Q. Do you guys need to be warned about overconfidence, or does that go without saying? Everything's going so well?
JOE MADDON: That's always something from outside coming in. I think we attacked it, the day, the same way from Spring Training to this point. That's what we preach. That's what I talk about, be present, not perfect. We would be foolish to be overconfident about this situation. They're really good, they have done this before, that is a group that is just dripping with tested veterans and a manager that's outstanding. So you never take the Giants for granted. Never.
Q. You were very proactive, you and Bos, in managing the workloads and the rotation late in the year. Was that just an example of taking the long view and not only keeping them healthy but keeping them fresh and sharp hopefully for the postseason?
JOE MADDON: Yeah, and it's always tough to rein in a thoroughbred. They all want to pitch. They all want to play. They want to throw more pitches. They want to be on five-man rotation from the first day to the last. And you just have to listen to that.
But at some point you got to know what's the right thing to do, and we talked about this, but I think it's really wise to consider a six man before and right after the All-Star break. I think that's the perfect time to -- if you have that guy. Many teams are just trying to find five guys or four guys that they like in the starting rotation.
But if you can somehow of finagle that extra guy from your system or really be proactive in the off-season to get that balance in the middle of the season, you saw what happened to us prior to the All-Star break. We weren't very good. And that was just a fatigue situation. Nothing to do with anything else.
So, I think anything you can do to guard against fatigue, during the course of the season, that's probably the best that you possibly can focus on. Extra hitting, extra throwing, extra ground balls, there was a time that I thought that. Instruction league, it's beautiful. Spring Training, it's beautiful. In a regular Major League season, to prevent fatigue is the most important thing.
Q. How do you even sum up what Madison Bumgarner has done on this postseason stage in recent years? And also just the way this team has played elimination games under Bruce Bochy?
JOE MADDON: It's like when I was a kid. I could only relate it to that. I was a Cardinal fan growing up, and seeing Bob Gibson do what he did in the '60s and then Mr. Kaufax, what he did. So you have to kind of draw the parallels or the comparisons from when you were a kid. When you're caught up in the moment, you don't really -- for me, you don't really make those kind of evaluations.
So I look at it as, wow, it's just like what Gibson did, it's like what Kaufax did. And maybe with Whitey Ford and the Yankees prior to that. It's unique. So I hope the kids that are really watching right now understand how good this guy is and how it parallels throughout baseball history, what he's doing right now.
He's good. It's not just purely his stuff; it's his competitive nature. I think that's what gets lost in this a lot with what we do. Everybody's always analyzing numbers and pitches and how he does this and spin rotation and whatever. This guy competes. That's what sets him apart. It's not that his stuff is that special, it's really good, but how he competes is what sets him apart.
That's what kids should -- if kids are watching this and really want to understand how to get good, you compete, and you compete every pitch. And that's why he's as good as he is.
Q. How important is it that Jake rise to the level of the Bumgarner challenge, find that version of himself that can pitch with anybody and beat anybody? Do you get the sense that he needs that?
JOE MADDON: I think he had it. I think he has that. I think last year really is indicative of what Jake's all about. This season everybody's been overscrutinizing him based on what he had done last year. He's had a great season. It's not maybe as great as last year was, but it's hard to replicate that.
So, I don't think Jake is cowered by any situation. We have a lot of confidence in him. I think he projected last year exactly what he's all about. He's done it this year, too.
Again, it's just hard to maintain the level of excellence that he had last year. This year's he's been outstanding. Last year, it's really hard for him to beat that. So, I know he's ready for the challenge tomorrow night.
Q. Now that you managed Jason Heyward for a year, do you think that's guy that you maybe can't fully appreciate until you watch him play every day because of the little things he does, whether it's base running, defense, influence in a clubhouse?
JOE MADDON: He showed me that last year. Played the Cardinals, what, 19 times during the season, whatever that -- 18? 18? And then I got to see him in the playoffs. I was a fan. I never really saw him before that. But he showed me last year, proved to me last year what a good baseball player he is. And then I get to see it every day.
You're right. Again, we get caught up on bating averages. And, of course, there's more in the tank for him with that, with his offensive numbers, but everything else he does this year and he's done this year has been superlative. And I really appreciate good baseball. I don't think it's any coincidence that he's played on a hundred win teams the last couple years. He's been such a big part of the fabric of those groups.
So, I did appreciate it last year. I'm appreciating it again this year. He's just different in all the best ways, and it's going to keep getting better. I really anticipate an uptick in his offense next season and in the years to come. He's a great student, tremendous athlete, and he's great to be around.
Q. Pitchers in these kind of high-level pitching matchups often say, well, I'm not going against that other guy; I'm going against their lineup. Do you think that's really true, or do you think when these two guys like this face off against each other, it actually -- they're actually thinking about what they have to rise to to beat --
JOE MADDON: I think the trap would be to worry about that. I think that the correct analysis would be it's the player, the hitter in that particular moment. How do I get this guy out. I'm really big into the moment as opposed to getting into the macro component of those kind of things.
