Managers take mic: Sound bites from Day 3

Mattingly talks Marlins' changes, Gardenhire discusses analytics at Winter Meetings

December 14th, 2017

Baseball continues to evolve, but today's players don't understand the game any better than their predecessors. To D-backs manager Torey Lovullo's way of thinking, anyway.

"That's a loaded question,'' Lovullo said Wednesday in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., at the Winter Meetings, when asked. "I think my dad and my grandfather, teaching me the game from the ground level, [were just as smart]. The players like Mickey Mantle and hearing stories about Mickey Mantle and Joe DiMaggio, I would say no. I would say that the players are probably just as talented, just as smart. 

"Maybe today's generation might be a little bit stronger because there's weightlifting; I don't think that was happening in the older days. … I just think it's a natural evolution where players have gotten more physical.''

Lovullo was answering questions during his scheduled media availability at the Winter Meetings. You never know what topics will be covered in those sessions, which generally cover a lot of ground.

Here are more Day 3 sound bites from Wednesday:

Distracted Donaldson?

Blue Jays manager John Gibbons made it clear he's not worried about 2015 American League MVP Award winner Josh Donaldson being distracted next season, even if he does have to deal with questions about being unsigned beyond 2018.

"Well, he's pretty good at blowing you off, too, if he don't want to talk to you,'' Gibbons said. "I don't think it will distract him. But I do know that he's -- you're not going to find a more motivated individual. You guys probably figured that out. So he knows he'll be a free agent unless, of course, we sign him. So that will motivate him more and he might have a monster year. I expect him to have a monster year, because that's what he thrives on.''

Donaldson was limited by injuries last season, playing only 113 games for the Blue Jays. He does figure to have a big season if his health is OK, which is why the Cardinals and other teams have been inquiring about possible trades.

Eight is great for Braves' bullpen

The pitching revolution is in high gear in Atlanta. Braves manager Brian Snitker says he's likely to use an eight-man bullpen all season, relying on relievers to ease the workload of his starters.

"I think probably the eight-man bullpen fits us,'' Snitker said. "I think we're going to need that flexibility in the bullpen. You learn how to run the game. It's different, I think. In the middle innings is where you really feel it.''

A 13-man pitching staff limits a team to just a four-man bench, but it's a trade that more and more teams are willing to make.

Mattingly talks Marlins' changes

Marlins manager Don Mattingly says he hasn't had many conversations with Derek Jeter since he took over as the team's chief executive officer.

"There's not been a ton of interaction,'' Mattingly said. "We had meetings in the winter and really [it was] what I expected -- him laying out to us where we're going, how we're going to get there. Laying out to us that we're going to have a plan, and we're not changing. We're sticking with it. We'll make adjustments. I'm sure there will be adjustments in how you're going to get there. But it's what I expected.''

Miami traded on Wednesday, two days after the trade became official. 

Gardenhire on growth of analytics

The Tigers' Ron Gardenhire doesn't hide his tie to baseball's old school. He admitted he's never "really gotten into" the science of defensive shifting, saying that he and his former bench coach (Paul Molitor) tried to copy other teams when he managed Minnesota.

"Probably our best means at the time was watch videos of other teams and how they're playing guys, and we started talking about it, and we started doing it,'' Gardenhire said. "It was kind of entertaining. It's something else to keep you entertained during a game. 'Hey, let's put this guy over here and see if somebody hits it to him.'''

Gardenhire was the D-backs' bench coach last year, and they rely heavily on analytics.

"Believe me, there's so much information out there that tells you where they're going to hit these balls,'' he said. "We've got charts. We have all those things, [spray] charts and things, and we'll use those. It's another way that baseball's helping. I mean, honestly, these analytics really help you.''

No arms for sale in Cleveland

Indians manager Terry Francona was asked about the annual rumors about trading from his strong starting rotation to improve the lineup.

"How many trades have you seen? None,'' Francona said. "Yeah, I wouldn't blame teams to come to the Meetings and ask us about our pitching, because we think we have pretty good pitching. But you haven't seen any of them leave either. We value it a lot. Unless somebody just knocks your doors off, we plan on keeping it.''

No more starter shuffling in Cincy?

Reds manager Bryan Price hopes that 2018 is the year he stops shuffling starting pitchers. 

"As of today, I would say I've got four guys in mind that I'm really comfortable with in the rotation,'' Price said. "For me, [they] would be considered locks.''

Cincinnati used 16 starters in 2017 and 15 in '16. Price says , Homer Bailey, and are likely set for Opening Day, with as the favorite for the fifth starter's spot. Pretty sure he'd love to see all five get 25-plus starts.