Oct. 12 Terry Collins pregame interview

THE MODERATOR: Terry, thanks for being here. First question.

Q. Terry, with the word "retaliate" being mentioned everywhere, what's your message to your ballclub tonight as we approach Game 3?

TERRY COLLINS: Play baseball. Play the game. This is too big a game. We need to not worry about retaliating. We need to worry about winning. The one thing you don't need to do is get yourself in a situation to put yourself on the bad side. I understand everything that happened. As frustrated as we are, as upset as we are, we feel so bad for Ruben, but you know, the one thing we can't do is cost ourselves a game, and this particular game, because we're angry. We can play angry, but we gotta play under control.

Q. Terry, do you feel the need to tell Matt that directly?

TERRY COLLINS: Been told.

Q. Terry, we haven't seen you since the suspension came down. What was your take on that?

TERRY COLLINS: Well, again, as I said yesterday, I turned it over to the people who are in charge of this and would support whatever they decide to do, and I knew when I heard that he was going to get a two-game suspension that he would appeal it. So I'm not shocked that that's what happened, that's what's taken place. And again, as I told our coaches and everybody else, look, we just gotta go get ourselves ready to play a baseball game. We can't worry about what happened two days ago; it's over. We've gotta move on. We've got to go play baseball, and the minute we make this some type of a grudge match, we're going to make some mistakes and we can't do that.

Q. What went into the decision to play Lagares over Cuddyer? And did you consider Conforto as well?

TERRY COLLINS: We considered every single one of those things. No. 1, Michael is 1-for-12 against Anderson, so we didn't think that was a good matchup. Righties do hit homers off this guy. And the one thing we haven't asked Michael Conforto to do since he's been called up to the Big Leagues is start a game against a left-handed pitcher, and I didn't think Game 3 in the playoffs, with all the other attention going on to what's going to happen out there tonight, that it was the best chance to give him his first shot.

I think he can hit lefties. I told you guys, I think he's going to be an outstanding player, but this is what we've been doing since he came here and we said you know what, it gives us our best defense. If we need some offense, we can certainly pinch-hit. But that's how we thought we'd start the game.

Q. Obviously it's been a strange year for Wilmer. The situation, A, what did you tell him? And just your confidence in him that he can do the job for you?

TERRY COLLINS: Well, I have great confidence in him. You know, I've played him a lot. To be honest, one of the reasons why he didn't play towards the end of the season and even in the first two playoffs in Los Angeles was due to the fact that after he injured his back it took him a while to get better, and then he got the strep throat, he got so weak that he just wasn't physically able to play.

The other day in Los Angeles I talked to him and he said he feels 100 percent. The back feels great. The throat is fine. He's eating again. He's got some energy back, so I just told him to go play, not to get caught up in anything but going out and playing shortstop.

He's a guy we gotta turn to right now, and I think that's why, you know, he's up for it. I don't want to put any more pressure on him, but we just protected ourselves by bringing Matt Reynolds here just in case something happens, and we need a guy who's at least been at shortstop more than Kelly has. So that's why he's here.

Q. Terry, after the first two games, what's your comfort level with your setup relief guys? And will you consider juggling roles there?

TERRY COLLINS: Well, I'm satisfied with them. I mean again, there's always going to be a blip someplace. Tyler has had a great -- he's had a great year, and the last couple of weeks he's starting to get the ball up a little bit. I always think it's slot time when that happens. It's due to fatigue. Those kind of guys are up all the time. They're always warming up. That's why I thought the breaks here might help out, get his arm back a little bit.

So I like our setup guys. I like our seventh-inning guy. The other night was a tough situation to come into, with all that went on, and you know, Addison gave up some hits, something that hasn't happened very much. But again, I think it all depends on who's coming up and what the situations are, but I'm going to probably stay with those two guys. They've got us this far.

Q. The past month Travis has struggled at the plate. He seems to be maybe swinging a bit early in the count, and I know when he came back he switched his stance up a little bit. Do you think those things are contributing to his struggles or is it something else?

TERRY COLLINS: Well, Kevin (Long) has gotten with him, got him again this afternoon. You know, one of the things as you go back, you can even tell when he was swinging good, he jumped the count. He ambushes you early in the count. But right now he's swinging and fouling it off or swinging and missing. So again, as every hitter does, they go through that stage where they're the same guy, they're just not making the same contact. So got him in the cage today, worked on some things and hopefully it transfers into a better night.

But he's a big piece. His bat in the middle of our lineup is huge when we're playing good, and he's not swinging good right now but we gotta get it going tonight.

Q. We've seen the first two games, Noah and Jake with some pretty high pitch counts. Is Matt a full go in the same respect that those two guys are? Is there still a little bit considering the situation?

TERRY COLLINS: Well, I think, you know, I don't think you'll see him go over 120. It depends after he gets over that 110 mark how he looks. The game in Cincinnati when we were going to let him go 100 pitches, those last few he was struggling. He hasn't thrown 110 pitches in a long time. So it'll be cooler. It'll be a nice night, but we need to keep an eye on him because when that ball starts coming up or he loses that late life is when he's going to get in trouble. So we'll just keep an eye on him.

Q. What do you like about Matt Reynolds? And how confident are you in him if he had to make his Major League Baseball debut in a playoff game?

