10/12/07 8:07 PM ET
Clint Hurdle pregame interview
Rockies' manager sees similar paths of NLCS teams
By / MLB.com
CLINT HURDLE:Well, I was fortunate enough as a player to play for a number of good managers. And I just think I've tried to pay attention and maybe pick up a couple of things from each and every one of them, from Whitey to Jim Frey, Davey Johnson, played for Johnny McNamara. So I wouldn't say there's one in particular. I think what I've tried to pick are highlights and strengths of major aspects based on the kind of talent you have on your club. Whether you've got a speed game, pitching defense. Power, slug team, things like that. So there's been a number of people that I've been fortunate enough to learn from.
When Brian Fuentes went through that difficult stretch where he blew those saves in late June and you ended up making a change there, how did he handle that, and a couple of players said he was very professional about it. Did it contribute to the success of your bullpen going forward the way he handled it?
CLINT HURDLE:Without a doubt. No distraction. We had a conversation on the road when things weren't going well, and I told him just keep battling. These things happen from time to time. You've been our guy, and of course the road trip continued to go in the vein it did. At the end I pulled him in and said, I'm going to make a change and just ask you to move up. We're going to back you off. We're going to put Corpas in that role and we'll get you back in place. When you get set and you get your weapons back, you'll be throwing the 8th inning and kind of got him back in that line, and he was a pro through it all. It could not have been easy. I have no understanding what a closer can experience when they aren't able to close or the things don't go their way. But he was a pro. He took accountability and responsibility. He shouldered it. And since he's come back, he's been a big part down there, not just pitching the 8th inning but his interaction with everybody else.
No game tomorrow, obviously, just wondering if you're going to take your daughter to Starbucks?
CLINT HURDLE:Saturday (smiling). There's no options. It's Madi day Saturday, we'll be going, rolling in there.
Has it struck you the similar paths these two franchises have traveled? Both way ahead of the curve in the early days of the franchise and then had financial issues, upside down, had to scale back, commit to youth. And now here you are two meeting to play for the pennant?
CLINT HURDLE:There is a lot of common fabric with the exception that they've had more success than us. They've been able to get to some places that we've wanted to get to. They've already achieved some of that. But on that other note that you touched on, Jim, there's a lot there. And whether it was out of necessity or there was no other reason or it was what it was. They made some hard decisions. They let some veteran players go. They retooled with a strong nucleus of young players. We've done the same thing. And ours was I think more out of necessity than anything else. And once we put it in play we both have followed through. We've both backed up our young players with patience. And our scouting department continues to do a good job in having another wave of coming as theirs has, because I've been in the instruction League in the past five years. Looks like this year I won't be going to the instruction League for the first time since I've been the manager. I've been able to watch our young players play that not a lot of people see. And I've been able to watch the Diamondbacks players that not a lot of people see. We're both in good places as far as scouting development and player development.
You talked yesterday about Matt Herges, but from a stuff standpoint and his approach standpoint, the difference you see between him now and when you saw him struggling as an opponent when he was in his last days at San Francisco and in Florida and those places? CLINT HURDLE: Well, I've been fortunate. I've seen Matty from the start of his career until now. And a power guy early. Top shelf fastball. Hard breaking ball. Occasional changeup. And I just think he went through a period that a lot of pitchers do, they're just trying to find out who they are. Maybe they lose a couple of miles off their fastball they still have a power mentality. Breaking ball isn't as sharp. Matty went through it a little bit. He attributes it to the altitude, not taking it for granted he's got the snap off pitches and finish pitches and now he's a command guy that can get a fastball in on your hands, paint the way, go down, go up and mix in some soft stuff to control some bat speed.
You've had a great rookie season so you know what it's like to put up numbers. But to really command a team like Troy has done so far, what has it taken personality wise from him and have you ever seen anybody take over so quickly in a leadership role?
CLINT HURDLE: You must have my career mixed up with somebody else's (Laughter). I've heard in my rookie year a lot of adjectives, but great is not one of them. So thank you very much. That means nothing (Laughter). That's before you play your rookie season. Troy has been very special in the fact that he's accomplished -- the statistical numbers are impressive. And if you really want to crunch them, the statistical numbers defensively are so impressive. The volume of games played are so impressive. And then you just throw in the fact the way he shows up, how he shows up, the interaction on the mound, the interaction with the outfielders, making sure they know what time it is and what's going on. He's just really embraced the game and embraced the leadership role that has made us a better club. So I've never seen this type of performance from a -- I've watched it outside. I was young and watched Freddy Lynn and Jim Rice play as far as numbers go, and their rookie seasons were pretty special. Something like that. As far as being involved with it, no, nothing like this have I experienced before, seen a young player, rookie player make this type of impact.
You talked earlier about going to the instructional League. How more well rounded of a manager are you from the time you started and how helpful has it been to go down and watch these kids especially now you're handling a young team right now?
