Oct. 9 Clint Hurdle pregame interview
Q. Besides the usual factors like ballparks, is there something about Cole's make‑up that has maybe explained a little bit his success on the road? Like maybe he's so competitive, he likes the challenge of a hostile environment?
CLINT HURDLE: He is very competitive, that has played well on the road for him this year. I think you also are one of the people that saw the first match‑up of all the starting pitchers he went against, pretty impressive group that he kind of cut his teeth on this season.
I do believe ‑‑ I don't really have an answer for that, but I do believe this: Some of these young pitchers, young players come out of these major college programs and they spend the time and get the experience and exposure they do in these programs and they make a trip to Omaha. And so I do think it just prepares them better for this type of environment, the Major League type of environment, of what they're going to be exposed to. I think that's helped.
But this guy has had a bit of an edge ever since, I think, he started playing. He wants something, and when he shows up he says, you know, basically I'm not leaving until I get what I came for. And that's kind of what we've seen play out so far this season with him, more so on the road. At home he's been competitive. On the road he's been very, very good.
Q. I think Matheny was asked about this as well. Just problems in the top of the lineup, Marte and Walker are both struggling to find hits in this series. Was there any thought to shaking up the lineup at all in a situation like this or do you kind of feel like every day that they don't hit a day closer to when they're going to begin to hit?
CLINT HURDLE: You answered my question as well as just answering mine. I believe this, that I've always said that from a hitting coach's perspective, you can hit. The longer you go without a hit, the better chances are you'll get one. So mathematically these guys are due. By the same token, in speaking with guys and being in the playoffs, talking to other managers as I was gaining experience, you come into a Game 5 and you want to rearrange your lineup and move people around. You're going to move a couple people around. So a couple go up, couple go down.
What do the two going up feel like? What do the two going down feel like? Now you have half of your lineup that you've maybe just messed with.
I feel our best effort is to go give men this opportunity to have success, and I believe our best effort tonight in Game 5, let these men be in their comfort zone, where they've hit, where they've had success, and get after it from that aspect.
Q. Is it all hand's on deck tonight from a pitching standpoint?
CLINT HURDLE: What does that mean?
Q. Everybody available?
CLINT HURDLE: Morton's not available.
CLINT HURDLE: Liriano could be available. And A.J., in his routine, I mean, one of the reasons we didn't pitch him here because some of the challenges, but he goes through an extensive routine to get ready. If we're going to put Liriano in play, which we've decided if we have to, we will. We're holding A.J. back for Game 1. Everybody else will be available.
Again, we have a pretty good set‑up with our bullpen, so it's not like I would be looking for Frank to come in and pitch the 7th inning or the 8th inning, just FYI coming out. We're more or less looking at Frank if something would happen to Cole for some unforeseen reason early, we'd play him extended innings.
Q. Two part question. One, why are you always sneaking in the side door and surprising poor Katy here? And two, have you learned anything about your club during this Wild Card and DS series that you hadn't already gleaned over the course of the season or already gotten any new insights to your team's make‑up?
CLINT HURDLE: Side door, Jimmy T, that's his modus operandi right there. I have no idea why. I'm a big fan of the front door, but we keep coming in the side door.
I don't think I've really learned anything new. What I've done is I've admired our team's make‑up. I've admired our team's preparation, their focus, dealing with real situations, dealing with frustration a little bit, dealing with the challenges the game can present. We are gaining so much experience on so many different levels. We are becoming tougher. We are becoming ‑‑ these are lessons that will be put in play for years after this for these men as well. So I like the way they're showing up with a business mindset about going about it.
But once we get out there, they're playing the game. The dugout chatter is there. The same nuances that we've gone through this season, there is laughter, there is fun. And that's what makes me feel so comfortable about them is it hasn't gotten to the point where it's a clinched fist. It hasn't gotten to the point where there's a black cloud. We're just playing, trying to figure it out as we go along.
Q. Sort of in that same vein, even though with everything at stake tonight, do you still take a few seconds just to take everything in and just taking the whole moment of being in this situation?
CLINT HURDLE: Every morning I get up I'm thankful for an opportunity that I get to do something I love to do and we get to have a Game 5 today. I remind our guys that we get to do this. It's not we've got to do anything. I like changing the lens for them from time to time. We get this, we get to have a Game 5. We've earned our way. So go out there and find a way to just play your heart ‑‑ play the size of your heart, not the size of the audience, you know? That's it, man. Go get in the back yard and get after it. Play to win.
Q. On a day like today, you're someone who is in contact with a lot of friends and family on a regular basis. Who do you turn to or has given you wisdom or encouragement either today or past couple of days?
CLINT HURDLE: My dad's been at the house, and he's my go‑to guy. A friend of mine ‑‑ I have two other guys that I reach out to. Scott Whittaker in Gainesville, Florida, Rod Olson who works with our organization. I kind of go to Karla, my wife, for a lot of stuff, because there is no testosterone in her answers from that perspective. I'll just throw some things out and get some insight. It's not technical. It's not tactical. But I share everything with her.
But the guys, I keep it kind of simple. I like to call what I have as a Mount Rushmore, Michael. I've got four people in my life I can rely upon 24/7 that will speak the truth to me, and let me know if they think I'm out of line or heading down the wrong direction or getting too big for my britches or anything that might come that way, and those are the people that I've continuously stayed in contact.
Q. The Texas Rangers team you coached on played at Tampa Bay Game 5 of the Division Series, and to me the joy they played with was tangible. What do you recall from that Game 5 and is there something that might preview what you'd like to see out of your team tonight?
CLINT HURDLE: I think I just shared what I want to see out of our team tonight. That's basically what we just reminded our guys about in Tampa. Neither team wants to go home. This isn't about want to. This is going to be more about how to in a lot of cases. It's not about guts, because you cut us all open and we're all going to have those. Again, it's going to go down to playing a game in front of a very large audience, and finding a way to be mindful of meeting the demands of the game and not overcooking things and playing the game to win, not going out there trying not to make a mistake or playing the game not to lose.
Q. Chris Carpenter, whose fire and competitiveness we all admire, is his stick it up their blank, quote, gotten any play in your clubhouse?
CLINT HURDLE: Obviously, I haven't even heard of it until right now. Yeah, yeah, not that I'm aware of.
Q. How much did the eye test play into determining limits for Cole and continuing pitching?
CLINT HURDLE: How much did the what?
Q. Eye test, just watching him and looking for fatigue and that sort of thing?
CLINT HURDLE: It played to a degree. We rely heavily on our strength and conditioning staff, our trainers, one other thing that we do old school, we actually communicate with the player. I just sat him down and said we need some answers here. Through the strength and conditioning programs, they can find out different things. Is the fatigue setting in? Can he keep whatever reps are in place at the same amount? Is he building? Nobody wants to build during the season; they want to maintain. But we've put our eyes on him. We've talked to our catchers and watched what they see. So it did play out partially. No doubt about it.
From that vantage point, he's gotten stronger, it seems to us, from the visual aspect as the season has gone on.