Oct. 9 Bob Melvin workout day interview

Oct. 9 Bob Melvin workout day interview

            Q. Bob, can you tell us who your pitcher is tomorrow and how you guys came to that decision?

            BOB MELVIN: I can. Sonny Gray will start tomorrow night. Obviously we had two great options there with Bartolo. We looked at it a bunch of different angles, we have a lot of smart people in our front office and baseball operations and the short of it is, it came down to Sonny's last game that he pitched in similar conditions in our ballpark.

            So that's the route we're going to go.

            Q. Will Bartolo Colon be available in relief and how do you see using him, would he immediately follow if Sonny got in trouble?

            BOB MELVIN:  I'm not sure yet. He's willing to do anything and he was great about it, but I'm not sure if I'm comfortable with his routine. We will see tomorrow.

            Again, he's open for anything, but he does have a little different routine and I'm not sure how I'm going to handle that yet.

            Q. We talked about the day that Sonny pitched and his composure. How do you view him? He seems to have a veteran approach to the way he started that game, even though he's pitched so few games in the major leagues.

            BOB MELVIN:  Right, he does, and he's a bit of a bulldog. He's scared of nothing.

            You know, he, right away, established what he wanted to do in that game. He's pitched in some big games, and when you talk about experience in these type of games, he really does have this type of experience pitching just five days ago.

            So not too long ago he pitched in this same venue against the same team with the same type of crowd we're expecting and he looked pretty comfortable with it.

            Q. Do you think there is anything to the fact that the Tigers will approach him differently now that they've seen him?

            BOB MELVIN:  Well, I don't know. That's yet to be determined. That's what starting pitchers always have to do is make adjustments.

            They also saw him two and three times around the lineup during that game. So usually once you see a pitcher once or twice, you have an idea of what he's going to do to you, but second time around a little more so. He's able to make adjustments as well and he has very good stuff on top of it.

            Q. I know you never to want look too far down the road in the middle of a series, but after Sonny's performance in Game 2 that you were maybe thinking about Sonny in Game 5?

            BOB MELVIN:  You're right. You want to get too far ahead of yourselves, but you couldn't help not think about it given the way he pitched. It's not like Bartolo has done anything to not warrant not pitching in this game, it's just that Sonny pitched so well.

            Q. Is there any factor that if you did pitch Bartolo, he wouldn't be available to pitch another series or you don't want to think of that ahead?

            BOB MELVIN:  You're always considering your variables, this is a win‑or‑go‑home game and we're trying to do the best we can. If we feel like there is an incremental edge one over the other, we feel like that's what we have to do, because it is win or go home.

            Q. For the casual fan who follows Major League Baseball, I'm curious to get your thoughts about the make‑up of this team. We talk about your ball club on paper and a lot of people say it's like the Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid line, what are these guys? Did you talk about what makes your club so unique and why you are resilient and why you are able to be successful the last couple of years?

            BOB MELVIN:  We play awfully well as a team and everybody buys into the scheme that we go about. We do run some platoons, we do pinch‑hit quite a bit, we do play match‑ups, and the group that we assembled, luckily enough chemistry‑wise, some identifying and maybe some getting lucky at times.

            But the group gets along very well, they believe in each other, they believe they're going to win each and every day.

            We have gone through a lot of difficult losses over the last two years and we've been able to respond. That shows me it's a resilient group that's intent on winning on any particular day.

            Q. Bob, couple of questions about your lineup. Callaspo has had a couple of nice at‑bats for you. Do you think there is any chance he would start tomorrow night and are there any other possible changes in the lineup or the batting order?

            BOB MELVIN:  There is a chance. He does give us great at‑bats. The balance always with him is can you pick a spot in a game where it's a leverage situation and you know you're going to get your match‑up with him. He hits well both left‑ and right‑handed, so that's what we weigh because we typically make in‑game moves and he's a big part of those.

            There is definitely a chance that he could start. If not, you may look at him in the same as we always do, looking to put him in in a big spot. I don't look to any other changes.

            Q. Parker looked tired last game, is there a chance he could not play in the game?

            BOB MELVIN:  Let's see how he is tomorrow. He was sore after the game he pitched and we don't want him going out there when he's not close to 100%. I'm sure he will be willing to, because it will be an all‑hands‑on‑deck‑type situation, and we will have to see how he feels tomorrow.

            Q. Bob, what do you see that's been going on with Donaldson at the plate in this series and how do you feel about how he's been swinging the bat particularly lately?

            BOB MELVIN:  It's a little bit of a short sample, although it starts at zero in the postseason, and maybe he's trying to do too much at times.

            But look at Jed. Jed didn't get any hits the first couple of games and the next thing he's hitting a two‑run homer and that's just Josh. It's just a matter of time before he breaks out and tomorrow would be a good day for that.

            Q. Could you tell us how Sonny reacted and responded when you told him he was starting and when did you tell him?

            BOB MELVIN:  I told him a couple of hours ago and he was excited, same type of look he had when we told him he was going to pitch the second game of the series. He's a confidence guy and he had a smile on his face and you could see his mind starting to do its preparation right then and there. But he looked awfully confident and had a big smile on his face.

