Winter Meetings interview with Chip Hale

Q. We just got the official word that Tomas has signed. We know that, and talking with you on Friday, and Stu as well, is he going to be the priority guy at third base?

            CHIP HALE: Well, once he gets over, and we get him over to the states and get him to Phoenix, we'll work him hard. Andy Green, our infield guy will be there every day with him. We'll give him every opportunity to play third base. So, yeah. I think we'll know by Opening Day, and we'll see.

            Obviously I was with Yoenis Cespedes when he came to Oakland, and I saw the different teammate in the lineup in Oakland. Stepped right in and was really a big help to us over in Oakland.

            Now we're hoping Tomas can do the same thing for us. And I think coming in to play third base is a bonus for us. So we have to see him, put our eyes on him, both at third base and with a bat and see how he does at Spring Training. We're hoping that he can break with the team. If not, needs some more seasoning and that happens too.

 

            Q. Have you seen enough of him or are you familiar enough with him to know whether that's realistic at third base?

            CHIP HALE: I am not, to be honest with you. The people who are over in the Dominican that saw him work out, all I've seen is the video of him hitting and taking some balls in the outfield. From what I understand he's already in a lot better shape than in those videos that you see on YouTube and different things. So he's working hard and he wants that opportunity. So we're going to give it to him.

 

            Q. Have you had a chance to get your coaching staff together?

            CHIP HALE: Yeah, we got together in October. Just went over some stuff with Stu and Tony. We had a nice dinner. Just talked about different things that and prioritizing what we thought we needed to make the roster better and getting their take. Most of the guys ‑‑ everybody, in fact, is from the system.

            So we knew our minor league system, they all knew better than me at the time, so, yeah. It's a good group. It's guys I've worked with in the past, and excited to have them.

 

            Q. Of the guys you have right now, what is your ideal outfield alignment?

            CHIP HALE: With the people we have, we have Trumbo in right, we'll move him over to right where he's more comfortable. That's where he played with Anaheim. He feels a lot better over there. Pollock in center, and then a combination of Inciarte and Peralta in left field with Cody Ross kind of backing up over there, sort of a platoon thing. So for me, we're really deep in the outfield.

 

            Q. Is there a possibility of playing some small ball, for example, Inciarte leading off and Pollock hitting second and shooting the gap with Tomas, and whoever (Indiscernible)?

            CHIP HALE: Yeah, I think we have a nice combination of speed and power. Obviously, I think Goldie is as good a player and hitter in the Major Leagues, great first baseman.

            But offensively, like you said, you set the table with those guys and Owings included. If Owings is in the two hole with Pollock leading off, you still have that same combination. Yeah, we need to find that guy that can hit behind Goldie. If it's Trumbo, if it's Tomas, it might be Peralta, who knows. We'll see how that works out. But you set the table with those guys. Still, Goldie is the guy that's going to steal 10, 15 bases. I'd like to to be more active on that side of the game.

            But we've talked about being situationally sound. That is my big thing, moving runners and getting them going. Even 3‑2 counts, maybe being more effective that way and guys being comfortable hitting in those situations.

 

            Q. Is that kind of one of the Spring Training things, situational hitting?

            CHIP HALE: Yeah, situational hitting, situational defense. Just from the 7th inning on, there are so many games you can win by just being able to make the plays defensively or getting the guy over, getting him in from third base. The league average is really low. I mean, that one year St. Louis was really good, like 75%. We'd like to get to that point. It's not easy. We know that. We're all ex‑players and we know how hard it is when a guy gets to third. We know how hard the pitcher works to not let that guy get in. So we really work hard on that stuff, and try to teach a certain way to do it.

 

            Q. With the addition of the two pitchers you had in the off‑season, and Stu was talking the other day about possibly four at this point in the rotation to include (Indiscernible). Where do the Tommy Jon survivors fit?

            CHIP HALE: The survivors? Wow.

 

            Q. Tommy Jon survivors.

            CHIP HALE: That's a good one. I like that. Well, I think they're all pretty much, not Arroyo, but they're slated to come back in June. Really I've seen it now. We have to be really careful. It used to be a 12‑month surgery when guys would come back and we've just let them go. We've figured out it's more of 15 months now.

