10/08/10 5:12 PM ET
Workout day interview with Joe Girardi
By / MLB.com
Q. Joe, your guys have been through this many times before. What is it about them that they just I don't want to say matter of fact, but they just don't get flustered. They turn it up a notch when it's postseason.
JOE GIRARDI: We have a lot of experience in here. Guys that have accomplished a lot in their careers and they've been through, you know, winning series, losing series. They understand that when you play in New York, the expectations here, and I think they've been through it so many times that they understand what it's about. There's nothing that necessarily surprises them when you go on the road, tickets, rooms. They understand it and they understand the magnitude of the games.
Q. Joe, the Twins' manager, players, every one of them have talked the last couple of days about how exhausting it is to face your lineup because there's not a gap where you can think about taking a breather. What's it like on the other side to be you and to know what that lineup is capable of doing and you get a couple of runs down you can't ever feel like you're out of a situation?
JOE GIRARDI: It's nice to have a complete lineup. When I look at the Twins' lineup, I look at it as a complete lineup too. They have a ton of power in that lineup. They have had guys that have had exceptional years. I don't think we ever necessarily think that we can take a break when we're facing their lineup. And I think that's true for lineups in the postseason because you have to score runs to win games. It's nice that we have depth. It's nice that we have options and we can move hitters around. It doesn't always have to come from the same guys every night.
Q. Joe, I know you were asked yesterday about catching Andy Pettitte as far back as '96 when he first came through the organization. I wonder if you see some similarities in Phil Hughes at this stage of his career having come up through the Yankee organization as well and facing this challenge for the first time?
JOE GIRARDI: The similarities to me is they were both young. They both had very good years. They both were a work in progress. I think we've seen Phil evolve even in the last month by throwing his change up a lot more. And Andy, when he first came up, he was really four seam, cutter, and curveball. He didn't have a change up, he didn't have a sinker. He threw his cutter to one side of the plate. He's expands his repertoire as time went on. Their personalities are completely different. You see that in all pitchers. I think they're works in progress.
Q. The knockout blow, the nail in the coffin, however you want to call it, how important is it to put these guys away tomorrow night, put them to sleep?
JOE GIRARDI: You look at it one game at a time. You try to win that game that night. You don't look at what you've done the day before or two days before. The important thing is we go out and play good baseball. We have to pitch, we have to play defense, and we have to have timely hitting. Then you see what happens as an end result. I look at it as one game. You have to go out and try to win a game on Saturday.
Q. When people like Berkman and Wood arrive, what is the work that you and your staff do that is needed to integrate them into the rest of the group and get them comfortable?
JOE GIRARDI: You know, we have had a pretty easy clubhouse ever since I've been here as a player, when it comes to integrating players. Guys understand that players are brought here to try to help us win. It's not necessarily, I'm losing my job or they don't believe in me. They are brought here to give us depth and to help us win. And I think our guys welcome guys with open arms when they come in here. As far as their staff, what we do, we try to get to know the player, what makes them successful, we look at video, we talk to them, we try to put them in opportunities where they can be successful. And you have to learn from watching them. You talk to other people. But as far as fitting in the clubhouse, I've never really seen an issue.
Q. I meant in terms of mechanics.
JOE GIRARDI: A lot of video. I know when we got Kerry Wood, Dave went right away and started watching video. What made Kerry successful? We went back as far as the 20 strikeout game to look at that. Kevin Long looked at years that Lance Berkman was successful and what he was doing in his stance and all those different things. That's the power of video.
Q. Look at the difference between how Phil has pitched at home and on the road, what do you make of that? Is there a difference you can pinpoint as far as why? And was that any kind of factor in how you lined up the rotation for the postseason?
JOE GIRARDI: As far as pitching at home and the road, this is more of a hitter friendly ballpark than a lot of the ballparks we go to. That's the bottom line. There are more runs scored in this ballpark than a lot of ballparks in the Big Leagues. So I think that has something to do with it. Of course you look at everything. When you look in making your rotation, you look at everything. But we felt it was best in this series to if you had to play five games, they were facing four lefties. And that's why we went with the rotation we did.
Q. Joe, down the stretch you tried to get some of your players rest so they would be rested for the playoffs.
JOE GIRARDI: Who? Who did I try to get rest?
