10/02/07 4:00 PM ET
Charlie Manuel, Chase Utley and Cole Hamels workout day interview
Phillies manager and players talk about bringing the playoffs to Philadelphia after 14 years
By / MLB.com
CHASE UTLEY: We met in college and came into UCLA together. We had a great time in college and we worked out together in the off season, and I think we do push each other a little bit. We're always talking baseball in the off season and trying to get better. He's established himself as one of the best third basemen in baseball.
The off season grind, pushing each other, trying to get stronger, trying to get quicker, I think it's helped us both.
Cole, it's a glass half empty, half full question. When you were injured, you threw 116 Friday night; are you getting a second wind right now or will there be a lot of trepidation tomorrow night?
COLE HAMELS: I don't know, I never really thought of it that way. I think having a month off can always do some damage in the end because if it ever gets to playoff season, you do want to be ready and foremost guys it takes a couple of games, fortunately Chase was able to go out in that first game.
For myself, I think it takes a couple games, and for myself, I knew it would take about three before I was actually ready to go and I think that was perfect timing. You know, just being able to go out there and continue my routine, I think that was probably the main focus. You know, when you don't play for a month your routine gets thrown off and all of a sudden you get back into that five day routine of what you need to do every day. I think I have a good feeling of what I'm doing and what I'm capable of doing.
You went with ten pitchers on your postseason roster, at least for this series, what went into that decision?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Basically we went into the series itself, I felt like we needed, we actually starting out with Cole being ready to pitch. And the way our pitching is set up, we'll use Lohse out of the bullpen probably for the first day or two. And the way set up with our closer and with our set up guy, and of course Romero and Flash Gordon in the seventh or eighth inning, I felt like depth wise, we had enough depth to cover our pitching. And actually, I feel pretty good about it. I feel like we have it organized and I feel like we have everybody in a place where we can have an idea like where we're going to use them.
What was the toughest decision narrowing it down to 25?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I would say probably the toughest decision was we -- right now, we kept three catchers and that was a place where we might need a runner or an extra player. But like we kept the three catchers because we wanted to make sure that we had all of our catching covered.
How much of that was because of Carlos' injury, and where does he stand with that? Do you know if he's going to be ready for Game 1?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Today his arm was swollen and hurting him. We'll probably know more about that tomorrow. At the same time, we do figure that we'd better keep three catchers. That was kind of a must.
Cole, interestingly, you haven't faced the Rockies ever in your career, and I think the only guy that has any experience against you is hurt. Is that going to be unusual at all in do you feel like there's just enough out there about you that it doesn't matter or how does that change your approach and preparation for this?
COLE HAMELS: You know, I think sometimes seeing a team can always help you, but I think sometimes it can hurt you to the point where you might not have seen them enough or you get a little overconfident with a certain pitch and then they make the adjustment.
I think with not facing them, it can help with that sort of surprise. But with the video out there these days, there is no surprises. I'm just going to go out there and just treat it like any other game. If it was the Padres, the Mets, have my own game plan, and if I can stick to it, and execute, I think that's the biggest part is executing, because when you're able to execute, obviously the count gets more in your favor. And so you're able to do a little bit more and keep the hitters off balance. And so it's just, you know, something that I guess we'll have to wait and see.
For Chase and Cole, wondering in the first two games with the shadows, will that be a big advantage for the pitcher?
CHASE UTLEY: Hopefully we'll have a little cloud cover tomorrow for the hitters' standpoint.
It is difficult in the shadows. But only thing you can really do about it is put it out of your mind. Both teams have to deal with it. I think it is an advantage for the pitcher when there are shadows because you don't see the ball as well. What are you going to do about it.
COLE HAMELS: I guess my standpoint is it obviously will help me, and I just have to, you know, not use it as an advantage because when you do get overconfident with something, you can get yourself in trouble. I'll just try to use it as much as possible with trying to see the way the hitters are taking their approaches and their swings because that's when I can tell what they are really looking for for the differences in shadow.
I have enough confidence in our team that I think we'll be able to luck out a little bit more just because of the type of players we have and just everything will be in focus. I don't think it will be much of a difference too bad, but I know it probably won't favor the pitcher, so I know it won't be a 9-10 game.
