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Ron Gardenhire, pregame quotes10/06/2004 8:13 PM ET
Q. Last night your team made some exceptional plays on the field, do you as an organization put more priority on fielding than others in terms of your scouting development and roster decisions?
RON GARDENHIRE: I don't compare us to anybody else. Everybody has their own way of doing things. We set up a very good spring training and we start from there and put a lot of emphasis on that, on fundamentals and we do a lot of drills early in the morning to get the guys all fired up right from the start. We try beating it in their heads that we preach catching the ball but I don't think that's much different than a lot of organizations do. I think Tom Kelly a long time ago started this, and I was a coach underneath him, and it's fun. We have a fun spring training doing this, and we call it Good Morning, America. That's the way we start our day.
So we preach it, but I don't know if it's any different than any other organization. I think that we have a bunch of players that believe in it though.
Q. How many victories a year does your team get through fielding?
RON GARDENHIRE: 92 this year. (Laughter.)
Q. Is your plan to continue with a three man rotation, and if so, was that maybe behind taking Santana out after 93 pitches last night?
RON GARDENHIRE: We've got Silva going in Friday's game and we said we would talk to Johan and see how he feels for that next game, Game 4, as it would be if we are there, and that's what we're going to do. We planned on going with these three guys. If Johan feels good enough to take the ball that day, that's what we'll do. If not, we'll make an adjustment. I'm going to check with my pitcher; I always have.
Q. When you get to this situation, three years in a row, do you react with amusement or irritation, by the tone of some questions, "how are you doing here," "who are you guys"; how do you react to this?
RON GARDENHIRE: You know, I try not to pay much attention to it. It's just part of the game, in all honesty. We know we're from a smaller market where people don't get a chance to see us very much so they are not going to know a whole heck of a lot about our baseball team. But the American League Central knows a lot because we play them 19 times, each team in it.
Last night when we were announced, I'm out there, I look around, announcing the starting lineup, I see these two Yankee fans in jackets, I'm reading their lips: "They have got Torii Hunter who are the rest of these guys?" I'm reading the guys' lips and I just started laughing. We're from Minnesota, that's who we are. (Laughter.)
Q. Obviously you won Game 1 yesterday, so it might influence your opinion a bit, but how do you feel about the five game series of the first round versus a seven game series, and what's your appraisal of how anything can happen in a five game versus seven game series?
RON GARDENHIRE: Well, it all gets down to pitching and catching the ball in any kind of series, five or seven, they are both relatively short series.
We did both of them a couple years ago. We got to the second round and we only played four in that one, too. They knocked us out pretty quick.
I like this five game series. I think it gives you a good chance, if you have three or four good pitchers, you've got a good chance and most teams that are in the playoffs do. I like the short series. I don't mind it a bit.
Q. So it evens things out?
RON GARDENHIRE: You would hope so. I think with being able to take a Santana and using him twice, maybe in a short series if you're lucky, like that can help you, as you saw last night. If I can throw him back out there again and we get to that point, that's not a bad situation to be in.
Q. Last year you had a day off between games 1 and 2 and now you're right back out there; is it easier to build off the momentum of a win after last night getting back out there a day later?
RON GARDENHIRE: I said last year, I sure would have loved to get back on the field the next day and go right at it and get out of town. But you've got to understand, we're from Minnesota and we're in downtown New York, and that's kind of a place where you have a day off, you're not exactly going to get a lot of rest in downtown New York. It's happening.
So you get up and walk around, you catch yourself staring at the ceilings and the lights. We would have rather just got back on the field like tonight and played. I like it better that way. I like to step back out there and play.
I'll let you know after nine innings who has the advantage and what the advantage is, but we played a good game last year in the second game, even after the day off. I think we got to the seventh inning and Radke was in a 1 1 game and I think Soriano got a big hit and we made an error and they scored three runs and beat us. We played a good game that day. If we can come out and play like that, we'll be okay tonight.