Q. I remember you saying multiple times that you wanted the team to be healthy and fresh down the stretch.
JOE GIRARDI: Okay. Healthy, correct. Rest, no. Healthy. So we had to rest some guys because they were injured. This thing has taken on legs of its own. But I didn't really try to rest our guys. Just to talk about it, Alex Rodriguez played 13 days in a row. He played 15 out of the last 16 games. So yes, we were trying to get guys healthy. We had guys getting shots, we had guys that had a bad knee, bad wrist. But rest, no, we were trying to win every game we could. I'm going to let you further your question.
Q. My question was going to be that you know these players and I'm curious if in the first two games of the playoffs so far, even just beyond the production you've seen, can you tell that guys are healthier, maybe fresher, whatever you want to call it, even their swings, just the way they are looking?
JOE GIRARDI: I definitely think we're healthier than we were when we started the month of September. We had some guys who were beat up. Swish had the bad knee. Gardy has had the bad wrist. He's been fighting that. Tex, I don't know where you want to start, but it's been bad. His toe, his wrist. He's gotten hit by pitches. Tex gets beat up. And I think we are better off than we were. Nice thing about the playoffs is you never have the situation where you play 13 days in a row. We had two days off. You play two. You get another day off. And I think their bodies recover a lot better. And I think that when you have a team with some age, I think that really helps out.
Q. This came up a lot last year too. How much of a luxury is it to have swing and miss type starting pitchers, guys that can generate missed bats, and how much of a luxury is it especially as it seems like it's played out here the last couple of days especially?
JOE GIRARDI: I think it's important. I'm not sure how many strikeouts Andy had.
Q. He had a lot of lefties.
JOE GIRARDI: Yeah. I think it's important because runs are at a premium in the playoffs because you're facing all the top pitchers. You're going to see situations sometimes where a guy leads off with a double and he might be bunting over more often than he is during the course of the season. Just because of the type of pitching that you're facing. When your guys have swing and miss stuff and the ability to strike people out, that becomes a big out.
Q. It's possible to win with guys who have contact. Is it advantageous to have those type of guys?
JOE GIRARDI: It really can be. There might be situations where you bring someone in the bullpen and you need a strikeout. There's no way that you can walk someone and pitch around. You need strikeouts. You need strikeout pitchers to be successful this time of year. And I think really during the course of the season.
Q. The way you've been able to beat them coming from behind so many times, do you at least hope it gives you some kind of a psychological advantage, puts it in their heads?
JOE GIRARDI: I think about psychological advantages. It starts usually with the starting pitcher and how he goes about it. I look at all these games that we've played with the Twins over the last couple of years thinking that they could have went the other way too. That's how close so many of these games have been. And they're a very good club. It's going to start with your starting pitching the next day.
Q. Joe, I have two for you. If you guys are up 2-1 going into Game 4, is the plan still to start CC on short rest?
JOE GIRARDI: Correct.
Q. Also, Mayor Bloomberg said today on his radio show he was planning a victory parade already. I just want to know your thoughts on that. Do you think it's premature?
JOE GIRARDI: I hope the Mayor is right. I imagine that there's a lot of planning that goes into something like that. And they just can't do it overnight. I wouldn't think they were in major stages of it. But I'm sure they have to have a preliminary conversation when he gets time. I hope he's right.
Q. Joe, you mentioned going back and looking at Kerry Wood's 20 strikeout game. What have you seen in Kerry Wood since he's been here? And how does Kerry Wood that you managed compare with the Kerry Wood that you caught?
JOE GIRARDI: Kerry Wood has been outstanding for us. What I've seen is consistency in throwing the ball over the plate where he wants to and using three pitches. His fastball, curveball, and his cutter. As far as when I caught him, he had a much bigger slider back then then he does today. Some people talk about that might have been what hurt his elbow. His slider was as good as anyone's I've ever seen. He threw harder. His stuff was more electric. But he didn't have the command that he's had for us here. And I think that's the biggest difference.
Q. Phil being a young guy, big moment, chance to put it away, any concerns on your part or do you have to talk to him about keeping a lid on emotions?
JOE GIRARDI: It's not something I've had to do the whole year. And I think about the experience that he gained last year pitching in important games. You can look at the game where we moved him up to pitch against Boston. He seemed relaxed and he seemed to be himself. I have not been given any indications I'm going to have to talk to him. I'll look at him tomorrow.
Workout day interview with Phil Hughes
Q. Phil, I just asked Joe if he thought he had to speak to you about maybe keeping your emotions intact, big moment, chance to put them away. Do you feel you have to be concerned at all about keeping your emotions intact on such a big game?
