Winter Meetings interview with Terry Collins

Winter Meetings interview with Terry Collins

Q. Terry, gotta start with Cespedes. From your perspective, how critical was he toward the first piece as anything you guys wanted to do?
TERRY COLLINS:
Well, certainly we sat all winter long and a lot of us were preparing not to have them, but we knew in our hearts he wanted to stay. I told Sandy when Sandy called me, I said, "We got Cespedes." I said, "Sandy, I'm telling you, that's a tremendous sign." I think the organization did a tremendous job stepping up, but I wasn't surprised because I knew how bad he wanted to stay. He loves New York, and he loves the stage. And now he's the guy, and now I think he's going to have a really big year.

Q. Terry, obviously there is a lot of variables in play right now, but if Granderson stays, does he play a lot of center field?
TERRY COLLINS:
He will, Mike, there is no question. With the dynamics and the way the club is shaping up at this moment with all we have, I think you've got to say Grandy has to move to center field, and we've got to be aware that he has to keep his legs underneath him and do a good job of making sure he has time off. We've got a Gold Glove guy sitting on the bench, and we can certainly rest him on certain days, but as we sit here today, he's going to have to play center.

Q. How do you think he did the final six weeks?
TERRY COLLINS:
I thought he did well, I thought he did very well. I know he didn't want to, but you know Grandy, he will do whatever you want him to do. And he went out there and I thought he handled himself very, very well out there. If we start the season tomorrow and he's in center field, we will be fine.

Q. Do you envision a platoon with those two guys?
TERRY COLLINS:
Not a platoon. I think that Grandy is going to need some time off. I think he's 36 years old now and that's not old, but, you know what, playing center field in our ballpark, you saw what he what it did to Ces, beats your legs up. So we need to make sure he has rest.

Q. So you see most of his starts in center field?
TERRY COLLINS:
As we're sitting today.

Q. How does Conforto fit into that, play center?
TERRY COLLINS:
Probably, he will probably play all around. Certainly we have to go into Spring Training and make sure Michael is ready to play all three spots.

Q. Terry, there was talk of Reyes getting some time out there in the spring, what does that look like?
TERRY COLLINS:
I think if you go back to what they did in Chicago, with the ability to put guys anywhere, they were so athletic, and I think when you have a guy like Jose Reyes, you gotta make use of it. Certainly I know he's going to want to take a lot of ground balls, and he needs to stay sharp in the infield, but I've talked to him about [how] he's going to have to be ready to play some center field, and he's up for the task.

Q. Any other examples of versatility that you want to expose guys to in Spring Training?
TERRY COLLINS:
I think we've got to be creative when we look at some of the guys. As we talked last year, we kind of backed off of, we've got to make sure if our -- if Travis swings the bat like he can, maybe he can play some first base, keep his legs strong.

We gotta to talk about maybe Michael Conforto playing first base. We talked to Michael last year about it.

We've got some options, but I want to make sure that we don't get stuck where all of the sudden somebody goes down and we don't have a replacement for them.

Q. How can Glenn Sherlock make Travis better?
TERRY COLLINS:
Have to find out.

Q. That was one of the motivations, though, in bringing him in?
TERRY COLLINS:
That was our -- we got to get better. Travis has gotta get -- Adam, I'll tell you, in my opinion, certainly these guys know themselves. Travis is here. You know everybody, since we got him, talked about his offensive potential and I think when he starred to struggle at the plate, you know, he -- I gotta hit, I gotta hit, I gotta hit. Because if you go back to when he first came to the Major Leagues, how well he caught and how many of those pitchers wanted to pitch to Travis, and I think the offense got to be his main focus and we gotta get him back on track on both sides of the ball.

Q. Terry, you talked to Glenn, and what were you impressed by?
TERRY COLLINS:
First of all, I've talked to a number of people around him and I have yet to hear anything bad. He's a tremendous coach, people relate to him. You look at the job he did with Casteel in Arizona. I liked his theories on catching, what he had to say about getting guys to get a better release, get in better positions. I think he's going to be a good addition.

Q. How much in touch do you stay with the players in the offseason? Like David, how much have you talked to David, how he's feeling, how much he thinks he can play next season? Your expectations of him? Have you talked about that?
TERRY COLLINS:
No, we have not. We have not. All we've talked about is where he's at. He's going to start some baseball activities very soon. He's coming to Florida in January, and then we will see where he's at. This is going to be -- the one thing, again, we've gotta do is be wise enough to understand that it's going to take some time. We've gotta be patient. We can't push this guy so hard that he's not going to be able to play. We'll know more when I see him. And one thing about David, he will look you in the eye and tell you where he's at. I'm anxious to get him down in January.

