I think you have to say you're a little surprised to do it that many times. But again, it says a lot about the character of the club and how determined they were not to go home. They just kept fighting, and good things happen when you do that and you don't give up and you have that never‑say‑die attitude. That's how they hit the field every day, like there's no tomorrow.
Q. Where do you rank this considering everything that happened and difficulty for you as a manager this season?
BRUCE BOCHY: Oh, it's right at the top. You think you've seen it all in this game, but there's always something else. Again, what these guys have done to get to this point, this is up there at the top.
I mean, I've seen a club with its back to the wall but not as many times as we had ours. You're going against all odds, really, in those two series. So this is definitely at the top for me.
Q. Well, and this all started kind of where you had to patchwork a lot of things with this team this season, too, so it's been difficult all season, hasn't it?
BRUCE BOCHY: Well, it has been. Really a lot of clubs can say that. You have to deal with injuries or things that may happen, like Melky's situation. What's important, as I've said many times, is not that it happens; it's how you deal with it.
These guys were like focused forward. They never talked about it, they never dwelled on it, they never made excuses. Different guys helped pick us up when something did happen. You look how the bullpen by committee worked when Wilson went down and Blanco's play out in left field. Pagan's play when we lost Melky, he really elevated his play, and of course, getting Scutaro and Pence, that improved this club. It's been fun to watch how these guys have just done a good job of picking each other up.
Q. You mentioned briefly there how you had to match up the back end of your bullpen through the course of the season. Now, we're starting to see the Tigers are maybe in that sort of spot where they may be matching up a little bit. What are the parts of that that have to go right in order for it to work?
BRUCE BOCHY: Well, I think it has to start with the pitchers involved. I mean, they have to buy into it, and sometimes they have to set their ego aside because they may want a certain role. But how it has to work is they have to ask what they can do to help the ballclub, and it really doesn't matter what role you put them in. I have four guys that could close the ballgame, I think. They're comfortable pitching late in the game. I'll include Casilla, who closed for the most part in the first half, but when we made an adjustment, his attitude was, that's fine, I just want to help the ballclub win. Romo, at times I've closed with him and other times I've used him in the seventh or eighth, and he's been fine with that.
I think that's the only way it works, that these guys have to buy into it and say, hey, I'm here to help the club win.
Q. You've been managing for a while, obviously. How nice is it now at this stage to ‑‑ after these last couple of postseasons to be getting a lot of credit for being one of the top managers in the game, and also, do you have an overall philosophy about managing and what is important to succeed in your job?
BRUCE BOCHY: Yeah. I mean, it's all about the players. I'm not just trying to shrug that off. I mean, it's great when you hear good things said about you, I guess. The players would feel the same. But you can't believe all the good things or the bad things, and that goes with managing, too, just second‑guessing things like that.
That's a weakness, I think, when you're looking at the two things, whether good or bad, you just have to keep your focus on winning and hope the players execute when you put them in a position.
My philosophy is go out there and play to win, just leave it on the field. I don't want players to be afraid to make a mistake, and I want them to know if they do make a mistake, hey, that's fine, as long as you're doing it in the right way, and that's being aggressive and trying to win a ballgame. Just don't back off.
For example, I know Hunter took one game, he took it hard. But I don't want a guy to look at himself and say, I cost us that ballgame. We all should look at each other and maybe take a few minutes and say what could I have done better to help this team win, and let's keep that attitude throughout the season and we'll be fine.
Q. Do you have your starters lined up for 2, 3 and 4, and also any roster decisions?
BRUCE BOCHY: We haven't finished the roster, but right now Madson Bumgarner will go Game 2, then we'll get back in the order with Vogelsong and Matt Cain.
Q. Vogelsong, 3; Cain 4?
BRUCE BOCHY: Right.
Q. Just to follow that up, how close was the decision between Bumgarner and Lincecum for 2 and what were the factors in going that way?