How much of a learning experience has this year been in handling different aspects of the game?
COLE HAMELS: You know, I think I learned a little bit more last year, just because I lost more. And I think for myself, I learn more when I lose. You know, when you fail, you learn more with failures. You know I think this year was big on trying to keep yourself in shape, going through that long grind. That was a big point.
Also, you know, having the All Star Game, that was different. There's a learning experience there with just the type of players that you're around, and I think, you know, having Jamie and a couple of the other veteran pitchers, they are able to help you out with how to prepare yourself for each game. They do give you a few good pointers on what teams and what type of hitters, and just any little point that they can help you, because in baseball, inches go a mile.
Can you talk about the impact of playing in two hitter friendly ballparks?
CHASE UTLEY: For me personally, I think it's a great thing. (Laughter.)
You know, a lot of parks nowadays are hitter friendly. Obviously Colorado is a lot bigger than here, the ball carries better, more hits in Colorado than I think here because the ground out there that you have to cover. So two good offenses are going against two good pitching staffs. So, it's going to be exciting. I don't think the ballparks are really going to play too much of a factor.
COLE HAMELS: I guess you know, for myself, I'm not really pitching in Colorado so I don't have to deal with it. But I'm going to stick with the pitchers and try to give every little pointer I can, just because I'm pitching in the first game, I can help them out for Games 2, 3, and 4 with what I saw, and I know with the big ballpark, not everybody is going to throw a no hit shutout, you just try to keep the hits, you know, minimal but at least going in the right direction towards our outfielders.
This town has waited so long for playoffs, and you get the start; what does that mean to you personally, and what do you think this place will be like 24 hours from now?
COLE HAMELS: I think it's going to be very exciting, just trying to go out there and play, you know, the other day on Friday, I think that was more of an important start for me anyway, because I think getting there is a lot bigger baggage than right now at the moment, because everybody is stressing out not getting there in 14 years, nobody thought about what you would do on day one of the postseason just because they wanted to get there.
So I think that was a little more purposeful. But just being able to go out there and have the confidence in the players that they want me to go out and start Game 1, because they see that I can make the difference. You know, it's big, and it gives me that extra confidence to go out and succeed. But I obviously wouldn't be here if it wasn't for the offense that we have.
How much do the Rockies remind you of the Phillies? Both teams closed with a rush and both are primarily offensive teams and both are relatively inexperienced as far as playoffs.
CHARLIE MANUEL: Offense is definitely a lot of similarities and also personnel wise. I look at the one thing that we've got, both Rockies play very good defense, they have all season, and you know, we definitely can catch the ball. And I look at it, I think we've got a little bit more speed, especially with Jimmy Rollins' victory and Bourn and Utley, that gives us a little bit more speed. (Laughter.)
But at the same time, we've got to get that speed on base. I think the pitchers come into play, and we are very similar in the fact that they have two real young starters in their rotation, too. The guy pitching for them tomorrow, he's one of their big pitchers, and Cole is going for us. I like Cole's last game. If he can give us that same effort, we're going to win. (Laughing) No, just kidding.
I think we're definitely ready for him but you're right, very strong similarity. If you're not careful, either one of these teams can put some runs on you in a hurry, and that can dictate the game.
Do you have any comfort that they don't have much more postseason experience than you do?
CHARLIE MANUEL: This is our first trip in a long time, 14 careers or something, so I think the experience is going to be about even. But we have some guys on our team like Rowand and Jamie Moyer and Jose Mesa, we have some guys and Alfonseca, I'll probably miss somebody, but I look our guys and you look at their team, I'm sure they have got some guys, too.
Talking to Jamie Moyer, we asked him if you would come to him and say things, and he said no, but there may be a conversation or two; will you talk with him before the playoff games?
COLE HAMELS: I don't think so, not right now, everybody is on pins and needles because they don't note what to do and they want to get to that point and I think maybe further down the line, because the games, there's a little bit more pressure, a little bit more attention on the games. I think just with the way that I've been able to go out there this season and play, I think he has enough confidence in me that he doesn't really need to say much.
