THE MODERATOR: We are going to get started this afternoon. On behalf of Major League Baseball and the Kansas City Royals, we would like to officially welcome you to the 2012 MLB All-Star Game. This is the third time that the Midsummer Classic has been in Kansas City. It was here back in 1960 for the Kansas City A's, the first of two played that year and the game was here back in 1973 for the inaugural season of the then Royals Stadium.
This afternoon, we are going to hear from both managers, both starters. I'd like to begin today by introducing the honorary president of the host American League, long time member of the Angels family, Jackie Autry.
JACKIE AUTRY: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. It's my privilege to welcome you here today first, and to also introduce the manager of the American League team this year. As a career baseball man with decades of experience as a player, coach and manager, Ron Washington has worked hard. His loyalty and leadership has helped Texas improve each and every year under his guidance. He has led the Texas Rangers to their second straight American League pennant and World Series appearance in 2011. He is in his sixth season as manager of the Rangers and is the only Ranger manager to take the team to the World Series. He set a club record with 96 wins in 2011, and he is the only Rangers manager ever to manage an American League All-Star Game.
Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to have you welcome, Mr. Ron Washington.
RON WASHINGTON: Thank you, Jackie. It's a pleasure for me. This is my second year, as Jackie mentioned, as the manager for the American League, and I'm very proud of that. I think that this opportunity to manage the players that I have a chance to manage, is really, for me, an experience that I don't think I'll ever forget. But I'm just happy to be here, and I'm looking forward to getting out on the field and competing, and I know the players, also.
You know, there's nothing you accomplish in life without help from someone, and I think I have this opportunity because of the organization that I'm a part of, and the players that the organization supplied me with; an attitude that they bring each and every day to the ball field.
They are the reason I'm here, because as a manager, all we can do is try to put them in a position to succeed, and if they do, we are doing a very good job and if they don't, I don't think we are doing a very good job. That's just the way it is. So you don't worry about it and you do the best that you can.
So with that, I just want to announce my lineup that I plan on putting out tomorrow night. Derek Jeter is at shortstop. Robinson Cano is at second base. Josh Hamilton will be in left field hitting third. Jose Bautista will be hitting fourth and playing right field. Prince Fielder will be at first base hitting fifth. Adrian Beltre will be at third base hitting sixth. David Ortiz will be the DH hitting seventh. Mike Napoli will be the catcher hitting eighth, and Curtis Granderson will be in center field hitting ninth.
And it's my pleasure to announce that I chose Justin Verlander to start the game tomorrow. He is certainly one of the best pitchers in all of baseball, not only in the American League; and the joy that I have of giving him the ball tomorrow, he's well rested. So I expect a lot out of him and I know he expects a lot out of himself.
So with that, I want to thank you for this opportunity to speak to you guys, and enjoy the game tomorrow night.
JUSTIN VERLANDER: First of all, I would like to thank Mr. Washington for the opportunity. What an honor it is to start my first All-Star Game. I've been to a few in the past, and some I didn't have the opportunity to pitch in, like last year, and some I came out of the bullpen.
This is something different, and I'm going to relish every moment of it, and hopefully play a part in helping the American League win. The All-Star Game has changed a little bit and means something now, and as I'm sure Mr. Washington can attest; home field advantage in the World Series is huge, and hopefully I can help be a part of getting the American League that home field advantage.
THE MODERATOR: And now for the National League side of things, it's my pleasure to introduce the honorary president of the National League, Bill Giles.
BOB GILES: I would like to remind Jackie and everybody that the National League is on a bit of a roll (Laughter). We won three of the last World Series and the last two All-Star Games what did you just say? She's kidding me. All right.
But it's my honor today to introduce I think one of the greatest managers of all time. Tony La Russa has won more games than any manager in baseball history except for Connie Mack and John McGraw. He has won 2,758 out of the 5,097 over the 33 years that he's been a manager in the big leagues. He's won three world championships, six league championships, and he's the only manager that ever retired in the same season that he won a World Series, and what a World Series it was. It was fantastic, against the Rangers, and I hope the All-Star Games is as good as last year's World Series. It's my honor to present to you, Tony La Russa.
TONY La RUSSA: Also want to thank Bill for that extra motivation for the American League. (Laughter.)
I all know, and we all know, that they don't need it. The American League is a very proud league and very tough league, as the World Series has shown last year, a very even competition and I think that's what you can expect again tomorrow.
Whatever any of us say, it's going to be the players and they are excited to play. I remember my first experience was in 1984 and I was blown away by seeing the best baseball players in the world just work out, like today, and then the next day they competed, and I think it's almost universally recognized that baseball's All-Star Game is by far the most enjoyable, because it's the most competitive. Each league wants to hoot at the other league, and it makes for a very natural environment for these guys.