BRUCE BOCHY: Well, a couple things. Madison has had a break which we wanted to give him. It's allowed him to get some bullpens in, work on some things. I know he got off his good mechanics there a little bit, and so I know Dave Righetti and Madison have been working hard on that, so he's had a nice break.
As far as Timmy, we just think he's better served for this club at this point helping us out of the bullpen. He gives us another weapon there. He's resilient. I can use him back‑to‑back days; I can use him three or four innings if necessary. If something happens, I can start him. So we think that's the best way to go right now.
Q. It's been such a series of emotional highs and lows over the past couple of weeks. Obviously last night was a huge high. What have you told your guys heading into the World Series, almost no time to even really think about it because the champaign is barely dry.
BRUCE BOCHY: Yeah, I talked to them briefly today. You have to savor special moments like last night, you have to enjoy them, which we did. But it's time to move on now, and the journey is not over. We have a big series here ahead of us, and it's a little different in the World Series. There's more media involved, more distractions, and just, hey, you have to do what you can to help just making yourself available to the media, but at the same time let's keep our focus here. We still have a job to do and a team to play and try to beat.
Q. I assume that the tack of the club hasn't changed regarding Melky. Considering how Guillermo was welcomed back after his suspension, what's the rationale behind keeping Melky off the roster at this point?
BRUCE BOCHY: Well, I addressed this when we made this decision with Melky. I think they're two different situations really. I mean, one happened during the season with Moto, and he was available to help us out during the season. So we made a spot there for him.
Now, with Melky, we felt when that happened, as far as losing him, the club played very well, and the guys that we had been putting out there have done the job; they've earned this, and this is the way we're going to move forward. It would be, sure, tough for Melky to get game ready, but more importantly, it was how we played and how the guys did out in left field, and they deserve to be out there for the postseason.
Q. What does it say about Barry Zito that two years ago you're giving him probably the worst news he's had in his career, leaving him off the postseason roster; now he's starting Game 1 of the World Series, and how gratifying is it for you to see that?
BRUCE BOCHY: I couldn't be happier for him. It says a lot about his mental toughness, his makeup. I mentioned this in 2010, it wasn't easy not to put him on the postseason. He was struggling in September. But the way he handled it was so impressive. He went out, I think he threw a bullpen that day, and throughout the postseason he kept himself ready in case something happened. He didn't hang his head and he even threw to hitters. He said, I'll keep myself ready; if you need me, I'll be ready. This is the way he's been the whole time he's been here.
For him to keep grinding, as we say, and trying to get better, for him to be at this point and starting the first game, I was really glad, proud to tell him that, and I told him that, I'm glad to hand you the ball on the first game with all he's been through and the way he's handled it. It's been off the chart.
Q. How did Barry respond to that when you told him? Did you tell him yesterday or today?
BRUCE BOCHY: I told him today. I tried to call him all day; he left his phone at the ballpark, so I couldn't get ahold of him. So that's why I was kind of holding off announcing it. But I think we all knew that Barry was starting, and I think he had a good idea.
But he was ecstatic. He was proud, honored that we have the trust in him to start Game 1.
Q. You mentioned that Game 3 in Cincinnati. There was the play in the first inning in that game where Phillips was trying to go 1st to 3rd and Posey threw him out. Do you think looking back that's a play that had to be made for you guys to be where you are, and as a catcher yourself, how good of a play was that that Buster made?
BRUCE BOCHY: Well, it probably did save us in that game. He gets to third base, we've got one hit in nine innings, we probably lose that game. Buster kept his poise. I think initially he might have been a little surprised that he took off, but he knew he had time and just made sure he made a good throw.
For us to do what we did, facing every night what we had to face, it takes great play, it takes a little luck, a big hit. All these things have to happen for us to do what we did as many times as we had to do it.
Q. Two things: Matching wits with Jim Leyland on the grand stage, what that means to you, if anything, and also your history with him and maybe the first time you came across him, whether it be in your playing days or your coaching days or your managing days?