Q. Outfield defense was good yesterday; do you think it's because Jacque and Torii have played together so much over the years and Shannon assimilated quickly?
RON GARDENHIRE: Oh, sure those guys have known each other. Jacque was on the other side most of the time in left field and when we got Shannon we asked Jacque to move over to right field. It took them a while to get used to each other that way. Shannon, he's a professional and he goes out there and works. I think it's a fun group to watch them go out and play, and they will run the balls down. If it goes up in the air a lot with Torii and Jack out there especially, the ball doesn't land too often because both those guys can actually cover a lot of ground.
Q. You've got Kubel in the lineup tonight instead of Lew Ford. What does he offer you and why did you make that move?
RON GARDENHIRE: He's a young hitter. He had a great year this year, starting at AA and went to AAA and absolutely killed it and brought him up here, given him 50 or 60 at bats, he faced Lieber this last series when we were in New York and had three hits. So he knows what he's facing here tonight. It's another opportunity to give a young kid a chance to see a little post season baseball that might be a big part of our future. But the biggest thing: The kid can hit a little bit and we're trying to score some runs.
Q. I know you guys changed the turf at the Metrodome this year after years of the other stuff and players have mentioned it's played a lot truer. What differences have you noticed in the course of the year?
RON GARDENHIRE: It's a slower surface. We had a lightning surface there for a long time and it wasn't a good surface. It was an ugly surface. It beat our players up pretty bad.
This new surface is definitely a little slower, more like grass, softer, and it does play slower. But our players have seemed to have handled it better with their bodies, not taking as much of a beating as the other surface. And then we have noticed that other teams that have come in have played better defense against us because this surface isn't as fast. The other surface we were kind of accustomed to and we built a team to that fast surface. Other teams have played better against us in the Metrodome this year because it plays a little slower and plays probably better for them.
Q. A lot of outsiders have spent a lot of time judging managers, as one of the 30; how do you judge whether a manager is getting more out of his squad than might be expected or perhaps less? How do you judge whether somebody is doing an above average job or not?
RON GARDENHIRE: I try not to ever judge another manager. That's not even part of the game. I don't feel like I'm managing against a manager. It's players playing against players but when you look at teams and see the enthusiasm and what they bring to the table each night you know that the manager had better have something to do with that. A lot of that goes with really good players, but there is an enthusiasm, there is some actions that you see in a team, running balls out. We take a lot of pride in that. I know that. I know for a fact that we take a lot of pride in running balls out when we see another team not run a ball out, we get frustrated and we scream at them. It's something we do. As a manager, you watch how teams play the game and it pretty much tells you what a manager does have to say.
Q. Is it more of an emotional job?
RON GARDENHIRE: Absolutely. I think so. I think it is a big emotional job. It's tactical, too. I stand over there and watch Joe, if he crosses his arms, I cross mine, just to make sure we're doing the same thing. (Laughter.) Because I know he's the master, I guarantee you that. I keep my eye on some of those things.
Q. What factors go into your decision making process when you're thinking about using a pitcher on short rest in the playoffs?
RON GARDENHIRE: Always the health of the pitcher for one thing. I try to take care of my pitchers and I know I've been shot down a little bit for taking them out too quick on 100 pitches and who wrote the book on 100 pitches, but it's something I learned from T.K. as a manager that when he told me that when he managed, it was his watch and it was his job to make sure he protected his pitching staff, and on his watch he was going to do that. That's something I feel strongly about, too, protecting my pitchers. When I look at Santana coming around for that game, Santana is going to make that decision for me because if he says he feels a little stiff or sore I'm not going to do it. I'm not going to he take the chance with this young man's career or arm. If he tells me he can go, we'll go.
Q. Will the use of Santana depend on whether you're up or down after three games or will it be solely how he feels?
RON GARDENHIRE: It's going to be how he feels and I might kick him a little harder if we're down. But I'm going to take this kid and we're going to talk to him. We're going to protect him between these starts and hopefully he'll be ready for it. We would love to see him pitch, and I think we'll want the ball.
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