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Winter Meetings interview with Jeff Banister

MLB.com

Q. Since you guys are involving every player out there, are you going to have a charter plane to bring them all back?
JEFF BANISTER: That's a good way to start.

Q. How have your few days been here?
JEFF BANISTER: They have been good. Really, it's an opportunity to continue to talk about all the things that we've talked about prior to the season ending, and then afterwards, the planning, putting together a list of players, potential players, what we feel are players that could possibly help our club. And then to continue that process and really see the process -- I don't want to say heat up, but get closer.

Q. There's outfield at-bats available. Are you guys putting a higher premium on defense in those positions?
JEFF BANISTER: Yeah, it's a good question, in the sense that I think both are valuable. Now, if you can cover both aspects of that, especially in center field spot, then obviously that's a tremendous player, one that can play plus defense for you, and then be productive in really one of the better parts of your lineup.

So reality is that the better that we get defensively, the better we're going to make our starting pitching and relief pitching core. The situation last year, really felt like -- take a step back and look at our club, a club that won 95 games; however, we still need to get better on defense. And if that's a player that can go out into the outfield, play center field and be a dynamic center fielder for us; and that's not to say that Ian Desmond -- Ian Desmond was a solid outfielder for us, a solid player.

Just, look, you are constantly looking to get better, and I think that is one spot that we can really concentrate on.

Q. What is keeping Delino DeShields from being considered a premium defensive center fielder?
JEFF BANISTER: Well, look, we like Delino. There is potential to be a solid defensive outfielder, a center fielder. He possesses the skill set to do that. I think obviously the time that you get to play, in his case, it is going to allow him to get better, continue to work.

I think he's got the first step. It's angles; it's the correct angles to the baseball. But also, just at the Major League level, it takes time. It takes reps. It takes game time to get better at this level, and so I think he continues to do that. He's got to continue to improve on the ability to show up for every single pitch, be focused in on where we need to play, the depths, the positioning, and then understand the matchup between the pitcher, the hitter, so that as he anticipates jumps, that his breaks are right on point.

Because playing center field, you've got to be correct. I think Delino has those abilities. He's just got to continue to become more consistent.

Q. Last year at the Winter Meetings, you weren't looking for a center fielder because you had one. Now this year you're looking for a center fielder, although you still have the same guy. What changed in the course of a year?
JEFF BANISTER: I don't know that it did necessarily; that part of it has changed. I think you look at it, it's do we have the ability -- and we can. We can fill in in center field internally. We know that.

Is there an option for us to be better; is there a player that can be dynamic on both sides of the ball, that is proven and has been there and has the skins on the wall, if you will. So that part of it -- look, the other thing with that is it's not just center field. We need to have some left field options, also.

Q. You guys have a Gold Glover at first base.
JEFF BANISTER: First of all, Gold Glover, I don't know that you expect that from one of those three. Took Mitch a while to earn a Gold Glove, and really commend him for the work that he did to get himself to that point, because he worked as hard as anybody, and I think it showed all year long.

Profar, Rua, you mentioned Joey, I think we saw last year, in the case of Profar, that look, he has the skill set, the tools, this is a shortstop that's going over to play first base, so the added range. So to be able to play first at that level, it's time, depth, where he's at in relationship to the bag.

We saw a couple times he went after balls that an experienced first baseman probably doesn't go after, and then there are balls that an experienced first baseman that goes after that he didn't. So he needs to be able to learn the position.

The more he plays, obviously he's going to get better at it because he has that skill set. Rua, we've seen it. This is a guy that we feel is athletic enough to play that position. He has the hands, has the footwork. He's been over there. He made some great plays over there last year when he was over there, but I don't really feel like -- not going to call him a gold glover, but the defensive production didn't drop off as much as you'd think, when Rua was over there.

Q. What is Joey's status with the team?
JEFF BANISTER: Joey continues to progress. He went to winter ball, was not there for a long period of time, but I think that we still consider Joey as a tremendous talent, a guy that's going to continue to progress.

Obviously come to Spring Training with us and fight and try to contend for a position. Now, we've got to evaluate all of our players, where they fit on the team, and then evaluate whether or not that the best thing for Joey is to be on a Major League team or to continue to get at-bats.

