Q: What does this say about Marco that Sam had been here pitching for you guys much more and Marco earns that role?
MIKE MATHENY: Marco has taken advantage of everything we have given him and gets a couple of wins. And in big situations, we're throwing him in there against lefties and tough righties in the middle of their lineup and he's making great pitches. At this time of the year, we're going with the hot hands, and right now he's done a terrific job. Actually the whole time we've had him, he's done a great job. He's an up and coming right arm for us and knows the feel. We have put him in these kinds of situations down the stretch to see how he responded, and it's business as usual. So it's nice to see him take that step forward.
Q: Were there concerns with what you saw of Sam last round even though it was limited, or is this more than what A.J. would bring more so than what Sam would not bring?
MIKE MATHENY: It's more so what A.J. brings more than anything else. Sam is going to work and continue to try to improve. A lot of times this time of year is about controlling the strike zone. He's had a good season for us and could be moving on with us if we're fortunate to move on.
Q: Mike, congratulations. Are you happy not to see Marco Scutaro this time around and what do you know about the kid who is replacing him?
MIKE MATHENY: Yeah, Henry, Marco Scutaro is definitely a guy the last time we faced off in the NLCS with the Giants, he set a tone and he was good in every sense, you know. But they do have a strong, strong club. They've got quite a few good options. And to be able to watch how some of their young players are taking advantage, just like our young players are as well, with speed and power and athleticism is nothing knew for the Giants. That just seems to be what they do consistently, guys that can make good, defensive plays. I know Marco Scutaro also brought a level of leadership, but as time on, other guys step in and take that role.
Q: When Adam came over to the St. Louis Cardinals, do you remember catching him in his first bullpen session?
MIKE MATHENY: I remember. He definitely left an impression. His stuff was good, he just had a maturity on the mound at that time. And, you know, at that particular time, when players came over from the Braves, especially pitchers, you knew they were well groomed and they had been following a pretty good trend. Adam was somebody that stood out and didn't disappoint. He kept making improvements and still does to this day.
Q: The Commissioner likes to talk about the parity in the game these days. When you look at you guys getting here four years in a row and the Giants three times in five years, is it a narrow margin? What gets you guys to this point that other teams haven't been able to do?
MIKE MATHENY: I don't think it's any secret, I think in the postseason it's a matter of getting hot at the right time, making the big plays, getting the big hits. Those alluded us often this season. I agree that there is great parity in the game right now as you looked at how many teams were in it as we were going down the stretch. That is good for the game of baseball. When you get to this time of year, Bruce and his staff are preaching the same thing we are on our side, that the experience does matter. Guys not just being in the postseason, but having success in the postseason sets a level of expectation and a sense of being there before that I think can be a very calming influence to the younger players. But when it all comes down to it, it's about execution, and fortunately we're both in a spot now where we've been able to move forward by just doing a little bit more than the other guy.
Q: As someone who manages against Bruce Bochy, what are your perceptions of him and what he does well?
MIKE MATHENY: I'm a big fan of Boch and how he's gone about it. I know he's very well respected in that clubhouse and it's something he does very well. I know there is not a way you can put your finger on, it just takes time. It's something he has consistently earned over the years and I think it's something that I have aspired to figure out how to do. I've been fortunate enough to spend time and ask him questions whenever I get around him. He's one of the most experienced managers in this league, one of the most successful in this league, and he goes about it the right way. When it comes down to the X's and O's, he knows what he's doing. He doesn't make a lot of mistakes. He seems to be always prepared for whatever comes along. A lot of that has to do with the number of times he's been in these situations. But he's a great baseball mind that I know is going to have his team ready to compete.
Q: The new replay system has been used quite a bit this October. Your team in particular has been involved in some of them. I'm wondering as a manager how much more comfortable you are with that whole system and how much comfortable you perceived umpires to be since April and your confidence in it when it could be used in big games going forward?
MIKE MATHENY: I think the umpires and the managers have become more comfortable with the rhythm of the "dance" of going out and how this thing works and some of the awkwardness. So standing out there and asking each other about their families, that stuff is kind of commonplace now until we get the information that we need to see if we have enough to challenge. I think in general, I believe it's been a good move for the game of baseball. We're using this technology to help us move forward and we've seen some big calls reversed that have changed the course of the game. Just getting the call right, that was the goal from the beginning, and it didn't seem to work for a lot of us very often early. But I think we're getting to the point where we're seeing it implemented and executed as the league planned.
Q: You got so many left handed hits off left handed pitchers in the Dodger series. What do you see from the left handed Giants, especially against Madison Bumgarner and how do you see that going?
MIKE MATHENY: Once again, a very good pitcher just like we were talking about in the Dodger series. We have had our lefties going up against some of the better lefties in the league, so we will be prepared. But they're different. Madison Bumgarner is throwing the ball exceptionally well, so we're going to have to grind it out, which is what we have done all season. I don't know why it would be any different now. We have to get in and fight off the tough pitches and fouling off until we get something to work with. The guys have been very consistent with how they're preparing and have a lot of confidence with our leftys against the lefty pitchers right now.
Q: Rare day when you have only had 11 pitchers on your staff. How do you feel about that?