CLINT HURDLE:Well, it's helpful for a number of reasons. And it's something that I can remember Whitey Herzog doing when I was in the instruction League. I know the impact it had upon me that the Major League manager came down and spent a couple of days. I couldn't believe it. Well, not that -- I just thought I'd go down and I started going down I go down for five days. I get in uniform. People in the Diamondbacks will tell you sometimes they coached first. I bat boyed. I want to let the people working the program know how important that program is from my viewpoint and what better statement can you make by showing up and being a part of it. So then it gives you the value of seeing your coaches that are down there. Our Latin coaches that are involved. Our lower A ball coaches, rookie ball coaches, what they're doing, how they're doing it. Letting them know they have value. And seeing players you don't get to see a lot of. So I mentioned to somebody maybe a week or so ago. I was in the outfield one day talking to Ubaldo. I said remember two years ago in instruction League, you were there, Franklin was there, Tulowitzki was there, Koshansky. We had five or six guys I would sit down and talk to. I mean there's value to it. And it's made me better. There's no doubt about that. As far as having appreciation and making sure other people know how important I value their time and energy.
Brad Hawpe played on a state high school champion in Texas, a national champ at LSU, a champion at Carolina League, is there a certain trait you can associate with winning or is that just a coincidence?
CLINT HURDLE:It keeps happening. I don't know how coincidental it can be. He has a lot of strengths in his character, which can lead you to say it's not all coincidence. He has supreme confidence. He has a lot of confidence. He's been through some trying time and adversity. He was hurt his first year putting together a pretty good campaign and went down, six weeks on the DL. Had to come back, get involved. Saw some other guys play. Maybe get in front of him a little bit. The challenge going to the outfield. He's handled very well. Becoming a part of this nucleus has been a challenge and he's held up his end so very well. Offensive side of the ball, the splits were very drastic, right hand and left handed. He hit left handers from Little League through high school and college. He's gotten that back on track. Any challenge coming from him he's been able to find a way to meet.
With the stoppage last night in the 7th how did you think the umpires handled the situation and was there anything differently that could have been done to have prevented it from escalating there?
CLINT HURDLE:I don't think second guessing the umpires before Game 2 would be on top of my to do list today (Laughter). I thought they handled it professionally. The thing happened. The play happened and then the crowd reaction happened and they gave it a little time and we're trying to get it working, and it wasn't working and the water bottles are flying on the field. I was headed out to talk to Jimmy because they kept coming and Jimmy was coming and talking to me, we were both of the same mind set, let's get it off the field and make sure the fans heard the announcement. So everybody understood where we were and what we needed to do next. They gave it a short period of time, slowed it down and Tim came over and told me we were going to crank it back up. I said that's good because we wanted to play we don't want to stay down any longer than we were. They held it just perfect.
Can you talk about Jeff Salazar the guy who has been in the organization for several years, didn't work out for you guys earlier this year. Now he's with Arizona. Can you talk about why it didn't work out for you guys with him and also how pleased you are to see him making it here with Arizona?
CLINT HURDLE:Well, everybody's happy for Jeff. Jeff was an important part of our organization coming up through the Minor Leagues. He had done some good things. He was an exciting player. Ran into some injuries. We started to get into a log jam of outfielders, one of those situations as your organization develops and gets better, you add people to your 40 man roster every once in a while you have to take a guy off, whether you sneak him through or get him by for a couple days. We took him off and there's some people over here that were aware of his skills. They grabbed him. He's fit in wonderfully for this ball club. And we're happy for him. So good for him. I mean, he's kept playing, and it's a nice story. He's got a lot of friends over here that still stay in touch with him. I'm just happy to see guys stay after it, get other opportunities. That's one of the things we do strive. It doesn't happen here, play well because you never know where it might happen.
You had another strong defensive performance last night as you have in the post season, regular season. How much do you just drill defense from day one in spring training and how much has to evolve during the season as guys get comfortable?
CLINT HURDLE:Well, as far as drilling, I mean, we just make sure they understand the importance of it. We started in '06 making sure they understood the importance of it's something that can show up every day. Sometimes your swing comes and goes or your ability to throw strikes can come and go. It's a challenge defensively, but you can bring it every day. And regardless if you're hitting .220 or .320, you need to separate the ball. You don't play offense when you're on defense. Our guys responded to it very well. I've got Mike Gallego, has stayed on him with it. They're more in tune with their defensive positioning, checking charts during the games. Outfielders are doing the same thing. Glenallen Hill doesn't have to be watching every pitch and moving guys moving on their own. Same with the infield. It's a way of life for us and a very important part of what we do.
You've already had two games in the post season and the tie breaker that ended on a controversial play, then last night. I'm wondering generally do you feel these controversial plays make the post season more memorable, years from now you come back and remember those games more than you would if those things didn't happen?
CLINT HURDLE:Any time there's room for discussion, it's always going to heighten the attention of the game or the attention to that particular game. So it's not drawn up. I think the beauty of it is it just happens. You can never tell when it's going to happen or where it's going to happen. That's what makes games special and why you remember them some more than others.
What is it that you hope to get out of flip flopping Hawpe and Tulowitzki into your lineup tonight?
CLINT HURDLE:I think what the plan is that Davis's left handed and Brad splits what they are and two of those splits are what they are. Puts two right handers between the left handers if there's a situation where Bob wants to put Slaten in play, he can pick his left hander to go after it but to go after both of them he'll have to go through two right handers.
Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.