Winter Meetings interview with Lloyd McClendon

Q. A year ago you said it was all new. How different of a feeling is it now and how much more do you know after a year in the seat?

LLOYD McCLENDON: I don't know how much more I know. Is it different, yeah? It's a little different. Obviously it was a pretty decent year for us in a lot of different respects. I was looking forward to Spring Training because you know your personnel a lot better, we've got a couple of new additions so it should be exciting.

Q. In terms of that personnel, you obviously have to feel like you were ahead of where you were at this point last year?

LLOYD McCLENDON: Well, I would hope so. Going into Spring Training, we were hopefully a little bit ahead of the curve. But we'll see.

Q. You made some big moves bringing in (indiscernible), what still do you need to get done before spring?

LLOYD McCLENDON: Well, I don't know, when you try to formulate a ballclub, you want to show up all your weaknesses and continue to build on your strengths. But, obviously having Nelson in the middle of the lineup is going to be tremendous for us. I don't think you ever have enough pitching. You know, we talked about it. We'd still like to have one more bat in the lineup, one quality at bat, whether it's a right hander or left hander doesn't make a difference. I think we're sitting in a good position, and we'll see what happens.

Q. The big thing (Indiscernible). Do you need another left hander out there in the mix?

LLOYD McCLENDON: Well, I'm not sure. I'm not really saying we lost (Indiscernible). We obviously haven't signed (indiscernible) as of yet. But I've always liked two left handers in the bullpen. So I guess the answer to your question is yes.

Q. Would you like it to be (indiscernible)?

LLOYD McCLENDON: Yeah, I've made my feelings known that I like him and I'd like to have him back. But that's not my decision. Obviously the market is going to dictate a lot of that because he has such a year this year, and the lefties now, it might be a little difficult.

Q. You might have an extra guy in the pen for a good portion of last year. Is that something you can ponder again or is that a luxury that you like the way things fell?

LLOYD McCLENDON: It's a luxury I'd like to have again. I'm not sure if it's feasible right off the bat, but it's certainly something we'll play around with.

Q. Obviously you've got six starting pitchers, five spots, how do you go into Spring Training with that? Obviously Felix is your number one and Iwakuma. Beyond that you have some young kids and you have J.A. Happ who is your veteran?

LLOYD McCLENDON: I think as we speak, we acquired J.A. Happ to pitch in the bullpen. We gave up an everyday player for a starting pitcher. We expect him to be in the rotation. Beyond that, I'm not sure because we've got six for five spots, I wish I had eight for five spots, but we don't. We'll continue to move forward and let them compete.

Q. How's that right field situation shaping up at the moment? I know you're still looking, but nothing happening?

LLOYD McCLENDON: As we speak right now today, I mean, obviously we have JJ out there. And we have Romero. There is a possibility that Romero could be out there from time to time, yes.

Q. When you look at the Oakland A's, they traded away Jeff Samardzija, Josh Donaldson, how surprised were you when you saw those moves made by the A's?

LLOYD McCLENDON: Well, there is not a lot that Billy does that surprises me, so I guess I wasn't surprised.

Q. How do you think that will impact the division race this year?

LLOYD McCLENDON: I don't know. I've got my hands full with my club. I'm just going to take care of the Seattle Mariners.

Q. You won 87 games last year. You were one game away from the playoffs. You add Nelson, it's not as simple as adding Nelson that would put you over the top. What do you have to have that puts you guys there where you want to be?

LLOYD McCLENDON: Well, we've got to have tremendous preparation in Spring Training. Obviously we need to stay healthy. The one thing I tell my players this every year, and I'll say it again this year, I don't want to get caught up in expectations. I want to get caught up in preparation. I think my guys did a really good job of that last year, and hopefully they'll do it again this year. Just go out and run our race. 2014 was a hell of a race but it's over with. We need to get to the starting line and run another.

Q. Offensively though you feel like you guys with Nelson, if you do add another at bat, that's got to push you in a little better direction?

LLOYD McCLENDON: Oh, there is no question. We were challenged from an offensive standpoint on a lot of different fronts. But I think having a bat that hits behind Robbie should give Robbie more pitches to hit. It should give Seager more opportunities to drive in runs. He's going to make our lineup deeper and better, there is no question about that.

Q. Logan Morrison appears to be the only returning guy?

LLOYD McCLENDON: Listen, I've always said that playing time is dictated on performance, and he performed very well. As we speak right now, I'd be very happy if things (indiscernible).

Q. You talked about it a little bit. Your shortstop situation, you've got Chris, you've got Brad. You both are some good moments last year at times. Where do you go with that? Obviously you're probably not going to platoon off season, what will you do?

