10/15/07 7:55 PM ET
Hurdle pregame interview
Manager credits defense, pitching for late-season success
By / MLB.com
CLINT HURDLE: I did talk to a couple of people. I searched out a couple of people and I got an anonymous phone call from somebody that's done a lot of this that's provided me with some very good information, somebody I respect.
And that helped along the way. I was going to search some people out because, as you said, it's new territory for myself. I've experienced it to some degree as a player. But not as a manager.
So our club is very aware, our club has shown a lot of poise. Our club is having fun. And that basically comes because just the guys we have. That's not a reflection of the manager. That's not a reflection, I don't think, of anything other than very good upbringing by these young men. Whether it by their parents or them. I'm very proud of them so far. And I will be throughout.
The Rockies are known so long for their offense. You're winning in the postseason the way teams almost did with pitching and defense. Could you just talk about how your team's evolved to get better in those areas and how much it's meant to this team?
CLINT HURDLE: There was a point in time we had that discussion internally, and I stood by the statement that you build a good offensive team, you'll send a lot of players to the All-Star game. You want to win late and play late, you need to have a team that can pitch and a team that can play defense. That wins championships. All you've got to do is pick up the old books and read.
And we just kind of got the mind set that internally we were going to try and get our scouts to find those guys, our player development people to work with those guys and hopefully we could get them up here and finish them off.
And the plan was put in place, and it's taking patience and it didn't work right away. But obviously now we've got some good things in place, and we don't feel like this is just a one time thing. We feel like we're establishing a foundation for years to come.
Sort of along the same lines, a lot of teams draft players who are good pitchers, good fielders, at their level and it doesn't pan out. Is there something about your organizational philosophy in scouting or just the quality of the people that you have in the scouting and player development department that sort of led you to this really good core of young players that we've been seeing today?
CLINT HURDLE: Well, I think one of the biggest steps we were able to make in a forward fashion was in Latin America in Orlando Fernandez who was given the ability to take charge of that program. Billy Schmidt helped put that in place, and he's been able to put a network together of people that have really stepped up and have been able to gain the respect of the players and the families of the people there, and also there's some tangible evidence that Colorado is a good place to go.
But as far as the scouting philosophy, Billy Schmidt has put together a good group of people. They've taken some chances. Marc Gustafson, player development people, they've done a good job at what they need to do. It's been hand in hand. It's been without ego and just been people all trying to get the mind set of getting this thing right, because we've gone too long and we wanted to get a team out there that's representative and the fans can appreciate.
Knowing that teams make their own breaks, did you guys catch a sliver of a break when Arizona clinch of two games to go and pulled back those last two games here?
CLINT HURDLE: You know, I never have gotten deep in thought about how it's all worked out. I don't have time for it right now.
I don't know. I guess it depends on what you look for. If you're looking for angles, you could look at that one. We're just looking to win ball games. That's all we've been looking to. That's all we've been focused on. So I haven't given that any thought. I don't think it's the proper time for me to start right now.
We hear a lot about players carrying teams in October and all that kind of stuff. You've had Torrealba with a big hit, Taveras with a big game, even Jeff Baker and Jamey Carroll with really big hits. Is there anybody in your clubhouse that hasn't had some sort of contribution and is that kind of stunning that it goes that deep to that level?
CLINT HURDLE: I don't think there's anybody in there that's not contributed. I don't think there's anybody in there that hasn't brought a contribution to the table. (Laughter) and I mean that. From top to bottom. Everybody, we have brought in play -- Ramon Ortiz might have thrown one 1-2-3 while he was here, and it happened to be the 13th inning against the Padres after we already dropped two runs down.
So that has been something that they're aware of, they count on, and they know going in they can beat anybody, you know? And they prepare that way.
I'm sure you're aware now you're the second team in history to win your first sixpost season games. You were in a roll the last two and a half weeks of the season, but did that come back up against Trevor Hoffman in the playing game, taking it to a different level for him? CLINT HURDLE: Any time -- that's going to be a remarkable game to sit and watch this winter, I'm sure, at some point in time. Trevor Hoffman is an elite closer, a Hall of Fame guy. That game unfolded the way it did. You just go, wow, we're onto something special here. I think we all felt that way.