I know every once in a while, I will go to him in the dugout and ask him what he saw or maybe there's a few pointers here, and he'll suggest something, but most of the time he says don't do it now, do it the next time. (Laughter.)
What has impressed you the most about Cole this year?
CHARLIE MANUEL: First of all, I think when Cole is good, like when the game starts, it's an early, got to feel it out process, and the more, the better, the sharper he is, especially with his command, all of a sudden when he gets going, that's when he really gets good and I think he keeps his composure good and I think it's very important, his makeup and how he goes about his business, it's definitely part of his pitching. He has tremendous ability. He's got three real good pitches. I think his command, like almost any other pitcher, plays a big role in it. And also I think his style of pitching is smooth, easy, looks like it comes easy for him, and that's when he gets on a roll.
He can strike people out, but at the same time, he can also be what I call a pitcher. But I think his composure is always pretty good, and he seems like he definitely wants to be there. He gets a little feisty sometimes when you take him out of a game, but that's okay. Some lady told me yesterday that we had a love/hate relationship. I told her, "He can hate me all he wants." I told the lady, I said, "I love him, he can hate me all he wants, as long as he wins." (Chuckling) That's kind of how I look at it.
He's good, and he's going to get better, too. He has the chance to be a real big Major League pitcher.
Cole, since you came back, it seems like you've thrown a few more curveballs and a few less changeups in all kind of different situations. Is that something that you think will continue and what led to that decision?
COLE HAMELS: I think it will continue, and just with everything that happened this year and what I learned, a lot of the guys didn't hit the changeup in the middle of the year and in the summer guys were looking for it and I wasn't getting those strikeouts and those ground outs that I want to, just those blooper hits, they can add on and can be runs.
For me to succeed and obviously keep my pitch count down, I have to get some outs and keep them off balance I guess. So you know, it's just something that with throwing it and what I saw last game and the game before, I actually realized what a powerful pitch a third pitch can be.
So I'm just going to have to keep fighting for it because I know sometimes I'm not going to always have it and you just have to keep throwing it because it does make the face ball and changeup just that much better.
At any point when you were working out in the off season, did you ever talk about the fact that one day one of you could keep the other guy from having a shot at the World Series, and how do you balance that friendship versus competitiveness?
CHASE UTLEY: I think it's pretty easy to balance it. On the field, I want to win and imagine he wants the same thing.
As far as talking about the World Series, we used to just talk about trying to get to the big leagues. Obviously now we're here and we've been fairly successful. No, we haven't really talked about playoffs together. Maybe tonight I'll take him to dinner and talk about it a little bit. Try to drug him maybe. (Laughter.)
How has your hand been coming and do you feel like it's a hundred percent, and when did it reach that point?
CHASE UTLEY: From day one, my hand's felt great, in that first game against the Mets, I haven't had any problems since then at all. It doesn't look that great but it feels fine. The strength is there. It's just a battle now.
Are you going to stick with the protective
CHASE UTLEY: Yeah, I still have the pin in there, but I will stick with the padding just to ease my mind a little bit.
Shane's been getting down the stretch here and you did play Jason Saturday against a left hander, are you going to stick with that platoon through Games 1 and 2?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Tonight I'll think about our lineup. Also, we've had, like I said, we've had some success against Francis and we will definitely -- I'll definitely -- I'll probably write out lineups tonight.
And the one that's been successful, that's more than likely the one I'll land on and we'll go from there. But you never know until I come to the ballpark.
Cole, did you watch the San Diego/Colorado game last night, and is there a point where you're going through the San Diego lineup and thought you were going to face them, and talk about mind set as you were watching that game.
COLE HAMELS: I went to a movie last night anyway because I didn't really want to watch it. But I did come in from the movie and see the 8th and 9th and I was really only focused on left-handed hitters, because I don't really see that too often. When you don't really see it, you need that sort of experience to be able to get through them.
So I just watched what type of left-handed hitters I would face. Definitely I think I watched just they brought in their lefties pitching, seeing what pitches they threw at different times in the count. I think in the post season every inning is big time. You just have to kind of look at it a little bit, and I did, and fortunately I think I picked up a few clues on what I'll be able to do tomorrow.