So looking forward to the competition, and today I'm looking forward to just watching these guys work out. Here's our lineup. We are going to open with the DH which is Carlos Gonzalez from Colorado. Hitting second, playing center field will be Melky Cabrera. Ryan Braun will play left field, hit third. Joey Votto hits fourth playing first base. Carlos Beltrán will play right field and hit fifth. Buster Posey is the catcher hitting sixth. Pablo Sandoval plays third base, hits seventh. Dan Uggla is hitting eighth playing second base and Rafael Furcal is our shortstop in the second lead off spot.
And finally the starting pitcher, Dave Duncan and I had several conversations, in my retired role back in the Bay Area, I had the opportunity to see the top half of a first half of an outstanding career of this gentleman, and so we are pleased to open up the bottom of the first inning with Matt Cain.
MATT CAIN: I just want to thank you for the opportunity to start the All-Star Game. Obviously this is going to be huge for me and cool for me. This is my third one to go to but my first one to get to participate in, and to be able to start the game is going to be a huge honor for me.
I'm really, really excited about it, and you know, I'm just going to try to take it as a normal start, do my normal thing, but I'm looking forward to it. It's going to be really, really cool to be able to have Buster behind the plate catching me, as well. Hopefully we can get into a groove and I'm really, really excited about everything.
Q. Can you please briefly talk to us about the kind of preparation that goes into your conversations with all of the pitchers, starters and closers, relievers, I should say; what kind of preparation talk do you have with them so that they can best prepare to win? Also, follow up question, for all your international Ranger fans in Japan, if you can talk about Yu Darvish, what order you maybe look forward to seeing him and how many outs.
RON WASHINGTON: First of all, my pitching coach well, got two, Mike Maddux and Andy Hawkins. First we reach out to every pitching coach for every pitcher that we have on the roster. We sit down and we find out exactly what their plans are with their players because we still have half a season left to play. We find out what their intentions are as far as what we can get out of those guys. And then we plan accordingly.
It's tough to sit here and say after Justin starts the game in what order we are going to go in. We have an idea, but I think it just depends on where we are in the lineup and what the situation is, who we'll bring in.
But we are certainly very proud and happy with the pitchers and the arms that we accumulated. I think whatever order we decide to bring them out of the bullpen, we have an opportunity to be successful.
With Yu Darvish, I think he's come over to the United States under some very tough circumstances. Not knowing anything about the league, not knowing anything about the players, having to adjust to the baseball, having to adjust to the mound, having to adjust to the different culture shock that he has to go through. And I truly believe because he's a tremendous athlete and he's a tremendous young man, he's made adjustments faster than we expected.
As far as what we will get out of him, we will just have to wait and see how the game dictates it. I'm sorry I couldn't give you something definite on it, but we just have to wait and see how the game flows. But he is here as an All-Star because he deserves to be. Being a Texas Ranger, it certainly wasn't anything I did because of sentimental reasons. He got it done between the lines. So that's where we stand with that.
Q. Happy that you are again commanding the American League All-Star Team. Tell me, especially in this last World Series, it was vital, that Game 7 on the home turf of the St. Louis Cardinals at the time; is there any incentive to win this game perhaps and get that home field advantage?
RON WASHINGTON: Well, of course it's extra incentive for me, but I'm sitting on the bench. It depends on if the players can go out there and make things happen and put enough runs on the board that we can get out front. And then I can match the arms I have with what's happening in the ballgame, and we are able to hold a lead.
Last year we didn't get out to a lead. We were playing from behind after the third inning. But I feel like once you get to the World Series, and I would rather play four games in my home ballpark, but I'm in the World Series. If I have to win a ballgame in the visiting team's ballpark, I have to win a ballgame in the visiting team's ballpark. But I have four in mind. I would like the opportunity, and I certainly would like the players to give me as the manager an opportunity to win an All-Star Game.
I haven't been having good luck against the National League in games that mean something.
I'm looking forward to it. But it's going to be good for the players to go up there and give us the runs and give us the opportunity, and if I can do something to help that work where we can win it, I'll be looking for that all night. But it's up to the players.
Q. Not to put you on the spot, I know your Spanish is great, I'll ask you in English and if you can answer in Spanish for our Spanish viewers, I would really, really appreciate it. You are an historic figure, Mr. Giles mentioned it better than anybody, and yet there is always a chance to have an extra moment, an extra start in the game, in this particular situation, being the manager of the National League team. What extra accomplishment would you like to say, Gee, I want this because of not only the home turf advantage, but you personally as a manager.
TONY La RUSSA: (Answering in Spanish).
THE MODERATOR: I think Tony just said he was planning on batting the pitcher eighth, but he was talked out of it. That was awesome.