MIKE MATHENY: Our bullpen is basically the size of the bullpen that we dealt with all season long, so I feel we're pretty well covered, even though we know that Randy is just going to be a guy that comes in for tough situations for a lefty or two, and the rest are going to be used in situations that they have been accustomed to all season. With the days off, it gives us a lot more freedom. When you're heading into the regular season, you're not fortunate enough to go a couple games, and a day off, and a few games, and a day off, and a few games, and a day off. But that does give our guys a chance to reload. I believe they're prepared, rested and ready. We have some options in case anything goes in a direction we weren't expecting.
Q: Mike, we got these two really good catchers in this series, two managers that used to be catchers. I'm not going to ask you to compare the two catchers you got, but if you could, in terms of a defensive quality, if you could pick one of the qualities that in a generic catcher that you would deem the most important among, like throwing, receiving, calling pitches, maybe something else? What do you think is the most important quality in that regard for a defensive catcher to have?
MIKE MATHENY: Yeah, to me that's an easy question to answer, it's consciousness. A catcher who wants to be in the middle of everything and has an eye and a mind that's ready for every pitch and every scenario and looking for an edge, an advantage, wherever it can be found. That kind of leads itself into leadership, which I would put right below. Then all the tangibles, with the receiving, probably, at the next, and then on down, to the blocking and then the throwing. Throwing probably shouldn't be down that low, but we have a pitching staff that's controlling the running game then it takes the urgency away from it a little bit from the throwing aspect. But those other aspects mostly revolving around leading your staff, which in turn also comes into leading your club. I know both clubs are very fortunate to have the people in place that are there.
Q: Mike, the fans are clearly excited about this being an NLCS 2012 rematch, but what's the take from your side from the players' side? Is there anything to it? Is there an elevated excitement or adrenaline getting another crack at the Giants?
MIKE MATHENY: The fortunate thing of how we go about our business is we really try to make this another series and just one more game. Try not to build up one more so than the other, because when you do that, then you're eventually letting yourself up for a fall, for a let down. If we stay consistent with this is another game, we have one more to play, let's play the one tomorrow like it's the last one we'll ever play, if you truly buy into that, then you're constantly bringing everything you have. When you start trying to get guys more fired up or more prepared than typically, realistically, you're saying that you left something on the table the other days and I just don't think that's a good way to go about this business. If I also could say we don't forget that day, finishing that game in the rain and watching them celebrate on their field in San Francisco, we believe that those experiences are thing that we grow from and get better from. But as far as our daily preparation our guys have been extremely diligent of the workmen like attitude, we're going to go out and do what we do. I have to control my piece and that's all I can do. And the guy next to me is going to do his, and it leads to, I believe, a more consistent approach.
Q: Mike, with 11 pitchers, how does that change the mix for Michael Wacha? Do you have a more specific plan for him going forward here?
MIKE MATHENY: With Michael, basically the same requirement as last round, and we'll have him with the ability to go long and be able to pick up innings when we need him to. But not ruling out the fact of being able to bring him in early, we just haven't had him go a lot of back to back days. You never know when something pops up and you need someone to throw multiple innings for you. Part of that decision to go with 11 is we have two guys now that can, that are stretched out pretty much like a starter with Marco Gonzales and Tyler Walker. So that's a unique situation for us which allows us to take maybe one less pitcher.
Q: Mike, during a series like this, is there an elevated sense of pressure on a manager, given the scrutiny that any decision you make is going to receive, compared to a 162 game season?
MIKE MATHENY: Scrutiny is going to come no matter what. But seven games isn't a short series. We have a lot of baseball ahead of us against this club. Very similar to the question I answered about our guys and how they prepare is how I believe I should go about my business, and the staff should. If we're worried about scrutiny, we're probably in the wrong business and we make decisions try to make the right decisions because they're right decisions not because of the urgency of the game we're in. We go about it the same way. And we realize in the end, we will get a chance to look back and see if they were the right decisions and learn from them and grow from them. But for us, once again, to try to turn it up another notch, that would say we weren't all the way "turned up" for the last six months, and that's not a good way to go about our business. We just do what we think is right and it will work out.
Q: Is it fair to say though that, given the format of the series you're about to play, sometimes there are decisions that maybe handled differently than perhaps if it was June or July and in a different environment?
MIKE MATHENY: That's fair to say, and going back to one of the early questions about Boch, something I've learned from him is the urgency. He does this really most of the season, also. You see him not really saving anything for tomorrow. It's about today. And I think there is a sense of that urgency. Maybe so a little bit different as far as the X's and the O's and how you use your players and the decisions that you make, but as far as the preparation goes, as far as the intensity, as far as how we're prepared. It's going to be just like we've been doing it all season long. But with only so many games left here, there is a little bit different philosophy how we go about using our guys.
Q: Mike, with what's gone on this summer in Ferguson and what's recently gone on here, it would be trite to say that a sport could solve an issue like what's going on, but is this the distraction that the city perhaps needs right now?
MIKE MATHENY: I think baseball has consistently been a great distraction for our country. I think this summer, it served as an opportunity to bring people together, too, in this community. Hopefully that continues through this series and through this weekend.