Look, when you dial down on a Joey Gallo and you look at the velocity when he puts the ball in play, he's in an elite category. So we know the potential there. It's just the ability to be consistent with the potential.

Q. What does he have to do? You guys do have a hole at first base. What does Joey still have to do?
JEFF BANISTER: First, we have to evaluate whether or not all those players, how they fit together, how you construct a team. It's not just, a plug-and-play type situation, where you say, I'm just going to take this player and plug him in and let him go play.

It's how do each one of these players, how do they work together in a lineup. And the other part of that is, when you get to the Big Leagues, you've still got to put some numbers on the board. You've still got to be able to produce. You've still got to show the ability to play at this level.

Now, if it it's 2000 at-bats or 2,010 at-bats, or 2,100 at-bats, however many it takes for the guy to be ready, look, there's no exact number for that. I get it. I understand that. He's put up some monster numbers at the Minor League level and he's also been challenged at the Major League level.

The thing that we need to have for Joey is, again, it comes down to consistency. It comes down to showing the ability to make adjustments and handle the Major League life. This is a tough place to play. It's not just show up and play. There's some meritorious events that have to happen to be able to play at the Major League level.

Q. Are there other first base candidates?
JEFF BANISTER: It's a good question, because the thing that we like about having Chirinos on our club so much is, look, it's still a front line catcher. Chirinos is a front line catcher, and we have an opportunity to keep a guy like Lucroy fresh, keep his legs fresh, keep him athletic, because we do have the ability; that if we want to play him at first base, we can put him over there and have Chirinos catch and not feel like that really we're missing out behind the plate and we still have Lucroy's bat in the lineup. That's an option we're looking at, the ability to do that.

Q. You said that a player has to fit in a lineup; can you elaborate on what you mean by that?
JEFF BANISTER: Yeah, how they work together. Look, you stack a whole lineup of guys of high strikeout rates, the swing and miss rate is not going to be conducive to actually putting runs on the board at a consistent rate.

It's ability to -- what a pitcher has to face on a given night, whether it's a right-handed lineup or a left-handed lineup or a mixture of speed, guys with power, guys that can hit. Because there are nights that you're going to face certain pitchers that, look, their stuff is going to be better tonight than the next time you face them and do you have a group of hitters that you can put in the lineup that, A, can play the type of game where they can play a little small ball, if you will, that's what it's called, where they can get on base or the hit and run, to move, steal bases, things like that.

And also, how does a hitter, in front of you, affect the at-bat that you're going to have. There are guys that are pitch collectors, if you will. They are going up there and not swinging at the first pitch or making an out on the first three pitches, and they can grind at-bats out. It does take a toll on a pitcher that the guy understands that and he can take an at-bat behind a guy like that.

I believe, it's my opinion, that every at-bat affects the other and how each one of these guys take an at-bat affects the other. It does -- I believe it shows up in run production and I believe it shows up at the end of the game, when a lot of games are won, when you come from behind, or the ability to add.

Q. How does a set lineup, versus shuffling a lineup to fit around certain guys, work into that equation?
JEFF BANISTER: I think that a set lineup is a mind-set. Same way that being able to shuffle guys around in a lineup is a mind-set; that traditionally, you see a set lineup, so much so that numbers were -- guys started having numbers on the back of their jerseys because of where they get in the lineup. That's how strict they were at the time. I think we've learned now that albeit, that that is -- that works, it works for some, doesn't always work for others.

I think that the pitcher that you face on any given night, you know, what he has, his challenges, what can you present to him that is going to give him the greatest challenge, but the ability to kind of maneuver guys around the lineup, whether you stack the top four guys at the top, that are -- again, they take an at-bat, they're pitch collectors, they wear pitchers down, because we have so much knowledge now and data collected on the cause and effect on pitchers, that we can put lineups together that might present the best challenge against that guy on any given night.

Q. Would you like to look at the end of the year and see (indiscernible)?
JEFF BANISTER: I think there's an option for him to be able to DH and maintain energy and health, if a guy is coming off a year with some unforeseen injuries, so there are some options there for him to collect some DH at-bats, but we also feel he is an outfielder for us also.