I think the pitchers -- Jake's good, Bumgarner's good, they're both really good. So I don't know why you would want to focus on that other particular quarterback or pitcher or center in basketball whatever. I think it's much more important to focus on the moment. When you're doing your prep work, you can't go, oh, I'm pitching against this really good left-handed pitcher. It's about Span's probably going to lead off, Belt's going to hit second, there's Posey. That's where your focus has to be and how am I going to get these guys out. You're game planning with your catcher, your coaches. That's what's important.
That's what I try to get across to our guys. From day one that I've been here, what I had done in the past is to prevent your player -- or to promote that your players think properly. It's really much more about what you're thinking than anything else. And if you could process that well and properly, I think you can stand up to some really difficult moments. Because the moment is just that moment, and it's not about all this whole big thing.
Q. I know you been asked this the last couple of days, but how would you describe the contributions you've been getting from Javy Baez this series?
JOE MADDON: Honestly, typical. This is what he does all year. You've also seen that he can be prone to the mental mistake on occasion, and we talked about that. But when it comes down to pure ability and talent at a very youthful moment in his life, it's different. It's going to keep getting better.
The biggest thing about Javy that I try to -- my conversations with him are about is to eradicate the mental mistake. I don't care about physical mistake. I rarely use those three and a half words "I don't care" together often, but I don't. Because players are going to make physical mistakes. Baseball's a very difficult game that these guys make look relatively easy. So go ahead and make your mistakes. But when it comes down to the mental mistakes, that's what you have to get rid of. That's what causes the losses.
So, with him, he's had a couple really good ones this year, and we have talked about them. But the beautiful part about him is he is very accountable and he listens. And it may not happen the next time out, he still might make the same mistake, but he's definitely open. And I love that about him.
So just give him another couple three years, and the potential of this guy is really through the roof. In every component of the game. You saw his base running last night. That's the stuff, I mean, right there.
When you go to instructional leagues or Spring Training, you try to point stuff like that out. Either you got it or you don't. You either come with the bells and whistles or you don't. To teach instinct like that is nearly impossible. You can recreate moments in practice to try to heighten somebody's abilities to make a better decision, but either you're instinctive or not on that level, and he is.
Q. There was a lot of scrutiny on Willson Contreras and his ability to work with the starters, but last night he worked with an array of relievers. How much of a growth spurt have you seen in him the last six weeks?
JOE MADDON: He's been outstanding. We have -- I met him for the first time in Spring Training. I didn't know Willson, I just heard about him a little bit. And then in Spring Training the guy started talking about, listen, we got to get him together with the pitchers, the varsity pitchers, because at some point he's going to be up here this year, and we have to have that relationship. Because we have some starters that are edgy kind of guys, and we wanted to make sure that there was a good relationship being built.
And he did. And it's all about Willson. Just like we're talking about Javy, the fact that he's really accountable, and he's a great student and he's all ears and he's all of that, but there's been some really good coaching going on there among our pitching and catching side with Bos and Mike Borzello and Lester.
And I watch it. You guys watch it. You see it all the time. When Willie's not catching, he's sitting next to Mike Borzello on the bench the whole time. And it's just about what's going on out there right now.
So by the time he gets in the game, he's got a really good feeling of what we're thinking, and he's carried it out. There's times -- and you see it. There will be times he gets shaken off and he was right and the pitcher just wanted to do something else, and we come back and you talk about it. So Willson has been all of that. He's a pleasure to be around. And here's another guy that's going to keep getting better. He's really young. He's going to get better. He's going to get better offensively I think just by pitch selection. He'll get ball in the air more consistently as he gets older. But he's -- God bless. And he can play other positions. He's really a great athlete.
Q. Talking about Javy's exuberance is great, but did you talk to him at all about getting out of the box and that play yesterday maybe?
JOE MADDON: I gave him a fist pump and looked him in the eye. And he knew what that was all about. I like all of us. We know when we screwed up. I think we all inherently know the difference between right and wrong. And he definitely knows that. Even the day before and then the pitch inside from Strickland probably had a little bit of a Post-it on it somehow. He just needs to go out there and play.
And, again, for me, it's very dangerous as a manager or a coach to coach instinct and whatever this guy has that nobody else has out of him, which I don't want to do. I never want to subtract from this guy. I just wanted to take what he has and harness it a little bit and understand situations to the point where I'm not going to make that mistake. And it's all -- it's about him and what he's thinking in the moment. We just covered that.
So, it's youthful, it's there's a lot of energy about it, and I don't ever want him or Willson to lose, or Addison, to lose their energy and excitement for playing this game. I never want to see that happen. I want to see them running that hard with their hair on fire every time they go down to first base. And I want them to make these really outstanding, obvious physical mistakes that throwing the ball away really far and high and hard -- any mistake they make, I want it to be obvious and really aggressive.
