Oct. 31 Terry Collins pregame interview
Q. When we left you last night you said, Talk to Syndergaard about whether or not that first pitch was a purpose pitch. He came in here and said he wasn't trying to hit him, but he was trying to send him a message that they were not going to be as aggressive at the plate as they had been the first two games. What is your reaction to what he had to say tonight?
TERRY COLLINS: I just heard about it today, just a little bit ago. They are allowed to say whatever they want to say. I don't muzzle anybody. You've got to be able to back it up and he backed it up.
Q. Does the Game 3 win change your outlook, your belief, your approach, any of those things?
TERRY COLLINS: No. No. We had all the confidence last night going in that we liked -- we didn't like the situation, but we liked the fact Noah was on the mound. We're back home, and still got a lot of games to play. It's the same thing today. I don't think we're any higher or any lower -- look, you've got to go out and you've got to go execute. The way Chris Young pitched the first game, again, you've got a job on your hands, and that's to get something good to hit.
So I didn't say anything more last night than there's a game that we won that we needed to win. And now they're talking today, hey, this becomes the biggest game in the World Series for us. And I don't know any other way to approach it except have it that way.
Q. Do you think batters take more offense at inside pitches now than maybe they did 30, 40 years ago?
TERRY COLLINS: No question. Pitching inside is a lost art anymore. Very few guys do it effectively. I mean, a lot of guys try to. But the one thing obviously with all of the changes in the game, you're seeing less and less guys take a huge offense to it, because you'll miss time. But I still think it's got to be part of the game. That's exactly how they're pitching David, they're pitching him in hard, and pitching Murphy in hard. So it is part of it. It's always a little scary when it's up near the head area.
Again, our game is not perfect and the people that play it aren't perfect. And you can't make every pitch exactly where you want it or the game would be easy for most people. But I think pitching inside is a huge part of our game, and just a lot of guys don't like to do it.
Q. In the era where everything is quantified, there's a number for everything, how do you measure what Uribe brings? And will there always be a place for intangibles, like he brings?
TERRY COLLINS: Well, numbers are very, very important and they're very useful, but there are players who bring a presence to a team and numbers can't describe it. The personalities, the overachieving, the energy sometimes some guys bring. And Juan Uribe is a guy who has done this before and had success doing it. He's one of the guys that's on that bench that I feel, certainly against the Royals, which is why we were really hoping he would be ready for the World Series, who has the innate ability to get to the barrel of the bat to a 97-mile-an-hour fastball. It's hard to do. But he knows enough. He's been around long enough to know, hey, I've got to start this thing early to get to it.
Last night he got a breaking ball over the plate. You can see he started to swing and then paused but got a base hit to the right field. But he's not intimidated by what's going on and I think that's why it's important.
Q. Flores' play last night in the sixth inning and the short hop and throwing out Perez, you could maybe make the case that it's the most important of the whole game and certainly was a play that would be impressive by any shortstop. I'm just wondering what your assessment is, considering the fact that he started this whole postseason as a backup, and the way he seems to be really just taking hold of this job.
TERRY COLLINS: It really is amazing. I'll go back to even in the beginning of the year when he was playing and Ruben wasn't, and all of a sudden Ruben became the shortstop. He handled it great. And then Juan moved, and I just think the confidence in Juan is starting to soar.
And now he's in the postseason he's got to make these plays and I think he believes he can make them. I think his whole approach is, "I can do this and I have to do it because my team needs me to do it." And I don't think he's intimidated by, If I make an error. You've got to make plays, and that's what Tufs (Teufel) been talking to him about all year long. Look, just think about making the play. Think about the ball being hit to you and you have to make the play.
That was a big play. The ball that Rios hit to him. Took a little bit of a tough hop on him. But then I go back in the ninth inning, the ball up the middle that Perez hit, he wouldn't -- I don't think in April he makes that play. But now he believes he can get there and he believes he can make them and he's doing it.
Q. A lot was made about the bridge to Familia this series, in comparison to what the Royals' bullpen has. Reed and Clippard have pitched well, but you also now have Colon and Niese that you're using as a bridge. As a manager in the game tonight, how comfortable is it having four guys like that that you can use as a bridge?