Q. Under the most optimistic circumstances, he's going to play two, get a day off, that kind of thing?
TERRY COLLINS:
Optimistically, I would like to see him play four and get a day off. Seriously, if he's healthy enough to play, why couldn't he play four? I think he's going to need more days off than he has in the past, but there is no reason why if he gets out of Spring Training and he's playing like we know he can, then there is no reason why we -- I don't think you're going to see eight in a row or nine in a row, but I think David will be in that lineup a lot.

Q. Would you think about pushing him this spring to know what he's capable of?
TERRY COLLINS:
I think when he is ready to play, I think we gotta get him in games. You're looking at a guy who hasn't accumulated a lot of at-bats in the last two years like he normally does. We saw how he got off to the start last year, when we tried to give him a lot of time off in Spring Training. I think we have to utilize Minor League camp a little more with him, make sure we get him a number of at-bats without pushing the defensive side. But, again, only time will tell.

Q. He was slow to get to that point in Spring Training last year. Are you adjusting anything?
TERRY COLLINS:
We won't know until we get down there and he shows up and tells us where he's at. David knows himself better than anybody, so if he feels he's ready to play games or, you know, when he's ready to get in the lineup, we're going to get him in there because I think it's important this spring to get him extra at-bats.

Q. Is the best-case scenario for Tim Tebow in the Minor League camp, or do you know how it's going to shake out?
TERRY COLLINS:
I do not know how it's going to shake out. We're in New York. We can handle anybody with a name on his back in our camp. If they decide to send him to camp, we'll get him better. I can tell you, I certainly hope you will see Tim Tebow in some of our games.

Q. You have starters coming back from injuries, at least four guys, I think. And I know you talked about getting them time off during the season. Have you started to talk about how you will do that?
TERRY COLLINS:
I can tell you we have discussed a lot of things. Number one, you've got to be careful in Spring Training. You can't push 'em too hard. We talked about the possibility of during the season giving them two weeks, maybe have them skip two starts to keep them strong.

We were lucky with what Gsellman and Lugo did. But like I said before, the best pitching staffs are the healthiest. So we've got these five horses and we gotta make sure we run 'em out there. So we're going to be very, very diligent in trying to make sure they're rested, we don't overwork them, we keep an eye on not just pitch counts but their innings limits. And hopefully we break camp with all five of them, and we will manage it from there.

Q. Do you know if any of your players are going to the WBC?
TERRY COLLINS:
I do not. I know a lot of them have been asked.

Q. Speaking of starters, Sandy mentioned the hypothetical possibility of Zach being in the bullpen. Do you have a preference? If he's needed in the bullpen, he goes there?
TERRY COLLINS:
Right, I think that's how you approach it. We gotta get him ready to start first. He hasn't pitched in two years.

And then the innings thing, maybe he starts a year in the bullpen so we can protect the innings a little bit. But I think it's going to be how he feels and how his command is, and we will make the adjustments.

Q. Have you met Tebow?
TERRY COLLINS:
I did not. I saw him play.

Q. You said you're in New York, but obviously there will be a carnival element?
TERRY COLLINS:
Maybe he's got some fancy cars he can drive to camp (Chuckles.)

Q. You're cool if even he might never play a game for you guys, you're open to the idea?
TERRY COLLINS:
Yeah, why not? I will tell you if he's not in our camp, I'll get him over. I think he's a name in Florida. He's a star in Florida. He should be. I think it would be fun to have Tim come over.

And certainly one thing about our players, they're athletes, too. They're fans, too. They would probably like to know how to run a quarterback sneak one day.

Q. What's your plan for Jose Reyes, and will he play some (inaudible) as well?
TERRY COLLINS:
He might, but when he gets to camp I'm going to have him take ground balls and have him do some things in center field. As I said at the beginning, we've got to have options of athleticism that we can move around the field, and he brings that one dynamic that we don't have a lot of, and that's that tremendous speed.

Q. Terry, do you buy into the notion of Tebow actually having a positive impact on the kids in the AFL and the clubhouse?
TERRY COLLINS:
I don't think there is a question about it.

Q. Why?
TERRY COLLINS:
You talk to Tom Goodwin, here is a guy who is not into himself, he's into being an athlete, he's into being a teammate, tremendous teammate. And I think his stature when he walks in -- have you met him yet?

Q. No.
TERRY COLLINS:
When I got to Arizona, I walked down the field where he was at, he's a big boy. He's going to get your attention. And his personality, he's won, this guy has won wherever he's been. That's why I'm surprised when I see guys that walk out on a sports field someplace, they win. They know how to win games, and that make-up is important to have.

