Oct. 16 Mike Matheny off day interview

           Q.  Berkman was talking yesterday that he thinks he might be in shape, if you guys went on to the next round, to go back on the roster.  I wonder what the possibility of that is.  Secondly, what's it been like to have to replace him and go without him all year and go without him in the playoffs?

            MIKE MATHENY:  Well, I'll take the second part of that question first, and the fact that that's unfortunately how this game goes through 162 games, you have guys that get to the point where they just can't get out there.  And Lance was fighting things all season.

            And fortunately for us, we were in a situation where we had an Allen Craig who started off hurt and came back in time to really step in there.  And Matt Carpenter who did a great job filling in there in the meanwhile.  But that's pretty standard in a season, especially when you start having more experienced players whose bodies are susceptible to breaking down.  Lance kept fighting and fighting to try to get back.  And just couldn't make it happen with the knees.  But the guys did a nice job of filling in.

            As far as moving forward, we look at all our options and put it together, depending on what our opposition looks like and try to figure out who gives us the best chance, and all of our players and everyone's considered.

 

            Q.  How good a feeling is it to be back home for a Game 3?

            MIKE MATHENY:  We love being home.  A beautiful time here in St. Louis.  It was a good week on the road and the guys played very well.  I know they just couldn't wait to get back here and opportunity to play in front of our fans again.

 

            Q.  Mike, what's the most impressive thing about Kyle Lohse this year?

            MIKE MATHENY:  Kyle's consistency has been the most impressive thing.  And once again, you'll see teams that we'll watch and look at his stuff and his stuff is very good.  The execution of his stuff is what makes him the kind of pitcher that he's been this season for us.  And to do that on a consistent basis from opening day up and through the postseason just tells you a lot about his skill level and his capacity mentally to stay locked in.  And he's done both.  He stayed physically strong and mentally strong all season.

 

            Q.  Even though the bullpen is doing as good as they are, how important is it for the starters to go a little deeper in the games here?  It seems hard that the bullpen can keep taking five innings like this every game.  How much hope is it that the starters can take more of the load here?

            MIKE MATHENY:  The days off that you have in the postseason like today you do get an opportunity for your bullpen to get rest.  So we're not as concerned about that as much as we know that if our starters aren't going deep, then we're giving up runs.

            Our game, our team, like most teams, your foundation is your starting pitching.  And you have strong starting pitching, you have an opportunity to be successful.  Otherwise you're fighting an uphill battle all the time and it seems like you're constantly coming back.

            Our team has a potential to do that, but it does weigh on you and wear you down.  That's not the way the game is designed.  We're looking forward to good quality starts from our guys, which we know they can do, because there were some runs through the season I felt like they did it as well as anybody on a consistent basis.  And that's the kind of starting staff we have.  But you're going to have a challenge, you're going to have tough times from the challenges of this game.  It's just -- you're up against some good offense right now, so you've just got to figure a way to get through it.

 

            Q.  Yesterday's kind of heated exchange in that game was not the first time the Giants and you guys have done this.  What do you remember about the incident in 2002 with Lofton and you and Crudale and brush-back pitch, and all that that happened in that series?

            MIKE MATHENY:  That was a long time ago, it seems like.  You know, we play this game with intensity.  We play this game with passion.  And if we didn't I wouldn't expect anybody to show up or watch.  This is something we take real serious when we go about playing the game and try to play it within the rules, but respecting the game and playing hard.  Sometimes you get emotions tied in and things go a certain way, in regard to back in the day.

            As far as yesterday goes, that wasn't necessarily the case as far as it was just a player trying to make a hard play for his team and ended up getting another player in a tough spot.  And you hate to see anybody get hurt right now.  We don't want to see anybody lost or anybody have to leave the game.  That's how it worked out and now we've just got to move forward.

