Oct. 13 Joe Maddon pregame interview

JOE MADDON: Can I just start out with something real quickly? Yesterday I didn't have a chance to really recognize our scouts and our Minor League guys that walk the track before the game. That's how I began, and so really looking out there, I could definitely identify with that entire group of people. I started out as a Minor League scout and manager in 1981 with the Angels, so I'm watching these guys, I know how important that walk was for them, and I just want to make sure that everybody understands that's where it begins. The life blood of every organization is the scouting department, and it's followed by the Minor League developmental guys.

They put in so much time that's never recognized, and believe me, I understand that firsthand. So I just want to say a shout-out to our guys, thank you for all you've done because everybody sees the finished product on the field right now and you're always going to recognize the group that's here. But believe me, it starts with those guys, great job, and I'm sorry I didn't mention that yesterday but I definitely wanted to do that today.

Q. Given that Baez has struggled against Lackey, did you consider starting La Stella at second with Castro at short today?

JOE MADDON: You could have, but Javi is our other shortstop. I want the defense out there. It was definitely something we could have done and maybe moved it along later in the game. But I did not want to walk away from Javi there starting at shortstop. It really came down to that. I want him to play there. I thought he had two good at-bats yesterday. Overall his at-bats have gotten somewhat better as he's gotten more shorter to the baseball. He's getting his foot down center. So we'll see. I might be wrong, but I chose to do that today.

Q. What's your report on Addison Russell?

JOE MADDON: Yeah, I was still waiting to hear back specifically what the doctors think. He went for some tests this morning. I haven't gotten any finalized conclusions from anybody yet. He's not going to play today, of course. So we need to look at that with the potential of possibly going into another run, hopefully, but you've got to be careful what you want to do, because if you lose somebody this round he's lost for the next. It's still we're still looking at. I don't have a final report yet. I'm waiting to hear.

Q. What role has Chris Coghlan filled for you or a number of roles and how important has he been to your success?

JOE MADDON: He's been really good. He's done a lot of different things. We kind of like made him into somewhat of a super-U guy for a bit, played somewhat at second base, both corner outfield positions he's played, a little bit at third and some at first. But primarily the offense, he really got hot there for a while, really picked us up. We hit him third for a stretch and our record was ridiculously good with him hitting third. He's also got some pop. He drove the ball good into the gaps, actually the opposite field gaps. He just played really well. He's played really well for us. You saw the pinch-hit base hit last night. We had seen him in the past down in Florida when he played for the Marlins. He's just been outstanding. He's been a big part of our success this year.

Right now with Soler being back and doing what he's doing, that pretty much caused him to sit the bench or at least in the beginning of this game, but he's been a big part of our success this year.

Q. With the feel of the ballpark and having walked around, do you feel like this might be a small ball type of game and might both managers -- I know you don't know what he's going to do, but might both managers look at it that way, different than last night?

JOE MADDON: Well, it's definitely -- I haven't looked at it specifically, but I heard it's kind of like a horizontal wind going from left to right. You just never know. When it's like that, I would think that right field still might play more deeply as opposed to left field. It's all going to be watching the other pitcher and what he's doing and how our hitters are reacting to him. Lackey pitching on one less day of rest, what that's going to look like. We are starting Hammer who tends to be a fly-ball pitcher so all these things are in play today. Again, like I've talked about it before, the situations have to be in place or in order to take advantage of different things, whether you want to bunt with somebody or hit-and-run with somebody, it's got to be the right guy with the right guy on base. I've tried to keep an open mind, and we'll just see it as it goes along. But I not the weather is going a little bit different today, a little but cooler, too. The ball should not carry as good.

Q. Kind of a little bit of a follow-up there, but in the four starts that Lackey has against your team, his ERA is below one, so is there any strategic change to try to find a way to try to get a run off this guy?

JOE MADDON: No. I mean, he's good. John is good. When he's executing his pitches, he will do that. He's done that to us. He can do that to a lot of different teams. There's not a whole lot -- from our perspective you've got to hit the mistake if you see it. Again, if he's making his pitches, which he's capable of doing, it's going to be that kind of a game again. We're just going to have to pitch equally as well. You have to pitch better than good pitching to win, so we have to pitch well in order to beat him. That's what I'm thinking going into this game, but there's not necessarily anything you can say to your hitters that are going to all of a sudden -- this great epiphany that all of a sudden you're going to be able to do better against a guy. You look last night's game for instance, you could say the same thing that they had a tough time against Jake and last night they did a little bit better against Jake. Jake wasn't as sharp.

