Winter Meetings interview with Terry Collins
Q. What position do you think Granderson will play?
TERRY COLLINS: I don't really have it in place yet. Again, until we get to spring training and we see what the final pieces are, you know, you've got obviously with Juan in centerfield, if Chris can play centerfield, and Eric Young's still in the mix if he's in left. I really don't know yet. I just know he'll be out there, that's all I can tell you.
Q. Do you consider him a home run hitter?
TERRY COLLINS: I do.
TERRY COLLINS: He knows how to work the count. He knows how to lift the ball. He's got the quick bat. He's primarily a pull guy. I think his numbers dictate. Even though at Yankee Stadium, he don't hit three home runs just in one park. He hits them all over the place, and he hits them a long way. So I consider him a power hitter, and that's why one of the best things that we're looking for is someone that can protect David. If it's a left‑handed batter, he's the perfect guy.
Q. I was going to ask that, David hasn't had a guy for a couple of years who has consistently protected him. What would that do for David's game?
TERRY COLLINS: I think, number one, they've got Curtis hitting behind him now, they've got to make a decision. They're going to go after David Wright or Curt Granderson and guys on base. So David's patient enough to take the base‑on balls, especially if he knows the guy can bat behind him. He'll get better pitches to hit each at‑bat. And if David gets pitches to hit, he does damage.
Q. You mentioned he's a home run hitter, but do you think there is a possibility he can reverse and hit doubles, triples?
TERRY COLLINS: In our park, yeah. He's got great legs. And as we saw Jose do, he's going to hit some triples in our park. So I do believe he's an extra base kind of a player.
Q. Even with the Yankees there was light up there usually (No microphone). He was never one of the top, top guys despite his accomplishments. Do you worry at all about the pressure of hitting in the middle of the order? Is he expected to deliver and knock runs in in the middle of the order?
TERRY COLLINS: Well, we're certainly hoping that he'll have enough guys spaced out through that lineup to give him help. I don't know who is going to hit behind him. It could be Chris Young, it could be the first baseman, it could be anyone. I'm not sure who it is yet.
One of the things I told Curtis when I talked to him today, he's going to be told, it's not Yankee Stadium. It's not Yankee Stadium, but it's a ballpark and it's a fair park. Don't be afraid to be yourself. Don't try to do too much. One thing you can't try to do is think you have to hit the ball harder. Just hit it, and if you put it in play in our park, you can get hits. I've seen other teams and our guys do it.
Q. At the end of the season you expressed concern about the high number of strikeouts at‑bat (No microphone). Granderson strikes out a lot. Any concerns about that and how it might go down?
TERRY COLLINS: I'm not as concerned about strikeouts as I am producing some runs. You know, home run hitters strike out. That's not a concern of mine. The concern was we have a lineup that struck out a lot and didn't produce ‑‑ didn't hit balls out of the ballpark, so it was tough for us to score runs. Tough for us to come from behind when we had guys that weren't getting on base.
Again, I think it's a great spot for Curtis. I think he'll be a big part of our lineup. I think this is a great chance for Chris Young to show everybody, you know what, he's still an outstanding player.
Q. Where's Bobby Parnell now?
TERRY COLLINS: Bobby Parnell is going ‑‑ I believe it's 16th, if I'm not mistaken, 16th through 17th he goes back to see the doctor that did the surgery, and hopefully he will be able to start resuming some baseball activities. But I don't know where he is at the moment. He's feeling better.
Q. You had talked about losing the 30 pounds and you were concerned for him. Are you past that now where you're confident when you give him the ball in spring training, he's going to be the closer?
TERRY COLLINS: We've got to wait to see how he shows up, where he's at in a month. He hasn't done much yet, so he's got to get himself in shape. I think get his legs underneath him and start throwing. We'll just have to wait to see. Bobby has always been a guy that's down there in January anyways.
Q. Have you talked to him?
TERRY COLLINS: I haven't talked to him.
Q. How are you approaching the rotation right now? You've got the three guys you know, and then you don't know after that?
TERRY COLLINS: You guys know me. I really look at what we have in house. I have nothing else to go on. So I have my hand in the mix, certainly for sure.