 

            Q.  To that end have you checked with Matt at all about how he's doing?  Obviously he felt the play was fine, but he was concerned for Scutaro and he was in the center of all that attention.  Do you need to check with him to see if his mind is all right?

            A.         These guys are pros, they've been in these situations before.  And I know he was concerned about Scutaro's health and tried to reach out over there.  And I saw his comments and heard him firsthand that if he had to do it over again he wouldn't slide quite so late.

            To me, what I see is a guy who I've never seen one act of trying to hurt anybody.  And I would never believe that's what he was trying to do yesterday.  He was trying to play the game hard and trying to break up a double play.  Unfortunately, a player did get hurt on the other side.  You never want to see that happen for either team.  But I know what Matt's intentions were and he was thinking about his team at the time.

 

            Q.  There's been some attention about the middle of the lineup and hitting with runners in scoring position.  Are you concerned about that at all?  Is it too small a sample size?  Do you contemplate any changes in the batting order tomorrow?

            MIKE MATHENY:  Yeah, I haven't -- to me we've got a team that's been playing pretty well.  And you can take stats and manipulate them however you want to.  Regardless, if it's the guys at the bottom of the order doing the damage, there's usually something that happened at the top or the middle that created that to happen; whether wearing a pitcher down, putting together good at-bats, moving runners along.  That sort of stuff you can't put that much stock into just their sample size of the postseason.

            To me, for the most part, our offense has shown, and we've had some recent games here that would tell you you'd be crazy to do anything different.  I have a lot of faith in our guys and the way they're going about their at-bats and I don't see any change in the near future.

 

            Q.  A two-part kind of like bullpen question.  Did Westbrook just do a simulated game?

            MIKE MATHENY:  Yes.

 

            Q.  How did that go and what's his immediate future?

            MIKE MATHENY:  Jake threw very well.  And it was an opportunity for two things:  One, for us to see Jake back on the mound; for him to see live hitters.  And actually the third would be for our -- some of our hitters who haven't been getting at-bats to see a live arm.  It was a win all around.  Except for the guys not being able to shut it down.

            As we move forward, much like the Berkman question, we need to see what we have available, take a look at all the options and look at the opposition and be able to make an adjustment from there.  There is always the opportunity, too, which we didn't foresee, Jaime Garcia being hurt in the middle of a series and then we have to make a move.

            And so knowing that Jake has progressed and has faced hitters and his stuff looks right, gives us an option in that regard, but it also gets him one step closer if we're fortunate enough to get to the next series to have him as an option.

 

            Q.  He's healthy now?

            MIKE MATHENY:  He looks great.

 

            Q.  Kelly was talking yesterday about pitching back-to-back games, that that was a relief off of his mind, they hadn't done it in a long time.  Can you talk about him a little bit?  And also this fact that you've had the counter to the starters not going deep.  You've had to go deep into your bullpen a lot recently.  I know you said you got the day off, but ultimately don't you need to -- you don't want to overuse these guys, right?

            MIKE MATHENY:  No, I'd like for my starters to go nine every game.  I mean, that would be great.  But until that happens we're going to have to use whoever we can use.  And Joe Kelly has earned his way into throwing some big, meaningful innings, as far as Trevor Rosenthal to add to the three guys who have been our 7, 8 and 9, Mujica, Boggs and Motte, to give them two days off is a big deal, but to have the one is a nice situation to have also.

            So the off-day means a lot to us and our bullpen has been really kind of coming together well.  These guys have a lot of confidence right now, they baled us out, as you saw in Game 1.  They did a phenomenal job.  But we need our starters to go deeper.  But we're going to have to continue to watch them close.  If they need help, these guys are rested, they can help.

 

            Q.  Kelly gives you more flexibility?

            MIKE MATHENY:  Kelly is being used as a swing guy right now in those middle innings.

 

            Q.  You've gotten to see Jon Jay play every day.  The plays he's made isn't a surprise to you.  Can you talk about the strength he's given you up the middle in terms of being able to get any ball that's practically hit to him?

