Q. Having so much experience in the Dodgers organization is this somewhat of a homecoming for you in a way? And what kinds of things did you learn coming up through their system that applied to your career as manager?
TERRY COLLINS: Well, as I told our reporters about ten minutes ago, I'm sitting in this chair because of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Bill Schweppe who was our Minor League Director when I was a player here. For some unknown reason, he liked me. He should have released me a dozen times and he kept me around, gave me my first job in managing the Minor Leagues. So when you talk about what I learned, I learned baseball. I learned Dodger baseball. And at a time when you can walk out on the field in Spring Training and you had Drysdale, and Koufax, and Maury Wills, and Wes Parker, and Roy Campanella was talking after dinner at night. You talk about learning baseball and learning the history of the game, I spent a little time in that training camp. So I learned everything here.
Q. Obviously, this is your first time as a boss in the playoffs. Have you spent any time today knowing what's going to come and kind of appreciating the moment and previewing the moment saying, I finally did this?
TERRY COLLINS: I will tell you, I probably did that more last week. When we clinched in Cincinnati, I was lucky enough to have my sister in town. My wife was there. And that dinner that night was the first time I just said -- I go back, but it was the first time I ever managed in the Big Leagues and I'm standing on that first baseline in my first game saying it's all been worth it, all the bus rides, all the years, all the time on the field. So the other day in Cincinnati, I said the same thing.
The last couple days, it's been getting ready for tomorrow. As you know, there's a lot going into getting ready for a game in our world today instead of just showing up and playing. So it's been pretty much getting ourselves ready to go out tomorrow night, making sure that everything's -- all the preparation is good, everybody's done what we think we need to do. But, yeah, I had that time when I certainly said, boy, this has been all worth it.
Q. I'm curious, the first time you ever saw Clayton Kershaw, what your impression was of him then and who this guy is today? How close that is to what you may have seen in him then?
TERRY COLLINS: I tell you, it started -- I told our guys, after we drafted Clayton and we signed him, he came to the Gulf Coast League or whatever it was, and Rick Honeycutt was my minor league pitching coordinator at the time. And Rick was throwing, and I was over on one of the other fields watching something. When I was done, I was walking and I saw Rick walking over, and he stopped and said have you seen this Kershaw guy? And I said no, not yet. He went, oh, wow. Turned around and walked away.
So am I surprised by what he's done? No. If you know him, you get to know him, you know what kind of a person he is, and he's not going to let anything get in the way of him being great.
His relationship with Sandy, second to none. I think he's got that same competitive attitude that Sandy had, and we've seen it on TV. When he takes the ball he wants to finish what he starts. So I'm not surprised that he's as good as he is, no.
Q. Harvey, Syndergaard, Wheeler, Matz, they all came to you with a huge amount of experience and deGrom was almost zero. Wonder how you think that influences Jacob and his approach?
TERRY COLLINS: Yeah, that's a good question. I don't know. I don't know what Jake's thought is. I think when obviously we signed Jacob, and being a college shortstop and being made a pitcher, kind of in the mix of everybody. I think he's one of those guys after the Tommy John that we've all heard about, why we all want to have our kids to have Tommy John before they're hurt so they can all throw a hundred when they come out of surgery. I think he's an example of that. This guy came out of Tommy John. Always had good mechanics. He's an athletic guy, as we know, good mechanics.
But all of a sudden, the velocity came up and you put that velocity with the good movement down in the strike zone, which is how he continued to be successful, and he throws strikes. Now he gets to the Big Leagues, and he's learned a couple of other traits. He's learned a better changeup. He's learned how to change the eye level, so now he can strike some guys out instead of just looking for ground balls. He got better. He's athletic and he listens and goes about the game the right way. Sometimes, again, there are overachievers in our game that become very, very successful.
Q. What is it about Yeonis' make-up that makes him seem so comfortable in big games, big cities, big moments in the season?
TERRY COLLINS: If you know Cuban baseball, you better be good or you don't play. Yeah, they played on a world stage, the big stages for them all over the world, and they had to win. So I think this guy knows how to win. I don't think he's intimidated by anything. When you've had to somewhat run for your life, not much else scares you. He knows how good he can be, how good he is, and so he's comfortable. He's just comfortable playing.
When I put him in centerfield I said to him, how much centerfield did you play? He said I'm a center fielder, and he is. He's a legitimate guy.
Q. You touched on this, but he was saying he'd throw one of the biggest differences and this last year he made a mistake and he was really able to put it behind. Do you agree with that and is that a fair assessment?
