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A pregame interview with Charlie Manuel and Carlos Ruiz

A pregame interview with Manuel and Ruiz

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Charlie, during your time here people, fans and everyone in this city have said a lot of things about you. What would it mean to you to be called a world champion in this town?

CHARLIE MANUEL: I think it would be good. I think it would be great. I think it would be great for me to be called world champion here or in Buena Vista where I grew up, or in Florida where I live, or in Japan. I think it would be great, really.

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People are going to say a lot of things about you, and I've always taken that sometimes personally. When somebody attacks me personally, yeah, that kind of upsets me, because I wish they were standing in front of me. But at the same time that's part of it. And that's part of being mentally tough. That's part of being able to handle things.

I know what I can do and I've always been, what do you call it, I've always felt free of who I am. And I go where I want to go. I do what I want to do. And really that's kind of that's who I am.

Carlos, all year long you struggled a little bit offensively, but defensively and handling the pitchers you've done a great job. How important has the support of Charlie and the pitching staff been for you this year?

CARLOS RUIZ: It was very important. I think my first time when I got called up with Charlie, he told me that he would like to see the catchers very aggressive with a lot of energy on the field. So that's what I try to do every time. And I know my offense, but at the same time I never forget about the defense. I was still working on my swing all year long, so now I'm so happy because we are in a good position.

Charlie, it seemed like your team really took off after the four game sweep of Milwaukee in mid September. What do you remember about back then and what do you think it was that got you going at that time and moving forward?

CHARLIE MANUEL: I think our pitching definitely played a big role in that. We caught Milwaukee, it felt at kind of like a down period. Like in August Milwaukee was clicking and they won a lot of games. And all of a sudden when we came in there, I don't want to take anything away from the way we played, because we played very good, but at the same time it seemed like they were in kind of a down period. And I felt like they were trying hard against us. And we had a real big series against them, of course. And that definitely helped us.

Charlie, I think you kind of know during the course of the season the kind of comments that have been made about Chooch. And I was wondering if you can kind of put everything at rest. Is this guy the No. 1 catcher? Talk about him and what he means to this team.

CHARLIE MANUEL: Well, I think he's definitely the No. 1 catcher, and the reason that I hit on him and like I said the other day, I mean I still like Coste, and I've always liked Coste. I had Coste in Cleveland, and when I had him in Spring Training he had a sore arm and I put him in leftfield because I wanted to see him hit and stuff. And I know what Coste can do. But like when Chooch got in the lineup, when we started taking off and we started winning, I've left him there, mostly because he's been playing real good and he can catch. He blocks the ball good. He receives the ball good. He's really improved in calling the game. The pitchers really relate to him good and he throws good.

Charlie, how would you describe just in general your philosophy as a manager? And when did managing as a career come into focus for you?

CHARLIE MANUEL: My philosophy as a manager, I play hunches a lot, but also I go by the book on certain things. And like the hustle and the energy part, I love that. I would say I'm definitely I'm excellence over success, if you follow that. I used to call it mastering the game. But like I was talking to someone, and I told some guys in here about the fact that Boswell, the guy in Washington, he wrote a book about Thomas Boswell wrote a book about "Heart of the Order" and I liked reading that book, because Davey Johnson and I Davey Johnson's name is in there. When I played baseball in Japan, I used to talk to Davey Johnson about the "Master of the Game." If I do something good and I excel at it, I figure the success will be there.

And I tell stories all the time, but that's the part that I like. When I think of Tiger Woods or somebody like that, he masters the game. He masters the game of baseball. And I've got a couple of guys on my team that I think of, Utley and Moyer, definitely they think that way when I talk to them. That's my philosophy.

When did you decide you wanted to be a manager? When did you see that as a focus for your career?