After that, I'm not sure who it will be. If one of those young kids steps up and shows us that he's ready, it could be him. There's nothing wrong. There's got to be a rookie of the year somewhere. There is no reason it can't be one of our guys.
Q. How important in your mind is it to have a veteran at shortstop to at least push Tejada, if nothing else?
TERRY COLLINS: I think right now Rueben Tejada is the shortstop. He's what we've got. I think he's learned a tremendous lesson. Obviously, he went to get himself in shape this winter. He's going back to get ready for spring training. I think he's bound and determined to show everybody that he is the guy. But if not, we've certainly got to examine the possibility of bringing somebody else in. If it's a veteran guy, I think that would be good for Rueben to be around a guy with a little more experience.
Q. In the absence of Eric Young, Jr. in the lineup, you really don't have a leadoff hitter, do you?
TERRY COLLINS: Not yet. We talked last year about Murph maybe leading off, but I haven't gone there. I know Chris Young led off some in Arizona. But until, again, I see what the pieces are in the clubhouse, I don't have to write a lineup until the end of February.
Q. Tejada's done it before. I guess it he showed you something in spring training?
TERRY COLLINS: If Rueben Tejada does what we know he can do, he could be that guy because he gets on base. He gives you great at‑bats and gets on base.
Q. I know you're trying not to (No microphone). Does any part of you fear that if he has the potential to go somewhere else?
TERRY COLLINS: Well, you know, you can't really worry about it. Because, number one, you've got to tip your hat to the player. But whoever is going to be at first base in our lineup, obviously, he's got to get the job done, because that's a position where we need some offense. That's why we've had to go out and do what we did now. Those guys are there, and they have the potential to drive in runs and help us be successful.
But if we trade Ike Davis and he goes someplace else and hits 35 homers, he should. He's got that ability.
Q. Why hasn't it worked out for Davis so far?
TERRY COLLINS: Well, I'm not really sure. I know that those kind of guys, they really, there is a time where they've got to hit a homer. They've got to hit a homer. Singles don't get it. So I know that there are times that they'll probably press a little bit knowing they've got to produce runs and that's part of it.
Again, I can't answer what's in Ike's head. I don't know. But I do know a few years ago, this guy all the talk was he was going to be sent out. When he didn't, he settled down, relaxed and had a great second half. He tried to do it this year, but couldn't get it going. But certainly it's still in there. He's still big and strong. If he's in our camp, we've got to get him going to where he was two years ago.
Q. Did you get the reports on anyone from Michigan or any reports on him so far?
TERRY COLLINS: I did. He's limited due to the lower body stuff because of the leg. I've talked to a couple of people who were there who said he's gotten stronger. He looks in better shape, he's going back in January, so I think he's a great sign. It's going to pay the price.
Q. Are you comfortable going into spring training with him?
TERRY COLLINS: Yes.
Q. What gives you that confidence?
TERRY COLLINS: You talk to these guys and look them in the eye and you can tell when they're upset with what's happened. Rueben Tejada was upset.
Q. When was he upset?
TERRY COLLINS: At the end of the year when he got hurt. He knew it. We talked about the importance of him understanding that this is not just a five‑month or six‑month job. Not our game anymore. This guy has ‑‑ this is his career that's at stake here. If he's willing to pay the price and get himself to where he was a couple years ago, then he can play a long time because he's a good player.
Q. Were there (No microphone)?
TERRY COLLINS: Again, when you're talking to a guy and say, hey, look, your career's on the line, well, there is no other way to put it, no way to sugar coat it.
I think Rueben understood that. He was not happy with what happened. He said I'm going to come in and be the shortstop. I truly believe that's what will happen.
Q. He's had his ups and downs, were you surprised and disappointed when conditioning was still an issue last year? It's a pretty basic thing. Could you see this becoming an issue as the season progressed and it became an issue.
TERRY COLLINS: We certainly came into spring training because of the year before, he came in early because he wanted to show us that, hey, I'm doing what you want me to do. I'm going to come into camp early and get ready to play. I don't know what the physical regimen is for his workout, but I know he wanted to get stronger.
Again, when you're down without someone looking over your shoulder and making sure you're doing the right thing, I don't know what it was. But I know that Rueben just got a little thicker because he was so into the weights trying to get stronger. We told him we wanted him to get stronger, and I think they've changed the way he handles himself.
