Oct. 9: Buck Showalter ALCS interview

Oct. 9: Buck Showalter ALCS interview

Q. Is there anything you can share with us as far as rotation or roster?

BUCK SHOWALTER: Yeah, Tillman is going to start tomorrow night. In fact, Dan and I just discussed the roster again. We'll tell everybody that needs to know tonight. But there's we feel from what we hear that we'll get the game in tomorrow.

But the way it works is that if you turn in your roster at 10:00 in the morning, which you have to do, and the game is rained out, then you can resubmit your roster the next day. Because now you'd probably be playing five games in a row. It might change the way you do pitching. We'll turn in a roster tomorrow at 10:00.

We think we're going to be able to play. If not, the worst thing is if you turn in a roster and play two innings and get banged, then you can't adjust it. I'm sure it's the same thing everybody else is talking about.

But I'm going to talk to the guys today so they can know, before they leave here tonight they'll know.

Q. You talked about how difficult the decisions were before the Division Series on the final roster. Are they as hard or harder or easier?

BUCK SHOWALTER: They're always hard because these guys have been with you all year, or even for a week or through Spring Training, everybody -- we'd like to have them all on there, but obviously you can't.

So they're hard. There's no easy decisions and you don't take any of it lightly or callously. It means not only a lot to the club, the competition, but it means something to those guys. And you try to let them know as soon as possible.

We've got Quintin Berry will be coming, regardless of whether he's on the roster, as will Ryan Webb and Chris Davis.

Q. How good are these two bullpens and how important a factor do you think they'll be in the series?

BUCK SHOWALTER: Well, you know, certainly that's a pretty easy go-figure on paper, because it's been the strength of both clubs, but the postseason has a way of -- you really never assume or take anything for granted. We won't and I know they won't.

That's what's so intriguing. Something that appears it should happen on paper may not happen. And you have to be ready to adjust that, what if. You bring this guy in or this guy, and he's 0-for-14 off of him and he gets a hit. What are you going to do?

The game has a funny way -- you can't assume anything. On paper, surely.

But I think what gets missed is how good the rotation is. Not missed, but it's a very good rotation that Kansas City runs out there, as we have a lot of confidence in ours, too. That's what makes it so intriguing. You have these two things colliding, and the best players in the world and the best teams that baseball, in our world has to offer. Fortunately for you and me, we have a good seat to watch it.

Q. Chris Davis, is that still a decision to be made?

BUCK SHOWALTER: No, Chris won't be on this roster. And he's -- that would be, what, Game 6. We're not going to play at 24 for five games. And then if we're fortunate enough to continue to play, then we'll readdress it.

Q. Can you talk about talking to the guys tonight. Does that mean the rest of the rotation, do you have a one, two, three, four as it sets up right now?

BUCK SHOWALTER: As it sets up right now. For instance, Bud Norris will be in the bullpen tomorrow night, Chen will be in the bullpen tomorrow, Gonzalez will be in the bullpen tomorrow. We'll see after Game 1 what bullets are left.

Q. Adam Jones was talking about what a special relationship he has with you or what admiration he has for you. What can you talk about the development you've seen in him since you got him. And when you first got here did you identify him immediately as a guy you were going to need to be a carrier for you here?

BUCK SHOWALTER: That was pretty easy. It didn't take some great talent evaluator to do that. I said before, I think Adam has impacted me as much as I may have in his mind him.

He's pretty special as far as his -- when you come in a situation you need not necessarily your best, I'm not going to single that out, but one of your best players has to play the game right. And one thing that is obvious with Adam is saying the right things and everything, the way he played had to match up with what we needed him to be about, and it has since the first week I was here. And he's made my job a lot easier.

If you have any questions about anything, watch him or watch J.J. or watch Nick or watch Matt. It takes a load off me. Not only has he impacted the coaching staff and the management, we go down to Spring Training and he's leading drills. You see one of your best players and your best outfielders being first in line and giving great effort. That means so much more than anything I or Kirby could say.

And he's impacted me. He makes me laugh two or three times a day, I think on purpose, too. He's a smart guy. One thing you notice about Adam is he doesn't miss much.

I think a meeting we had a month ago, you're going to be Jim Presley in this meeting, you're going to be Kirby, and you're going to be Bobby, and kind of move them around. And they let Adam do me. I said, How do you see that from center field? I watch. I watch. He nailed it, supposedly.

But he's a watcher. He sees things off ball that aren't -- it gives you an idea of what -- he notices things. And he's been -- he's kind of grown into fatherhood, so to speak. By the way, Zach had the baby, Zander, great, huh? He didn't have the baby. Six pounds-plus. He said his wife was ticked off, she was in labor for 24 hours, and they had to go do a C-section. That's not good.