Q. Is there anything that you wish you would have done differently or anything you've read about the way Gallo was used or developed the last couple years?
JEFF BANISTER: I think we learn from every situation, because we don't really know the outcome till it happens. We brought him up in a situation of, he performed quick and had some early success. And then there were some challenges for him. I think the challenges that he had late in the first year were just kind of a product of some of the pitchers that they learn a lot of young guys when they come up.

Would we do things differently? I think in hindsight we look and we always think about things that we can do differently. I think the greater question is, what can we do going forward to continue to help this guy grow into the player that we think he is going to grow into.

Q. Has the rise in home runs around the league changed the way you view -- when you talk about putting your lineup together or the hooks for starters, has that changed in the last year and a half?
JEFF BANISTER: I think obviously you watch the game of baseball, you see that it's changed. I think that you watch the playoffs, and how pitchers were used, some of the guys out of the bullpen; even we used Matt Bush for a lengthy period of time in the playoffs.

However, the rise in home runs, I think that there is also trends in that, too, over the course of a number of years, where you see trends upwards and you see the trends go down, too.

Constructing lineups, I think the information that we gather now that allow us to put players in a lineup, and we're not -- you see managers who aren't opposed to taking those guys and putting them in the 2-hole and lead them off and really capitalize on that extra at-bat.

Q. Do you think Matt Bush could be a starting pitcher?
JEFF BANISTER: That's a great question. There's still a lot of unknowns about Matt Bush. So to sit here and say, do I think he could start? Look, Matt has got a great arm. He's also in his 30s. I know that there's some talk, and I've heard and read the quotes about, it's a fresh arm. He's still 30.

And so what we have to evaluate, A, what's best for Matt Bush and what's best for the Texas Rangers, and what I know is that he's going to come to Spring Training and he's going to pitch for us. We pushed the limits of what Matt was I think able to do last year, not only in appearances but in innings pitched, and at the end, with a number of innings that he pitched in the last game of the playoffs. I think that if he doesn't pitch that many innings in one single game, I don't know that we have this question.

But we can dream and we can think. The thing that we've got to continually do is evaluate what we think is best for Matt and the Texas Rangers, and I'm not going to put a sight on either way, say this guy's going to be -- we're going to try him as a starter. I don't think you can try anything in this game. I think what you do is evaluate and make the best decision you possibly can of equally what's best for both the player and the organization.

Q. From a superficial -- I know you've given it a whole lot more than a superficial glance, but what does the decision come down to on whether value as a starter versus value as a reliever?
JEFF BANISTER: First of all, I think there's value in both, and there's value obviously in starting pitchers. You just look at how starting pitching is paid for. You know, you need to have those guys and they need to pitch innings for you. They are dynamic. However, the guys in the bullpen, those are dynamic innings, also. They can create wins, they can create losses. So the decision for me is not as simple as saying, oh, well, he's too short or he hasn't done it. I mean, the evaluation is really based on, look, what is best for Matt Bush. Let's do some investigating and let's educate ourselves on the process.

Our organization, there's a number of organizations have done this and have been successful and some haven't. The thing is, he's in his 30s, hasn't pitched for a while, he's come on the scene and performed extremely well. Let's see how he responds coming out of last year, where he's at going into Spring Training, and let us kind of make those decisions along the way.

For us, going into Spring Training, I've got to evaluate this guy as a pretty dynamic, back of the bullpen-type pitcher, and those are at high value. They are important. You need them. You need those guys that are going to be able to shut down those innings and close games out for you, and he possesses that quality.

Q. Do you guys -- one time before you were here, they looked at Ryan as an everyday player. Do you guys still view that as a possibility?
JEFF BANISTER: Well, still, look, we gave Ryan everyday at-bats last year along the way. It's kind of unfortunate last year, but Ian Desmond came along, Nomar Mazara came up, performed really well. And then Gomez became available to us.

So Ryan was a guy that if you want to point and look at, unfortunate in the sense that there were some at-bats that he lost to some other guys that were performing very well. I liked Ryan and what he did for us last year. Obviously he came up with some huge at-bats for us along the way and played well. We asked him to come up faster and be a better hitter, and he did that for us.

