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A pregame interview with Joe Maddon

A pregame interview with Joe Maddon

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Did you get enough of sleep last night?

JOE MADDON: Yeah. 4:30 to 1, how's that? It works.

Just the mood of the team today? And who will be playing right field for you?

JOE MADDON: The mood is typical, everybody is in good order. Right field will be Zorilla Ben Zobrist will be in right field. Just trying to look at everything, the match ups, et cetera. I know the Blanton splits, but the lefties might hit for more power against him. Been wanting to get Ben out there a little bit more often, if possible. The fact that he's our only extra really middle infielder, weighs into the decision a bit. But I want to get him out there to get his bat in the lineup.

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How concerned are you about fatigue, physical fatigue for obvious reasons, such a quick turnaround, but also emotional fatigue, because that was a spirited comeback and a heart breaking loss at the same time?

JOE MADDON: Yeah, I think our guys will be fine. We've been there before, not necessarily at the World Series, but our guys are pretty good about rebounding from adversity. When it's this time of the year, you'll find that adrenaline somehow.

So I really believe you're going to see another spirited effort tonight. Our guys are really good about that. It was a tough loss. But I loved the way we battled through the whole thing. I thought we played well. I thought we played really well yesterday, and sometimes you lose even when you play well. I really like the attitude of the group right now.

I know it's only three games, but it obviously gets magnified this year. What have you seen in Longoria and Peña's at bats that have put them in the drought they've had so far?

JOE MADDON: A little expansion, just getting out of their zones a little bit. I really addressed that primarily first with all the hitters. Normally when guys go bad, everybody wants to go for the mechanical correction. But I oftentimes think it's just what he's swinging at. I talk to them both. I talked to Longo about it. We always talk to Carlos about it, just get back into your zone, you'll be fine. When you're swinging at pitches that you don't normally hit, you're not going to hit them now either. I think young hitters are trained to believe when things aren't going well it's physical mechanics. But I think it's mental, in regard to expanding your strike zone.

So more than anything I want them to get back to their strike zones.

Can you win this series without increased production?

JOE MADDON: Of course, you can win in a variety of ways. Last night we almost won based on our legs. One of the things I've talked about a lot since I've gotten here is the balance throughout our team. I don't want to build a team based on one component, whether it's power or speed or whatever. I like the idea that you could be a balanced ballclub. You can win with your legs, win with your power, hopefully with your situational hitting, et cetera, the good pitching, the defense. Of course it's a lot easier to win if both of them are doing what they can do. But I really have a lot of faith that we can produce runs in other ways.

Furthermore, I think they're going to be fine.

Joe, what, if anything, is B.J. Upton not capable of doing on a baseball field? Have you been around a guy that has the skill level, the power and the speed and the defense that he does?

JOE MADDON: He's unique. And furthermore the part about it is that he's really a novice in this game yet. He really has a lot to learn. If you've been watching him over the last two years like I have, he's really come a long way to this point, and I know how much further he can come along.

The part I really like about him is that he's not afraid of making a mistake, and I love that. When you take young players, I think too many times coaches, we have a tendency to build in a fear of making mistakes. And I think when you can get out there and truly not be concerned about that and then permit your abilities to come through, in other words, to not try to control them so much. So B.J., you're seeing power, hitting for average, on base percentage, the OPS, the defense, the arm, the speed, and again I can't emphasize this enough, he is just learning. He's making a lot better decisions as this year has been in progress.

More than getting back to the mental aspects you're talking about Longo's at bats or Carlos', it's about the mental part of this game. I think coaches today, it's very easy to teach the physical mechanics of the game. Very easy. It takes five minutes, really, literally. To teach the mental mechanics of this game that takes a lot of time and you have to be patient and that's where the redundancy shows up. I've been aware of that for a very long time. And that's what it's been with B.J., it's been a redundant exercise. He's a bright young man, and as we continue to do this over the next couple of years, he's going to get better and better.

Could you talk a little bit about Willy Aybar, how do you feel about how he's responded to his off the field problems he's had last year, how has he bounced back and what he's meant for your team?

JOE MADDON: Willy has been wonderful. Of course I'm aware of what happened last year, and we addressed that right up front when we got him, speaking to him in the Dominican. Carlos Peña made contact with him early on.

