Winter Meetings interview with Bruce Bochy

Winter Meetings interview with Bruce Bochy

Q. You're going to talk to the Rules Committee about the catchers' collisions at home plate issue. What is it that you hope to tell them and accomplish with that?

BRUCE BOCHY: Well, I don't know what kind of -- first, of all, we are going to talk about this. What Mike and I hope is that we do change the rule at home plate and knock out these collisions. The risks involved, I think it's not worth it.

I don't think the catchers are protected as much as they should. The size of these runners coming in as fast as they are, I just want to try to eliminate any injuries, severe injuries. And Mike feels the same way. And whether it's a concussion or broken ankle, whatever.

But from what I am hearing now they're open minded and hopefully we'll get the plays at the plate changed where we do knock out these collisions.

Q. What are some specific things you want to propose?

BRUCE BOCHY: That's something Mike and I are talking about now. But obviously the blocking of the plate and runners hitting the catcher. These are things that we will be talking about and hopefully take them out of the game.

I think most of us feel that isn't a big part of the game anymore. There's been adjustments everywhere, and I think it's time in baseball that we do change the rule and protect these catchers.

Q. Would you sort of sketch out what the rule would look like? Talking to the managers and it seems to be a big concern. How will this be enforced, how would the different scenarios play out? How would you sketch what you envision?

BRUCE BOCHY: Well, without going too much into it, we will probably have a forum tomorrow where everybody has their ideas. But I see it along the line of how college does it, the play is at the plate. They pretty much become more tag plays.

The question is going to be: Can the catcher get in front of home plate and block it with a shin guard? You don't want that either if the runners are there. These are things that all of us will put our -- will be talked about, and all of us will put our heads together and see if we can come up with the right way, the safe way to do this.

Q. Did you talk about this before?

BRUCE BOCHY: I said this, this is not about Buster. But I go back to Gary Bennett got hit at home plate in LA, I'll never forget looking over at him thinking this is a time to make a change here. It wasn't a cheap shot.

Brian Jordan, great player, clean player, and he was throwing to home plate and here's a football player that I thought he paralyzed him at first because he really got smoked there at the plate. And I said right then, we need to change this play at the plate because the catchers aren't protected for this type of hit. It's been proven, scientific study done on ESPN, and they don't have the football equipment to handle this. And even in football they're protecting their players now. So that's kind of when I had mentioned it's time to change the rule there at home plate.

Q. How does it work when you guys all meet and you discuss, are there votes taken?

BRUCE BOCHY: I don't know. I'll be honest, I don't know how we're going to do this. Joe Torre approached me and Mike, Mike and I, and we said we'd like to get together in meetings, Winter Meetings, and talk about how we can do this. But I guess Tony will be there, too. I know Tony La Russa is for making a change at home plate, too. So I can't answer that because I don't know.

Q. You're expecting the rule will be changed before next season?

BRUCE BOCHY: You know what, I am. I think talking to Joe he's open minded about this. So I am expecting a change hopefully before the season starts.

Q. You started talking with Joe a couple of days ago. What do you think has changed in his mindset that he's open to listen to it now?

BRUCE BOCHY: I think Joe could answer that better than me, but I think the number of collisions, injuries, not just on the Major League side, but on the Minor League side, and severity of the injury. You look at the other sports, concussions, all these factors, I think, come into play. And all of us saying, you know what, it's time for a change.

Q. How about your rotation, they ranked 13 out of the 15 NL teams, in rotation, obviously bringing back 4th, 5th, 7th. What would you say to someone that would come to you and say can you really make that much of an improvement in one year?

BRUCE BOCHY: Well, I guess I would say if you look at the second half, the pitching got on track. I think you like at the second half, turned out to be a nice half for Mike. Bumgarner was consistent on the year. I think Timmy threw better than what the numbers indicated. They weren't indicative of how well he threw the ball at times in the second half. I thought he really got more comfortable with how he's reinvented himself in the type of pitcher he is now.

I think you look at Hudson, there's a guy with quite a résumé. And it wasn't his arm that he hurt, it was his ankle. And he's going to be good to go in Spring Training and he's a proven winner with pretty much the same stuff he's had over the last few years. That has not dropped any.

And then you look at the fifth starting situation, couldn't have gone worse for Vogelsong. And if anybody can bounce back, figure it out, he's done it. I do think a couple of things came into play with him, the WBC, I think played a factor. The fact that the pitchers have had more rest because of not going to the postseason. That's not a good thing. But if you try to look at the silver lining on that, these guys probably had needed rest.

Q. Do you think it's the type of pitching you're throwing in the WBC, Joe had those guys?

BRUCE BOCHY: No, that has zero to do with it. Joe was very good with the pitching. And really all of them. He did a great job. But the pitching I think more than anything when you grind it pretty hard to the first of November, you're in the World Series, and then you're cranking it up early for next season, that might have affected it. We don't know for sure.

But I suspect it could have played a role, particularly at his age and it might have been a factor in his struggles because to get ready for a WBC you've got to be game ready earlier. And it's competitive out there and a lot is at stake, and these guys aren't holding back.

But I don't know if we'll ever know if it did play a role. I certainly look at a couple situations where I think it could have played a role in it.