Q. With Travis d'Arnaud, do you want him working this winter? Is he working with anyone in spring training to do that?
TERRY COLLINS: That's certainly going to be a spring training thing because I know he's hitting because they always do, especially those guys in California. They're in the cages. But certainly when he gets to spring training, we've got some work to do.
Q. Are you prepared to go into the season with Recker as a back‑up catcher?
TERRY COLLINS: Yes.
Q. What is the minimum that La Garris needs to hit considering his defense?
TERRY COLLINS: I don't know what it will be. I don't know that you can put a number to it. He's a guy defensively. But in order for us to have the success we want, everybody's got to hit.
Q. Your outfield rotation left to right?
TERRY COLLINS: We haven't put it down.
Q. Last year at the end of the year especially, we saw guys that are positioned and defensively wasn't very good. How important was that in this off‑season to have an athletic outfield?
TERRY COLLINS: Certainly, number one, we said we've got to get some offense. That was big. We had to find some bats. I thought Sam did a great job of not only providing some guys with offensive potential, but they were also athletic. They can run, play defense, they can throw. We saw the importance of what the defense did for us in the second half.
Q. You've always said that obviously defense is important. Were you surprised at how much better you guys were when you did make those changes or put a better defensive outfield? You expect to be better, but it seems like the team made a drastic jump.
TERRY COLLINS: I tell you what, if you're going to be successful, you've got to pitch. If you're going to be successful pitching, it's because you're catching the baseball. Matt was the only guy really that was a big strikeout guy on our staff. So the other guys had the ball put in play. When we started catching, they started pitching better. So I thought it went hand in hand. I know when you're out there and you're on that mound and you want to throw a fastball and you want to throw it away and get it up in the zone and somebody hits it in the air, you don't have to hold your breath it's going to be caught.
Q. Did that specifically change the way you targeted it and valued the players? (No microphone)?
TERRY COLLINS: That's Sandy's job. It's hard for those guys. We talked at the end of the year that we had to find some productive at‑bats. The rest was up to him.
I mean, I've made my phone calls on Chris Young and I've heard some very good things. This guy is still a very good player. I just think this is a great opportunity for him to show people that he is.
Obviously, Curtis is Curtis. So we got better. I got an early Christmas present. I'm really happy about it. I'd like to get a few more, but I'm very excited about what we've done. We've filled a lot of big holes in the way the game needs to be played. I think you've got to be athletic. You can look at the good teams, they have power, they run, they can pitch. There are a lot of things and that's the way our lineup is starting to look.
Q. What did you learn about Zach Mueller that gives you the confidence that he'll take the Matt Harvey step?
TERRY COLLINS: I'm hoping he takes the Matt Harvey step. One thing I saw Matt do is I thought his experience up here, he now realizes he can fix it. He realized all he had to do was make things. He didn't have to overthrow. He's still got that great arm if he needs it. His command of his secondary pitches got better. I think his confidence rose as the season went along. Again, I think the sky is the limit for what potential this guy has.
Q. What is your understanding of how many innings he has this year?
TERRY COLLINS: We haven't talked about that, about what his numbers are. He had 107 last year, so he should get over 200 if he goes out there 30‑something times. If he does that, and like I said last year, Matt Harvey pitched 210 innings last year, he would have had a heck of a year and he was going to have a heck of year. When you're getting those kind of innings, you're keeping your team in games.
Q. What is the status of Harvey's rehab?
TERRY COLLINS: Nothing right now. He's still ‑‑ he's not doing anything except minor exercises.
Q. He has thrown, right?
TERRY COLLINS: He has thrown.
Q. Can you talk a little about how you've changed since you were managing in Anaheim and Houston. Is the job of manager a little bit different than it was when you got into it, and is there any difference in the role of manager and how has that made you?
TERRY COLLINS: I don't think it's changed that much. Obviously, the biggest change in the game is some of the rules, the free agency rules and the money. The money has gotten out of sight. Gosh, I go back and think about what Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell could be making today, it would be astronomical. But I just think it's the fact that I hope I have a lot more patience and show that than I did years ago, and certainly I'll make sure the players know that.