            Q. Considering what's at stake and Sonny Gray's inexperience, will you have the bullpen in a more of a "red alert" situation tomorrow night?

            BOB MELVIN:  In these type of games it's the same, you always do, no matter who is on the mound. We're awfully confident in what he can do, but in these type of scenarios, you always have that "all hands on deck," and if something goes awry early on, you try to combat it.

            I don't think it's any different no matter who is starting, not just Sonny Gray.

            Q. To clarify, have you ruled out Bartolo for relief?

            BOB MELVIN:  I have not ruled him out, no, nope.

            Q. Is there anything to be gained from having faced Justin Verlander in Game 5 at the Coliseum last year? I know you faced him a few days ago, but haven't faced him in a winner‑take‑all environment, but is there anything you can glean from that?

            BOB MELVIN:  There weren't many positives from the last one. You try to figure out what he tried to do to you. He's pitching a little differently this year, but we do have experience with him. I think it's a case where if you do well, you take that confidence with you and if you don't, then you try to figure out what went wrong and you try to combat it.

            I think that's probably the case for us.

            Q. I'm curious to get your thoughts about Chili Davis. I know you guys played together back in the '80s with the Giants. Can you discuss about the impact he's had on your young hitters and how well they respond and what it is about him that how he seems to mesh with young players and keep them on an even keel?

            BOB MELVIN:  Chili has been great for us, he's got history in the Bay Area. He was a great hitter. He was a switch‑hitter on top of that. He understands the mechanics at the plate. Guys like Jed can attest to that. We have some switch‑hitters, and it's a great feel with the players, not just the younger guys.

            He's able to take an individual and work with his strengths and weaknesses, whether it's a young guy, a veteran or a guy with a couple of years under his belt. He's able to reach all different types of hitters. He gains the respect of the hitters with what he has accomplished in the game before he even starts working with guys.

            Q. You used Anderson in that spot last night. Did you consider Blevins? What was the thought process?

            BOB MELVIN:  I considered Jerry in that situation. It was a toss up between the two. I knew I might have to go longer at that point in time through some righties, and that might have been the deciding factor. Not that Jerry doesn't get righties out, too. With the two of them down there it's a difficult dynamic to figure out, which one we're going to use.

            Jerry hasn't been getting some of the spots he normally would because of Brett and they're both talented and you have to pick one and that's who we picked the other night.

            Q. Bob, you've been very good at telling us what an interesting career you've had, both as a player and a coach, manager. Are there one or two experiences in your career or other young pitchers you worked with that told you that, yes, Sonny Gray is the guy for Game 5? Was there anything in your past you called on that helped to make this decision?

            BOB MELVIN:  No. I think this is all about Sonny Gray. We've all been impress with him in the short period of time. He came up for a stint and pitched relief, which was a little uncomfortable with him, and he did a great job. We thought that was a prelude to getting him up later for a starter role. So, no, this is just about him and how he is in the game.

            Q. Was there a moment where it struck and you said this guy is more mature than a normal rookie?

            BOB MELVIN:  You kinda work his way into that. You could see it right away. When he came up, we were in the penant race already and we threw him right into the fire and right away he pitched very well with a lot of confidence and always has that mound presence.

            I think it's become an incremental thing. We have admired it each and every time we've gone out there and how seasoned he's looked for a young guy.

            Q. Just following up on what Joe asked, with Justin Verlander, it seems to have stretched over three starts in the postseason. He's struck out 33 and went up one run against you guys in the last three starts. What kind of adjustments do you make to try to combat this?

            BOB MELVIN:  Well, you go back and try to figure out what you did wrong or how he pitched you. Like you said, we do have some experience with him and we feel like we have a better chance to turn the tide. It's tough to go out there each and every time and consistently beat a team in the past and he has with us. So you have to give him credit.

            He's one of the best pitchers in all of baseball and he's a big game postseason pitcher.

            We've run into him for whatever reason at the wrong time too many times, but we have to feel confident we're going to do well against him and be successful.

            Q. How much of a factor is Sonny starting because he was able to match him pitch for pitch last time?

            BOB MELVIN:  I think that factored into it.

            Q. You removed Dan Straily last night after 76 pitches and he had the one bad inning. What was your thought process on that because it stretched your bullpen for the second straight night?

            BOB MELVIN:  It did, but he had back tightness that he pitched with. It was a mild cramp from the cold for the last three innings that he pitched. He pitched effectively, but it was there. Once we got to the seventh inning with Doolittle, we thought that was a good time to take him out.

            Q. You mentioned that Bartolo is up for helping the team, but what was the conversation like with him when you told him about the decision?

            BOB MELVIN:  First of all, imagine how difficult it was for me. This guy has 18 wins and has been our ace and been as consistent as you could ever be. And he's an all‑star on top of it, 40‑year‑old veteran. He made it easy on me. He looked at me and said, "Okay, I just want a win."

            He's a man of few words as it is, but it made the conversation difficult on me because he could have had a gripe, and I would not have been surprised if he did.

            But like I said, he made it easy on me and said, "I just want to win."