My experience with Willy he's been wonderful. I see Willy Aybar as a true professional. Among all of our guys he comes ready to play as much as anybody, every night. And when he's not playing, I'll tell you one thing, Willy sits there and he watches what's going on. When you call out his name, he's ready to roll. He's been big for us at first base, third base, DH. We've had him even play shortstop a couple of nights, switch hitter, big hits. I just really like the guy a lot. Our relationship is excellent. I think I understand him and furthermore, I like to believe all that stuff is in the past. And I know he knows how much we appreciate him. And I think the interpersonal relationship really helps in regard to keeping him where he's at right now.

And furthermore you talk about guys like Carlos and Navi, et cetera, some of our Latin community within the group really helps, also. But I have a lot of respect for Willy as a baseball player, too.

Do you remember the first time you saw the five man infield? And were you immediately captivated by the idea?

JOE MADDON: I think I had a dream about it one night. I think the first time I think I saw it, and I'm not a hundred percent sure, is when Mauch did it with the Montreal Expos. I think I saw it. Whether I saw it on a replay, it was pre ESPN, might have even been on a Philadelphia TV station, I don't remember, but I saw it. I was probably at Lafayette at the time. And then when I was in the minor leagues I used it.

I can't tell you exactly where or when, I did a lot of goofy stuff there, also. I know I'd done it there before and with Sosh (Scioscia) with the Angels, we used to work on it every Spring Training. So we did it with the Angels, also. We've done it, that's the third time this year; once it worked, twice it has not. Last night we had the ground ball.

Furthermore, you really should have the appropriate pitcher. If Chad had not pitched at that point, Bradford is the perfect guy to pitch again with your five man infield because he has a higher opportunity to throw a ground ball. Grant more of a fly ball pitcher, but nevertheless, take a shot.

And the other part about it is, I still believe in this stuff, is the visual. When you're hitting right there and you're seeing all these guys in your face, it can alter your swing or have you try to do something differently.

So there's also that aspect that I considered.

So Major League wise, third time, I believe, done it in the past with the Angels, done it in the past in the minor leagues, and Gene was I think the first guy I saw do it?

The Philly fans were giving it to you guys pretty good last night, particularly Longo. First part of the question is, was this the worst that you guys have gotten it from enemy fans all year? And given how you guys have shown your mental toughness in hostile environments all year, did this adversely affect your guys at all or was it for a chuckle?

JOE MADDON: I think it's really humorous, actually. Down by the dugout I had a good time with a bunch of guys sitting up in the stands. I was actually giving a guy a hard time for drinking Coors Light in Philadelphia we went back and forth with that, and I said where's the Schmidt's? At least some Rolling Rock. Don't be going with Coors Light. It's so unfashionable for a Philly dude. So I was all over him about that, so we had a good time. I mean really, I mean the biggest part is my families. If we could do something about that, throwing mustard packs at my granddaughter is not very cool. The other part about it I'm good with.

If you want to be vociferous with us, I am fine with that. If you want to have arguments about the Coors Light versus Rolling Rock, I'm good with that, but leave the families alone.

Can you just talk about the in series roster adjustment you were able to make and what Eric Hinske can do for your lineup?

JOE MADDON: I think home either sliding back into the bag or something, he hurt his shoulder. It was kind of a concern last night. We had it all checked out, and thus he's not able to participate. So we've had Eric with us for a while. Eric has been working first base, third base, left and right field, pinch hitter.

Skee did a great job for us this year. Look at his numbers 20 homers, I think he had 10 stolen bases, played a variety of positions, defensively well for us, really well, actually.

So we hate losing Cliff. Cliff has been a big part of what we're doing, he's still going to be here but Skee has been ready, so we're going to flip him through there and use him in those different roles.

You have a pretty good lefty lefty match up tomorrow, and what's your take on the quantity and quality of young left handed starting pitching today in the game?

JOE MADDON: I'm seeing some good ones. I know within our league you go out west, you see Saunders, all those guys with Oakland. Oakland has got some really good lefties. Seattle, the guy with the double name, Rowland Smith, the hyphen, he's really good, too. And move it back this way, Danks, Lester, our guy, there's a lot of really interesting left handed pitchers in the league, Liriano, the beat goes on. And they're all relatively young. Really great to see that. It's a tremendous challenge for us. I think it's wonderful. I mean, National League Santana jumped, he's pretty good, and of course the guy here. We've seen a lot of really talented left handed pitching this year, and I think it's going to continue.

You look at our David Price, that's going to eventually show up as a starting pitcher in the future. McGee in the minor leagues, just underwent Tommy John surgery, but this guy is very talented, also. So there's a glut of that now.

Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports.
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