BRUCE BOCHY: Yeah, well, I've managed against Jim. I have so much respect and revere what he's done in his career, I know how good he is over there and what a great job he does. He's one of the best ever. That's how I look at Jim. I've had a chance to talk to him and really appreciate his style of managing and what he's accomplished in his career. I know that he's going to have his team prepared.
When you're going against somebody like Jim, you know you're ‑‑ you've got your hands full, and hopefully you do all you can to have your team prepared and ready for them.
Q. When Tim has appeared in relief, it almost has a sixth man type of feel to it when he goes in there.
BRUCE BOCHY: Right.
Q. Is that part of your ‑‑
BRUCE BOCHY: It does. It gives you another arm in the bullpen, another weapon. But he gives you more versatility in the bullpen, the fact that he can go multiple innings, particularly when you're in Detroit and you have a DH and you ‑‑ sometimes you're forced to hit for your pitcher. So that would help having a long guy like Timmy, or even a short guy if you need a big out. He doesn't take long to get ready; 15 pitches, he's good to go, so it's nice to have an arm like this that's good against righties and lefties.
Q. When you had the conversations with Barry two years ago and Tim this year and have to tell them there's no slot for them in the rotation, are those the most difficult conversations you face as a manager, and do you handle it differently with established veterans like them than you would with less established players?
BRUCE BOCHY: Oh, I'd say without question. It's one of your most difficult things you have to do as a manager, particularly when you're talking to a star player, a guy that's won a Cy Young and wants to be out there and that's been out there really all year for you, and you have to tell him that you're going to go another way as far as the postseason.
At that point we felt we were better off with a reliever, and he understood, and he knew he wasn't throwing the ball well and the other starters were throwing the ball great. But it's never easy.
Do you handle it any different? No, I think the only way you handle it is be honest. Be straightforward with him and tell him what you're thinking, whether it's a veteran or a young player.
Q. Do you feel almost relieved after the conversation?
BRUCE BOCHY: Relieved? No, it is still ‑‑ it still bothers you a little bit because you know how much he's hurting and maybe even embarrassed. You do think about his feelings. It's something that has to be done, and you move on. But again, how he dealt with it was one of the more impressive things I've seen from a veteran player.
Q. How do you approach going against Verlander, and what do you tell the guys?
BRUCE BOCHY: Well, I think the only thing you do is you go out there and you compete. We know what great stuff he has. You're talking one of the elite pitchers ever in the game, as hard as he throws and his other pitches, you hope your hitters look forward to seeing him and do all they can to compete to make something happen.
Q. Given what you guys have gone through the last couple weeks have you talked with your players about not having to force yourself into winning the last three games?
BRUCE BOCHY: Yeah, the last thing you want to do is put added pressure on them. They had a great attitude, how they approached every game. It was, hey, we're not ready to go home. They played for each other, they played for the fans. No, that's the last thing you want to do is put the pressure on them.
Q. Did you decide on a DH for Detroit yet?
BRUCE BOCHY: No, no. We have two or three options there, but I'll wait until we get there.
Q. I don't think I can recall you ever going lefty‑lefty back to back in any series at any time. With Zito Bumgarner, was that a concern?
BRUCE BOCHY: No, I think just the way it's fallen more than anything. When we decided to go with Madison starting versus Timmy, this is how it sets up for us more than anything.
Now, they're two different style pitchers, even though they're left‑handed. I don't have any problem going righty‑righty or lefty‑lefty. If they're on top of their game, they'll give you a chance to win.
Q. Another rotation question: With the off‑day you could have gone Cain 3 and Vogelsong 4 to ensure that your ace would get two games in the series. Why did you go Vogelsong‑Cain?
BRUCE BOCHY: Well, I like the way Vogelsong is throwing, too. He's throwing the ball as well as anybody on the staff, so we just kept it in order. If Vogelsong gets the last start, we have no problem with that. I know Matt has worked hard, he's got a lot of innings. I didn't think we needed to flip‑flop the two, to be honest, the way Vogey is throwing.