I look at Ryan as one of those guys to be an option to have some everyday at-bats for us. He's got to come in during the spring and continue to be consistent with those at-bats.

Q. It's difficult to put the pieces together without a full roster, but how much time have you spent looking at the schedule, what the DL may look like next year?
JEFF BANISTER: Yeah, right now with -- obviously the DL situation is new to us and we have some guys that are looking into that, the prospects, and how that would look. I think you know my thoughts on a six-man rotation and how that might play out. Am I intrigued with that? I think eventually that's possibly where we might go, I mean, as an industry. You never know. It gets talked about more, how do we keep our starters healthier, longer. So I think we continue to look at it.

Q. You look at it as some things that you would potentially try?
JEFF BANISTER: I look at it as something that intrigues me, how it fits. And, again, we've talked about it. It's a little more complicated than just saying we've got six starters and we've got a number of days, games to play, off-days coming to play, and keeping everybody on turn, fresh and what that looks like, and then conditioning guys to be able to -- with that same routine.

Q. Last spring, we asked a lot of questions about Darvish (indiscernible) and you said I've seen this guy pitch one inning. Now you've seen him pitch over a hundred innings and had time to consider. Where is he on his career path right now?
JEFF BANISTER: Oh, I think if you're talking whether he's trending up or flat lining, I think this guy is obviously trending up, in the sense that he's got a fresh arm. He's prepared, learned how to pitch in the sense of what it feels like -- and I don't -- he's Yu Darvish. When these guys come back from Tommy John surgery, it's time off, time away. It's a new feel for them. They have to learn what it feels like again.

We saw that kind of transformation in his trek back in games. We saw some games where he didn't quite have the necessary feel that it takes with the breaking stuff, with the curveball, slider and the change. However, then we saw some dynamic fastball life and velocity. How he was able to combine the two down the stretch. I think that that is -- makes me think that this guy is poised this coming year to have a pretty dynamic year.

I think he's motivated. I think that the body feels good, the arm feels good, and the mind-set is that he's ready to go out and trust and pitch very well.

Q. Since you guys are involving every player out there, are you going to have a charter plane to bring them all back?
JEFF BANISTER: That's a good way to start.

Q. How have your few days been here?
JEFF BANISTER: They have been good. Really, it's an opportunity to continue to talk about all the things that we've talked about prior to the season ending, and then afterwards, the planning, putting together a list of players, potential players, what we feel are players that could possibly help our club. And then to continue that process and really see the process -- I don't want to say heat up, but get closer.

Q. There's outfield at-bats available. Are you guys putting a higher premium on defense in those positions?
JEFF BANISTER: Yeah, it's a good question, in the sense that I think both are valuable. Now, if you can cover both aspects of that, especially in center field spot, then obviously that's a tremendous player, one that can play plus defense for you, and then be productive in really one of the better parts of your lineup.

So reality is that the better that we get defensively, the better we're going to make our starting pitching and relief pitching core. The situation last year, really felt like -- take a step back and look at our club, a club that won 95 games; however, we still need to get better on defense. And if that's a player that can go out into the outfield, play center field and be a dynamic center fielder for us; and that's not to say that Ian Desmond -- Ian Desmond was a solid outfielder for us, a solid player.

Just, look, you are constantly looking to get better, and I think that is one spot that we can really concentrate on.

Q. What is keeping Delino DeShields from being considered a premium defensive center fielder?
JEFF BANISTER: Well, look, we like Delino. There is potential to be a solid defensive outfielder, a center fielder. He possesses the skill set to do that. I think obviously the time that you get to play, in his case, it is going to allow him to get better, continue to work.

I think he's got the first step. It's angles; it's the correct angles to the baseball. But also, just at the Major League level, it takes time. It takes reps. It takes game time to get better at this level, and so I think he continues to do that. He's got to continue to improve on the ability to show up for every single pitch, be focused in on where we need to play, the depths, the positioning, and then understand the matchup between the pitcher, the hitter, so that as he anticipates jumps, that his breaks are right on point.

Because playing center field, you've got to be correct. I think Delino has those abilities. He's just got to continue to become more consistent.