            MIKE MATHENY:  Jon Jay has played a Gold Glove caliber centerfield.  And the thing that really is a change for him in the last year is how he's matured in his leadership role out there and felt more comfortable with positioning a veteran like a Matt Holliday and a former Gold Glover like a Beltran.  And he takes charge and those guys respect him.  He's very conscientious.  He's watching every pitch.  He's doing his scouting to understand tendencies of our pitching and tendencies of their hitters.  He puts it altogether and understands the game.

            As much as I've talked about a Yadi Molina behind the plate and how much he brings to this club that's difficult to really track and put value to, I see Jon Jay doing the same thing from the other side of the middle of the field.  And it certainly has helped our defense.

 

            Q.  Internally have you guys talked at all about weather and what impact it could make moving forward if, in fact, something happens tomorrow?

            MIKE MATHENY:  Yeah, we've seen the forecast and it looks like it could be potentially rough.  But we also understand this is the Midwest and that can change.  So we're going to show up tomorrow anticipating to play on time and fortunately the League takes that out of our hands, we don't have a say.  They determine what it looks like.  We'll just be here.

            We've been in that holding pattern before and guys have done a great job of keeping their concentration and preparing to play when we get the opportunity.  So we'll show up and have the mindset that we're playing right on time and then make adjustments accordingly.

 

            Q.  Obviously Matt showed a lot of remorse over what happened last night.  Do you expect any sort of carryover tomorrow night?  Secondly, if the roles were reversed how do you think your clubhouse would have responded to a play like that?

            MIKE MATHENY:  Well, I mean the more it's kept alive and talked about like this the more it just seems to linger.  And every team handles adversity how they handle it.  I understand no player likes to see another one of their players hurt.  That's the way we do this.  We're a family.  Our team would be in the exact same boat.

            So right now we just understand that they need to rally around each other and we hope that the rest of the results turn out good.  Once again, we're not looking for anybody to be hurt here.  We don't play the game that way.  We do play hard and we understand that they play hard.  That's the way the game goes.

 

            Q.  I guess Matt Carpenter hit against Westbrook and he was one of the guys you were talking about keeping sharp.  How do you look at using him during this series, is it similar to you have the one lefty specialist in the bullpen, trying to find that right time to deploy a guy like that and when to use him early and not have him late, if that's the kind of situation you're in with Matt?

            MIKE MATHENY:  Matt's a great weapon for us.  And he also -- the time of his use goes along with his flexibility defensively.  You've got to look at Skip Schumaker the same way, but being able to put a Matt Carpenter in as a double switch late in the game if we have to do that to keep our closer in, that goes into play of when we can use him.

            But we have a couple other guys out there as well that have put together some pretty good at-bats that we have faith in that we can use as options.  But Matt's been a valuable piece of our team this year.  I think he surprised a lot of people with not just his versatility, but just the kind of at-bats and the level of player that he is.  He's had a great season for us and we see him having some big at-bats for us through the rest of this way.

 

            Q.  As a first-year manager what's impressed you most about the way this team has gone in the playoffs?

            MIKE MATHENY:  Well, I think just the obvious, the things that have been talked about, that they don't quit.  And that they're not intimidated by the situation.  And that that's just purely from experience.  But you're facing a team on the other side, here, now, that was in the same boat a couple of years ago and has overcome a lot of adversity this year, too.  We understand that.

            But when I talk about this team and I talk about the advantages they have, the advantages within themselves, what they experience that they've had and the things that they've been able to overcome.  But I believe that's just the makeup of this group of guys.  And that's something that I know I'll never forget.  I'll never forget that Game 5.  I'll never forget the things leading up to that.  I'll never forget the different times through the season when guys had an opportunity to kind of -- to give in, but they never have.  And that to me, those are characteristics of a good group of people.  And you put that together with talent and it makes for a good team.