TERRY COLLINS: Again, no disrespect to Kelly, he's a tremendous utility player. We just thought it was going to be important if Matt's going to be the guy, we are protected at shortstop with a guy who has played a lot at shortstop. Again, we'll determine that tomorrow, but we've also gotta take a look at our bench and make sure we have the right pieces because pinch-hitting becomes a big part of the game.
Q. Two parts to this: One is on the side with Ruben, just if you could speak to his progress as a player and what it says that you hate to lose any player, but how significant it was for this team to lose Ruben. And then the other side just from the Wilmer perspective, I'm curious if you've seen any development or your opinion of his game has changed since April with everything that's gone on, his battle in July.
TERRY COLLINS: Well, it's been quite an up-and-down season for both guys. We went into Spring Training with what had happened the last couple of years with Ruben that, you know, it was kind of, Hey, look, right now we're going to lean towards Wilmer Flores as being our shortstop. As I told Ruben in Spring Training, you know, It's your job to take it away. I think when the season started and Wilmer was there and he had some struggles early, I think Ruben said, Look, I gotta get after this. That's my job, and I think he set his mind to becoming a better player, and he did. He got better.
I think one time we made the change and we moved Murphy to third and put Wilmer at second and Ruben at short, we thought that was our strongest defensive infield and they played like it. I think that helped Wilmer relax. He wasn't at shortstop. He went to second. Played very, very well, and I think when we started making other moves and we put Wilmer back at shortstop, he was a more relaxed player because there wasn't that amount of pressure heaped on him. And then after the trade that didn't happen, you know, I think Wilmer really relaxed and started playing well.
Now, we went into the playoffs, we thought it was important on the defensive side of the infield to play the best guy that we think -- and again, no disrespect to Wilmer; he played very well, but Ruben has just got more experience playing shortstop at this level. So we thought he was the guy.
So last night's injury, you know, is a big dent, and I will certainly spend some time with Wilmer tomorrow and let him know that he's proved he can play shortstop at this level, to relax and go out, because he's going to be the guy.
Q. Joe Torre last night spoke and said the slide with Utley was late, and he said league discipline is being considered. Would you advocate there be discipline in this case?
TERRY COLLINS: Again, I'm not going to get involved in Joe's stuff. I know they're looking at it and I'm going to let them make the decision, but we all, everybody in this room included, we all know how hard Chase plays and everything else. It was late. It was a late slide. Where he hit Ruben on the field, certainly was something that needs to be addressed, but I'll let Major League Baseball handle that.
Q. Terry, considering yesterday and Matt Harvey has got a little bit of recent history against Utley, what do you expect to see if the two of them face each other?
TERRY COLLINS: Well, I certainly can't answer that, as you know, but alls I know is for years and years and years as long as this game is played, and we know there are a lot of changes, players always took care of stuff themselves. I don't know certainly what's going to happen. I'm not going to address that because I'm not going to create an issue.
But you know, right now we need Matt Harvey to step up and pitch the kind of game we know he's capable of pitching because when we made this decision to pitch him tomorrow, which we did a long time ago, we felt this was the pivotal game of this series, and it's turned out to be that. We're at our park. We need him to step up and pitch a good ballgame, and that's all I hope he does.
Q. I was going to ask you about Matt as well. Obviously from what we've seen of him, he does funnel a lot of emotion into his pitching. Do you have any concern? Do you want to speak to him just about channelling it in a way that's usable or how he kind of corrals that? Is that a conversation you anticipate having?
TERRY COLLINS: I already had it.
Q. How did it go? What did he say?
TERRY COLLINS: Oh, he's Matt Harvey, you know. When he's on the mound, I've had this conversation with him before, and when he steps on that piece of rubber, everything else is about the guy at home plate. It's him against that guy at home plate, and he, you know, that's all he's thinking about. So I just want him to make sure today that he knew that, hey, look, he's gotta go relax and make his pitches, and you know, worry about winning the baseball game.
Q. Do you think you would go with Conforto tomorrow night?
TERRY COLLINS: I don't know, Mike.
Q. That's something you don't know?
TERRY COLLINS: Not yet. Haven't decided yet.
Q. Terry, after such a tragic night by losing a player, what's the feeling in the clubhouse, not that you needed any more motivation to win a game at home with Matt Harvey on the mound, but how are your players dealing with it?
TERRY COLLINS: They were pretty upset. Needless to say, they were quite upset with the whole situation, and, you know, as you said, we don't need any more motivation, but that certainly gives us some extra motivation going into tomorrow night.
Q. Do you have any concerns about Wilmer just after his illness for the last couple of weeks and reportedly lost a lot of weight? Is there any concerns there?
TERRY COLLINS: Well, there was. That's why we've been trying to rest him. Obviously the back was an initial issue, and again, as we all know about these guys, a lot of these guys don't say much. You know, how bad -- how was his back bothering before he finally said something, I don't know. I can't tell you. He's the only one that can deal with that. But the strep throat was a huge concern because he couldn't eat and wasn't eating. He had some medication that wasn't helping him, and had some effects on him.
So he said he's been feeling a lot better, feels like he's ready to go, so we're hoping that when he goes out there tomorrow night, that he's the player we know he can be. But you know, has he put all the weight back on? No, not really. But as long as he's got some energy, that's all that matters because he didn't have it for a while.
Q. Obviously last night's an emotional game. Ruben Tejada is a popular guy in that clubhouse; teammates love him. Is it important for some veterans to get up and say we know it was a bad thing that happened, we know it's a questionable move by Utley, but the focus has to be where it has to be?