Q. When you made the comment that Tejada's career was on the line, was that message also sent to (No microphone)?
TERRY COLLINS: No. Again, don't misunderstand. I didn't say his career was on the line. It was, hey, look, this can pass fast. If you don't approach it correctly, you can look up and become a minor league player again. This guy is too good a player to have that happen. That's all I was trying to convey.
Q. Talking about (No microphone).
TERRY COLLINS: You know, again, from when I was the field coordinator here, I would say no because he certainly showed he could play. Just, again, I can only go on what I saw. That is, I think, hey, he got up here.
I heard something mentioned today that I thought was legitimate, that is, the poor guy when he first got to the big leagues he had some of those guys to look up to. Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes, when those guys left, he was the guy. He became the sole Latin presence in our lineup at 22 years old. That is a lot to ask.
Even though we talk about how mature he is as a kid and how he handles things, but you know what, sometimes it can be lonely at the same time.
Q. There are so many immeasurables in the game now. Can you talk about the immeasurables, whether it's clubhouse chemistry or certain guys that are able to do things that maybe exceeds what their numbers are because they're able to handle the moment a little bit more (no microphone). It's a fine line now between winning and losing, getting into the postseason or not.
TERRY COLLINS: It's a very fine line. Again, can you look at a lot of teams. You can go back two years ago to the Nationals, last year to the Red Sox, clubhouse chemistry is important. It's not the most important thing.
I'll tell you the most important thing is playing up to your potential, playing up to your ability. If everybody does that, if everybody has the years you expect from them, you win. That's why it's hard when you have guys that are really, really struggling who are major pieces of your lineup. I've said it and I truly believe this. I think every team that wins, there is a surprise. Even though it could be a good player. I've said it before. David Wright next year hits 32 home runs, and drives in 120 runs, he's a great player. But that's a sensational season. That's a surprise. So we're going to be that much better because of it. If the other guys can live up to what you expect them to do, you're successful.
I think that's where teams today, when that happens, they win. You saw it this year in Boston. Those guys they went out and got, they all played good. I think that's important. That is certainly the message we're going to send out in spring training. We have the talent. We've just got to play up to our talent.
Q. Who on your team would you say is poised to be a surprise?
TERRY COLLINS: Well, I'm going to go with Chris Young. He's still big, fast, strong, and he's going to get an opportunity to be an everyday player.
Q. The ability to avoid the longer losing streak comes into play. That might be that idea of somebody does something one night you weren't expecting. It could be him who snaps out of that. Instead of going to seven games, it's only a two‑game losing streak.
TERRY COLLINS: Yeah, that happens. You want to spread the wealth around. Get everybody involved. If you're playing as a team and everybody's doing their part, everybody has a chance to help you win the game in the big moment. Most of the time the losing streaks are stopped a force who is standing on that bump out there too. You get to him every five days and the losing streak stops.
Like I said, we've got 25 guys, and it's good to take 25 guys. Whoever has got the uniform on that particular night, they've got to go over and do what we ask them to do.
Q. Who would be some of the prospects (no microphone) in 2014, Sindegard, Degroun, Montero, Mizzoni maybe?
TERRY COLLINS: Mizzoni maybe, Negrette, Walters, Poyle.
Q. Is Mizzoni more as a reliever?
TERRY COLLINS: I don't know yet with him.
Q. What do you hear about a guy who was suspended after having a great year? Is that a guy who is going to help you out?
TERRY COLLINS: He's going to start in Triple‑A. But we may need him. He's got great skills. I thought he took a huge step for them last year to play as well as he played. If he comes into spring training and puts all that behind him, he'll continue to improve.
Q. What is (No microphone) role?
TERRY COLLINS: I don't run that minor league system anymore, so I don't know where he's going to play. But he's gotten ‑‑ from my reports of the Michigan situation, he's gotten quicker. He's gotten faster. We all know he's going to hit. So I think that's going to help him position‑wise. You know, maybe you look up next spring and he can play middle infield. We'll have to wait to see.
Q. Do you feel like you've seen enough of him? Because another season was a weird situation. Obviously compromised. You see him at second. Do you feel like he's close to (no microphone) or do you need to see a lot more before you personally have a good read on him?