            In that first year they pitch, we really have to slow play them. We can all say, hey, he's going to come back and be our number one or Hernandez is going to come back and be our 8th inning guy. It's just tough. It's tough on them. They have to feel comfortable letting that ball go. It's really '16 when those guys will be full go. So they'll get back and pitch for us.

            And Arroyo from what our trainers think, he could get back this year sometime, which is really an amazing thing. But you can't count on them to be your ace going down the stretch. You have to really be careful with them.

 

            Q. So Corbin not until June?

            CHIP HALE: Yeah, Corbin's June. Probably Corbin, Hernandez, a little sooner from what the trainers have told me. But like I said, hey, you're going to get Corbin back in June, you've got your number one. But you've got to be really careful not to think he's going to come and be the savior.

 

            Q. Hernandez too?

            CHIP HALE: Well, I think Hernandez a little sooner.

 

            Q. The Diamondbacks have been a little conservative bringing these guys back as opposed to other teams. Good thing? Bad thing?

            CHIP HALE: I think it's a good thing. I think over in Oakland talking to the trainers there and talking to the trainers with Arizona the last few years with Oakland, this year with Arizona, it's just much better to let them get their feet on the ground. Because their arm might be sound, it's just their confidence in letting it go. You can't expect the same stuff to come out right out of the chute. So I like the conservative approach.

 

            Q. Aaron Hill had kind of a down year last year. Can you give him a shot?

            CHIP HALE: Yeah, I'm excited for Aaron. We're going to sit down and talk. But we traded DD Gregorius, so now we have Ahmed, Pennington, Owings, and we'll figure out where they're all going to fit in.

            And to be quite honest, I think that Hill is going to get another shot to get over there at second. We're going to give him a shot at third. We're going to put him everywhere and get as many at‑bats for him. If he's the best guy at one position, then he'll be our guy. He's a veteran with a lot of good track record of hitting. Had a tough year last year. But he's excited and motivated to have a good year.

 

            Q. Where does that put (Indiscernible)?

            CHIP HALE: Well, they're all going to be out there competing. For me, the best way we can get better, and that's what we have to do, is have a lot of competition in Spring Training. Whether it's a young guy or an old guy, it's going to be the best guy that we feel is ready to help the team win. It's going to get the most at‑bats and the most innings.

 

            Q. Did you say you're planning on getting together with Aaron?

            CHIP HALE: Yes. We talked about when he gets back to Phoenix. Just sit down and because it was a tough year for him. That's why I've been brought in and we're going to get better and he's going to be part of it.

 

            Q. How confident is the organization that guys like Inciarte and Peralta can not only duplicate what they did but continue to improve?

            CHIP HALE: I think very confident. I don't have a real good feel for either of them yet. But everybody in the system has told me that the improvement they've made, I mean, Peralta was obviously a pitcher, became a hitter, and really came to the Big Leagues and had great at‑bats.

            Inciarte got better and better as the end of the season came on. So just looking at video, that's all I've been able to see, they're exciting players. There is going to be a crowded outfield. So really, we talked about competition, they're going to come in and hopefully feel like that's a chance for them to shine and I can see their best in Spring Training and see where we stand.

 

            Q. Around the Bay Area last year pretty much an all‑in situation with Lester and (indiscernible), was there an idea if it didn't work out there would be some changes?

            CHIP HALE: I think that are at the time Billy gave the opportunity for us in Oakland to win a World Series. That was his plan. Like you said, he went all in. When I left I asked that question. Is this going to move everybody?

            I think the feeling that they get is they always anticipate. Instead of trying to wait until guys are on the downside, he makes moves to improve them, and he's been very successful at it. So I think the idea over there is they trust him on that.

 

            Q. You mentioned lessons a little bit ago. Are there any lessons to be applied to Tomas's acclamation process?

            CHIP HALE: Yeah, there are. There are people that you bring into their life to help them. It's important. We're going to try to get somebody for him just like we had in Oakland that was basically with him not 24 hours, but was making sure that the decisions he was having to make and people were trying to get him to do certain things were the right ones, and that's very important.

