Nov. 1 Joe Maddon pregame interview

Nov. 1 Joe Maddon pregame interview

Q. Do you think Jake is enjoying that the season might be riding on his shoulders tonight?

JOE MADDON: Yeah, Jake, I think, inherently loves these kind of moments. It's always difficult to just look at him and see that because he's pretty much got the same expression regardless. But I think Jake likes to shoulder these kind of moments. I've only known him for really two years now, but he did it for us last year. He really carried us in a way that kind of like Jon Lester's carried us this year.

He's definitely got it within him. I know he's ready. He keeps wanting to talk about pitching that next game, and here it comes. So I feel very strongly about him pitching tonight.

Q. What was the thinking with the Schwarber second and shuffling things up a little bit?

JOE MADDON: Yeah, well, primarily if you hit him in fifth, I don't think they'd pitch to him at all. I think the fact that he showed so well in the first series. I would think in that series they pitched to him, because he hasn't been playing a lot, he had been in the Arizona Fall League, he's been hurt all year. What could he possibly do? So I think that was probably the attitude at that point. Now that he showed what he can do, I thought it was really important to protect him.

So by slotting him in the two hole, the other three guys, Bryant, Rizzo and Zobrist are pretty much in that order always anyway. So just to slide him in there I think makes him more pertinent possibly. That was it.

Q. Joe, Kyle was in here a little while ago talking about how he's picked up some stuff from Jon Lester just watching him go about his business in the playoffs. What sort of an impact can a guy like Jon have on a younger guy like Kyle going into what could be the biggest game of his career tomorrow?

JOE MADDON: Yeah, I think primarily he's seen how Jon has gone out there in the moment, and has pretty much been himself, for lack of a better way of putting it. He's just calm. He's pitching his game. I'm not privy to seeing the actual pregame stuff or the kind of work done in between or the conversations, but I've been listening to Jon. I've actually heard him on interviews and whatever, and he's been speaking really slowly and clearly, and that's probably part of what Kyle's talking about that he could gain from, because Kyle's that way anyhow. But when you hear a guy been there, done that speak so well about the event and the moment.

And really I heard him the other night recapturing exactly what went on in that game, and he nailed it. That's Jon, he nailed it. That was really cool.

So when you get to this moment in the year, and there's a lot riding on it, obviously, guys can still be themselves. That's pretty much what we're looking for, that you just can be yourself out there tonight, play the game of baseball, probably like how we've been doing all way, and I think how Jon reacts probably lends courage to others.

Q. What is your recollection of the Game 7 you were involved in as a coach with the Angels, the intensity and the finality of it? Did you enjoy that? And secondly, do you have any omens going into today as you did in Game 5, even maybe having celebrated in this clubhouse before?

JOE MADDON: First of all, the Game 7, I remember you've got to go back to Game 6, the way we had come back in that game, and we felt really good about Game 7 after we won Game 6. They chose to not pitch Kirk Rueter, and they pitched a right-hander. I think it was Hernandez. El Duque's brother, Livan. They pitched him, which we liked, because we thought we matched up better with that as opposed to left-hand hitters.

So all these little vibes going into that game we felt good about it. We had Lackey pitching, we felt good about that. The bullpen was strong, and then G (Garret Anderson) hits that double in the corner, and is very, very believable to that point.

That's why I think this time of the year, even though we did not catch the lead the other night, catching a significant lead, I should say, is really important right now. It's very difficult for the other team to battle back from a deficit right now. So we did in that Game 6, it was like 5-0, actually. That Game 7, we got on top.

Omens, I don't know. I did see my dad's hat in my bag today. That's probably my -- I carry my dad's hat with me. He passed away in 2002, we won the World Series, and I've had his old Angel hat in my bag since then. So it goes everywhere. So that was the one thing I'm relying on today is my dad. So I held onto his hat a little bit this morning, and that's probably the omen in a sense going into tonight's game.

Q. This is your second time managing a young team into the World Series. Wondering what you thought the impact was of those Rays guys having that extra month of experience, and now looking forward, how much you think they can help your star players?

JOE MADDON: It had a great impact. It had a great impact. We didn't do that well the next year. I really felt the World Series hangover. I think it was also the WBC, the Baseball Classic was the next year, so we had a lot to deal with, which we also have next year, as a matter of fact.

So the biggest thing with those young guys I was most concerned with was the shortness of the off-season going into the next year. We finally caught our stride in August, but then we faltered, but still had a winning season. After that, the culture was created. We were over .500 again in 2009. In 2010 we were outstanding.

So definitely it's about the cultural flip. It's about the stretching of the mind. It's about we have the expectation on an annual basis to be here now. Once you've been able to do it, you really don't want to settle for anything less than that. You just don't.

