10/11/07 5:37 PM ET
Melvin pregame interview
D-backs manager talks about NLCS pitching prior to Game 1
By / MLB.com
BOB MELVIN: He can be -- he can rope a dopey a little bit. But I think it works for him. At times during the season he's very aware of it, first of all, but based on experiences in the past with his mechanics and so forth, he has to be a little bit methodical.
Our guys know it. They're a little bit used to it now. I think sometimes the hitters can even get roped a doped a little bit. But it's something that he's come to terms with. He tries to be better about it at times especially when his command is good. Yet it's part of what you get when Doug Davis is out there on the mound.
What has been the key this season with Valverde compared to years past?
BOB MELVIN: Well, one, health. He's had a full season, full healthy season. Two, the fact that last year it became a little tougher in that he started out with the closer's role ended up in the Minor Leagues, had to fight his way back to that closer's role.
I think he's better about recovering from a blown save where in years past I think it took him a little while to get over that. And this year hadn't missed a beat. He lets it go, moves on. Back out the next day with the same type of emotion.
So both those things, I think, enable him to be the type of pitcher he is this year.
I think some people talked about this a little bit yesterday, but both teams are so young. I know you want to speak to your team, but is there a fear that these guys are going to wake up and say, my God, we're in the playoffs, we may be a veteran team? Or have they already realized it by now?
BOB MELVIN: You know what, we've gone through enough trials and tribulations this year. You know, the urgency of the pennant race at the end. We've been through a first series. So everybody knows what we're in and what we're up against right now.
I think we've been pretty good at trying to just keep our focus from day to day. And I know that sounds cliché, but series day to day pitch to a pitch and bat to bat and move on the next day try to do the same thing. As long as we continue to do that I don't think we get too far out there as far as distractions and so forth going.
So I think if this was the first series in the post season, you know, let's wait and see. But I think they've been around it enough to know that if we keep our mind set we should continue to play to a high level.
Diamondbacks or is the Rockies lineup better with Taveras in it and what he brings to the Rockies lineup?
BOB MELVIN: Gives you speed. Depends on how he's swinging, how Spilborghs is swinging. Both guys have done good things for him this year. I think based on the numbers and trying to run a little bit, I think Taveras is 7 for 17 off Webb, Matsui, the two of them at the top of the lineup give them the speed and all of a Sunday they've got the boppers coming in behind it.
So I would say it gives them different options based on the starting pitcher on how to play it. It gives them a little more speed with Taveras obviously, maybe a little more power with Spilborghs.
So they can play it any different way. I think one of the reasons to bring him back, obviously was the success off Webb and try to run a little bit. So they're both good players.
With your closer, how much are the theatrics instrumental to his success? I mean, if you remove --
BOB MELVIN: That's up for debate. He's never demonstrative in a negative way. It's always a positive way and it's always about him. It's not about showing anybody up.
The emotion to an extent he needs. We've talked about it over the course of the last couple of years, how much he needs. How much he doesn't. Where the fine line is.
But he's a very emotional guy and it works for him out there on the mound. So he's not trying to show anybody up. He's just trying to pump himself up. And it's worked for him. Hopefully we found a balance where he's not trying to show anybody up. The other team doesn't think he's showing them up yet there's some emotion in his game and he needs some of it.
Does your team ever joke around or mention anything about the fact that nationally it seems to be an anonymous group of players that a lot of common fans might not know very many of your players?
BOB MELVIN: A little bit. I don't hear too much about it. I think it's written more here as of late based on a lot of the things you said. And it's not like we got a bunch of household names sitting in our lineup. We have Brandon Webb, a Cy Young winner last year. And we have to prove ourselves as a group. We feel like we're doing that this year.
But I can understand where teams don't know a whole lot about us, one, based -- we're out here on the West Coast, and, two, we don't have a lot of the names that like Todd Helton and so forth in our lineup. And we're working on this year trying to make a name for ourselves as a team.
Starting pitchers in this series pitching at this level for the first time, other than Livan. Does this experience really help them that much once the first pitch is thrown or is it kind of just --
BOB MELVIN: Livan or the rest of the staff?
Livan. Does it help him that much once --
BOB MELVIN: He's going to pitch the same whether it's in December in Florida somewhere or it's the first game of the season, last game of the season, post season. When you sign on with Livan, you sign on for a certain style.
And he's not going to alter that. He does his thing. So you know he's pitched in post season before. He's won a World Series MVP before.
He's got good numbers. He's the one guy that we have that has been there and done that. And I think we rely on him to kind of share some of his experience, and lead by example when he goes out there.
He's worked out of many, many jams this year. He did it in Chicago any number of times again. So like I said, when he's out there, typically there are going to be some guys on bases and he's going to pitch his way out of jams.