I don't know how we segued from Adam Jones to that. I was thinking about that.

It's already been a great series. Zach -- Zander, it's a pretty good name. I like that.

Q. A two-part question for you. Is Hundley going to be the catcher tomorrow? What are the keys to controlling the Kansas City running game in this series?

BUCK SHOWALTER: I think as we sit here Nicky will probably catch tomorrow. Something could happen. I've heard that Caleb is hurt. I've got to check on his injury, whatever it is. Now that we've jinxed him. Where does that come from?

They're not automatically going to all of a sudden run slower tomorrow. If anything, they're going to run faster. You don't control that. It's impossible.

That's why people look for it so hard because it's something that doesn't fluctuate. You hope that your effort doesn't fluctuate and speed never goes into a slump. So it's one of those givens. Try to keep them off base as much as you can.

Q. Can you tell us what makes your relationship with J.J. Hardy special and what's something that stands out about him that you hadn't seen in any other player?

BUCK SHOWALTER: Well, I said something the other day on a telecast, every once in a while I say something, I like that. I think he's the flashiest player in the American League. And everybody kind of goes -- because he makes plays look -- that are so hard. I was talking to Cal about it the other day. Because Cal was like that. He doesn't have to go between his legs or around his back or flip it out of his glove or a lot of eyewash stuff. He just wants to -- and it helps so much.

I don't know if we would have had Jonathan all year if it hadn't been for J.J., and brought Manny up so early if it hadn't been for J.J. He just wants to win. He doesn't care about any spotlight, even though by being like that there's a spotlight on him. He stands out so much because it's so unusual.

He's a great tagger. You don't have to worry about him being the right place on a relay. When he puts his hand up, and you've got any question, Geez, this is going to be good. It takes a load off of me. But I do think -- it's funny saying in today's game he's flashy, because he's so different than other people.

Q. Do you feel like Tillman doesn't get the recognition he deserves around the league? Watching him the last few years, what sticks out about him, what impresses you the most about him?

BUCK SHOWALTER: Chris is not a look-at-me guy. He wants to blend in. We've got a lot of those guys. And he'd be the first to tell you, when you're talking about Shields and you're talking about Verlander and Scherzer and Price. Chris will say, I haven't earned that, I haven't done it consistently over a long period of time.

I thought it was huge for Chris, he'll never admit it, to pitch 200 innings again this year. To put that back-to-back. And a lot of times, this guy is only like 27, 26, and he gets the competition. And I don't ever have to worry about him being ready. It may not always look esthetically pleasing, but Chris is going to compete.

He's a guy that makes for a soft pillow at night because I don't worry about come hell or high water, he's going to fire and he's not going to be intimidated by the competition. And more times than not he keeps us engaged in the game and gives us a chance to win.

But to see him graduate through the process, just going forward. And someone reminded me again that he wasn't on the playoff roster last year. That was pretty stupid. You remember what was going on last year. We had a choice between him and Joe Saunders. And for five innings Joe was the right choice.

Q. About the Kansas City running game, how much of it is it on the pitcher, how much is on the catcher and how do you prevent your pitchers from getting overly concerned about those baserunners?

BUCK SHOWALTER: You don't. They better be. But we've got some things that they might have to adjust to, too. We played them. It's not some sense of -- they're going to do what they do. It's who they are.

This time of year there's not many secrets. Everything is out there. To say that this guy has all of a sudden got to start throwing the ball faster and more accurately, and the pitchers now have to be even quicker to the plate. Then you're falling right into -- trying to keep them from getting on first base. We know that's impossible.

I think sometimes you can -- obviously you put emphasis on the strength of theirs, but you don't -- what are you going to do? It falls underneath the cap, it's obvious to our players. They've got it. We've talked about it, but we're not going to rob from Peter to pay Paul.

I think one time we had I think it was Quintin was pinch-running for us late in the year, and without naming the pitcher, you could tell his whole delivery changed trying to keep him from stealing second, he gave up three hits, back to back to back. We didn't steal a base, but we didn't have to.

Q. With a trip to the World Series on the line and you being the manager, could you appreciate and enjoy this, as long as you've been doing this?

BUCK SHOWALTER: Oh, yeah. You kidding me? I'm going to have a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to watching our guys and kind of -- we all, whether we played in the big leagues, didn't play in the big leagues, whatever, you kind of live -- to see Jonathan's first base hit or Manny's first base hit or see Derek Jeter's last game, to be a part of that. As I've gotten older, you take it in because these times are fleeting. You're going to look back and wish you had paid more attention to those memories.