CHARLIE MANUEL: You might not believe this, when I came out of Japan, when I retired from Japan and I left Japan, I was home in the wintertime and usually January 25th is when I'd leave to go to Japan. And I was getting antsy about going to Spring Training, because I'd been in the game all my life. And I want to say about the first week in February George Brophy with the Twins called me and he asked me would I come to work for him. And whether you guys believe it, you probably won't believe it, because Brohpy and I used to not get along very good.

I told him, you would have been the last guy I thought that would call me. He told me, "I'm calling you because I know how much you love baseball, and I know how honest you are and I love your determination." He said, "I know what baseball means to you." And I went to work for the Twins. And when I first went to work, I was a minor league roving hitting coach and also I was a cross checker, I was a scout. I went to see big prospects like Doc Gooden and Shawon Dunston and Franklin Stubbs. In that one season I went to see all these guys play, and I would call him up and give him a report on the guys.

And then the following year he asked me would I manage Wisconsin Rapids. Actually when I got into the game as a manager, whether you believe this or not, I wanted to teach, but at the same time I still wanted to take batting practice (laughter), and I used to hit every day. And Dick Pole and Coxie, a guy that used to work for the Phillies, a catcher, they had a team in Davenport and I was at Wisconsin Rapids and they actually got a scouting report on me. Like Dick Pole said some guy gave him a scouting report, and said, "You have to watch that guy. He looks really old because he can really hit. I forget his name, but this guy can really hit. He may hurt you."

But really that's why I got in the game. I never thought, whether you believe this or not, in my wildest dreams I did not think of ever coaching in the big leagues, I did not think of managing in the Major Leagues. I wanted to teach and I loved being around it and I thought I had something to offer. And the more I did it, like the players that I've had, I always tell this, I tell Chooch every time we get in a meeting or something, and I tell you guys the same thing, the players are the ones that put me here today. They always say you have to have someone to back you, and I think through my work ethic and basically who I am, I'm totally a baseball guy, because I think that the players put me where I'm at. And I always give credit to my players, but at the same time I also think that I can communicate with people, and like that's the part of it I like.

Can you talk about whatever it takes attitude in this club, Ruiz's roller, Blanton's blast, where does that come from and how did you get to that point this year?

CHARLIE MANUEL: You want to answer that first? Do you understand?

CARLOS RUIZ: No (laughter).

CHARLIE MANUEL: I said, sometimes it's better to be lucky than good. And I think Blanton proved that a swinging bat is dangerous. Human nature plays a part in the game. I got all these scouting reports, all you guys know that, you see them on my desk when you go in there. And we've got computers. We've got about everything you can name in a game. But at the same time human nature still plays a lot of it and where the ball goes and everything. And they talk about we have defense here, and we do this and that, you can't defense a ball like Chooch hit the other night, and you can't defense a ball that hits on the line or somebody steps in a bucket and hits the ball the other way and it hits on a line and rolls over the first base bag. Like, Myers hit a ball against the Dodgers. I mean, those are parts of the game that, like things happen. And to me sometimes it's luck. It's sometimes getting a break, and it's sometimes luck is better than being good.

And like you play every game, every game and different. And also it's like I said the other day about Williams, he said every at bat is an adventure, every game that you play has definitely got to be an adventure then.

Carlos, can you talk to me a little bit about your relationship with Chris Coste. I know you guys were splitting time the majority of the season. He says he doesn't have a better friend on the team than you. Can you talk a little about your relationship?

CARLOS RUIZ: Yeah, I think he's my best friend on the team. I would like to say the rest of the guys, we are great ballclub. So Costie, I play with Costie in the minor leagues, so I know he's a cool guy. He always tries to speak Spanish. I know also I play with him in Panama in '04, so I know him very good. So always we talk about the game and during the game we do it in Spanish, too. I help him and he help me, too. So we are good friends.

Carlos, you were second baseman in Panama and who converted you? And how difficult was it to learn how to do that?