Q. Last year at the Winter Meetings, you weren't looking for a center fielder because you had one. Now this year you're looking for a center fielder, although you still have the same guy. What changed in the course of a year?
JEFF BANISTER: I don't know that it did necessarily; that part of it has changed. I think you look at it, it's do we have the ability -- and we can. We can fill in in center field internally. We know that.

Is there an option for us to be better; is there a player that can be dynamic on both sides of the ball, that is proven and has been there and has the skins on the wall, if you will. So that part of it -- look, the other thing with that is it's not just center field. We need to have some left field options, also.

Q. You guys have a Gold Glover at first base.
JEFF BANISTER: First of all, Gold Glover, I don't know that you expect that from one of those three. Took Mitch a while to earn a Gold Glove, and really commend him for the work that he did to get himself to that point, because he worked as hard as anybody, and I think it showed all year long.

Profar, Rua, you mentioned Joey, I think we saw last year, in the case of Profar, that look, he has the skill set, the tools, this is a shortstop that's going over to play first base, so the added range. So to be able to play first at that level, it's time, depth, where he's at in relationship to the bag.

We saw a couple times he went after balls that an experienced first baseman probably doesn't go after, and then there are balls that an experienced first baseman that goes after that he didn't. So he needs to be able to learn the position.

The more he plays, obviously he's going to get better at it because he has that skill set. Rua, we've seen it. This is a guy that we feel is athletic enough to play that position. He has the hands, has the footwork. He's been over there. He made some great plays over there last year when he was over there, but I don't really feel like -- not going to call him a gold glover, but the defensive production didn't drop off as much as you'd think, when Rua was over there.

Q. What is Joey's status with the team?
JEFF BANISTER: Joey continues to progress. He went to winter ball, was not there for a long period of time, but I think that we still consider Joey as a tremendous talent, a guy that's going to continue to progress.

Obviously come to Spring Training with us and fight and try to contend for a position. Now, we've got to evaluate all of our players, where they fit on the team, and then evaluate whether or not that the best thing for Joey is to be on a Major League team or to continue to get at-bats.

Look, when you dial down on a Joey Gallo and you look at the velocity when he puts the ball in play, he's in an elite category. So we know the potential there. It's just the ability to be consistent with the potential.

Q. What does he have to do? You guys do have a hole at first base. What does Joey still have to do?
JEFF BANISTER: First, we have to evaluate whether or not all those players, how they fit together, how you construct a team. It's not just, a plug-and-play type situation, where you say, I'm just going to take this player and plug him in and let him go play.

It's how do each one of these players, how do they work together in a lineup. And the other part of that is, when you get to the Big Leagues, you've still got to put some numbers on the board. You've still got to be able to produce. You've still got to show the ability to play at this level.

Now, if it it's 2000 at-bats or 2,010 at-bats, or 2,100 at-bats, however many it takes for the guy to be ready, look, there's no exact number for that. I get it. I understand that. He's put up some monster numbers at the Minor League level and he's also been challenged at the Major League level.

The thing that we need to have for Joey is, again, it comes down to consistency. It comes down to showing the ability to make adjustments and handle the Major League life. This is a tough place to play. It's not just show up and play. There's some meritorious events that have to happen to be able to play at the Major League level.

Q. Are there other first base candidates?
JEFF BANISTER: It's a good question, because the thing that we like about having Chirinos on our club so much is, look, it's still a front line catcher. Chirinos is a front line catcher, and we have an opportunity to keep a guy like Lucroy fresh, keep his legs fresh, keep him athletic, because we do have the ability; that if we want to play him at first base, we can put him over there and have Chirinos catch and not feel like that really we're missing out behind the plate and we still have Lucroy's bat in the lineup. That's an option we're looking at, the ability to do that.

Q. You said that a player has to fit in a lineup; can you elaborate on what you mean by that?
JEFF BANISTER: Yeah, how they work together. Look, you stack a whole lineup of guys of high strikeout rates, the swing and miss rate is not going to be conducive to actually putting runs on the board at a consistent rate.