TERRY COLLINS: It's very, very important to have those guys, and one of the things they bring is certainly if the game is tight or tied, they can give you innings late. And give you multiple innings, and that's why they're big. Tonight we're hoping Steve can get us through six, and then we can mix and match the next three innings.
But those guys really make it comfortable for you, because they're going to come in, and they're veteran guys, following certainly young pitching, that they're going to come in, we know what they're going to do; they're not going to beat them. And to have Bartolo and Jon down there makes it easier for me to how to maneuver the bullpen.
Q. You used Familia in the 9th despite the big lead. Was that a case of making him feel more confident and stay sharp for tonight?
TERRY COLLINS: Stay sharp for tonight is why I used him. The one thing, he hadn't pitched in two nights. You don't know when he's going to get in again. So I wanted to make sure he got an inning last night. We talked before the game, he wanted to pitch an inning. The more he pitches, the sharper he is.
Yeah, it would have been very easy to pass him last night, not to have to use him. But we don't have that many more games to play, and he's a big, strong guy that has to pitch. So I thought one inning wouldn't hurt him, and he didn't use that many pitches so he'll be ready tonight.
Q. I'm sure you've faced Edinson Volquez a lot of times in your career. Can you talk about his evolution as a pitcher to this point. And what is to say to an opponent, the willingness of this guy, what happened to him and he's coming back to pitch in Game 5?
TERRY COLLINS: Volquez is an outstanding competitive guy. You're seeing in the postseason, I mean, he's raised his game. He's raised the bar on what kind of pitcher he is. We've faced him a lot, we've never seen 97, 98 out of him; we are now. Always had the good stuff, good command, but he competes. And as we all know, when you face a situation like he did, I'm sure the one thing his father would want him to do is pitch Game 5. So you're challenged by that, the grief, and yet, hey, look, you know what would make him proud and make him happy, and that's to go out and do what you do best and that's to pitch. So I salute him because I know how hard it will be for him. Right now he's got something else to pitch for, and that's the memory of his dad. He's already tough enough.
He's an outstanding pitcher. I think what happened in Pittsburgh where they gave him the ball and rekindled his career, set him off and he's tough now.
Q. We all know the individual numbers with Cespedes. I'm wondering how his presence in your lineup radiated to others, and maybe you're seeing somewhat of that carryover has happened here into the postseason. And also just what his presence does within your lineup, whether he's producing or not.
TERRY COLLINS: Well, he's dangerous and everybody knows it. Everybody knows he's got mega power, he's a good hitter. When we got him, the entire lineup kind of took a big sigh, because we could stick him in the middle of that lineup and everyone else around him could relax a little bit because he became the guy everybody looked to carry. And as we talked about, you talk about lengthening your lineup, that's what he did. He made it easier for those guys behind him. Instead of having Wilmer Flores fourth or Travis, we've got a guy hitting 3 and 4. It made it that much easier.
So those three bats that we got, I tell you, it brought some fresh air to that clubhouse. There's really good Major League bats in the clubhouse now. So our young guys could relax and perform without having a lot of pressure on them, and that's what he's doing right now. It's like when Murphy was red hot, and you look on that bench, geez, we may have to pitch around Murphy. Well, you've got Cespedes coming up next, who could do real damage.
So his presence in our lineup is important.
Q. With Granderson, the transition he's made at the plate this year, how long did it take until you saw a committed player, that new approach kind of shining through for him?
TERRY COLLINS: I think his relationship with Kevin Long set that off in Spring Training. We had a hitters' meeting where Grandy said to the guys who did not know Kevin Long is, "Give this guy a chance to work with you." And I think certainly he's the lead dog because Kevin knows Grandy's swing better than anybody. Anytime he got out of sync or got away from the plan, there was a conversation and he was right back with it.
What he's done this year shows what kind of a player he can truly be, because he made a transition from what he was in New York just a dead-pull, fly-ball guy, to a guy who got on base, because that's what we needed him to do. That's a professional. You have to realize what you have to do to help your club and then go do it, and Grandy has done it. Look, I've got to get on base. You look up all season long, 90-something walks, and still had 25 homers. He may be the most valuable guy we've had all season long.
Q. Just to go back to Syndergaard. Do you like the idea that he went out with the mindset that I need to do something to change things? And he didn't seem to mind making them mad at him?