LLOYD McCLENDON: I think we're in a very unique situation because we have two Major League starting shortstops. We'll let them play in Spring Training and see which is best. Open the season and go from there. We're in a nice position. A lot of clubs don't have that depth. We certainly have some depth.

Q. Taijuan's a guy that everybody's talking about for a long time coming up. What do you want to see from him this spring?

LLOYD McCLENDON: To continue to work on his game, become very consistent with what he's doing with his approach and how he goes about his business. Quite frankly, I thought he did a tremendous job in September for us, and certainly has earned the right to come into Spring Training and compete for a starting position.

Q. How is Elias doing? Everything going good?

LLOYD McCLENDON: He checked out fine. He was in Arizona. He did some throwing down there. He threw two or three bullpen sessions down there. In fact, I was there and I was very pleased with what I saw. He's back in Texas working out and getting ready for Spring Training.

Q. We talked a little bit, but what things did you see from Taijuan that last month? It wasn't just on the field was it with what he showed you?

LLOYD McCLENDON: Well, it was on the field. He showed a lot of maturity, a lot of presence on the mound. He performed extremely well under adverse conditions. I was very impressed.

Q. When Paxton was healthy, he was as good as anybody that age. But coming into spring, is it just a matter of keeping him healthy the full year? Getting him stronger?

LLOYD McCLENDON: I think so. He had a tough injury, one that nobody saw coming. I think he rebounded pretty well from it and pitched extremely well for us down the stretch. I look forward to having a healthy Paxton all year, as well as a healthy Iwakuma right from the start. We took our blows early on, and with both of those guys out of our rotation, it would be nice if they were healthy and ready to go right off the bat.

Q. Are you interested in seeing what Montero looks like and some of the stuff he's doing?

LLOYD McCLENDON: I saw him when I was there. I saw his workouts. He's in a great state of mind physically and looking extremely well. He's working extremely hard and he'll get an opportunity to compete in Spring Training.

Q. What are the kind of things that you admire about a player like Nelson Cruz?

LLOYD McCLENDON: Well, listen, Nelson's a winner. He shows up every day, he's ready to play. He plays through nagging injuries. He's a big time player and gets big hits with the game on the line. I don't know what else you can ask for. If he does what he did last year, I'd be extremely happy.

Q. Is there that bat that you talked about out there for you guys realistically?

LLOYD McCLENDON: Yeah, listen, I'm not sure what kind of bat you envision, but you know you talk about make up and our club and what we want to look like, I think we have options. It doesn't necessarily have to be a power guy. It doesn't necessarily have to be a right handed bat. But I think we have options. It could be several things. It could be a veteran left hander, and it could be a veteran right hander or one of those youngsters. We have options. It could be an everyday player, it could be a switch hitter. It could be a power hitter. We're going to explore them and see what makes the best sense for our ballclub at this particular time. I think that's about as vague as I can be.

Q. The bullpen group you had last year, how good was that group?

LLOYD McCLENDON: Oh, they were for a long, long time deep into the season we were on the verge of historic numbers out there. Obviously we tailed off just a little bit. But my guys were tremendous. We really shortened up ballgames from a lot of different angles. I look to build on that this year.

Q. Zunino, you used him a lot early and tried to get him some rest late. Going in and having significant (indiscernible), does that make it easier this spring going into the season?

LLOYD McCLENDON: It does. We had a very difficult pitching staff to catch, and having Zunino and his abilities back there helps it a lot. I think it will give us a good opportunity to keep Zunino fresh throughout the year. We probably played him a little more than we wanted to early on.

Q. What do you need to do to be consistent with Ackley?

LLOYD McCLENDON: I told him he needs to become a little more selfish. I think all good players are selfish to an extent and not worry about everybody else, be concerned about Ackley a little bit more. This guy's got tremendous talent. I thought he took some steps forward last year, and I think he'll continue to move forward next year.

Q. Can you hit him two? Do you like that spot?

LLOYD McCLENDON: I can. I'm not sure if I will. Quite frankly, I like him lower in the lineup, but we'll see how it all plays out.

Q. Austin had such a disappointing end to last season, and you've talked a little bit. What do you believe is going to make a difference this year with Austin, and having a full kind of off season and Spring Training with him?

LLOYD McCLENDON: Well, I mean, listen, he didn't play as well as he could have when he came over from an offensive standpoint, but I think he won a lot of games for his defense. He's a better player from the offensive side of the ball than he showed in September. We probably played him a little bit more than we should have down the stretch because I just had so much confidence in his defense. But I think he's the type of player that probably needs a game off to stay strong throughout the year. You look at his frame and he's such a greyhound. The grind can get to him a little at times. So I would suspect that we'd rest him at least once a week.

Q. James Jones be the logical guy?

LLOYD McCLENDON: Yeah, as we speak now, yeah. Yeah, Jones did a nice job for us. He has the ability to play all three.