It's ability to -- what a pitcher has to face on a given night, whether it's a right-handed lineup or a left-handed lineup or a mixture of speed, guys with power, guys that can hit. Because there are nights that you're going to face certain pitchers that, look, their stuff is going to be better tonight than the next time you face them and do you have a group of hitters that you can put in the lineup that, A, can play the type of game where they can play a little small ball, if you will, that's what it's called, where they can get on base or the hit and run, to move, steal bases, things like that.

And also, how does a hitter, in front of you, affect the at-bat that you're going to have. There are guys that are pitch collectors, if you will. They are going up there and not swinging at the first pitch or making an out on the first three pitches, and they can grind at-bats out. It does take a toll on a pitcher that the guy understands that and he can take an at-bat behind a guy like that.

I believe, it's my opinion, that every at-bat affects the other and how each one of these guys take an at-bat affects the other. It does -- I believe it shows up in run production and I believe it shows up at the end of the game, when a lot of games are won, when you come from behind, or the ability to add.

Q. How does a set lineup, versus shuffling a lineup to fit around certain guys, work into that equation?
JEFF BANISTER: I think that a set lineup is a mind-set. Same way that being able to shuffle guys around in a lineup is a mind-set; that traditionally, you see a set lineup, so much so that numbers were -- guys started having numbers on the back of their jerseys because of where they get in the lineup. That's how strict they were at the time. I think we've learned now that albeit, that that is -- that works, it works for some, doesn't always work for others.

I think that the pitcher that you face on any given night, you know, what he has, his challenges, what can you present to him that is going to give him the greatest challenge, but the ability to kind of maneuver guys around the lineup, whether you stack the top four guys at the top, that are -- again, they take an at-bat, they're pitch collectors, they wear pitchers down, because we have so much knowledge now and data collected on the cause and effect on pitchers, that we can put lineups together that might present the best challenge against that guy on any given night.

Q. Would you like to look at the end of the year and see (indiscernible)?
JEFF BANISTER: I think there's an option for him to be able to DH and maintain energy and health, if a guy is coming off a year with some unforeseen injuries, so there are some options there for him to collect some DH at-bats, but we also feel he is an outfielder for us also.

Q. Is there anything that you wish you would have done differently or anything you've read about the way Gallo was used or developed the last couple years?
JEFF BANISTER: I think we learn from every situation, because we don't really know the outcome till it happens. We brought him up in a situation of, he performed quick and had some early success. And then there were some challenges for him. I think the challenges that he had late in the first year were just kind of a product of some of the pitchers that they learn a lot of young guys when they come up.

Would we do things differently? I think in hindsight we look and we always think about things that we can do differently. I think the greater question is, what can we do going forward to continue to help this guy grow into the player that we think he is going to grow into.

Q. Has the rise in home runs around the league changed the way you view -- when you talk about putting your lineup together or the hooks for starters, has that changed in the last year and a half?
JEFF BANISTER: I think obviously you watch the game of baseball, you see that it's changed. I think that you watch the playoffs, and how pitchers were used, some of the guys out of the bullpen; even we used Matt Bush for a lengthy period of time in the playoffs.

However, the rise in home runs, I think that there is also trends in that, too, over the course of a number of years, where you see trends upwards and you see the trends go down, too.

Constructing lineups, I think the information that we gather now that allow us to put players in a lineup, and we're not -- you see managers who aren't opposed to taking those guys and putting them in the 2-hole and lead them off and really capitalize on that extra at-bat.

Q. Do you think Matt Bush could be a starting pitcher?
JEFF BANISTER: That's a great question. There's still a lot of unknowns about Matt Bush. So to sit here and say, do I think he could start? Look, Matt has got a great arm. He's also in his 30s. I know that there's some talk, and I've heard and read the quotes about, it's a fresh arm. He's still 30.

And so what we have to evaluate, A, what's best for Matt Bush and what's best for the Texas Rangers, and what I know is that he's going to come to Spring Training and he's going to pitch for us. We pushed the limits of what Matt was I think able to do last year, not only in appearances but in innings pitched, and at the end, with a number of innings that he pitched in the last game of the playoffs. I think that if he doesn't pitch that many innings in one single game, I don't know that we have this question.