TERRY COLLINS: Well, I don't know if they have to stand up and say it. One thing about the playoffs, you know, there's a lot of things that we deal with as a team, and I think they're getting a little tired of the meetings. You know, we've played two games, we've had three meetings already. And we had one on the off-day. We've had two on the two games we played, and I think certainly the veterans will play the game, and I know our young guys will be addressed by, as we all know, you know, we know the relationship with Conforto and Cuddyer, how good it is. I'm sure Mike will tell him how the veterans are going to handle this, and he'll get right in line.
Q. Two short questions. On the question about left field, is it basically either Conforto or Cuddyer or might you think about Lagares in center field?
TERRY COLLINS: We're going to think about all the options.
Q. But Matz is the Game 4 starter and deGrom?
TERRY COLLINS: Matz will be the Game 4 starter, yes.
Q. And deGrom will be Game 5 if it go that far?
TERRY COLLINS: That's correct.
Q. Given the tightened intensity now in this series, do you anticipate that the umpiring crew could open the game by issuing warnings to both teams? And do you think that a move like that would be impactful in the game?
TERRY COLLINS: Well, I can't say -- I don't know what -- again, I gotta let Major League Baseball make the decisions, but I would personally hope that there wouldn't be such an issue, only because the impact it would have on the entire game itself, would change the way the game's supposed to be played. And I'm not saying we're trying to protect anybody, but in the game of baseball, we do ask our pitchers to pitch inside once in a while, and the last thing we need is an umpire to take the games into his hands where he thinks it was a purpose. It is the purpose; that's why you pitch inside. And all of a sudden to create a mess that certainly wasn't intended.
So we'll just wait to see what Joe and those guys come up with.
Q. Terry, there's a report out there that Chase Utley tried to apologize to Ruben through David Wright. Do you know if that happened?
TERRY COLLINS: I don't know if that happened.
Q. You were asked you how your teammates were kind of accepting or handling what happened. How are you? Have you been able to let go of it? Are you still very angry? How would you describe yourself just what happened?
TERRY COLLINS: Well, I was the middle infielder, as Chase is, and as a bunch of us are, and I'm also the manager here. And I lost a pretty good player. I lost a pretty big piece of the puzzle. I'm not very happy about it.
I'm not going to get into it. This is not the place for me, in my background and what I think needs to be done. But again, I'm not -- I was pretty shaken up by it, because I thought it was something that didn't need to happen.
Q. Were you given an explanation on the field when that play occurred as to why that was not called a double play?
TERRY COLLINS: I was given a lot of explanations. As a matter of fact, when it was overturned, I went to Gary and I knew immediately he was going to tell me, Look, you can't argue this. And I wasn't arguing the overturning. I was arguing what I could then ask to be appealed or be looked at.
You know, I talked about the roadblock. I talked about the neighborhood play. I talked about the fact that Chase didn't touch the base. Of course, neither did Ruben.
So I mean, it turned into a pretty big mess, but I already thought Gary and the umpires, you know, once they had it reviewed -- and again, you know, you're adding four other guys in it, as you guys know. Do we know who they were, couldn't tell you. But when you got eight guys who are professionals looking at it, I pretty much think they're pretty good at what they do. So we'll see what Major League Baseball rules.
Q. Just particular to Wilmer being in this spot, I'm just wondering whether you think that what happened in July up through October made a difference in terms of his ability to do this, changed your thinking about what Wilmer is capable of in a situation filled with pressure like this?
TERRY COLLINS: Well, it's the Big Leagues. I mean it's the Major Leagues, and you're asked to go play shortstop, and if you can't handle it, you better stand up and say something, because this is not the place to try to be a hero. If you can't handle -- look, you know, I don't know if I can handle playing shortstop in the playoffs, you better say something. And I think Wilmer is going to be fine.
I think he's grown through the season. I think he realizes you're going to have a good night. Everybody makes errors. Go out and just catch the ball and make the routine play, which is all we've ever asked any of those guys to do.
So I think he'll be fine. I'm not concerned about it. I think that he understands what his responsibilities are now, and as we all know, you know, I mean if he swings the bat like he's capable of, we can turn our heads at a lot of things, because he can hit.
Q. Terry, do you think last night's example of replay not being used in the fashion in which it was originally intended? Because that's a play, the force play that goes on for 100 years and there's probably not a review if there's no stoppage in play last night.
TERRY COLLINS: (Laughs). Again, you guys are asking me to answer questions, you know, I have no responsibility to. I mean I'm not a fan, I'm part of the game, and that's why my argument was, you know, I think that play was a neighborhood play. That's why I thought the guy was out at second base. I mean, we see it all the time.
Now, their argument was the throw took him off the bag. That's their call, and you know, we can argue till you're blue in the face, but that's ultimately the call. And so you know what, you gotta just -- you know, the biggest part was the injury more than the safe or out call. And you know, I thought it could have been a double play. I thought where Chase ended up hitting him, and I didn't know until I saw it on replay a couple of times, that it could have been a double play. Their ruling, and again, amongst a number of guys that were professionals said they thought it was okay. Well, I don't know what you want me to do. I can't take my team off the field; we gotta go play.
So you buy into the rules. You buy into the system and we gotta get ready to play tomorrow night. Yesterday is over. We can't do anything about it right now. We have got an injured player. We've got somebody else who's gotta step up and play in that spot. I've got my ace going tomorrow. That's all right now I'm concerned about. And again, Major League Baseball will handle the other situation and I'll certainly support whatever they decide to do.