CARLOS RUIZ: Yeah, I was infield. I used to play third base and second base, too. So I was trying to sign so bad for different teams, but they were looking for more speed. Allan Lewis is a scout from the Phillies for us. He tried to put me catch, and I said, okay, I like it, so I put on gear. That was okay, that's fine. Let's do it. And they signed me in '98, and I became a catcher.

Charlie, both of these clubs obviously have power, but they both run some, too. You guys have run well in the past two years, do you see speed making a comeback in the game?

CHARLIE MANUEL: I definitely see that, very much so. And actually nowadays if you see a lot of the real good players that can run, they also have power. Yeah, that's what makes the game more exciting. Like the guy playing center field, Upton and Crawford, those guys like that, they have power and they've got speed, and that's what I think the better quality of players you put on the field of course the more fans will like your product. And that's what makes the game go.

But, yeah, I love speed. And speed can do a whole lot.

What kind of influence did Billy Martin have on you? And do you manage like him at all?

CHARLIE MANUEL: I think a lot of is being around him. He definitely was a player's manager. And I tell stories about him, I think about him a lot, because I always felt like he was close. He bought my first suit of clothes, called Harry Winwraps (phonetic). And he used to call me "redneck" and stuff like that. And he said I need to dress better. But back in those days I didn't have any money, I made $8,500 a year in the big leagues.

He bought my first suit of clothes and it was a black and white, long confederate looking suit. And I asked him, "What do you want me to wear a confederate suit for?" And he said, "I wonder why." (Laughter). Really.

Like when I think of Billy Martin I think of some of the funniest things in the world, really. We used to fight him. He used to love to fight us. We boxed and stuff like that. He was a little guy. He was fast and quick. We used to hit on him. I mean, we used to have some good blows, man. I really enjoyed him. He would come down to the bench. He would always keep you involved in the game, too. Once the game was going on, you better be watching the game, because he'd always check you out on how many outs there were, who the outfielders were playing or infielders or something like that, and if you give him the wrong answer, he might just smoke you (laughter).

I remember the first time we went to Yankee Stadium, this is a true story, for some reason he was always hanging around me. And he points up there on the facade there in right field, up at the top of the facade, and it's kind of cloudy that day, and you couldn't hardly see the top of it. I don't know if you guys was in the old ballpark, but that's a long ways. We're talking about somebody really hitting a ball farther than I can imagine. And he says, "You see that facade up there?" I said, "Yeah, I see it." He goes, "Mantle, that's where Mantle hit a ball, right up on the top that facade." And I said, "ain't no way." He went off and hit me upside the head. And he cursed and said, "I was on second base. Don't tell me. You know everything." I never will forget that.

When you talk about him, I knew stories, just things about him, I laugh. And Martin he was a student of the game, once it started he definitely kept you interested in the game. And he could hold your interest, and that's what I liked about him. He was a very intelligent baseball guy. If he missed something or he made a mistake, he took it very personal, plus he had a bad temper anyway. He would get mad at you, and he would scream.

He sent me in to pinch run one night in Detroit for Killebrew, and I think McClain was pitching, and Stanley was playing shortstop. I went in the game and I got off second base about this far, and bent down to stretch and all of a sudden Stanley is standing there with the ball. And I looked at him and I said, "You better not tag me." I went running back to the dugout, and there's a gate out there in right field, and if I could have gotten over that gate, I would have did it. When I got out of there, he was standing there screaming, there was nothing coming out of his voice, but you see the veins, aaggh! (Indicating). Nothing was coming out. I went over and sat down. He'd come over, and I never will forget this, and he looked at me and said, "Don't worry about it. It's my fault for putting you in the game." (Laughter).

Chooch, being you signed with the Phillies in 1998, everyone talks about the other homegrown guys in the organization, when was it and what level in this Phillies organization did you think "I can be a big league catcher," and when the organization said "You're going to be our guy"?