But we can dream and we can think. The thing that we've got to continually do is evaluate what we think is best for Matt and the Texas Rangers, and I'm not going to put a sight on either way, say this guy's going to be -- we're going to try him as a starter. I don't think you can try anything in this game. I think what you do is evaluate and make the best decision you possibly can of equally what's best for both the player and the organization.

Q. From a superficial -- I know you've given it a whole lot more than a superficial glance, but what does the decision come down to on whether value as a starter versus value as a reliever?
JEFF BANISTER: First of all, I think there's value in both, and there's value obviously in starting pitchers. You just look at how starting pitching is paid for. You know, you need to have those guys and they need to pitch innings for you. They are dynamic. However, the guys in the bullpen, those are dynamic innings, also. They can create wins, they can create losses. So the decision for me is not as simple as saying, oh, well, he's too short or he hasn't done it. I mean, the evaluation is really based on, look, what is best for Matt Bush. Let's do some investigating and let's educate ourselves on the process.

Our organization, there's a number of organizations have done this and have been successful and some haven't. The thing is, he's in his 30s, hasn't pitched for a while, he's come on the scene and performed extremely well. Let's see how he responds coming out of last year, where he's at going into Spring Training, and let us kind of make those decisions along the way.

For us, going into Spring Training, I've got to evaluate this guy as a pretty dynamic, back of the bullpen-type pitcher, and those are at high value. They are important. You need them. You need those guys that are going to be able to shut down those innings and close games out for you, and he possesses that quality.

Q. Do you guys -- one time before you were here, they looked at Ryan as an everyday player. Do you guys still view that as a possibility?
JEFF BANISTER: Well, still, look, we gave Ryan everyday at-bats last year along the way. It's kind of unfortunate last year, but Ian Desmond came along, Nomar Mazara came up, performed really well. And then Gomez became available to us.

So Ryan was a guy that if you want to point and look at, unfortunate in the sense that there were some at-bats that he lost to some other guys that were performing very well. I liked Ryan and what he did for us last year. Obviously he came up with some huge at-bats for us along the way and played well. We asked him to come up faster and be a better hitter, and he did that for us.

I look at Ryan as one of those guys to be an option to have some everyday at-bats for us. He's got to come in during the spring and continue to be consistent with those at-bats.

Q. It's difficult to put the pieces together without a full roster, but how much time have you spent looking at the schedule, what the DL may look like next year?
JEFF BANISTER: Yeah, right now with -- obviously the DL situation is new to us and we have some guys that are looking into that, the prospects, and how that would look. I think you know my thoughts on a six-man rotation and how that might play out. Am I intrigued with that? I think eventually that's possibly where we might go, I mean, as an industry. You never know. It gets talked about more, how do we keep our starters healthier, longer. So I think we continue to look at it.

Q. You look at it as some things that you would potentially try?
JEFF BANISTER: I look at it as something that intrigues me, how it fits. And, again, we've talked about it. It's a little more complicated than just saying we've got six starters and we've got a number of days, games to play, off-days coming to play, and keeping everybody on turn, fresh and what that looks like, and then conditioning guys to be able to -- with that same routine.

Q. Last spring, we asked a lot of questions about Darvish (indiscernible) and you said I've seen this guy pitch one inning. Now you've seen him pitch over a hundred innings and had time to consider. Where is he on his career path right now?
JEFF BANISTER: Oh, I think if you're talking whether he's trending up or flat lining, I think this guy is obviously trending up, in the sense that he's got a fresh arm. He's prepared, learned how to pitch in the sense of what it feels like -- and I don't -- he's Yu Darvish. When these guys come back from Tommy John surgery, it's time off, time away. It's a new feel for them. They have to learn what it feels like again.

We saw that kind of transformation in his trek back in games. We saw some games where he didn't quite have the necessary feel that it takes with the breaking stuff, with the curveball, slider and the change. However, then we saw some dynamic fastball life and velocity. How he was able to combine the two down the stretch. I think that that is -- makes me think that this guy is poised this coming year to have a pretty dynamic year.

I think he's motivated. I think that the body feels good, the arm feels good, and the mind-set is that he's ready to go out and trust and pitch very well.

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