And I think some of the tenacity and belief in himself that he's going to get through these things to an extent does rub off on our group. When he did get the double play in the fifth inning against Chicago, it was almost the same reaction we had when Chris Young led the game off the home run.
So he does bring experience, something that we don't have a lot of here.
Two questions on kind of more of a personal note. The first one is how much was Roger Craig an influence to you as a manager?
BOB MELVIN: He was a big influence on me. He was the first manager that I was ever around that was -- his basis was positive. Everything was positive.
And to that I take a lot from him. I try to be positive with the group. There's times obviously when you have to do things a little bit differently.
But I think the fact that, you know, the manager has a belief in you and it's positive whether you're winning or losing and believes in you goes a long way over the course of 162 with the players. And I did take that from Roger.
When you finished your playing career, you had some interests out of baseball, job interests, business interests out of baseball. Why did you decide ultimately to take the step away from that and toward kind of the long grind to come up through the Minor League coaching system toward managing?
BOB MELVIN: It's in your blood. You find that out. And there was -- when I was playing especially toward the end of my career, my name would come up with future potential managers and so forth.
I think based on the managers that I played for, you know, they would bring my name up. Yet, I really didn't think too much about it until I was out and quit playing. Phil Garner was a big influence on getting me back in and kind of take me down the path that he thought I might have in coming years.
And I really didn't think about it as much as he did. So you find out it's in your blood. Once I got back into it, Sal Bando and Phil Garner were very good to me, instrumental to me in my career in Milwaukee and moving me up quickly and teaching me the ropes.
So once I got back in it and realized there's nothing like being in uniform on the field during a game, you know, it's something that I wanted to do. And I really didn't know it until I got back in and were around people like that.
Apparently it's going to be a sell out tonight. A lot's been made about that locally. Does it matter to you and your guys?
BOB MELVIN: Well, I mean, you'd always like to see a full house. But we've played in less than full houses here this year. The last series was phenomenal against the Cubs. I think leading into last week of the season, it was real good, too. So they loved the atmosphere of our fans being behind us, whether it takes 2,000 more, you know, in a sell out situation or not, I don't think really makes a difference.
I think we've, especially the last couple of weeks, really felt like our fans have been behind us and that's mattered. I don't think 2-, 3,000 people, whether it's a sell out or almost a sell out is going to make that big of a difference to us.
Obviously both these organizations have stressed player development. Is it a coincidence or no coincidence at all that you're relatively small markets tucked out here in the West and maybe you don't face some of the pressures that the Yankees and some of the mega market clubs face, that you're able to do this, whereas maybe the Yankees would have to plug some holes that you used to have with free agents?
BOB MELVIN: It's a Catch 22. I think we have to do it. I mean, financially where our organization is, we've kind of had to do it. Payroll has been reduced significantly since the last playoff days here in '01 and 2002. I think we may be a little less than half where we were. The roster we're running out there right now I don't think maybe a third of where we were.
So it's, one, by design. Two, out of necessity.
But it also works well for us that we do have a lot of good young players in the system, and a lot of them are timing wise, have come up together, a lot of them won the AAA championship last year, were all ready for the Big Leagues this season. I think it's a combination of those things. Maybe we don't have the pressures of some of the East Coast teams do, but I don't think we have some of the financial resources those teams do as well.
Any point in your career you've been around a guy who is as placid as Stephen Drew and did you think his approach would work at this level?
BOB MELVIN: No, I was always very confident in Stephen Drew. A lot of times, at least when I came up, some of the groups, whether it's managers, players, talk about the highs and lows of a 162 game season how the best players are able to not get too high and get too low. He certainly is one of those guys.
But he's got a passion that burns in there that I think you don't see on the surface. He can get a little bit upset at times he doesn't show it when he's out there on the field. He's been frustrated at points this year whether it's hitting three or four balls in the game getting nothing to show for it whether it's getting a bad call or whatever.
So I think he's going to be a better player for what happened to him this season and having to persevere through it and keep grinding and grinding through it. I think he's going to be tougher for it. But he's a very, very talented player. And I think that's certainly shown up the last couple of weeks and so far here in the post season.
So I think his style of play works very, very well for him, and I think a lot of players could be better if they stayed away from the highs and lows like he does.
Your name has come up a little bit for Manager of the Year. Would you put Clint Hurdle in that group as well?
BOB MELVIN: I don't think there's any doubt. Those things take care of themselves. I don't think any manager gets too focused on awards right now. I think that when those things do, when and if they do happen, it becomes a team award.
It's about the players. We have good players here. And they've played well this year. So when you play well, some of those things pop up.
But no question in my mind if you're throwing names together Clint Hurdle has to be in those.
Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.