Q. What do you think about what Major League Baseball is doing with the auction and the field for Shannon?
TERRY COLLINS:
Well, Steve, you've been around her, you were around her. I don't know of anybody who was loved more than she was by so many people in different areas. Not just in the clubhouse, people on the outside and other organizations.

When I heard about it the other day, I thought for the rest of their lives, her kids are growing up, they're going to be able to walk out the front door and see her name across the street. I think it's a tremendous honor, and I salute Major League Baseball for doing it. I think it's going to be great.

Q. As good as the Nats' pitching staff is, do you think you dodged a bullet with Sale going to the American League?
TERRY COLLINS:
Yes, no question about it. We don't have to play the Red Sox this year either. I really thought for sure he was going to end up in Washington. I really did. We dodged a bullet.

Q. New rule changes, how helpful will they be?
TERRY COLLINS:
I will tell you what, that's a great question because I don't think we've had anybody come back from 15 days yet. They can make it three days. So I'm just glad they shortened it. I really am, because there are those guys now that don't really need two weeks. They just need a week or so. So I think it's a good move.

Q. (No microphone.)
TERRY COLLINS:
We've analyzed everything. Kevin and Pat can't look at anymore tape on Travis d'Arnaud's swing than what they did.

As I've told you guys so many times, this game is about confidence. It's about believing in yourself when you walk out there with talent and you believe in yourself, you get things done. And when you start to struggle and get some doubt that creeps in there, you start having a tough time. And I think Travis was there. And I think taking the winter, getting him back in healthy condition coming into Spring Training, I know he's already worked with Glenn in Arizona working on his catching. So I think he's going to come in, and I know he's bound and determined to have a better year.

Q. (Inaudible) the two guys you're looking at, and if they are do you expect them to make your lineup totally different?
TERRY COLLINS:
Totally different, Mike. You've got Ces and obviously we've got switch-hitters in our lineup. But you've got that dynamic right-handed bat in there and now you have Michael Conforto, who you can run 'em and keep your outfielders' legs and move 'em around and give you some options in the outfield, I think it's going to be a huge factor. They were too big for us two years ago. We know what's in 'em and we gotta make sure we get it out of them.

Q. I know there is fluidity with the bullpen and the outfield situation, but do you think you're better equipped to handle injuries going into next season? Overall, what do you think of the team you have right now?
TERRY COLLINS:
Certainly we've got to -- I know Sandy is working hard to find another piece in the bullpen. We've got to make sure we're strong at the back end. Addison did a tremendous job. If we don't have Jeurys when the season starts, we have to have options back there. Now you're looking at the two young guys, can they help us out back there, Gsellman or Lugo. So we have options, but we can't afford to have all the injuries that we did last year. We've got to stay healthier, and we are really going to work hard in Spring Training to try to figure out how to keep them healthy. Is it more days off for the David Wrights of the world or Neil Walker or the guys in the outfield? But we've got pieces and certainly we've got to do -- manage those pieces a little bit better than we have in the past.

Q. If you were to lose Jeurys for any length of time, how big of a weapon is it having Addison Reed?
TERRY COLLINS:
In the middle of last season, I was telling Dan, some place along the line, baseball has to come up with an award for those guys that pitch the 8th inning. That's becoming a huge piece.

You look at Addison Reed and what he's done, and I hate to lose Jeurys for any amount of time, but we've got somebody that can fill that hole for us and he did a tremendous job and we're glad to have him right now.

Q. How difficult is it to deal with that uncertainty around Familia's situation?
TERRY COLLINS:
Well, you gotta -- I think when it's finally resolved, it will be easier to handle because certainly you don't know what to expect. But as we said all along, once it's over, hey, look, we gotta move. We gotta put other pieces in line. And when he's ready to come back, we gotta get him in there and push it in the background and move forward.

Certainly we hope the best for Jeurys, and we hope that he's back with us as fast as possible, but we've gotta fill some holes.

Q. You've been open in saying you don't know what the future holds for you personally. Have you had any time to reflect since the season ended on what you want, how much longer you want to do this?
TERRY COLLINS:
No, and Adam asked me the question. Like anything, there's all of us standing here today, who knows if we're all going to be here next year? You don't. I think at the end of the year, you sit down and analyze how you are, how you feel especially when you are 67 years old. When he called me, I had two friends who passed away that I went to high school with that week and all of the sudden you're looking in the mirror, saying, "Holy cow."

