you expect him to be an everyday player. You couldn't have expected these numbers he has put up. What has that meant to your team and how has that changed the personality of your lineup?
MIKE MATHENY: Well, I knew about what everybody else on our staff knew, that he was a difference maker. We put him in the lineup at different times last year, and he did give a different look to our club. And just the way that he was relentless in his at bats.
It's been exciting to watch him transform from a guy, not just obviously the huge transition in position and what he's been able to do there, but how he's somebody that people are looking to. They admire how he goes about his business, how he prepares. He's relentless in his work and takes his at bats the same way. And I think he sets the tone. He sets the tone for our offense. When he's going about it the right way, I don't think there's anybody that takes a tougher at bat in the League.
Q. Do you manage any different in an elimination game or is it always the same for you?
MIKE MATHENY: I hope not. That's what we're talking about all season long, is regardless of the situation, we're going to do what we think is right. All the time. Obviously there's some different factors that will play into that, and when we have some pitchers down there who are we're backed up against the wall, which we are right now, you kind of take out all stops.
But as far as what the expectations are and what these guys should expect from me, it should be the same thing. We may use people differently depending on how things unfold.
Overall, you look in that clubhouse now and I think this is probably one of the most important times for veteran leadership. Some of the young guys probably are walking in there looking around to see if our veterans are going about it the same way. And they are. They've been here before and they realize that we just got to go about it the same way if you can expect to have the kind of success we have had up to this point.
Q. Being as you lost yesterday and this is an elimination game, was there any thoughts of bringing Wainwright back on short rest?
MIKE MATHENY: Yeah, there were thoughts. We talked about it early on. We have faith in our guys and we have faith in Michael Wacha to be able to go out there and give us a good start, hopefully get us back home. And we can let Adam pitch in Game 5. That's the original plan.
If things would have gone crazy last night, we had Michael ready to potentially come in late. That would have changed gears and we would have pitched Adam today. But it didn't go that direction, and we're excited to watch Michael do his thing and once again hopefully get to watch Adam pitch again.
Q. Just to follow up on the question about managing in an elimination game. Is there a philosophy that you have as far as if you're in a spot? And we have seen it before, a manager might pinch hit for a pitcher in the fourth or fifth inning before you might ordinary want to if you have the potential for a rally?
MIKE MATHENY: There's so many different possible scenarios that you can throw in. Mostly we're going to have to trust as we go through this and realize that, yeah, it is we've got one shot here. And now we're not going to waste it and not try and lengthen a guy out and try to save our pen. When you take that perspective, there's some different game plan management that you have to take care of.
Overall, we're going to go about it and try and put guys in positions that they're accustomed to, in situations that will give us the best opportunity to win. But we don't take lightly the situation, the position we're in right now.
Q. Mike, in Matt Carpenter's case, why did the organization feel he might make a good middle infielder? And how do you feel he has made the transition defensively in his first year?
MIKE MATHENY: I think he's been as good as you could ask of anybody at second base. He's made all the routine plays and wowed us quite a few times. What we saw going into this, we saw a couple of things that made us believe that this would work out. One is that he has good hands. We saw him at third base, had a good first step, had good instincts on the infield.
The other thing is that we saw a guy with non stop work ethic. You can't outwork Matt Carpenter. You put that combined with good teachers like Jose Oquendo, you have all the foundation that you need to make a case that this kid could do this. And then you just put it in his hands.
And he trusted what we were trying to do. He believed in himself and believed that he could help us out, and he has done a terrific job for us.
Q. Mike, when did you realize that you had something special in Michael Wacha? And how were you able to sort of get him to the position where it's October and he can pitch and he's one of your guys? You didn't have to back him off? Maybe you did.
MIKE MATHENY: We really put Michael to the test in Spring Training. I know people don't put a lot of stock in Spring Training, but we do. And it's an opportunity to see what a young player is made of. Not just their stuff, but also their make up.
Michael came in and did everything right. He came in early, stayed late, worked, asked a lot of questions. It was obvious he had a maturity about him and had a professionalism. There's nothing wrong with having fun as a professional player. But you could see this is one of those kids that was wired to compete and excel. He went about it differently, especially for a kid just out of college.
And then you put him on the mound, and then it became pretty obvious. He has above average stuff and then could execute it on a pretty consistent basis. So you put all that together and it made it a very positive impression on us in Spring Training. We gave him an opportunity in the middle of the season, did a nice job.
He had some things to work on. Went back and our Triple A staff did a great job helping him make that next step in transition and has come back and been very consistent.
So that's how he gets to the point of being able to be where he is right now pitching a Game 4 in about NLDS. A lot can be said too about that last game that he pitched, which was pretty impressive to watch. You put him in a high leverage situation and watch a young kid perform like that, you're anxious to get him back out there.
