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A pregame interview with Joe Maddon

A pregame interview with Joe Maddon

A game of this magnitude, have you changed your routine? Are you still listening to the Stones today? And who will be your right fielder?

JOE MADDON: Yes, Stones. I wanted to go with Rocco today. I felt like he's capable of doing something special. We've tried different things. I wanted to throw him out there today. But we did go with "Start Me Up."

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Thoughts on bumping Peña and Longoria, are both bumped down one spot in the lineup?
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JOE MADDON: It's bumping Carl up as much as anything, too. I wanted to get Carl up there, he's been a successful two place hitter for us. And I wanted to unfreeze those two guys a little bit. The fact that they've had a little bit of problems in the normal slots for both of them, I thought just by giving them a little different perspective today may help.

Part of it was the motivation of moving Carl up, and part of it was giving them a different perspective.

One of the things you've done this year, particularly in the postseason, you use your relievers all over the back ends of the games. Howell in the sixth and ninth and Wheeler in the sixth and the ninth. So much of relief pitching is you have to have guys in certain roles. How did you get to where you are right now, and if you've gotten any push back from the guys that have been used all over the game?

JOE MADDON: That is their role. Their role is from the sixth inning on and they know it. When Percy was here, things were a little different, it was primarily Balfour and J.P. maybe doing the sixth, seventh inning work, building into Danny and Percy. And Trever was spotting here and there. And then we got Chad, which was kind of a good thing. I'm really a big Chad Bradford fan. But why not wait to use certain people at specific innings if it's more significant in the game to use them earlier.

Furthermore, and they can get more than three outs. One of the things that's come to my attention the last couple years, and I really want to get into our minor league system is to have the pitcher get at least four outs. A lot of times when relief pitchers sit down in between innings, and say they get the third out in the seventh inning, they go into the dugout, and a lot of times all that emotion is pent up from that one out, and they go back in the eighth and it's not nearly as good. I want our guys to get used to getting four outs, and be able to sit down, get rid of all that emotion and come back and build it back up. If you could build relievers with four,five out capabilities, it makes the back side a lot different, and I think a lot better.

You talked yesterday about some fan issues. The Phillies today said they thought it was much better last night. Is that your understanding?

JOE MADDON: Yeah, from the group that I got. There's still the typical stuff that happens anywhere, and I wasn't concerned as much about that. Like I said, throwing items at a 7 year old is not really good behavior. I don't think anybody can argue that point. So, yeah, I thought it was better.

I know the Philly people very well, particularly Ruben Amaro, Jr., he and I go way back when he was a player in the Angels' system. I understand they were doing everything possible. I know it's been well documented in the past. I've attended events here as a fan myself. But when it strikes home at your family, then you have to say something, I think somebody has to make a stand at some point. And I think we did it in the right way.

What did you, if anything, learn about JOE MADDON during this World Series? How well did you know him before? And are there anything about him personally or as a manager that you respect?

JOE MADDON: I respect Charlie a lot. Everybody that's worked with him, I'm talking players, too, when he was a hitting instructor, I've heard nothing but wonderful things about Charlie, and the fact that he's good at what he does. Look at Jim Thome just showing up out of respect yesterday regarding the recent passing of his mother. When you get former players doing that, I think it speaks volumes.

I don't know Charlie that well, frankly. Just very brief conversations. But I know what an honest man that he is, and I know the respect of his former players. And I think when you have that, you have it all. And I think that Jimmy showing up yesterday indicates what kind of guy Charlie is.

Down 3 1 can you talk about your team, are they tight or as usual? Any kind of changes that you're seeing today in them?

JOE MADDON: No. We haven't been here before. We've been through some adversity. This is a little bit different. My take on a day like today is to do the same thing and I'll try to touch everybody at some point, at least during batting practice. I want it to be business as usual. I believe our guys will respond actually very well tonight.