So I never want to take that away from them. So that's the fine line when you work with a guy like him, especially, at that age under the spotlight. You don't -- you got to be careful how you put it across, I think.
Q. First two games you focused on defense with your lineups. It stands to be a low-scoring game tomorrow. Are you contemplating the same thing, or are you contemplating debating even getting somebody else against a left-hander?
JOE MADDON: Definitely contemplating. Haven't decided yet. And I've been talking to different guys, getting varied opinions. It's one of those things where I don't want to take pencil to paper yet or I don't want to do that yet. I have feelings in both ways, and I'm still looking for that thought that pushes you in a different direction. But I definitely have strong opinions about tomorrow, and I have been talking to different folks. So you may see something slightly altered.
Q. One more on Javy. Obviously he's so valuable, like Zobrist, being able to play different positions. But one day do you think that he'll settle in, like you'll see him settle in in one position, or will this be like this his whole career?
JOE MADDON: Oh, it just depends. I think it depends on the group he's playing with. If you needed an everyday second baseman and there wasn't a reason to move people around, he could be an everyday second baseman. Same thing at shortstop.
I think you would rather have him in the middle of the field if you want to do something more permanently because he has such an ability to impact the game in the middle of the field, whether it's fielding the ground ball, range, arm, turning a double play, tags, pop-ups, everything. I think there's more opportunity and in the middle of the field, and I think that's where you would want to utilize him on a daily basis.
But also, like I said, I believe it's the construction of your team and what you have. And it's nice to be able to do what we're doing with him right now because we have guys that do these other things. Probably as he moves it further along, you might see him settle into a spot, which I think, like I said, would be in the middle. That would be my guess.
Q. How do your guys avoid the feeling of playing with house money going in against Bumgarner, or does that work to your advantage that you do have those two and you are maybe loosey-goosy going in that ballgame tomorrow?
JOE MADDON: John Lackey, Jon Lester, David Ross, Aroldis, these are the guys that I'm really counting on that they won't permit that to happen. I can talk all I want, peer acceptance, peer pressure, peer everything is really what makes this thing whole, this entire thing work. We have great leadership within our clubhouse. Guys that have been there, done that before.
So, I really believe that the process is good in the clubhouse based on the leadership among the veteran players. I understand what you're saying, is their ability to relax a little bit more based on two wins. I really anticipate the same kind of approach from our guys. I really do. I thought we were kind of like good last night -- was that yesterday? It was. I think we were good last night, and I liked the approach from the beginning. The first night maybe a little bit more uptight by everybody, both sides. Great pitching performances. But I thought things loosened up last night. The difference of coming here, a more hostile environment, a team that's been there, done that before, but I really think that the balance of our group really helps us a lot at this particular moment.
Q. You just sort of addressed my question there a little bit, but what kind of urgency do you place on this game from the standpoint of not letting the Giants get any confidence, get any hope and momentum going in front of their home crowd here?
JOE MADDON: It's game 165. It's game 165. That's the urgency. I don't want us to treat it any differently than we did on April 15th or May 15th or June 15th, whatever the date is.
The point is, I really want us to play the same game every day regardless of the opponent or the time of the season. There shouldn't be any more effort or less effort. There shouldn't be any more energy or less energy. There shouldn't be any more work applied to the preparation. It should be the same. And if you do that, that's your best opportunity to go out there and play really well.
The trap always is that you have to do more of. You have to be better. You have to be greater than. That's the trap. I just want our guys to keep doing what we have been doing the whole season. Nothing differently. BP tomorrow will be optional once again. It was optional today. The work they do on the field's up to them, what they feel they think they need to do. That's what we have been doing for pretty much the whole year. But definitely for the last two months.
Q. Obviously you guys got some great offensive contributions from your hitters last night. There's going to be two pitchers who can handle the bat tomorrow. How does that impact the dynamic of the game? Do you get less conservative as a manager because of it?
JOE MADDON: I just think that the impact could be the fact that you got nine hitters in the lineup. Less bunting possibly. From the bottom, something -- the pitchers are probably not going to be counted on just to bunt somebody over tomorrow. It will be something differently about it. Both pitchers have to -- will understand and know going into it that there's a lot of respect going both ways.
From my -- you take the temperature of the game early on. This is something where you might play your in field in sooner, as an example, because you don't anticipate a lot of runs being scored. You may when it comes to things on the bases. Or like I'm saying, defense, you might take more risks because the opportunities present should be less than.
So those are the kind of thoughts I have when you're involved in a game and your guy's really good and so is their guy. And you think that runs are going to be at a premium, you might try to do something a little bit different under those circumstances.
Q. Any updates on Kyle Hendricks, like how bad does that thing look the day after?
JOE MADDON: Nothing new. He's just sore. But I have not got anything highly negative from anybody. I've not even spoken to PJ yet, our trainer, about what's going on. But when he came in today and I did briefly ask him. Kyle yesterday he said he felt fine. So I don't anticipate anything really negative.