            It's a new country. It's a lot different for them. So those are very important decisions he has to make off the field. I think on the field these guys are ‑‑ all the Cuban players that I've been around, they love the Limelight. They love the big games. Yoenis was so good against the big teams in the playoffs, and that's what I expect for Tomas. He's learned to play on the big stage, and that's just going to make everybody else be better on this club.

 

            Q. Did you say he wanted to be a third baseman?

            CHIP HALE: Well, yeah, if we can get him.

 

            Q. He wants to?

            CHIP HALE: Yeah, he wants to. He wants an opportunity, yes.

 

            Q. Would that be something that's tested out in Spring Training or a plan before Spring Training?

            CHIP HALE: Yeah, it's going to start as soon as we can get him over here. As soon as he gets here, we'll have somebody every day. I'll be there, we'll all be there working with him. We'll have a good idea, but as everybody knows, you can look good in ground balls and BP, but still games, you start playing and the game speeds up. We'll see how he does then. So, yeah. We'll have a good idea by the time the season opens where he'll be. Like I said, he could be third baseman, he could be in the outfield. He may have to start for a short time in the Minor Leagues. Who knows. We're not a hundred percent on that.

            Like I said, I had Céspedes in Oakland and I saw the difference he made and how ready he was. So I'm hoping it's the same kind of situation.

 

            Q. Do you think that he'll be full‑time third base in Spring Training or you mix him in in the outfield?

            CHIP HALE: I think as long as we think he can be a third baseman, we'll keep him there. I really do. I think it's tough. We're working him every day at one position. He can always go out and shag some balls in the outfield. But that will be a decision made amongst everybody, whether it's Tony, Stu, myself, and the staff. We'll all sit down and that may be where they want to go with it, that's fine. I just feel like it's easier if you're going to try to make it in this position, let's stick with it.

 

            Q. He said he would like to ‑‑

            CHIP HALE: That's my understanding. I haven't spoken with him. That's my understanding.

 

            Q. Do you feel comfortable with your catching situation?

            CHIP HALE: Yeah, I mean, I've known Miggy since he was 16 years old. I've had him a long time. He's been an All‑Star catcher. He's caught a playoff team, so, yeah, I'm comfortable with that. I've heard nothing but great things about Tuffy. People in the industry that I trust that are catching guys have told me they think Tuffy could even be a number one. So he's gone about it the hard way and fought his way through it. He's a Sun Devil, but I still like him.

 

            Q. Do they mean defensively or all around?

            CHIP HALE: I think more on the defensive side. But I've watched a lot of video of him hitting. I think it was a few adjustments. He's not a young guy. He can become a better hitter in a good system. We're not afraid to put him out there.

 

            Q. Last season on Montero's durability kind of a radar screen up there of around 140 games. He's getting a little older too. Is there a number for him that you would like for him to reach or keep him at bay?

            CHIP HALE: I think it's got to be less than that. I don't know an exact number. We'll sit down and look at it. But he definitely would be a better player for me if he had more time off. And everybody. Especially at that position as a catcher. That's a tough, physical position. You have to be not only physically good every day, you have to be mentally sound. You have to be strong with your pitchers, so the more time that we can give him in the games he's in, he'll be better.

 

            Q. His name has kind of come up in certain trade rumors that have been out there. In a situation like that as manager, do you ever reach out to him?

            CHIP HALE: Well, there is no doubt. Like I said, I've known him since I was 16. As soon as I got the job, he texted me. He was in Europe. I talked to him during the Fall League. Tony and I sat with him in the booth for a while and talked to him. He came into my office a couple weeks ago. So I've talked to him.

            As a player, it's hard. I never was that good of a player where people were talking about me getting traded. It was more released than traded. But I know it must be hard on him. Because he wants to know he's got a nice situation living in Phoenix now with his family. It will be tough. If he gets moved, that's a tough thing for ballplayers. Definitely if he's on our club in Spring Training, there is going to be definitely a lot of pre‑Spring Training meetings.

