Oct. 1 Mike Scioscia off-day interview

MIKE SCIOSCIA

Q.         Can you give us the very latest on Matt Shoemaker and Josh Hamilton?

            MIKE SCIOSCIA: Yes, Matt Shoemaker is doing remarkably well, had no setbacks at all in his journey this last ten days when he started throwing, threw a great up‑and‑down the other day. He'll start Game 2 for us.

            And Josh Hamilton will be ready to go. He'll be in the starting lineup tomorrow and be hitting 7th.

            Q. That means C.J. (Wilson) will be Game 3?

            MIKE SCIOSCIA: Yes, C.J. Game 3.

            Q. Hamilton in left field?

            MIKE SCIOSCIA:  Yes.

            Q. You've mentioned this a little bit, but obviously with a few days off there is the potential for rust with these past few days. How concerned are you about that and sort of what have you done to try to prevent it?

            MIKE SCIOSCIA:  Well, you have to balance. There is an absolute need after the grind of a season to catch your breath a little bit. I think we have worked out aggressively yesterday, have another one today and be ready to go tomorrow. There is not much more you can do to keep your edge. There is not much more you can do. I think at that point of where you are in the season, our guys played all the way through the weekend. Played really had one day off after we clinched, and that was it. I don't think that's much of an issue right now. I think our guys will be ready to go.

            Q. Can you just go into your decision to go with Matt Shoemaker for Game 2, and was it something that you just saw in the last few days or was that just the ideal scenario for you going in?

            MIKE SCIOSCIA: We're going to go with three starting pitchers, and I think there are a lot of things to consider. Definitely a travel day Saturday, let your pen freshen up if you would need it then. We're expecting Matt to be fine and pitch as deep as he can into the game. That is one consideration.     The other is we really like the match‑ups. We like the way Matt has been pitching, and I think Weaver getting out in Game 1, followed with Matt, gives us the best look here in the first couple games and C.J. will pitch in Kansas City.

            Q. So you're looking at Weaver for Game 4 in short rest?

            MIKE SCIOSCIA:  Yes, right now that's the template would be Weaver coming back in Game 4. And historically any Game 5 you'd really have anybody available. But depending on how Matt pitches, obviously, we'd like him to start Game 5 also.

            Q. In the five seasons since you've been in the playoffs, how has Weaver evolved not just as a pitcher, but as a player, as a dad?

            MIKE SCIOSCIA: I think Jered, from day one, just like I think you would see from any young player that comes into the league or any young person, he's grown up with us. You've seen him mature as a person. I think as a pitcher, he has the ability to create maybe when he's not at 100%. I think that is the biggest thing we've seen from Jered is at times his velocity maybe hasn't been as crisp.

            A couple years ago he won 20 games pitching at 86, 87 miles an hour. This year he got close to 20, and probably his last ten starts he looked like he was back in Long Beach State throwing the ball. He really had great stuff.

            So he competes extremely well. I think he has the uncanny ability to pitch without his best stuff. So from a pitching perspective, you've seen that evolution. And as a person, there is no doubt he's grown up. Like most people do from age 24 to 30 or wherever it is.

            Q. Pitchers nowadays don't go on three day's rest that often. Jered hasn't done it in a long time. What encourages you that he would be able to do that?

            MIKE SCIOSCIA: Well, I think the way he's been coming out of his workouts, Mike Butcher feels really good at the prospects of how Weaver was throwing his pens in between starts, how he was bouncing back, and really feeling that if he had to pitch at all on three days' rest, he's ready for it.

            Most importantly, our medical staff feels really good at where Jered is, and Jered feels 100% behind the fact of coming back on three days and being effective. That's what we'll look at doing, and we don't have any reservations at all about wanting to get Jered out there again in Game 4.

            Q. I'm not sure if this has been asked yet, but I'll give it a try anyway. Two‑part question, actually. What are your plans as far as the designated hitter for this series? The second question would be how do you look to maybe combat the Royals running game?

            MIKE SCIOSCIA: Those questions have not been asked, thank you. That's a little local joke. I think a couple things. For probably the last, since Josh was out for the last four or five weeks of the season we've been looking for that 8th and 9th bat in your lineup at times. Having Josh back obviously helps. I think of the guys that are on our roster, and you look at C.J. Cron, and you look at Efren Navarro, you're looking at two guys that definitely can bring something to the batter's box that our club needs.

            So tomorrow we'll have C.J. Cron in there as DH. Obviously, you never know how guys come out of some games. If guys are a little banged up and they can swing but maybe aren't able to do what they need to do on the defensive side, we'll have enough versatility to get guys out on the field and let somebody else DH. But right now for tomorrow it will be C.J. Cron.

            Q. From a position of inside Major League Baseball, your thoughts on last night's Royals game?

            MIKE SCIOSCIA: I think I started out watching that game as a scout and finished it as a fan. That's one of the most exciting games I think I've seen in a long time, and I can only imagine being in the dugout what it was like or in the stadium.

            I think you saw two teams that epitomized what it's like when you're in that one and done. Elimination games, we've had our share of elimination games. Some of them we've done well and some you haven't.