CARLOS RUIZ: I was in Reading, in Double A. I know Charlie with us that year. That was, yeah, my second year in Reading. And that year I feel like I can be in the big leagues for a while. And at the same time I was telling myself I have to keep working. I knew I had an opportunity to catch in the big leagues. So they sent me to Arizona. That's the year they put me on the roster. So I can feel close to the big leagues.

I know when this team left Spring Training you thought it was possible that you could find yourself in this position, but has this team grown in some way that maybe you didn't expect?

CHARLIE MANUEL: I think that our starting pitching, I think it definitely has. I think actually our offense is probably a little more consistent than we realize. But we got off to such a good start and I always talk about in St. Louis when the reporters come up and they ask me about you're on pace to score a thousand runs. I said, "Let's not talk about that." I said, "Let's see how many runs we can score." We went out and scored 20 runs.

Our offense hasn't been as consistent that I would like, but at the same time our starting pitching is definitely the big thing that has definitely helped us get us where we are today. Our bullpen was good from the start, but once Gordon went down, he was hurt there for a while in the eighth inning, but these guys stepped up, especially Madson, Romero and Durbin. We filled that hole that we had. That's made the difference. And that definitely has helped us get to the point where we're at right now.

Most players don't want to read scouting reports, because they don't want to be inundated with too much information. As a catcher preparing the pitching staff, do you need to read scouting reports?

And then Charlie, how has the scouting system changed. Has it become more sophisticated in the last 10 or 15 years?

CARLOS RUIZ: Yeah, always I talk to them, they do a very good job on the scouting reports. And also they have a video, like Charlie say, and I always go down there and check every hitter. So I always try to do something different every at bat, with every pitcher, too, because everybody have different thoughts.

Also, I was seeing the game, we don't know yet when we win the division, I was watching the games between Devil Rays and Boston, and I was watching the ballclubs because we don't know yet what was the team. So I tried to get some information, and that's what I tried to do. And that worked. The pitcher did a very good job, too.

CHARLIE MANUEL: I think from my standpoint our scouting reports have been very good, especially here in the playoffs. It's been real good. Pat Gillick, our general manager, he's still a guy that believes in scouting teams and sending guys out. And we still have Major League scouts and our guys do a tremendous job. And he believes in that.

And also during the season Dubee keeps a lot of the stuff as far as the game play, and Mike Ondo, a guy that works out of the front office, they do a tremendous job. Most teams rely on like to me like we are kind of the old throwback guys. But a lot of teams they go with a computer or different companies that sell software that you can get all the information about every Major League Club. But we don't do that as much as some teams do. But what we get, our reports, they're fantastic.

And like Chooch was talking about, the computer has definitely helped things and it helps us see a lot of the games that we would like we can just pull games up and watch them, say for instance a pitcher for the opposing team and things, we can get a lot of information that way and also watch their hitters.

Charlie, could you please tell us about the performance of Romero, the use of him in the World Series. And Chooch, please tell us what makes Romero effective now?

CHARLIE MANUEL: You know, Romero to me this season he's had a very big season. He's played a big role in our bullpen, of course. He's tough. He's deadly on left handers. He does a heck of a job on left hand hitters. He's good on righties, but at the same time like I try to match him up, especially late in the game, like if two lefties, one righty, or if there's four left handed hitters standing there and there's one or two righties, I don't mind letting him go through all six of those hitters, like the other night I let him face Barrett, and Barrett was hitting .369 against lefties. And like I had all the confidence in the world against him.

Certain guys, big guys that might can really hurt you at different times, if we've got a Lidge or Madson in the bullpen, I'll go to those guys, but I have a lot of confidence on Romero. The time he's been here since we picked him up last year, he's done a tremendous job.

CARLOS RUIZ: And he also brings a lot of energy to my team. When they come to the mound he shows everybody he's there on the mound, you know. So I think that's a key, too. And he's very aggressive with fastball and the sinker, especially for a lefty.

Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports.
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