You know what, what do they say, these are the good old days. We'll be talking about these down the road. And I take a lot of mental snapshots. I always try to get in a good position where nobody can block me out when I know one may be coming.

So I'm going to take it in. Hopefully I don't get too nostalgic. But you realize how lucky you are and what an honor it is to be here. You do try to remember when you're needed to do something, then you're ready to do it.

Q. You've got a team that's really loose, they really enjoy their celebrations, the sunflower seed showers after home runs.

BUCK SHOWALTER: I keep worrying about somebody getting their eye put out. I felt them hit my back there. I thought I was going to get out of there in Detroit dry, but I didn't.

Q. I'm wondering, do you think you're going to get pied at some point, during the postseason?

BUCK SHOWALTER: I hope so.

Q. What do you think it says about your guys?

BUCK SHOWALTER: Do I get to pick the flavor?

I hope it happens. I know what Jonesey -- I'm sure he's got something planned if we get to that point, if we have a chance for that. But I know it won't be -- it's amazing what gets headlines. Do you know what company supplies those pies? We should know that. Pretty special. Such a waste of good pie.

Q. What do you think it says about your team, about this group of guys that they enjoy that so much?

BUCK SHOWALTER: What's "loose"? I love how people say, This team is loose, this team is not loose. I remember we were playing the Brewers years ago, back when I used to watch the game afterwards and go back through the tape and unfortunately left the sound on, and they were talking about, Look how loose Milwaukee is. They had taped up one of the guys up in the bullpen and they were clowning around, they were beating us 7-1. And it was 9-8 in the ninth inning, we were beating them. They never showed a shot of that bullpen, because they weren't having fun, they weren't clowning around, they weren't laughing.

What comes first? Of course everybody -- you want them to. This is too hard and too much of a grind to take yourself that seriously. We're playing a little boy's game. It's baseball. And everybody that's watched it has played it in some form. And everybody has dreamed that they were -- I did it, I used to emulate all the stances, back when CBS had the Yankees, emulating all the stances and imagine yourself on a wiffle ball field, who you were.

I want to take it in. If you can't play, believe me, I tell them all the time, we have all these demands of players. Hold on a second, you don't have to play. We could just sit over. I've got it. Those guys have got to go play.

So that's what separates them, because they want to be on this stage. There are some people that I know, gosh, why would anybody want to subject themselves to that? They want to be. And that's what's different about them.

Q. You mentioned how it can be a funny game and you think back to when Pearce, Blue Jays claimed him and he didn't go with them.

BUCK SHOWALTER: That's not supposed to be public knowledge who claims somebody. How does that get out?

Q. Well, it does.

BUCK SHOWALTER: That's unbelievable to me.

Q. I work in Toronto. We found out. But, anyway --

BUCK SHOWALTER: So somebody told you that they claimed him from the organization?

Q. Yes. But he didn't accept the claim and ended up staying with you. Did you ever think about how funny that is, that he stuck with you guys?

BUCK SHOWALTER: I don't think it's funny; I think it's great. You talked to Steve afterwards. He had a chance to accept the team or become a free agent and pick his own spot. And he chose to -- he was claimed by more than one club. I'm sure you know that, too. You probably know what club it was.

But he had options he had earned by his service time. And one of the options was returning to us and he chose to do that because that would be a question for him. But I had a lot of conversations with him. He called me the night before and said, First time I've ever made any money in my life and I'm getting ready to say no to it and get out there. There was a real trust there involved. And he ended up making more money than he was making. You think about it, he's never really made that -- it's a tough walk-away.

He's got to really trust you and trust the organization and he did. And I'm really happy for him and his family and his daughter that they're getting a return back for their trust.

Q. You got some consistent innings out of Miguel Gonzalez the second half of the year. As this has unfolded he hasn't pitched for I think 12 or 13 days.

BUCK SHOWALTER: He pitched two sim games.

Q. I was going to ask you --

BUCK SHOWALTER: Bud had 10 or 11 days off when he pitched in Detroit. This time of year, I know they won't use it as an excuse. Guys don't get that much out of whack. We've all had four days off. We will have had.

We're on the level playing field. We'll play on the same field in the same weather conditions. How you choose to do that, we had a bullpen day yesterday, Jimenez, I think Miguel has had two, I believe. And I don't like -- the inter-squad thing, some catcher breaks a hand on a foul tip, some ball gets away from a guy and hits a guy, you've got to be careful there. I don't know how much hitters really get out of it.

So Miggy is ready. He's ready. If it doesn't work out well it will be because of Kansas City and not something else.