NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Sound-bytes from Tuesday's managerial press conferences at the 2007 Winter Meetings: Joe Girardi, Yankees: (On the prospects of entering the season with a half-kiddies rotation including Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy, Joba Chamberlain) "They learned to compete at this level (last season). We'll watch them very carefully; we've talked about the amount of innings they can pitch in their natural progression and, at certain levels, we'll start to make adjustments." Bob Geren, Athletics: (On opening the season in Tokyo against the Red Sox) "My thoughts on it, I'm excited. We're going to be ready. We're playing the World Champions. I've never been to Japan. Our team was close to going four, five years ago and it was canceled. I was disappointed with that. Everybody I talk to is very excited about it."
Cecil Cooper, Astros: "We were at the bottom of the league as far as stolen bases are concerned (65, 13th in the NL). We're going to change that and the only way to do that is to add some speed. I think we've done that with the two guys (newcomers Michael Bourn and Kazuo Matsui) we've got at the top, and then the guy possibly third (Hunter Pence) has the ability to steal 20 bases. They will get the green light, they will run." Ozzie Guillen, White Sox: "If the season starts tomorrow, I will be worried. But the season doesn't start tomorrow. I don't think (general manager) Kenny (Williams) is going to sit here and bang his head against the wall. He's going to look for the best deals out there, the best players still out there, and try to make a team that we can compete." Eric Wedge, Indians: (On a postseason that flat-lined after a 3-games-to-1 ALCS lead over Boston) "I'm a big believer that you learn from all your experiences. Not just winning, but losing, too. There's probably no greater experience than playing the Yankees and Red Sox in the postseason." Bud Black, Padres: (On bouncing back from how the 2007 season ended, an extra-inning loss in a tiebreaker game) "I think players have a great way of putting the past behind them. The winter, and then through the early months of January and February, have a great way of lending new hope to a season, and presenting new challenges." Joe Maddon, Rays: (On the possibility of a certain high-profile left-hander landing any minute in his division, in either New York or Boston) "... I'm not worried about (Johan) Santana, and God bless 'em, I'm not worried about what the Yankees are doing. I'm worried about what we're doing and I'm really focused there. And if we do the right things I believe we'll be able to compete with these people over the next couple of years." Bob Melvin, D-backs: (On having soared from under to above the radar with a 2007 NL West title) "You know what, it's good that we're in this position. The expectation certainly will be higher next year based on where we finished up. So it goes with the territory, and I think we're excited about going into next year looked upon as a team that's got a chance to compete again." Trey Hillman, Royals: (On cutting his managerial teeth in the Yankees organization) "Tried to keep my mouth shut early in my career and listen a lot. For whatever reason, (I was given) one year of coaching experience at 26 and (they) decided I was ready to manage at 27. Took over a club in the Penn League and managed the next 12 years ... I'll be brutally honest, I was bypassed -- definitely once, probably twice -- by the Yankees for jobs at the Major League level I felt I was qualified for. The second time ... my thought was, if I focus solely on getting better, God will take care of the rest." Manny Acta, Nationals: "I'm very proud the way our kids played (last season). These kids were able to win more games (73) than the year before (71) without Alfonso Soriano, Livan Hernandez, Jose Vidro, Jose Guillen and Nick Johnson. I think it was a tremendous accomplishment."