But you have to do it the first time to really understand it and feel what it's like. We never got back to the Series. We got in the playoffs often. But these young guys or I think even younger, there is a better chance of keeping them together just based on finances, whereas back down there we didn't have the same opportunity to keep that group together, which I've often lamented, that had you been able to keep that group together, what it would eventually look like. I thought it could have rivaled the Yankees' run with that kind of group that had come up in the mid-90's or late 90's.

So there are a lot of ancillary benefits to be derived right now. And our guys are young. I'm really proud of how they've dealt with this moment. But looking down the road, I want to believe with their ability to do other things, to be able to keep this core group together, and then augment it, I think could be pretty special.

Q. Joe, was your catching decision today automatic because those guys work together and you won Game 2? Was there any moment between Contreras and Jake that's stood out to you in Game 2?

JOE MADDON: Well, I think the things we wanted to catch Miggy with Jake originally, and we've done that. They've done a great job together. Just quite frankly, the running game that these guys are capable of, we thought it would be good to get Willson involved. If you remember, we played a game in Pittsburgh at the end of the season where I try to incorporate both catchers to just try to give Jake a feel for both guys. Again, you just never know how it's all going to play out.

We have a lot of confidence in Willson. Even people have been talking about David Ross catching in a game like today. But I liked the way they've worked together in the last game, Jake and Willson. Jake, when he's right, doesn't necessarily need a lot of edge pitches called strikes, because Jake's able to get outs within the strike zone based on movement, just sheer movement, and the contact that can be derived from that.

So I like the idea of Willson's arm. And the threat of his arm is really good, because you don't want to give these guys another avenue to take advantage of right now.

So I don't know if that answers everything, but there's a lot of different reasons why I wanted to stay the same way.

Q. The last team to come back from a 3-1 deficit in the World Series on the road was the '79 Pirates. Lot of charisma with that team, kind of similar to your team this year. Just being from Pennsylvania, do you have any recollection of that team, any memories?

JOE MADDON: We Are Family, right? I remember the song. I loved their hats. I got to be -- David Parker was on that team. Me and "Parkway" got to be good friends. I remember all that about it. I wasn't a Pirate fan per se, but I love their uniforms forever. So I was always in love with the Pirate uniform. I was never a Philly fan, but I liked Pittsburgh from a distance based on their uniform. So I was kind of following it.

Then I got to meet Danny Murtaugh in a tryout in the '70s, Chuck Tanner and I had some common friends. So there was all this little stuff going on. Primarily, the We Are Family I thought was kind of cool back then in '79 I was just bebopping around. That's the year I played in both Santa Clara and Bakersfield. I was going nowhere at that time. But I still was a big baseball fan.

But that's what I remember. The hats, the song, and just obviously they seemed like they were a very tightly-knit group. That's what stood out to me, and as a kid growing up back there then, that's the part I took away from it.

Q. Couple questions on the bullpen. Kind of a multi-parter: To what extent are Lester and/or Lackey options for you out of the 'pen tonight? And with Aroldis, are two complete innings a possibility for him tonight?

JOE MADDON: Lester and Lackey, I think John's more viable than Jon. John Lackey more viable than Jon Lester tonight, however, you never know. But we also have a rested bullpen, and there are a lot of bullpen options I do like, purely like Montgomery's available, Edwards available, Strop, they're all available tonight. So I think those kind of guys. Like Lackey would be more pertinent early or in extras, more than likely. I think Jon Lester becomes more viable tomorrow, although I would not run away from it today.

Regarding Chappy, just got to find out, I haven't had the conversation yet. Just briefly talked to him on the plane last night. He seemed to be in good spirits, which I always think is a good sign. The easy smile, "I feel good" kind of a thing.

So I would anticipate, I don't know if two is possible. I'm not saying it's not, but I'll have that conversation before the game.

Q. Could you go back to the 2002 World Series game again and talk about Lackey and his contribution, and then spin it ahead to a guy who has now locked down two World Series, and what he can impart and you can impart on Kyle tomorrow?

JOE MADDON: Well, Johnny, in 2000 we wanted him to pitch as a rookie. We wanted him to pitch. Everybody did. The players did, the coaching staff, Sosh (Scioscia) did. We all wanted him to pitch. We thought he could handle the moment and he was the right guy for the job, which it all proved to be true.

Part of that situation is not unlike what's going on with Cleveland right now. We had that kind of a bullpen, so we wanted to turn it over to the bullpen. So we got five strong and were able to turn it over at that time. We had, of course, Percy, Frankie Rodriguez became pertinent, Brendan Donnelly, all these dudes. We had a really strong bullpen. But we wanted Lackey to start just based on who he is was. We knew he would not be afraid. We thought he would pitch well and he did.