We had faced him so many times and he shut us down so many times, but we had gotten him on occasion also. So it wasn't the first time. But that definitely -- it's just kind of like it's another -- you're walking around and you keep finding things. Something to hold onto and something to keep you pumped up and heading in the right direction.
Six games into the postseason, have you found that as a manager you have more of an impact on the games than you thought you would or less or how would you assess the impact that you've had so far six games in?
CLINT HURDLE: I haven't given that any thought. My focus is it's not about me. There's points in times of the game where I have to make decisions because I'm the manager and I try to make the best one for the ball club at the time.
And as I've said throughout the season, every decision I made seemed like a good decision at the time; three or four pitches later it might turn out differently.
I think you have to -- you make a decision and you move forward. And when guys pitch well and hitters hit, it obviously has a lot more compatibility to it.
But it's not about me. They're playing. They're making pitches. And I haven't given that significant thought one way or the other. I'm well aware of the fact that good decisions are based on players playing well. And when you make a decision that doesn't work, you wear that responsibility and that's your accountability. I'm aware of that.
This team's on a 20-1 ride here. But the '77 team you were on had a similar stretch. Are there any similarities between this team and that team, or any differences that stand up?
CLINT HURDLE: I joined that club late into the run, so it wasn't as meaningful to me as it probably was to the players that were in place. So it doesn't add the same significance. I knew something special was going on by the way they were reacting and acting. And it was a special team at the time.
But, no, this is a special moment in the career of every man involved in this. This may never happen again. You look at your history books, how many times has it happened so far? This is one of those things where you get everybody back 10, 20 years down the road and you have a reunion gig, I would think. Who knows.
Clint, I was just wondering about Kaz Matsui, he's done so much for you during this series and throughout the season. Could you talk about his success for you guys and why it might be different here than it was for him earlier in his career with the Mets?
CLINT HURDLE: I think Kaz could speak to the difference between New York and here. All I know is we tried to identify a player that had exciting skills for some needs we had. Speed was one of them, hitability was another, steal a base and play good defense. And we just looked to try and get him in a comfortable situation, whether it be in the locker room, on the playing field. I had a couple sit downs with him, very short, and just told him we wanted him to go out and try and find a relaxed state of play where he didn't feel like he had to play up to anybody else's expectations but his own.
Obviously the environment is much different here. Just based on the number of media people that he might have to talk to or deal with. He has his own entourage that continues to follow him. But obviously we're a club that wasn't getting the focus that a club in New York would get either.
So I think it was just a very good fit at a pivotal time in his career and it's worked out very well.
Do you plan on saying anything or have you said anything to Franklin as he prepares for this start? His 10th Major League start. You've taken all this day-by-day and all these wins, do you plan on telling him anything or just another game?
CLINT HURDLE: No, I don't. The pitching coach will have conversations with him. He's had conversation already with a couple other people that he's close to. So he's ready to pitch. We'll see how he does. We're looking forward to watching him.
You mentioned earlier about how you came as an organization to see the value of pitching and defense. That had been tried, not to much success, at an earlier point in the franchise particularly when they went after some big name free agent pitchers. Given there had been a lack of success that way, when you had internal discussions, were there people in the room who stood up said, no, the way we're going to win is the way we won in '95 by just mashing the ball and we gotta find the new Blake Street Bombers and that's how we'll get back to the playoffs?
CLINT HURDLE: I think if you look deeper in that '95 club, yeah, offensively, very strong ball club, but they had a 17 game winner. They had some starters that gave them some length, and they had an incredible bullpen that carried a very deep, deep amount of innings that year. And also it was a season in which they played a shortage of games. That is a full complement, 162 games. Don Baylor did a great job. It was a big year for us. But I think as we move forward, continue to look at the sliding aspect of it, it just wasn't getting us where we needed to go, neither did the free agent aspect and going out and trying to get that type of pitching.
Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.