Q. You've had several opportunities in a number of big games before, prior All-Star appearances as a manager; does this one feel perhaps different or special to you, and do you take a special approach this time since you have moved on from your managerial role with the Cardinals?
TONY La RUSSA: Well, one of the things I said in Spanish, I'm a huge fan of the All-Star Game. I've just been a baseball fanatic since I was a kid and every experience has been special, whether you're coaching or managing, and it didn't really dawn on me until a couple of days after the World Series, that the opportunity to manage in the All-Star Game, and I knew it was going to happen after the rally; so I was really bothered that I was going to miss this. Very appreciative that the commissioner has given me an invitation to be here.
But I've kept it simple for years. It's our team against their team. Play nine innings and hopefully play the bottom of the ninth and there's a score. It's no more complicated than that. It's just a great competition, and if I was not here, I would be watching on TV pulling for well, I've been both leagues. I'd pull for the best team to win. But for the National League uniform, definitely going to try to play the bottom of the ninth and shake hands.
But we respect competition, and there's nothing -- there is one rule, I mentioned it to somebody. There's an amazing coincidence, because I started we don't even talk about my playing career, but I started here when I was 18 years old in 1963 as a Kansas City A's; and to think the last time I'm going to put on a uniform is going to be in Kansas City is just an unbelievable coincidence to believe. But I am excited and looking forward to the game and the work out.
Q. Why didn't you start Dickey?
TONY La RUSSA: Unless you have some kind of crystal ball and you know exactly how the game is going to go, but you know the guys that are going to pitch and the guys that are going to play, I know Dickey is going to pitch. I am very aware of the first half he's had.
By the way, our club and our hitters, in particular the last couple of years, have been up close and personal to see how tough he is. The one edge I thought would have made sense, we have Buster catching and Matt is equally legitimate as far as getting the honor. And then we are just going to play the game.
I can't bet you that Dickey will come out second or fourth. I just know he's going to pitch in the first half of the game.
Q. How surprised were you, if at all, and were you thinking Dickey was going to start the game? And do you think your relationship with Buster Posey was a big factor in you getting the start?
MATT CAIN: I'm not sure if the relationship with Buster and I was a big deal. I was actually thinking that it might be, you know, maybe a little bit of help if R.A, were able to start it because maybe Buster would be able to catch him today and catch him as the game -- warming up or something like that, to maybe be a bit of help doing it that way.
But I found out yesterday when I was getting over to the hotel and was just extremely excited about the whole thing and started to think about what their lineup was going to be and trying to think about what I wanted to do when tomorrow comes around and just relax and take it all in.
Q. Tony mentioned that he started with the Kansas City A's way back in the day. What's it like for you to return to Kansas City considering you were in the first class of the Royals Baseball Academy?
RON WASHINGTON: Well, it's always been a sentimental feeling in my heart each time I return to Kansas City because this is where I started. I always told the story, I learned my baseball in Kansas City and I was able to apply it in L.A.
So, you know, I was in the first class of a baseball academy. I don't know how many people knew that when I first signed as a free agent. I learned my baseball on the chalkboard. We would chalk it out on the board and we would go out on the field and work it out until we got it right.
So I'm excited. I just wish Mr. Kauffman was around to see it, because the Academy was his brainstorm. There was not very many people that believed it could work. I'm just happy that I'm an example that it can work.
My dream was to be a baseball player at the Major League level. I wanted to be a third base coach and an infield coach, and at that point, that's where I thought my dream would stop, but because of the media on the West Coast and the Bay Area there, thought that maybe I could be a manager; they put it out there, and I began to get interviews and the Texas Rangers gave me an opportunity.
But it All-Started here in Kansas City, and so I'm very proud to be back here and as I said, I wish Mr. Ewing Kauffman was around to see it, because I know he would be very proud.
Q. When you made the last injury replacement pick, what was your rationale?
TONY La RUSSA: Based on past experienced, I thought the outfield situation in the National League was the toughest spots to decide. There's a bunch of guys that were playing very well, and it was really difficult. That's why in the end, with the Internet voting, ended up putting several in there. And I didn't even include Matt Holliday, just for whatever reason.
But as we got some guys who have problems, whether it was Yadier or Ian, it just made sense to me that the guys that were most deserving were outfielders. Michael Bourn was a tough guy to leave off in the beginning, and Bryce Harper.
I'm disappointed for the guys that are not here. I would love to see Yadier and Ian, and Mike Stanton would have lifted this place up, but I know the guys that are replacing are very exciting and somehow it all worked out.
It would be nice to put the National League phenom against the American League phenom, and it's been good to see Trout and Harper come into the game.