We just haven't hit the ball very well. We made some mistakes yesterday. That was a very uncharacteristic game for us yesterday defensively. But overall the three games, pretty typical games for the Rays. The biggest difference is we are not swinging the bat like we had been, like we're capable of, and to this point you have to congratulate the Phillies to this point. They've done a nice job. But you've seen how they have been able to basically turn on a dime offensively, and I know we can, also.

For us, obviously it would be great for us to get back home. We're pretty good back at the Trop. So this is a big game obviously and that's an understatement. To get back home, I think things could shift very dramatically.

You already kind of touched on this, but I know you think a lot about the psychology of the game. Is there a psychology to the art of coming back from three games to one? And is that a message that you feel you need to deliver when you go around and talk to your guys today?

JOE MADDON: Well, in my perception the message is, it is a one game thing. I mean, I know sometimes people will take that phrase and it becomes a cliche and all that other kind of good stuff. When you're dealing with all of this on this stage, you really have to be about one all the time. I don't want us to think about the three game winning streak. I've heard that mentioned, too. Everybody is on that. That's not what I'm after. That book I read, Lee Lowenfish, about the Cardinals in the '20s, I think it was Rogers Hornsby who was the skipper at that time. His motto was "win tonight's game. Win today's game." I knew when I read that, I know how stupidly simple that sounds, that's what it's all about. I just want us to win today's game. And I want us to focus on today and not get very big the next couple of days. I do believe it'll take care of itself.

So the message today among the group is to go out there and win tonight's game. Win tonight's game. We've done it many times. And we've done it in Fenway. We had a breakthrough at Fenway. Apparently we have to break through at Citizens Park, also, and all of a sudden we can get on that nice little roll. So it's about tonight, period, for me.

When you see Longoria and Peña, do you see them squeezing the bat a little too hard? Do you see the Phillies finding places they can attack them or do you see them getting themselves out?

JOE MADDON: I see them getting themselves out more than anything. And again, I'm not denigrating the Phillies' game plan. I think it's wonderful. I know exactly what they're trying to do. From our perspective we're permitting them. When you're making outs on strikes, your kind of pitch, that's one thing. But when you're making outs on their pitches, primarily. Again, it speaks to organizing your strikes on seeing pitches.

You talk "Money Ball," and there's a lot of "Money Ball" that I agree with, also. I do believe in seeing pitches. You look at Werth for them. I think Werth saw more pitches in the National League than anybody this year. I think it was 4.5 pitches per plate appearance, that's stupid good. I like that stuff. For the most part our guys are good at that, and we haven't been in this series. You look at Myers' pitch count later in that game, it was like at 70 pitches in the seventh inning. Things like that, we haven't been that team this year. So all of a sudden we're coming out of our zone. We're giving them advantage by swinging at their pitch, especially guys like Carlos and Longo, who do work good at bats. So again without denigrating anything they've done, because they've done a great job preparing for us, I just think we've gotten out of our game a little bit and that's what I'm trying to have our guys understand, when you're walking, you're hitting. Turn it over to the next guy and that's when we play our best offense.

If this were the regular season and Longoria and Peña were in this sort of difficulty, would you consider sitting them? And do you just simply not have that luxury in a World Series?

JOE MADDON: I think I did sit Carlos earlier this season when I thought he was struggling a bit. And I don't even know what I did with Longo. Longo started out real slow. When he first came up he was pretty slow. Again, out of his zone, chasing pitches, et cetera. And then all of a sudden he hit his stride and obviously took off.

If it was in the middle of June, maybe, I might do something like that, just to clear their heads. I believe in having a guy take a day off and you tell him a day in advance, come to the ballpark, sit on the bench and watch a Major League Baseball game. I think they get a little perspective. When you're caught up in this particular moment right now, I don't think it's necessarily a good idea. We're going to have to do it a different way.

We've been trying to get that done conversationally. What I talk about, I really believe in, and I know our guys understand that. So with them I believe they can turn it around very quickly. It can happen tonight. I do believe that. It's just a matter of getting your pitch and not fouling it off, A; B, just laying off their stuff. And the guy tonight's good, but we've been through some difficult moments this year, and I'm really eager to see how we attack tonight. I'm really looking forward to it.