And right now, Johnny's going to be perusing the locker room. All these guys, they interact so well. They interact so well and his experience. Obviously they can go to him for anything right now. John, like I said before the other day, Johnny's a big baseball fan, too. He just likes baseball, and he has strong opinions on how to do things and I'm certain that he would be able to pass that along to any of our guys who are asking. But it's great to have him in there right now.

Q. With a young team, veteran team, what's the toughest thing about facing elimination back to back, and possibly back to back to back?

JOE MADDON: It's beautiful. It's a beautiful thing. We came through it the other day. It's not about, to me it's not about elimination as much as it is about winning tonight's game. We always try to win tonight's game, regardless of the date, regardless of whatever. We're just trying to win one game.

So of course it's an elimination game. I can't deny that. But I want us to go out there, like we've done all year, and try to win tonight's game. Whatever it takes to win tonight's game, we're going to try to do it. It's a great growth moment. It's a great experience for all of us. Getting through tonight into tomorrow would obviously enhance it even more.

But the thing I want our guys to really focus on is to win tonight's game, and that's all you can do. The controlling of the controllables, to not try to think in those terms. Those terms can only get in the way, like it's an elimination game. No, just go play. Go play, do what we've been doing. I love our lineup on the field right now. Like I said before, having to play American League rules is actually an advantage to us. I know they're digging it, too. I get it. But for us it's an advantage right now. It permits us to put the defense we want on the field and still get the offense you're looking for. So let's just try to win tonight's game.

Q. What's fair and realistic about asking players to make adjustments during series, when they're seeing pitchers? And what's different about adjustments against approach?

JOE MADDON: Yeah, I mean, right now, gosh, I don't want to say a whole lot to anybody. Like we're talking about Javy specifically right now probably. Again, it's more a mental approach. I think I would prefer addressing right now as opposed to any kind of physical mechanics to make adjustments with.

I do believe, with my old hitting instructor's hat on, you can attempt to give anybody all kinds of mental approach kind of thoughts on a nightly basis, daily basis, anytime, and not overwhelm them. You can, if you want to go the physical route. Because if you want them to go up there and think about what their body is doing as that ball's coming in under these circumstances, that's definitely going to get in the way, I believe.

I've already talked to Javy a little bit. I'm going to talk to some of the other guys, too. I'm just trying to get them to alter their mental approach. What are you thinking per at-bat? What's your goal per at-bat? What's your goal per pitch? I really believe you have to reduce it to that. I believe that's something you can handle at any age, actually.

So right now specifically the physical adjustment is not necessary. It's much more about the mental approach adjustment, and that's what I've been talking about.

Q. When Kyle was up here, he talked in such positive tones about how he's pitching tomorrow and how the team's going to win tomorrow, and he mentioned your name. These are some of the things you imparted on your first day of Spring Training, right, that you hope come to fruition tonight?

JOE MADDON: Yeah, listen, I've been accused of the rose-colored glasses. I've been called "Pollyanna" on occasion. I just had a great conversation with the FOX crew about Twitter. I'll make it public right now: I think there should be two forms of Twitter. There should be the positive form of Twitter and the negative form, and you have to choose one. And if you choose to be on Negative Twitter, then you're not welcome on Positive Twitter ever. And there needs to be Twitter police because there's so much negativity that's generated on a daily basis within our society that we have to do something about.

Social media to me, I've done it. I did it with the Rays because I thought it was necessary to put our message out there and really help promote the Rays. But at some point, man, it gets to the point where it's absolutely a negative situation.

So back to the point. Why do you want to put negative thoughts in anybody's head about anything? And why do you want to assume the worst? I definitely want to assume the best. So if that's what Kyle said, I really appreciate that he took that message to you guys. So at the end of this World Series at least, let's see if we can do something about Twitter, if anything, and have two methods of Twitter (laughter). You get to choose one and the negative dudes, you cannot infiltrate the positive people, because we are going to kick you out of there very quickly.

Q. Joe, you talked right off the top about how Arrieta will go after tonight. What do you like about Hendrix in a Game 7, just beyond what he does on the mound?

JOE MADDON: Yeah, the slow heartbeat normally. He's able to control his emotions really well. I like the fact that he commands other pitches and fastball counts well, which really presents difficult situations for the hitter. I think, I mean, that's really where it comes from with him.

He's an artist. I mean, he could really make pitches. So pitching tomorrow you'll know very quickly where he's at just based on the location. I've always gone by the takes. If you see the hitter blanche or take a pitch that is obviously a strike, and he does not mention anything to the umpire and he know it's a strike, that tells you how much his ball is moving and how fine it is. When I'm watching from the side and I see that, I know he's going to have a good night.