 

            Q. Archie Bradley, where do you expect him to be at the beginning of this year? Do you see him possibly breaking camp in the rotation?

            CHIP HALE: Like I said, it's going to be a lot of competition. With the pitchers we have now. We have Hellickson, we have Robbie Ray, Miley, we have a lot of guys. So Archie, along with Shipley and Blair, we love all those kids. Those are all our starting guys. We have a lot of relief depth too.

            So I'm looking for Spring Training to be a lot of competition among those guys. I think in a perfect world, you'd like to see Archie and Blair and Shipley getting an opportunity to pitch and get some more innings under their belt and refine their game.

            I know in today's game we develop a lot of guys at the Major League level, whether it's a position player or pitcher, but I know how important it is in long innings, whether you're a hitter or pitcher, to have bats. But in a perfect world, I'd like to see all those guys get a chance to pitch more. But, hey, if they're the best guys going out, and the front office feels comfortable, then you do what you've got to do.

 

            Q. Corbin's a starter for you?

            CHIP HALE: Yes, he's earned that right. Like I said, that could change if we get some more starters or maybe make some moves. But that guy has been told he's a long guy, fifth starter at best. All he does is go out there and give his team a chance to win. He's a tough guy. I'm excited about him. He's one of those guys, as a manager, that you can always count on. He's going to give you his best stuff. He's one of those, as a hitter, he's tough to hit. Not sexy, but ‑‑

 

            Q. So you have Collmenter, Hellickson, Miley kind of pencilled in?

            CHIP HALE: Yeah, and Chase Anderson did a pretty good job.

 

            Q. And Nuno?

            CHIP HALE: And you've got Nuno.

 

            Q. But those three are the guys that are pencilled in?

            CHIP HALE: And then there is a lot of competition, no doubt about it.

 

            Q. Some feel Collmenter's value is more as a long relief.

            CHIP HALE: Yeah, what we do in the front office and all our scouts is you sit down and say, okay, we want to put a first division championship caliber team together. People say he's a long reliever, and he's been told that forever, but he just keeps going out there and giving the team a chance to win. So why can't he be one of the five guys to help the team win, and that's where we are right now. He's kind of earned it for me.

 

            Q. Can you talk about some Japanese players now, for example, Ichiro?

            CHIP HALE: Are we interested in any of them? In the room, we have not talked about any of those type of guys. But like I said, our front office scouts are looking to better our roster any way we can.

            So I know internationally with (indiscernible) Watson and our people, they're really looking at everything. We've looked at a lot of video of the different Korean and Japanese pitchers that have been posted or are possibly going to be posted. So I think we'll be in the mix on a lot of these guys, just like Tomas.

 

            Q. You said Spring Training dates are?

            CHIP HALE: I think our dates, the 19th and 20th, are the first pitcher/catcher day. Season starts the 6th for us, 5th for Major League Baseball. Little later.

 

            Q. Do you expect Chris Owings to be ready to go first day of Spring Training coming off shoulder surgery?

            CHIP HALE: No, we don't. We expect him to be in there doing all drills and working. But like some of the other stuff, we're going to slow play that. That's an injury that you've got to be careful with the left shoulder as a hitter. We expect him to be ready and a hundred percent for Opening Day, but I don't expect him to be first Spring Training game that we're going to take it easy. He's going to be very confident in how he's swinging the bat before he's put into a game.

 

            Q. Is Daniel Hudson in that starting pitching mix?

            CHIP HALE: That's an interesting question. We've shot that around and we'll talk to him, the trainers. It's two Tommy Johns, and there is not a whole lot of history with that coming back. But he looked good in September, and he had a lot of velocity and looked good with his arm.

            So for me, his value is really, really high as a starter. But maybe it's one of those things you start out one way and end up the other just for innings purposes. But it's his career, and he's not a kid anymore. So we'll sit with him and the trainers and figure out the best way to get the most out of him.

 

            Q. And you do use the exhibition against Arizona State?

            CHIP HALE: Yes, it's nice. Playing at Arizona State this year, U of A the next year, and Grand Canyon the third year. That's really neat and we'll keep rotating it around.