You guys have kind of made your living in the postseason, basically playing a lot of small ball and getting guys on. How much can that shake up and get you guys to hitting again, just by getting the team to do that?

JOE MADDON: We've done some of that, but we've also hit some homers, too, I think we had 25 homers in the postseason right now, is that accurate? 25 homers, and I think we're 22 out of 25 on stolen bases. That's everything I've been looking for, the combination of speed and power. You look at our young athletes on this team, B.J., for example. B.J. is going to be a tremendous basestealer, but can hit the ball very well, also. We have a combination of speed and power. They've taken basically away our power right now, I think. And overall we're just not hitting the ball. We've got to get the guys out there to steal bags. But we have different ways to attack you.

Right now we're just off our game a bit for these first couple of games of this series. But I'm here to tell you, man, if we just get that field rolling, all of a sudden you're going to see guys all over the bases, and you're going to see ball going over the wall. It's there. It's within us. I've talked to Carlos about it briefly, too. We need that one moment to switch the momentum. You've got to switch that rock in the other direction. It's within us to do that. It's about the momentum. It's in their favor right now. Somehow we've got to have that one moment that shifts it in our direction, and we can't relent at that point. And I believe that.

A few years ago or a couple of years ago when you came to Tampa, it was easy to sit behind Boston and New York, two big spenders in the division, and maybe feel sorry for yourself a little bit. Did your franchise have to get past that? Was there ever a turning point when the people in Tampa really believed we can compete with these guys, regardless of who's spending what?

JOE MADDON: Honestly, from jump street to quote the great Larry Bowa, I was not really concerned even from day one. I really thought it was just a matter of time, and I also believe this, and you can call me stupid, ridiculous, whatever, it's about playing fundamental baseball. I really believe we can play versus the Yankees, the Red Sox, et cetera, if we play the game properly. That was my whole premise coming into this thing.

When I was with the Angels I could see it, when we played the Yankees we played very well. We played very well in New York. Boston was always tough, even for the Angel teams. I thought that. I thought I wanted to make us, we wanted to make us the most fundamentally sound team within the American League East. And I thought that was the only way we were going to play at this particular juncture.

If you had seen us the first year, we were the exact opposite. We were the most nonfundamental team I've ever seen in my life. We were making mistakes. We couldn't even put a play on, because guys couldn't get signs. I mean simple stuff. I'm not over exaggerating, this is the simple truth. Knowing that, and you can see the young athletes, and what we had to do to advance it, it was about fundamentals. People believe we're very fancy. Believe me, we're not. We're so non fancy it's incredible.

I've already been talking to our writers about next year, the thing I want to see that's going to perpetuate the possibility of us getting to the postseason is fundamental baseball, pure and simple, nothing complicated. When we first arrived we didn't have any of that. We've gotten a lot better. I'm here to tell you I'm not really 100 percent pleased with everything right now. There are things that we aren't capable of doing that people aren't noticing right now, and that's a good thing. But as we advance this thing, as we continue to get better and are able to play on this stage on an annual basis it's all about playing the game right. And that's what it is what's not going on and that's what's starting to go on now.

What was 1980 like for you as a baseball fan? They didn't really know how to act here?

JOE MADDON: 1980, geez, what was I doing? I was in Boulder. I was in Boulder, my second stint with the Collegians. I really I hate to disappoint you right here, man, but I wasn't really that much in tune to the whole situation. Not being a fan of either team, I was a baseball fan, but I wasn't a big Philly fan and it didn't make a whole lot of difference to me. I was a Cardinal fan at that particular juncture, even though I played with the Angels a bit. It was a combination of the Angels and the Cardinals.

So I don't have a lot of strong memories of that particular World Series. And again, even though I'm from this neck of the woods and I've never really got caught up in the Philly lore. I remember Johnny Callison well. I saw Johnny Callison hit a homer in 1964, but I've never been a huge Philly fan to the point that I know so much about Philly history, quite frankly.

Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports.
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