TERRY COLLINS: He's a baseball player. One of the things Wally (Backman) told me when I talked to him about Matt, he says, this guy knows how to play the game. He's an outstanding baserunner. He's an intelligent kid. All right, at someplace along the line you gotta enter the big stage. This is a little more difficult than others, but you know what, he's the highest ranking shortstop we got. So he was the guy we needed to bring here. So if he goes in the game, I'm going to have all the confidence in the world that he can catch the baseball. That's all I want him to do. Not worried about any other phases but playing baseball the way he always has, and that's all out.

Q. There's been plenty of references to what the atmosphere might be like tonight, the stakes and all of that. What do you anticipate, how would you describe the way it's felt in the lead-up? And is there anything in your baseball career that compares to what you anticipate tonight?

TERRY COLLINS: Well, my only exposure to the playoffs is when I coached in Pittsburgh, and nothing, because of what happened the other night can compare with the experience I had there. It's completely different. Obviously due to the two markets that are involved, this is a big game under a tough situation. And so I think the atmosphere tonight is going to be loud, to say the least.

So that's why I'm saying, we've gotta be able to control ourselves and how we play, and I've always said it from the first time when you get to the Big Leagues, the one thing you want to do is slow the game down in your mind. And with the noise that's going to be here and all the energy that's going to be here, that's a must. You gotta be able to take five seconds and, hey, slow this thing down and let's play it right, and not get caught up in the hoots and the hollers and, you know, we gotta go play. And certainly I think our veteran guys will make sure that message is sent to everybody else.

Q. Just having gone through a lot of difficult years here, I'm just wondering what goes through your mind when you sort of look back on the path that got you to today? What sort of sticks out in your mind?

TERRY COLLINS: Well, you know, when we won -- when we clinched, you know, I took one minute to say, okay, all the work we've put in here, all the work that you've put in for your whole career, it's well worth it. You know, it's one thing -- when I was in the playoffs with the Pirates, I was thrilled that I got my first chance of being in the Major Leagues as a coach and it was a great experience and I owe Jim Leyland all that. But when you're sitting in this chair, it means a little something special, because -- and not that the coaches don't have a lot to do with it. They certainly do. But this means a lot, especially after all these years.

But I'm able to put things behind me real fast, okay. I look ahead. And so you know, I took that minute to say, wow, it was all worth it, now I gotta get ready to win some games in the playoffs, and of course, after Saturday night I got a big challenge tonight. I gotta keep things under control.

Q. In terms of the Chase Utley appeal, do you expect that to be a day-to-day, is it done, is it over with, is he playing, or do you expect that to go on beyond this series?

TERRY COLLINS: I don't know. I don't know what's been said. I didn't talk to anybody out of the Commissioner's office. I do know that there is -- I think there's a two-week window. So I don't know what they're going to do. But right now I gotta worry about him tonight, because as you know, this guy has the knack to be a thorn in our side, when he was in Philly. So we got some concerns to make sure we just get him out.

Q. Utley is not in the Dodgers' announced starting lineup tonight. Your reaction to that?

TERRY COLLINS: Well, I'm a little surprised. You know, Don knows his team better than me, but I got the same stats he's got, and I know he swings the bat pretty good against Matt Harvey, but I know he's got him sitting over there. And again, I'm not sure if he -- after I saw the replay several times of the play at second, he's lucky he didn't get hurt, because he took a pretty good shot, so maybe that's an effect, too. Something may be stiff or whatever, but I know, as I said, he has a knack of beating us somehow. So let him sit over on the bench for eight innings.

Q. Do you expect to see him though?

TERRY COLLINS: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.

Q. You just said you have a challenge tonight to keep things under control. I'm wondering, since the play on Saturday, have you done more due diligence because of that, just checking with guys and making sure they're finding that balance between using that and not using it too much?

TERRY COLLINS: Well, I've tried. I haven't seen a lot of the guys. As you guys know, there's X amount of time during the day here that I'm not with you. So I've gotta find that time here shortly to get to certain guys. I mean, I was with Matt yesterday because we had the press conference here, so I was with him yesterday, and we talked about some things yesterday. And said, Look, you gotta go pitch, man. We all know who you are and what you are, but we can't let this control us. We've gotta go out and win a baseball game.

So he gets it. He understands it. And that's why, you know, when we made this decision a long time ago that if we got in playoffs, he was pitching Game 3, it's because I think that's the stage that he's going to pitch the best at. So hopefully it happens.

But yeah, I'm going to spend a little time with some guys to make sure they stay ready to play baseball.

Q. Do you have any preference over Alex Wood or Kershaw on short rest tomorrow?

TERRY COLLINS: Would I have any preference? (Laughs). Yeah. I got a preference. (Laughter). I don't want to -- yeah, believe me, this is no slap at Alex Wood. He's a fine pitcher, but I don't want that other monster on the mound. I can tell you that. Again, no disrespect, because he's a good pitcher, but that other guy is -- I've been around him way too much. I know exactly what he can do.

Q. You always comes through, Terry. Thanks.

And speaking of thorns in Mets' sides, Rollins is starting tonight. Over the years what's impressed you about him?

TERRY COLLINS: He's a gamer. You know, I've always looked at Jimmy Rollins as a winner, a guy who knows how to beat you. He's a guy that I always thought late in the game when it's a real close game and he's on base, you're always worried, hey, should he steals and gets thrown out and the inning is over; he'll steal. He'll steal a base when you least expect it. He came in here when he wasn't hitting very good, hit three homers in two or three games. I mean that's what he does. That's why they're a great team. I mean, that's why they're good. They got great players.

And so Jimmy is there tonight, and again, he's pretty familiar with the crowds here in New York, and I'm sure we've got our work cut out for us.