Q. Clint, Jason Grilli was saying when you acquired him in Colorado a few years ago, you asked him what he wanted from his career. Can you do you recall that conversation? And the effect it had on you?
CLINT HURDLE: Do I recall the conversation? It's one I've had with players, and I get a feel for that would be an appropriate question to ask. Jason and I had some common fabric in being number one picks. Maybe it not going as well of a script as we would have liked.
And when he got there, I just kind of looked him in the eyes. I had gotten some feedback from Leyland, from other coaches on the man, and I just kind of flat out asked him. I said, "What are you still in this for and what do you want to be? Where do you want this to go?"
He point blank told me he wanted to pitch at the end of the ballgames. The starting thing he always had a love and a passion to do. Didn't seem that opportunity was available, the transition in the bullpen. He'd do whatever we asked him to do. He made that perfectly clear as well. But a passion and a burning desire to pitch at the end of ballgames was one that he had in mind.
Q. Clint, I wondered if you have given any thought even just after the game or over coffee about how instant replay might play into things next year given some of the events? And whether or not you think last night's double steal and the call at third would have been one of the types you would have thrown out a flag or bean bag or whatever it is to try to change the game?
CLINT HURDLE: I've given it that much thought (gesturing). It's not available to us. When it's time to give it thought, we'll give it thought. I'm not that kind of guy. I'm not going to spend a lot of time on situations that I'm spending more time talking about it right now than I have thought about it. So we'll leave it at that.
Q. Going back to Jason, what is it about a guy like him that he can struggle kind of up and down and was in the minors whenever you got him in Colorado, and he's come here and fit in so well and be able to turn into an All Star closer like he has?
CLINT HURDLE: Well, I think we sometimes in this day and age of technology, we lose sight of the relational aspect of things. And I think Jason is a perfect indicator of you getting to know a man, you get a read on his heartbeat. The one thing we'll never be able to stick a thermometer in and pull out a number for is the desire of a man's heart and the fortitude and the courage he's got to go with it.
For me, watching him grow, things he's had to get through, I love a man that has been through adversity and been tested by fire. I love having that opportunity. I'm one. And when men have been beaten down and have gotten back up and been beaten down and gotten back up again, sometimes you bet on a man. You don't bet on the number or the stat, the most recent prettiest stat you can grab or the velocity. You bet on the man. Along with that the skill set has gotten better as well, which just enhances the whole thing. That's really what Jason and I have kind of had that relationship grow over years.
We brought him back here. I made somebody else go watch him. I said I've got my own thoughts. We need some fresh eyes on this guy, somebody else subjectively to look at him. Grade the skill set, tell me what you see. They did. They graded it out well. We brought him back here. Since we brought him here, he's pitched a number of different roles. He has the mentality. He's a gun slinger at the end of the game for me. He's looking to shoot and doesn't care about getting shot. That might happen.
Q. I suspect you still may not be willing to reveal a potential Game 5 starter, but we're curious for mental preparation standpoint, have you made a choice and does he know?
CLINT HURDLE: It's really nobody's business but ours at this point, Tom. That's the way we'll keep it.
Q. Clint, can you speak to the importance of having the opportunity today to close out the series at home here in front of your fans?
CLINT HURDLE: Well, I think we all understand the importance. Be a great thing to do. Talk to the other team over there. They don't think it's such a great idea. We have to go play a game. That's the beauty of it. We have the strength of the home field crowd. But it's all going to come down to meeting the demands of the game, to get that effort off the mound, to situationally hit, to strike some runners in with two strikes. That's where we keep it. That's where our focus will be today.
Q. Clint, why have so much pitchers, not just Jason, but so many other pitchers turned their careers around here in the last few years. It seems this has been a great chance for pitchers to have a second chance to get their career on track.
CLINT HURDLE: A combination of factors. I think one of Neal's strengths, Neal Huntington's strengths is in the pitching compartment of the game, a great reader and evaluator on pitchers. So from the selection process, the acquire process, I do believe we've got a program built up throughout our minor league system, our player development system with Scott Mitchell and Jim Benedict that's as good as anybody's. I also know the buy in from Ray Searage and Euclides Rojas, our two pitching coaches here, has tremendous value as well.
At the end of the day, the pitchers deserve a lot of the credit. They're the ones making the transition. They jokingly call themselves at times a bullpen of failed starters. And if you do the work on them, you'll see every one of them has been tied to an opportunity sometime in their career they were starting.
I got to believe it has absolutely nothing to do with me. It's got everything to do with the men that I mentioned. And obviously the pitchers making those conversions and getting things done.
Q. Clint, I know the Cardinals have other good hitters. But is Beltran getting to the point where you can't really let him swing the bat in any kind of a spot when the game is close?
CLINT HURDLE: It's a good question. Probably did you ask Mike the same question about Pedro?
Q. Hasn't been here yet.
CLINT HURDLE: I mean, that's always a tough call for a manager. You believe you can get balls to spots that you can get some outs. Then when you don't, you are kind of like duh. Would've, could've, should've. Beltran has been doing this for years as we're all aware.
Melancon saw him the other day, the second game of the series, faced him. Got him a nice roller groundball on the right side, and last night he puts the ball. It still comes down to location a lot of times, but I do think the problem for me right now is that guy hitting behind Beltran is a good hitter as well. You have to pick which guy you want to go after and which guy you don't want to deal with. Good question, though. I think it's a gut feeling at that time, what it will come down to.
Q. Before you got here, did you wonder given all the high draft picks the Pirates have had over the years, why they hadn't been contenders until now?
CLINT HURDLE: Well, I did, and most of those questions were for people that weren't here, so...
Q. Talking about Grilli and all the times he was beaten down and gotten back up, it seems like this year was part of that. Greatest season of his career and he gets injured in the middle of it. Did you know instinctually about his character and he would come back? And the second question I think you had Barmes in Colorado, is that common for a manager who had somebody and when he changes teams he goes and gets those guys he likes?
CLINT HURDLE: I think it happens in our industry. It has to be a fit. You don't force it. In the case of these two guys, they both had intangible qualities and tangible qualities that would benefit our club, make our club stronger.
And from Barmes' aspect, we needed to solidify the shortstop position. We want an impact defender. We want to look for guys that are going to put the ball on the ground. You love swing and miss. Strikeouts are easier to defend.
We felt the confidence, the experience he can make our young second baseman and a young third baseman better. In Grilli's case, I believed when he went down, once we got the diagnosis, once we found where we were and what was in front of him for rehab that he would knock it down. And he would be back. He's a No. 1 pick.
And back to your question, Rick, I was a No. 1 pick. It is very difficult that's one of the most toughest things to do in the game of baseball. You go out and try to draft 17 and 18 year old people, you draft them on what you project them to be. Obviously when it doesn't work out, it's not the way you planned. And when you get a number that doesn't work out, I follow the lines at times being a Michigan kid. And we had some No. 1 picks for a while that didn't quite work out the way we want them. But nobody goes in and picks a guy No. 1 and you're counting on him to fail. You don't think he has an opportunity to achieve. It's never from lack of effort. Sometimes things just don't work.
Q. Clint, everybody available in the bullpen today? Anything unusual?
CLINT HURDLE: Everybody is available in the bullpen.
Q. If you have to go to A.J. or Gerrit, if circumstances were to go late if the game, would you move one of those guys down there?
CLINT HURDLE: I think we'll say everybody is available. Thank you.
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