If Lackey is as sharp as he normally is, it's going to be, again, that kind of a game.

Q. Does the mindset change at all from the Wild Card Game when you knew it was one and done to tonight knowing you have one game in your pocket? How do you approach a chance to clinch knowing if you don't get it done you've got one more opportunity?

JOE MADDON: No, we definitely want to go out there and attempt to win this game today. I don't think anybody is looking at the fallback moment. We're at home. We have this opportunity right now. Let's just go -- but continue to play the same game. I don't want us to try to do anything differently because that's attached to it, just like on that Wild Card Game we went out and played our game, and it was successful. And I keep repeating it, and I can't repeat it enough I don't think. If you want to go out there with the outcome in mind, you're probably not going to play well. Just go out there and continue to work the process, good at-bats, get them to 27 outs, execute your pitches, run the bases well, that's where your focus can be, and if we focus that, then I'd like to believe the result is going to turn out to be a good one. I really have a hard time focusing on the result of the game. Like right now before I came over here, I'm doing a lot of talking to other media, but it's going to be about looking at my lineup card, trying to figure out the game in advance, who's going to play well against who, how do you manipulate your bullpen if you want to try these different things that Bruce brought up, who's the right guys to do it with. Just focus on the process, man, because I talked about it the other day, the process is fearless, and if you want to get into result kind of thinking, you're probably not going to get the result you're looking for.

Q. Joe, in 2002 when Scioscia and your staff sent Lackey out to face the Giants in Game 7 as a rookie, do you remember what was going on in the mindset of the staff at all? How good did it feel that you were starting a rookie in Game 7 of the World Series?

JOE MADDON: We wanted him to start that game. We felt really good about him starting that game. He came up in the middle of the year, pitched well, then we sent him back out and everybody was kind of distraught, he was sent back out and he came back up, he continued to pitch well. But we had Frankie Rodriguez, another rookie as a part of that moment, as well, too, which was really important. No, John even demonstrated at that time his ability to handle difficult moments. Yeah, I could visualize it extremely well. We wanted him to pitch in that moment. We felt good about it, and he performed well.

Q. What's the difference you're seeing now between the Jorge Soler who went on the DL still striking the ball well but didn't seem to have the power stroke and the Soler that's come off the DL now, how seems to be back spinning the ball again and driving and has that power stroke back?

JOE MADDON: Not chasing. That's what happens with hitters, man. If they're going through a bad moment, they want to chase things. They want to study more video or they want to do something differently, and it pretty much comes down to stop swinging at balls, organize your strike zone. Once you organize your strike zone and you accept walks, then at that point you should be able to hit pretty close to your potentially, and easier said than done, no question that's just an oversimplification, but that's what it comes down to. Right now he's not chasing and I've been asking like those pitches that he's been taking for a ball, are they balls? What's up with the umpires? They said, no, they're borderline pitches that are balls that he's taking. That's a good sign. If you're doing that, that means you're seeing the ball well and you're forcing the pitcher into your area, and he's good. So I mean, that's the biggest difference I'm seeing right now. Spring Training he was advertised as a real selective hitter, and he was, then he got to this moment during the season, he wasn't. He was chasing a lot of stuff out of the zone and if you do that, why would a pitcher every throw you a pitch you can power? So it really comes down to selectivity, and accepting your walks, and that's what I'm seeing right now.

Q. You go back to the Devil Rays days with Jason Hammel. What would you say is the defining characteristic of him as you send him out in a big game?

JOE MADDON: I mean, he's got really good stuff. I don't know that he's given credit enough for how well -- he's got a really good fastball, an outstanding slider. For me that's the thing that I don't think gets talked about enough with him. By no means pedestrian stuff. It's really good. The big issue with him is just knowing where that fastball is going. If you're seeing today's game, he'll be pitching deeply into this game if, in fact, he's locating his fastball, just almost like a hitter, not expanding his strike zone. A pitcher knowing where his fastball is going, makes all the difference in the world. So that's what I'm going to be watching for. I think if he's able to locate his fastball where he wants to, he'll pitch deeply into this game.