TERRY COLLINS: Well, I told you, he's not afraid of anybody. You're going to be mad. We would do the same thing. But I thought it was -- I did not have any idea that was his intent. But certainly I think it set a tone that, hey, look, we're in this World Series, too, and we're going to get after it.
So I'm not surprised. I don't think, again, he's intimidated by what's going on. I think he now knows he's an outstanding Major League pitcher. Some guys, they're not afraid to voice their opinion on things, and there's nothing wrong with that.
Q. Steven Matz is making his ninth Major League start and it's in the World Series. What have you said to him about this? What was that conversation like with him, if you've spoken with him either yesterday or today?
TERRY COLLINS: Well, I spoke to him when we were working out before the World Series when I told him what day he was pitching. Basically the conversation was, "Look, you're going to pitch Game 4, and you know, you're the right guy." I think his stuff and what he's done speaks for itself.
We're not afraid that we have this young guy going out there with this lack of experience. This kid is a very, very good pitcher. I think the game in Chicago really helped him. Certainly even though it's here in New York. Where he's from, I think that gives him some extra adrenaline. But I didn't have to calm him down or anything because I knew he was excited, but he pitched a big game in Chicago, too. I just wanted him to take the ball and do what he does best, and that's mix his pitches up and throw strikes. If he does that, you've got a good shot.
Q. There have been purpose pitches for a long time, and you've seen them. And I get the sense that guys used to giggle about them two months later, when they were telling stories. Yeah, you know, when Brett got knocked down by Dickie Noles, when Tommie Agee got hit by Bill Hands. Have you changed your view of those a little bit? And do you think they actually add color to the game, color that seems to be disappearing?
TERRY COLLINS: Well, again, our game has evolved into nobody certainly wants to see all of the fights that used to happen kind of regularly.
Q. Are you sure?
TERRY COLLINS: Well, they have bigger fines than they used to. They're not too happy about it, the guys that are writing those letters.
But, again, it sounds like we play a dangerous game, but you know what, we play to win. And once in a while you've got to take a stance, you have to protect your teammates and things happen. That's just been part of the game for a hundred years.
And you know what, I've been hit not on purpose -- well, probably, maybe. But it's not fun, but it's, again, it's all part of the game. And sometimes it gets your team going and sometimes it backfires and gets the other team going. We'll see what happens tonight.
Q. When you had the incident with Chase Utley during the Division Series, you sat here and said, "I understand why my players are upset, but this is not the time to retaliate." Do you understand why the Royals players are upset, and would you expect them not to retaliate for the same reason?
TERRY COLLINS: Here's what happens now, and you guys have a huge hand in this. This is now going to be blown out of proportion, because of what Noah said, and now it's a case. You know who else is reading that stuff? The umpires. So here they've got Chris Young going out tonight. Now, is he going to knock Grandy on his butt? Because if he hits them there's going to be warnings. There's going to be ejections. And that was my whole point with the Chase Utley thing. We needed to win that game. The game Matt pitched we needed to win that game. As I told Matt, "Listen, you cannot get thrown out. We cannot go out there with a warning. You can't create a warning. The next time you try to pitch inside to somebody and maybe even Chase Utley and you're ejected in the second inning, we're in trouble." And I feel that same way tonight.
Listen, for me it's over. It's something that happened last night, I moved on. I know it's a story, I totally get it, but we cannot have that, we cannot -- this World Series cannot be affected by one pitch, and somebody get ejected and then you use your bullpen, bury your bullpen for tomorrow night and you don't have them. Ned runs a good team. He runs a good game. I'm not worried about what he's going to do. Things happen in our game and we end up moving on.
Q. I heard a bit about the Matrix program you guys utilize. Do you use it any more or less in the postseason? And also generally how hard would it be to conceive of something like that in previous managerial styles?
TERRY COLLINS: The system basically is based on similar pitchers throughout that are like Chris Young tonight, it's based on what we have done against pitchers that are similar to Chris Young. There aren't many, 6'10". There just isn't many. We don't see enough of the Royals guys to have a very good sampling, if it's helpful. Matter of fact some of the examples, guys should hit this guy really good; they haven't. You look at their numbers when they have faced them, they're not very good. When you're playing in the opposite league, it hasn't helped us very much so far.