TERRY COLLINS: Yeah, when you were in his spot a year ago, basically a year and a half now, you know he had gotten to the Big Leagues, he was a starting pitcher in the Minor Leagues and he got to the Big Leagues because of the power arm. We thought he could be a reliever kind of guy where he could just come in and overpower some hitters, and he was struggling doing it, even though he was throwing hard. He was getting beat, knocked around, he was walking guys. I go back, and I think the veteran leadership in that bullpen, which has been down there for a while, guys had his ear. I think when you walk in that clubhouse, and as I always say, it doesn't matter what Dan Warthen says or Ricky Bones, the bullpen coach, when your teammates tell you, hey, look, you've got to get through this. You're going to be out there again tomorrow, so forget about tonight. And he's smart enough to know that's how you got to approach it.
We saw it this year. When he went through his little streak where he had some struggles, man, he didn't let it get to him. He just kept taking the ball, going out and doing the best he can. When he's right, he's as good as there is in the game.
Q. A lot of good things happened after the Juan Uribe - Kelly Johnson trade, including the Cespedes trade. Was that a coincidence, or did that Uribe - Kelly - Johnson trade set a base for the team to go off of?
TERRY COLLINS: In my opinion, I believe that was the trade that set things where we started to go. It was a situation when Sandy made the deal, he came in and he and I talked. I took the same message that he and I talked about out to the players and hey, look, we've got a good team. You hit, you play. Lucas Duda took off, Flores took off, Kelly Johnson and Juan kept playing as well. The two professional at-bats in that lineup and in that clubhouse, all of a sudden guys are looking at their jobs saying, oh my gosh, I've got to step up here and they did. I think that to me is when we started turning things around.
Q. What's impressed you most? You talk about Duda, what's impressed you most about his progress? This has been kind of a breakthrough season for him this year, hasn't it?
TERRY COLLINS: Well, I thought last year. He hit the 30 homers and 9292 RBIs playing only part-time because we started out the year last year with Zack Davis as the first baseman, and when Lucas got his chance, he ran with it. This year, huge expectations, huge expectations. Talks of 40-plus homers, 100 RBIs, and if you know Lucas, that's a big challenge, instead of just letting him go play.
As the season went on, he certainly put a lot of extra pressure on himself, because he's hitting third in the lineup, and he wasn't hitting home runs, even though his on-base was still good. He wasn't hitting homers. He's the kind of guy that knows he's got to carry his end, and he's got to hit the ball in the ballpark. When all of a sudden, Kelly came and Juan came and he got hot, I think he started to relax. He said, hey, look I'm going to be okay.
So I think he's finished. He's finished great. He's very, very excited. He certainly came to me a while ago and wanted me to know, he said I can hit lefties, and I said, yeah, I know you can.
I told him the other day, remember when you told me you hit lefties? Well, you're going to face a pretty good one on Friday, so you better.
Q. Is there something about the fabric of your ballclub that leads you to believe that they will thrive on the big stage?
TERRY COLLINS: Well, I think in the Major Leagues everybody has expectations. When you have to go to work every day in New York City with the competition we have with our fan base and everybody else, there's a little extra. When you can respond as positively to that and don't let that get to you to get in the way of what you have to accomplish, I think you can play anywhere.
So that's why I think, hey, look, we've gone through as every team does, some ups and downs, some big high points and some real low points. Yet still try to maintain this positive attitude in the clubhouse.
I think tomorrow is something that a lot of these guys have been looking forward to, be it veterans or young guys, but we are very, very lucky. We have some of the best veteran leadership of any team I've ever been around. They're going to keep these guys focused.
Q. The last time you played the Dodgers, Corey Seager wasn't a Major Leaguer yet. How much of a sense have you gotten of what kind of ballplayer he is?
TERRY COLLINS: Well, one of the things, I read all the reports. I read all the reports when he was in the Minor Leagues. He spent 12 years in Albuquerque, so anybody that plays in Albuquerque I stay on top of. We all know he's a great hitter. We know he's going to be a very, very good player. He's got great genes, so we've got to make pitches, just like everybody else. You can't take him for granted because he's a rookie. You better make the pitches. I talked to our scouts today, and they gave us all the things he can do, and all the things he can do well.
So, we've got to go out and we've got to execute our pitches correctly, and if we do, we've got a chance to get him out. If we make mistakes in the middle of the plate, he's got a chance to do big damage, so we're going to try to change that.
Q. Since Jake came up, he's never really seemed rattled by anything. What is it about his make-up that doesn't let the moment get too big for him?
TERRY COLLINS: Well, I think certainly in order to play this game at this level, you've got to believe in yourself and you've got to have confidence in what you do. And Jake deGrom has as much confidence in his own ability as anybody I've ever known. I just said earlier this guy had to work harder than other people to get to the Big Leagues.
So he not only got here, he had very, very good success here. I think he believes he can get anybody out. I think he trusts his stuff which is another thing, because we've all seen him when he's had a bad outing, he just seems to get better as the outing goes because he's not afraid to continue to throw strikes and I think it makes a difference.