TERRY COLLINS: I want to see him more in the position he's going to play. We asked him to play third base and he hadn't played third base, even though he played a little bit of it. He played mostly second base, and he did a nice job. Obviously he was compromised because his feet were in bad shape with the sprained ankles. But this kid's going to swing the bat. He's going to swing the bat. If his quickness is better, like they told me it is, you're going to look up and try to find a place for that bat in the lineup. If he shows he can play second or short, man, that will be huge, huge move for us.
Q. Important for (no microphone) to go to Michigan to get in shape?
TERRY COLLINS: Well, you know, Lucas Duda is in pretty good shape. He just wanted to get in good shape. Lucas takes his shirt off, there is not much fat there. He's a pretty big, strong guy. I just know he wanted to go there to work on his ability because we knew that the first base situation was at stake a little bit. He hadn't played there in a while. He said (No microphone). He wanted to be a lot quicker.
Q. His on‑base percentage increased last year. That was something that pleased you. But do you see anything else in his game that indicates he's ready to move up a level?
TERRY COLLINS: You know what, it could be anything. I thought his plate discipline was a lot better last year. Got the base‑on balls. He was selected. This guy is going to make money driving in runs.
So, again, I hope to get him in a position where he gets those opportunities, because there are guys ahead of him that get on. So I think Lucas Duda is growing into the game knowing that he's a Major League player, a high‑quality Major League player.
Q. Do you think it would matter if he gets to play first base from the beginning of the year?
TERRY COLLINS: Yeah, that's what it is. I think it would help him mentally. If he's not, then we'll have to adjust. That is another thing we'll have to ask him to do. But certainly, as we saw at the end of the year after Ike got hurt, he played pretty good.
Q. Do you sense this you're going to go into spring training with Davis not on the roster?
TERRY COLLINS: You know what, again, I can only tell you, as I sit here today, that I'm making plans to have both of them there and I have to make my adjustments.
Q. Do you think Duda's wrist is a factor?
TERRY COLLINS: Yes.
Q. How much do you think?
TERRY COLLINS: A lot, a lot. I think anytime you're a hitter and you injure your wrist, it takes a little while for it to come back. It affected his swing early, and I think having this winter off and having to go to work on the strength in his wrist again it will help him.
Q. Do you think it took away from his aggressiveness?
TERRY COLLINS: Yeah, I know what you're saying. I can't answer that. I don't know. I just know that we pushed hard to make sure that he was waiting for a better pitch to hit. I think that's where the base‑on balls come in.
Q. Did you get a sense that being the guy is a drain on David last year?
TERRY COLLINS: The answer is no, I don't. David Wright is the consummate pro. He knows exactly what's expected, deals with it, and he deals with it with a smile. Does he once in a while try to be the guy? Yes. But he's supposed to because he is the guy. That's why I think he's a great player. You know, when the game is on the line, you look and guys are turning to David Wright to be the guy that comes through. I think he handles it great.
Q. Do you have a report date yet?
TERRY COLLINS: I think the pitchers and catchers are reporting on the 15th, I believe.
Q. Are you comfortable with Mejia as your full starter? Is there a limit? How many innings does he give you?
TERRY COLLINS: Well, that will be determined, I think, we see how he does as the season goes on. He hasn't pitched a lot of innings. But what he showed us when we saw him last year, I think certainly there is no reason why he couldn't be that fourth guy. Again, Sandy's going to have to get involved and make a decision on how far we want to stretch these guys.
Q. It's a possibility he could go back to the bullpen?
TERRY COLLINS: Could be.
Q. You're trying to buy time anyway, right, just to get the young guys up? So the innings cap wouldn't be as big a deal with him?
TERRY COLLINS: Only if he ‑‑ it is if he's pitching great and you don't want to put him back in the pen. So that could be.
Q. If you have a pitch count and any of the innings count on any of your pitchers, will you have it in place at the start of the season or will you just adjust?
TERRY COLLINS: I think we'll adjust during the season. I think that's one of the decisions you have to make. I think you're taking a chance. If you do it so early and get into the season all of a sudden, that is hanging over everybody's heads.
Q. Mejia, you expect him to be there day one of spring training?
TERRY COLLINS: Should be. He's throwing now. He has no pain. He feels great, so it's a good sign.