Q. Talking about Juan Perez and what you saw?

BRUCE BOCHY: We've been talking about our leftfield situation. That's forgotten sometimes that we do have a pretty good player who came up through our system, the second time around was much more relaxed, a different player, so much more comfortable at the plate. And a gifted defender that can play anywhere.

So that's a pretty good safety valve, backup, if we do go that way. He's gotten better and better each year, from Triple A, and the second time he was called up with us, we saw a different player. And he's turned it on in the Dominican recently. A speed guy, good arm defender. I'm pretty comfortable if nothing happens at least we have him there to help us.

Q. One lefty now in the starting rotation. How do you go around in your head how you're going to match these guys up in the rotation yet?

BRUCE BOCHY: No, Dave and I will get together. But you look at the rotation, particularly the first four. We could put them in anywhere. I don't think any of them have that big an ego where they're going to be insulated if they don't pitch 1 or 2. In fact we haven't talked about that.

Q. Did Madison earn your No. 1 spot?

BRUCE BOCHY: Again, we'll talk about it. As always, you like to sit down with the pitchers and tell them the plan before they read about it. So we'll go into Spring Training and talk to all of them and map it out on how we're going to go.

Q. He throws lefty, though, that really doesn't matter in the long run. But would you be more willing to put him in between Matt and Tim, say, versus -- toward the end?

BRUCE BOCHY: Well, I'd say he's going to be in the top two or three. But again we don't see where it's critical in what slot we put him in. But he'll be one of the top three, for sure.

Q. Do you think this Trumbo deal is going to balance the division?

BRUCE BOCHY: A good player. He's a good player, power bat. Sounds like what they were looking for. So certainly improve their club with the power they've got.

As far as how it changes the balance of this division, I don't know. You go out and play now is what you do.

Q. (INAUDIBLE)?

BRUCE BOCHY: Well, I don't think you ever think like that. I mean obviously they came together as a club. But got on quite a roll, their confidence. But I think for us, we look at what we've done, what we've accomplished, with our backs to the wall.

When Cabrera went down in postseason, and you know the matchups that we had last year with the Dodgers. We had some good games. And we won more than our share. So you can't ever go into any kind of season or series thinking, well, it doesn't look good for us. That's the case with any club. But we certainly would never feel like that because of what we have accomplished.

Q. Do you see any parallels to what happened in Boston, they had such a down year and they pitched a heck of a lot better?

BRUCE BOCHY: Well, I think it should.

Q. How deep do you think the bullpen is, is it deep enough as is?

BRUCE BOCHY: I think so. We've got depth.

Q. It seems the bullpen really hasn't changed much in a few years other than Wilson. But in terms of the late inning relief?

BRUCE BOCHY: With our injuries last year, I was really proud of the bullpen how they held together and did a pretty good job. With the guys that went down --

Q. Were you somewhat surprised, pleasantly, that Romo was pretty healthy, durable?

BRUCE BOCHY: Yeah, I was very I won't say too surprised. But it was a pleasant surprise. He held up, on both ends, the mental and physical side, with the hiccups, closing the game is usually what can get a young closer and having that ability to be resilient. He showed the mental toughness it takes to be a closer and the workload.

Q. What makes it so difficult for a team to repeat after a championship? Is it an overall thing, do you have any thoughts on that?

BRUCE BOCHY: After 2010, you know, we actually came out of the chute. I think more than anything there's so much parity I in baseball, it's not easy to do. The Cardinals, the Tigers, they've been there, Texas, but it's such a hard thing to do consistently. And so much depends on your guys having a good year, injuries, the pitching holding up. And you need a surprise every year. So most of it, when you look at these teams, these guys that come up through your system and keep that consistency for you.

Q. How do you see the division at this point in terms of competition?

BRUCE BOCHY: I think it's going to be pretty balanced, very, very competitive. You see what Arizona is doing, and highlighting with what they've done. I think with our acquisitions, Lopez and Pence and Hudson back, it's going to be a tough division. You like to think there's not going to be a club that has a run out lead, but that's historic.

Q. (INAUDIBLE)?

BRUCE BOCHY: Really when you're looking at leftfield, whoever is out there.

Q. You said at the end of last year (INAUDIBLE)?

BRUCE BOCHY: No, I've talked to the staff about it, the things we'll do a little different. Part of it is you want to shake things up. They get monotonous, and keep them interested and motivated with their workouts. And part of it will be getting them involved. I've talked to some of our core players about it. We have to be a little more creative in our Spring Training procedures. We're going to mix it up a little bit. You've still got to do the basics. That doesn't change.

Q. What will change?

BRUCE BOCHY: Well, we'll probably try to give a little more time to smaller groups, one on one and things like that.

Q. Bringing in any new coaches or assistants or advisors?

BRUCE BOCHY: No.

Q. Do you like the challenge system that's associated with the replay?

BRUCE BOCHY: I'm not sure how they're going to do it, but I do like instant replay, I'm all for it. I guess we're going to talk about this tomorrow.

Q. It's just one more thing you've got to think about in the course of a game. How many you have left, that sort of thing?

BRUCE BOCHY: I don't think that's a big deal. I don't.

Q. (INAUDIBLE)?

BRUCE BOCHY: The managers and general managers are going to be in the meeting.