How closely have you been able to watch what Colorado has done over the last couple of weeks and how surprised are you they were able to sneak in?
CHARLIE MANUEL: First of all what did they win, 14 out of 15? The game we pitched the other day is the one they lost.
I followed them, especially when the Dodgers were playing them. Dodgers played so many young kids and stuff and I kind of...I didn't really...what I want to say, they didn't really catch my eye a whole lot. But I watched every game they played mostly and they are a good team. Like I just got through saying, they are very similar to us and they have a big offense.
Basically, pretty much even. Matter of fact, I think all of the teams in the National League are pretty close to being even. And the ones that play the best baseball and the ones that pitches and catches the ball, that's the team more than likely is going to win, hopefully it's going to be us.
Cole, you mentioned the 14 years that Philadelphia has not won anything. In this season, and the celebration that you saw yesterday, do both of you think that the players now better understand the city and the frustration that they are going through?
COLE HAMELS: I think we understood the frustration they were going through every time we lost. (Laughter.) So I don't think it's anything new to us. Ever since I've been here, I've noticed some of the frustration.
But you do notice the excitement. I know at this point last year when we were battling to the very end, I could tell the excitement level that we had and so ever since this year, I think they had a little bit more excitement in them, just because I think they believed a little bit more.
You know, it's a nice feeling just to have them supporting us because they can help out a lot. For myself, I love being able to go out there with a sellout crowd on their feet. That's baseball. You know, when you're dreaming of making the Major Leagues, you dream of a sellout; you don't dream of maybe 20,000 fans booing you.
But it's going to be something, you know, spectacular. I know everybody's been talking about it as the days have been going on, and you can see it in the streets and the signs that they have when you drive home. You know, I think after tomorrow, it will definitely put everybody in a very good place on where they see our future, even though we kind of see it going all the way to the World Series.
CHASE UTLEY: Good answer. (Laughter.)
Can you talk about the importance of situational hitting and being able to manufacture runs in the postseason?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Situational hitting is big in every game you play. And of course it's big in post season. And when we can manufacture runs, that's where our speed on the bases definitely comes into play. I think that definitely helps us. Any time you play the game right, and right is moving the runners and always putting them in position where you can score the most in the easiest possible way.
Fundamental part of baseball, that's how you play the game and that definitely counts. Now, the team that makes some mistakes and the other team if they capitalize it or wins the game, that's what most of the times when we come here and talk, that's the first thing that pop up. Somebody will ask you about your fundamentals or why your defense broke down and what you're going to do about fixing it and all that stuff. When you get back to it, execution is the name of the game, and the team that executes is usually the team that wins.
This is a hitter's park, but will cooler temperatures in October negate that a little bit?
COLE HAMELS: I hope.
CHARLIE MANUEL: I'll let Chase answer it first. He's a hitter and he's the guy that hits the ball, and a lot of times when you hit the ball, you have a gauge on how far it's going to go and whether it has enough or whatever. I'll let him talk about that.
CHASE UTLEY: When it cools down a little bit, obviously the ball doesn't travel as well. I think it's a little bit more difficult to hit in colder weather, I imagine a lot of hitters will tell you the same thing. But again, both teams have to deal with it and we both have to battle through it. So in my mind, it's not really a factor because you both have to deal with it. So we're in the shadows, nothing you can do about it, so it's a clear playing field.
Charlie mentioned your composure, and it is remarkable; do you ever get nervous? Do you have butterflies going into this?
COLE HAMELS: Oh, man, I think it depends on...I guess the situation. I know last Friday, I had some nervous feelings waking up. I don't get it a few days beforehand, it's usually the day of. But the moment I throw my first pitch, my warmup pitch, it instantly disappears. And it's that comfort level, you get into that sort of zone that everybody talks about.
And you want to get into that from the first pitch on because if you throw a couple of balls, you can definitely get rattled a little bit. I think definitely the main thing for myself is, you know, it's always that day, it's never been a couple days before or anything.
What movie did you go see?
COLE HAMELS: Oh, "Good Luck Chuck." It wasn't that great. (Laughter.) He didn't wish me luck.
CHARLIE MANUEL: Imagine that. (Laughter.)
Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports.
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