PHIL HUGHES: Not really. The adrenaline is going to be there that's a big game. You're going to have that. Everyone everybody does. The playoff experience helped last year even though it was in a bullpen role and in '07 pitching out of the bullpen as well. I know the atmosphere. It's going to be a matter of keeping my emotions in check and going out there and taking it pitch by pitch.
Q. Phil, how much are you just relishing the opportunity to have the chance to be the guy to finish it off?
PHIL HUGHES: It's great. We did what we had to do in Minnesota. And now we have the opportunity to close it out here in Game 3. And we can't take anything off. We have one more game to win and we know this is a dangerous team. And just because we're at home, it's not going to be any easier. So we're in a good position right now. But we still have one more to get.
Q. When your name came up during the Santana trade talks, how far did your mind wander during that time? Were you going on the internet, checking the roster, looking at the Minneapolis area? Were you following it pretty closely?
PHIL HUGHES: I really didn't. My family was actually remodelling the house in California when that was going down. So I had no TV or no internet. That helped a little bit. It's funny looking back at that now how kind of how far things have come in the last year and a half, two years. I really haven't thought about it too much. I'm just happy to have stayed.
Q. Phil, last year during the regular season it was such a strong year for you out of the 'pen. The playoffs came and you struggled a little bit more than you did during the season. Now you have had this season which has been so productive again. Do you worry at all would anything last year in the postseason? Did teams pick up on anything? How do you view that dynamic?
PHIL HUGHES: Last year I kind of viewed it as me struggling in the wrong time. I really didn't think that the playoff sort of atmosphere or anything like that factored in. I just wasn't making good pitches. I feel like I'm in a good spot now coming into the playoffs. I had a couple of good starts leading into this. I don't think about that at all.
Q. Phil, what about Minnesota most concerns you?
PHIL HUGHES: Well, they're a good team. We have had the chance to play them last year. Obviously without Morneau they're a little bit different. Mauer is obviously dangerous. Delmon Young has had a great year. They have had the will of guys that can hurt you. You have to go out there and make quality pitches. I think we'll score enough runs and, you know, for sure they're a dangerous team. We kind of have to be really careful with them.
Q. Phil, is your mindset the same? Would it be the same had you come back either tied 1 1 or down 0 2? Is there even the slightest just change in approach that you are up 2 0 with a chance to clinch?
PHIL HUGHES: I don't think so at all. If it was 1 1, if we were down 0-2, I don't think it changes. I have to go out with the approach of winning this game. That's it. Making good pitches and like I said earlier, taking it pitch by pitch and going out there and giving us a quality outing. I don't think that changes necessarily just because we're in the driver's seat or if it was 1 1 or down 0-2.
Q. Andy Pettitte did his thing again last night. He's done it so many times before in the playoffs. What have you learned from seeing him go about his business in the postseason? And has he said anything specifically to you about going out there tomorrow night?
PHIL HUGHES: He hasn't said anything specifically. But you learn so much just from watching what he's done. In '07 when I was here and watching him go out and pitch tremendously in the playoffs, he was coming off that injury this year and missing some time and not necessarily pitching great and the last couple of starts and going out and doing what he always does. It's truly remarkable. I just hope I can kind of follow up that performance with a good one as well.
Q. Joe talked a lot about back to back lefties against this lineup. Do you approach their left handers, do you have a specific way you want to go about a lineup with this many lefties?
PHIL HUGHES: I think my change up has been a big key my last couple of starts in being effective against lefties. I think it's going to be a big pitch for me again tomorrow. Obviously, CC with his slider and Andy with his cutter, they can neutralize lefties really well. For me, I have to take a little bit different approach. Maybe some cutters in, fastballs, I think that change up is going to be a big key for me.
Q. Does it feel different for you being in this position as a member of the starting rotation as opposed to being in the bullpen? Does it just feel any more part of it or any different or any bigger?
PHIL HUGHES: I wouldn't say bigger. It definitely is different. Being my first postseason start, it's definitely a different feeling than being in the bullpen. But I'm looking forward to it. And it should be an exciting challenge. I feel like I'm ready.
Q. Can you say different how?
PHIL HUGHES: When you're starting a game and relieving, it's just a different feeling. You're going out there, you're warming up. You know you're pitching. You're expected to go out there and give us six plus quality innings. And as a member of the bullpen, it's just a different job that you're having to do. So it's definitely a different feeling, but at the same time, it's 60 feet 6 inches. You're out there trying to throw quality pitches. And that's it.
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