When the season is over, I will sit down -- and hopefully it's in November next year -- and analyze where I'm at because I still feel great. I've got a lot of energy. But I don't know if it's going to be there or not, have to wait and see.

Q. You have had success in making the playoffs two years in a row, how much of a carrot is actually winning the World Series for you?
TERRY COLLINS:
It's what you play for. And until you get to the World Series, you don't know how much fun it is. Certainly I talked to a lot of the coaches this winter and when you sit there and talk about it -- last year we didn't talk that much in the wintertime, we were all still buzzing from the World Series. This year we're hungry, and I think that's going to show when we take the field in Spring Training. The energy is going to be back, the hunger is going to be back. And, again, [if] we can keep those guys on the mound, we're going to be in good shape.

Q. Terry, there were one or two points in the summer when you were critical of the team's effort and said things had to change. Is that inevitable in any season, or is there a message in the spring you can give to avoid that?
TERRY COLLINS:
Well, as I told you, I believe in one thing: I believe the game is to be played one way, okay? I think when you have a Major League uniform on, there's expectations. I don't think you can ever say to yourself, woe is me, somebody else should be playing. I'm only here part-time because so-and-so is hurt. You're a big leaguer, and there are expectations when you're playing, especially in New York City. When we weren't playing well, it's because we weren't executing and you didn't get to the big leagues without being able to execute.

I know maybe the effort, you can say maybe the effort -- well, I think the effort was there, I'm not sure the focus was there. Again, it's easy to say, "Well, geez, we're all hurt, we're not -- you know, everybody is on us, negative atmosphere." And we had to change it, we had to change it.

I think that can happen any year. I think going into this spring, I think there is going to be revitalized energy coming in and certainly the expectations are still high. We've got to make sure we manage them and stay positive and stay healthy.

Q. When you have so many guys coming off injuries and surgeries, is that a concern for you with so many guys that had season-ending stuff?
TERRY COLLINS:
Number one, I think medicine is amazing, and I think they're doing a great job. But, yeah, you're concerned, you have to be. We're looking at three outstanding pitchers who are coming, having surgery. And I think anytime you have surgery, there could be, you know, you may not bounce back real fast.

Certainly we're going in with trepidation of what kind of shape they're going to be in. But I was with Matt. He looks great, feels great. Now we gotta get him out there and take our time, be patient with him. Just because he may not be ready Game 1 to throw 115 pitches, you know, we gotta look at the big picture and say, we can build him up to make sure in September he's as strong as he was two years ago.

Q. With the explosion in home runs around the game, has that led to any adjustments in your style of managing, any way that you put your lineup together?
TERRY COLLINS:
No, really doesn't. The game has changed, that's the game now, home runs, and we're lucky we got a few guys who can hit 'em. That's where it's at. As I said all last year, our team was built around power, so you sit back and make sure they have enough batting practice and be ready to start the game. We've got a good offensive team.

Neil, getting Neil Walker back, that's big. David back and Ces and Jay and Granderson. We got a bench full of guys that could be everyday players. We're pretty lucky.

Q. Anything on the pitching side, like you might take a starter out a little bit earlier?
TERRY COLLINS:
I watched the playoffs, too, and I know what you're talking about. I talked to Joe Maddon a couple days ago about how the playoffs may change and he said, "We didn't have your pitching." I'll leave 'em in.

Q. How open are you to having one of your starting pitchers pitching in the World Baseball Classic?
TERRY COLLINS:
I think that's great. I know how the Japanese prepare when that tournament starts. They're going to be ready to go nine innings. If Seth wants to pitch, I'm all for it. But get ready. And that means start now, start getting yourself ready, because we will do the best we can when we get him to Spring Training and make sure he's ready to go.

I think it's great. I love the WBC, it's fun, it's exciting. I was talking to Jim Leyland last night. He's going to have a great team, and if we have players that get to go play in it, I think it will be a great experience for them.

Q. Eddie Campbell is playing for the Japanese team next year, and he has experience in Japan. What's the key to make success in Japan for a player?
TERRY COLLINS:
Well, first, you've got to get used to the game. And Eric is going to be a good player over there, he's a versatile guy, he can play a lot of positions, he plays the game the way they play it, hard. He's going to run every ball out, I think he's going to have a lot of fun. He signed with Hanshin?

Q. Uh-huh.
TERRY COLLINS:
He will be excited. They got a great player. They've just got to realize it's a different game over there. They play conservative baseball, a lot of bunting and some other things. But he's a good player. I'm glad he got an opportunity, that's a great place to play.

Q. He will be third baseman, clean up -- high expectations?
TERRY COLLINS:
He will do well, I'm excited for him.