Q. I was wondering with R.A. Dickey if the knuckleball was a factor, if you planned on bringing him the first half of the game as you mentioned, I assume Posey would still be behind the plate. How much did that factor into the decision?
TONY La RUSSA: The biggest factor is he's just tough to hit. We have guys the last couple of years, whether it's spring training or even during the season, I don't play against Dickey. He can spook you.
So I think Matt made a very good point, and that's something that is going to go into the consideration about when he pitches. You really should warm up with R.A., whether it be before the first inning or before his inning. That's why I don't think I'll bring him in during an inning and it's very likely that when he comes in, it will be just as Buster leaves and Carlos gets to catch. I think that seems to make sense that they would warm up together and get a little familiar.
Q. Regarding R.A. and this decision, it's certainly balancing the two, between him and Matt. Did the uniqueness of R.A.'s story play into it at all for you, and given how he's gotten here, the unorthodox way, so to speak.
TONY La RUSSA: Well, I'm 100% aware. It's a great story. My opinion, though, is if we play nine innings, not nine extra innings, I don't know if anybody that's going to participate in the game that it's not going to be very special as far as the opportunity, excited, what it means to his family, to his organization.
I mean, I do think there is an extra plus to being the starter to the National League or the American League. I do think that's something special. But I don't think it detracts at all from R.A.'s accomplishments and being here. Whenever he pitches, it's going to be a great event for him and for baseball and for ourselves.
I just looked at it, Dunc and I did have some conversations, and we wanted to reward Matt Cain for a career of excellence that's getting better and better. And he had a great example of that during the summer on one of his pitching days.
It was a tough call. I think whenever R.A. pitches or anybody pitches for either side, or plays, I think it's a great experience and it's only a little more special to start the game.
Q. Being back here, does that get the juices flowing? Do you miss managing at all? And why not Matt Holliday?
TONY La RUSSA: You know, I was in the parking lot coming into the parking lot today and I saw you and that got my juices flowing. Can't tell you, couldn't wait to answer some questions today, like Matt Holliday. That's a good one. (Laughter.)
I've tested my relationship with teammates going back; as I said, the outfield situation in the National League is the deepest that I can remember in a long, long time. I felt, first of all, there's six guys who were picked between the fans and the players. So that takes six.
And for the other guys that were not there, you know, Matt, outstanding. I just looked at it and felt like Michael Bourn deserved to go in on the Internet and I thought Bryce Harper deserved, and I thought if anything, Matt knows how I feel about him and he can have a wonderful day with his family if the day was off.
But since it worked out, I'm thrilled that he's here. And I'm also thrilled, by the way, and we checked with him, he's excited to be part of this game. He didn't hold any grudges.
Q. For everything you've done in baseball, where does this rank on your list?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: I'll tell you when it's over. Obviously right now, I'm pretty excited about it. Actually sitting here just looking over the lineup thinking about how I'm going to pitch these guys. You know, got to get ready. I can't really think about how I'm going to feel about it until I'm done.
Q. I don't believe you've ever faced each other in a game. Can you say what you admire about the other from what you've seen on television or in person?
JUSTIN VERLANDER: You know, obviously National League and American League, I haven't had the pleasure of seeing Matt pitch in person. Obviously the most I saw was from his perfect game, and I actually sat down and watched the end of that and just you know, the incredible poise that he had specifically in that game. I know if he had it, it carried over in the rest of his starts, and just the poise of his pitches, and obviously he's got great stuff. But just the execution and the poise is what really stuck out to me.
MATT CAIN: For me, I guess on Central time and stuff like that, on the West Coast, that's where we get the privilege of watching some of the East Coast games more, and Justin or some of the other guys, are guys that I always pay attention to when they are starting. I get to watch him a ton. I'm amazed at how he pitches and the way he goes about his business. He can start off a game from 90 to 93 and work his way around the lineup and when he gets into big jams or he needs to, you know, he kind of gears back and starts lighting it up to 95, 98. But he's not just doing that. He's working his curveball to changeup. It's just impressive the way he goes about his business from the first inning to a lot of times the ninth inning, and a lot of times that helps me, and if I'm starting that day, I think about, you know what, I want to go at least eighth innings or nine innings or as well as he did. So it's fun for me to be able to watch those guys.
Q. In selecting Carlos Gonzalez to lead off, what played into that decision and the fact that he has led off in the big leagues definitely did that factor into your decisions?
TONY La RUSSA: That's one of the neat things, you get eight players selected and you get to pick your DH. I relied on, tied for first, the greatest teammate you can have, Carney Lansford, talked to him and I asked him about CarGo, and he said he can hit all over. He says last year, when they really got hot, he hit the top of the lineup and made things happen.
I like Justin can take some time on the first and look over there and see some real damage right off the bat. I think these guys will get his attention.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks for everybody's time.