            But you know what it's like toward the end of that game and getting back into it and not wanting to concede anything. I think you saw that from both clubs. It was an incredible game, and I know it shows a lot about what Kansas City is about, and that's what we expect this series. They're going to be tough.

            The second part on the running game. I'm going to go back to that. Sorry. Kansas City definitely pressures you on the bases. There is no doubt about it. We've seen them during the season. They're good at it. They have some difference makers on the base paths, not just some team speed. They have difference makers. You have to pay attention to some things. So we'll do what we can do. Obviously, with that much team speed, obviously, they're going to put it to use and we're going to have to contain it the best we can. But it's a big part of their offense. They've got guys in the batter's box that can hit. But maybe what they missed in slugging percentage as far as not hitting the ball out of the ballpark, they made up for with the ability to manufacture. There is no doubt they can manufacture runs with anybody in our league.

            Q. What kind of expectations can you have for Josh Hamilton in this series?

            MIKE SCIOSCIA: Well, there is a lot of catching up that Josh has tried to do in the batter's box. I think not only over the course of what we're talking about this week, but at times during his career. I think in 2010 he uses an example of when he missed some times and got into the playoffs and didn't take him long before he was doing what we knew he could do. We saw him in spring training when he missed a lot of time and was trying to get back in shape to be ready for the start of the season. He got back into spring training games the last week and looked like he never missed a step.

            So I think it would be unfair to put on Josh the expectations that everyone would have of what he would do, and that is part of the reason why he's hitting down in the lineup right now. But it wouldn't surprise me if after a couple at‑bats you're starting to see him attack the ball the way he can, and we need it. We need Josh. We're hopefully going to see that.

            Q. Have you decided how many pitchers you're going to keep as opposed to position players?

            MIKE SCIOSCIA: We have. I don't know if our roster has been officially released now. But we're going to go with three starting pitchers that we talked about, tentatively as a template, nine pitchers in our bullpen. So we'll be with a pitching staff of 12.

            Q. Is Iannetta going to catch tomorrow?

            MIKE SCIOSCIA:  Yes.

            Q. Can you kind of reflect back and recall the moment, the time when you're watching Trout and thinking, okay, this guy has a chance to be a great player. Not just a good player, but a great player?

            MIKE SCIOSCIA: Going back, I think in hindsight you look at little things that pop up, just before Mike signed when he came out to workout at Angel Stadium he was 17 years old. He was hitting balls opposite field out of the ballpark like a left‑handed power hitter that is in the Major Leagues right now. We couldn't believe it. We kept saying, wait a minute. How old are you? That's incredible. I said, you do that in a game?

            And you know, Mike's not ‑‑ he's confident. Even at that age he was confident. Then little things along the way where you just saw him not being intimidated in any situation whether it was his first big league camp, whether we brought him up to play in his first spring training game. We went down to Tucson, and he said before we're talking around the cage, and I said Mike, hit a ball in the gap, are you thinking three?

            He said absolutely. I hit a ball anywhere in the outfield I'm thinking three. In that game he pinch hits, it's a ball in the right centerfield, and he has a stand‑up triple. Actually makes a turn at third base like he's going to keep going, and he just kind of looked in the dugout and he was pumped.

            At the time you don't think too much of it. You're just kind of putting the pieces together. But I think one of the big things is when Mike came up at age 19 and he struggled. Mike didn't come up here at age 19 and light it up. You saw the potential he had in some of the things he did. But I think he hit about .220 and didn't get a big look.

            But he got some at‑bats during the course of that year because some guys were banged up. What we really noticed about that for a 19‑year‑old was when he got it handed to him at the plate and a pitcher's make great pitches and he struck out, he came back with the same look, went back up into the batter's box next at‑bat with the same determination. I think his makeup is what really stood out first before you saw the production start to come.

            He's obviously a player that's in a very elite class of players, and he had an incredible year for us and one of the big reasons why we're even sitting here talking about playoffs.

            Q. How were you able to process the what-ifs of losing Garrett Richards, get it out of your mind and convey that to your team? What's it like to have him around as you guys go on this run?

            MIKE SCIOSCIA:  I think every team has what‑ifs. You can go around Major League Baseball right now, the teams in the playoffs, out of the playoffs, and you can look at what could have been or might have been, and we certainly have our share of them. Garrett Richards was on pace to win a Cy Young, and he would have been, I think, on everybody's ballot. He would have been in everybody's conversation about that.

            So first and foremost, when it happened with Garrett, our first priority was to his health. That night, I think just about every player went up and saw him in his hotel room, wished him well.

            But as you know, as you turn the page on that injury, you're in the pennant race. I think that's where your mind is. This game doesn't let you think about what‑ifs when you're playing Oakland in September or you're battling to get into the playoffs. I think it will reflect a little on the season. You're really going to look at the type of year that Garrett was having, and no matter ‑‑ hopefully we're going ‑‑ you want to play well in the playoffs. You want to go deep.

            At some point you might reflect and say Garrett might have affected this or done that, but now's not the time for that. Garrett was a huge part of us. I think, again, even getting to this point. We know how hard he's going to work to get back. At some point maybe we'll play that what‑if game, but not now. We're ready to go with what we have and we feel we have a good team.