Q. Mike, carrying on with that, what did you learn about Michael's ability to handle high pressure, high leverage situations in that last start and how much will that help him in elimination game today?
MIKE MATHENY: You never can tell exactly until you get him out there and let him compete. But there aren't many situations with higher leverage than the last one he was in. And he looked the same in the ninth inning as he did in the first. He's continued to just show us whenever we give him an opportunity that he's ready for the next challenge. He's proven that he's ready for it.
And so today we're getting an opportunity for him to take the mound and help us compete.
Q. Mike, your lineup has hit Morton well at times, especially some of the lefties. Lefties in general have hit him well. What does your lineup need to do or look for to be more effective against Morton today?
MIKE MATHENY: I think the same thing we've done all season long, same thing the guys did yesterday. I thought they did a nice job of taking tough at bats, trying to stay off the balls that are out of the zone, fight off the tough pitches, work deep counts, and try and jump on something when it catches too much of the plate. It's a pretty standard approach, but something that our guys have done very consistently through this season. Same thing stands. And that's what the game plan is going to be today.
Q. Mike, when you lose a player of Allen Craig's ability, even the fact that he can't be on the bench as a deterrent, to what degree does that complicate how you use your bench? If Allen were here, you would have him or Matt to come off the bench. I think most people would say your bench is the strength would be more defensive than offensive. How much does that complicate your task in terms of how you manipulate your bench at this point?
MIKE MATHENY: Well, I think it's a valid point, that when we have Allen Craig we typically have a deeper bench and one of those big threats to come off the bench. That's just not the team we have, so we don't spend a whole lot of time focusing on what we don't have.
What we do have is some speed and defense we can bring in off the bench. How that translates is that we really don't have a lot of offensive options. When we get to the pitcher's spot, we have some people that can come in and hit. But you're going to see a lot of moves made otherwise. We're going to trust the guys we throw out there for the most part, and trust our offense to produce enough to give us a lead and then we can make the defensive switches to help as we need.
Q. By extension, maybe it's stating the obvious, but I would have thought last night when you had to take David out, that's not a move you really relish making there.
MIKE MATHENY: No. The idea is also trying to work our pitching in an opportunity to leave Martinez in if he has a good clean inning. We have a lot of right handers coming up that would give him the ability to go into the next inning and not have to worry about losing him to an at bat.
But David is a guy who has done a really nice job for us. Obviously through the season and the postseason what he's been able to do, he's a guy we like to have up at the plate. There's guys we have to make a move, but there's times where we have to make a move and double switch allows us to keep our pitching intact.
Q. Mike, would it have taken extra innings for you to use Wacha last night? Was there a situation in one through nine or late innings you would have used him? We haven't seen a lineup yet, so we're blind. What goes into your thought at shortstop today particularly?
MIKE MATHENY: First part of that question with Wacha, what would have had to happen would have been some sort of mess where we would have had to use Shelby early and then we would have been locked horns late and we need innings. That would have been a situation. So Michael was prepared for that. And then we would have obviously had to make a different move for today.
As far as our lineup today, it will be Carpenter, Beltran, Holliday, then it will be back to Adams batting fourth, Molina fifth, Jay sixth, Freese seventh, and Pete Kozma eighth.
And going into that decision with Pete, he had a good day yesterday and has also had a little bit of success off Morton in the past.
Q. Mike, you guys have been somewhat consistent in shifting Pedro Alvarez through the season. You don't in the inning yesterday. Is that because you're looking for the double play or is that how Siegrist is going to attack him?
MIKE MATHENY: When you have guys on base, it's a different situation in how flexible you can be or how aggressive you can be on the shifting.
Kevin came in and did a nice job, got a groundball hit just in the right spot that we couldn't defend at that point.
The ability to move our guys around when we have that flexibility and when we have guys no one on base, it makes a big difference.
Q. Mike, as you continue to see what Carlos has been able to do, especially in the postseason, is there a time maybe where you step back and really say wow? And will you be surprised if teams continue to pitch to him in high level situations?
MIKE MATHENY: You do have Matt Holliday behind him and Adams and Molina. There's plenty to think about beyond Carlos. It's nice to be on the benefiting side.
I remember years trying to get him out when we couldn't do it in the postseason. It's nice to have him on our side this time of year. He continues to show why he's a special player. And he had a big day for us yesterday. It's just the kind of guy too that not just the production, but he's one of the guys that loves to teach. And so we talk about how our veterans are always pouring into our younger players, Carlos is at the top of that list. His experience in the postseason is something that obviously helps us in the short term.
But in the long term he's constantly talking to guys, telling them how to prepare, hopefully these guys are paying attention.
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