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Charlie, you've been preaching all along the importance of taking it one game at a time. Does that get harder now that the goal is right in front of you, one win away?
I don't know, I've been saying it all year. I guess the same thing comes into play every day. Tomorrow's game is a big game. That's what everybody always says.
But that's kind of what's worked for us now for about two and a half years. That's how we go about things. That's what we use and most of our players buy into it, if not all of them. I mean, that's kind of what we go by. We want to make sure that we play the best that we possibly can play on that day, and hard, and of course like we try to win that game. We put everything that we've got into that game.
Jaime, I'm just wondering, how do you account for the turnaround not just this year from last, but from where you were maybe five years ago when you were in Seattle to where you are now and how you've maintained that success?
Make good pitches, let your defense play behind you, and I think our offense speaks for itself. We played pretty consistent baseball during the time I've been here in Philadelphia, and we've played together as a team, when we've been winning and when we've been losing. We've had some rough stretches since August of '06 since I've been here, but we've had a lot of good stretches.
I think we believe in each other, and for me personally, I try to keep things as simple as possible. This is a hard enough game, and I respect that it's a hard game to do as an individual, but also to compete against the opponents who are professionals themselves, trying to attain their own goals and tasks. I've learned over the course of my career, if you can focus on what's important for you as an individual and what you can bring to a team, I think that's really important, and that's really what I try to focus on.
If I find myself leaning away from it, I try to catch myself and put myself back into that state of saying, you know what, let's worry about the next pitch and the next pitch only, or next game, or my bullpen or my workout day, whatever is ahead of me. That's the only thing I try to concern myself with.
Along those lines, what makes Jaime such an effective pitcher at this point in his career?
You know, Jaime just -- if you listen to him, basically he touched on about everything, his preparation, his routine, and all that. It all comes into play. But the biggest thing about Jaime is I'd say it's about what every guy strives for, consistency.
I mean, he's very consistent. He knows what he's doing. He's a pitcher. Other than that, he's a damned good pitcher, and he does whatever he can to keep his team in the game, and he takes you to a place in the game that always gives you a chance to win.
He's like everybody else. Every now and then he might give up some runs in an inning or something like that, but like I said, his career -- for a long time, I've seen him pitch for a long time, when he was in the American League and stuff, and he's been very consistent, absolutely tremendous this year.
Jaime, one of the things that we notice if we see you all the time is the damage control portion of your game. The other guys start a rally and somehow either you're able to hold the lead or not give the lead back to them. Is that a career thing, or has that been an evolution for you?
I think it's probably -- it's been an evolution thing and a career thing. Early in my career I couldn't do it. I didn't know how to do it. But I think it's evolved over the course of my career, and I've seen it done by other pitchers.
I think as a younger player, I was always in amazement of guys. I had the good fortune at one point, I want to say it was in '86 when I first came up, and Rick Sutcliffe was with the Cubs, and he had a pretty darned good second half, if I'm not mistaken, when he got traded over from Cleveland.
I had some pretty good mentors over the course of my career, and I'm not just trying to throw names out there, but being around a guy like Nolan Ryan, Charlie Hough. To me it doesn't matter necessarily the style of pitcher, but what do they bring, what kind of personality do they bring to a team? A Mike Mussina, when I played in Baltimore. I played with Fernando Valenzuela a little bit in Baltimore. I know I'm aging myself a little bit, but age doesn't matter at this point. When you see these guys, as a younger player you're amazed at the success they're having, and how do they do it and how do they do it consistently.
I didn't catch on to that early in my career, but as I matured and grew in this game, I think I started to learn some things that maybe I didn't pick up on as a younger player but I remembered watching those things.
All of a sudden when you start to have those successes and you start to understand who you are and what you do and what allows you to have success, you try to focus on that.
You pitched pretty well in the last two NL East clinching games, and I think in your postseason you've had pretty good success, as well. I was wondering if you are able to raise your focus or game day preparation to another level? Do you find yourself being able to do that?
I honestly try not to think of any situation that I'm in, whether it's spring training, regular season or postseason as any different type of a game. I think in spring training you're trying to get your feet underneath you. But to me, trying to get my feet underneath me as quickly as possible and try to put myself into season type of situations, so when I get into the season I feel like I'm mentally and physically prepared for those situations.
Now as I get into the season, when we go from spring training to the season, I feel like I'm a little more prepared because sometimes early in the season you see guys get off to a slow start, and I've had that over the course of my career at times, and I try to stay away from that. I feel like I try to use spring training as a tool to try to prepare myself quickly for the season. As you go through the druthers of the season, the positives and the negatives of the season, you try to build and learn from that. So when you do get into the postseason, you don't try to turn it into something that it's really not. It's still a baseball game. The game tomorrow is no different than the game two months ago or three months ago.
Obviously we're on a bigger stage and it is the playoffs, and I'm not trying to downplay that, but it's still the same game. I still have to pitch. My team still has to play defense, and we still have to swing the bat and we somehow still have to find a way to keep the Brewers at bay.
Is it kind of an advantage for you being an off speed pitcher with the free swinging Brewers? These guys have a tendency sometimes to strike themselves out.
It can play to an advantage, but again, I think going into a game, you don't know what type of adjustments they're going to try to make, and I still have to make my pitches. For me, I'm trying to just read and adjust on the fly as the game goes.
Sitting here today, I can't tell you what kind of stuff I'm going to have tomorrow. I feel good right now, but does that mean I'm going to have a good game tomorrow? I could go out and have a great bullpen tomorrow, pre game, and have nothing in the game, or vice versa.
I try to have an awareness of where I am and what I'm doing in my bullpen, and during the course of the game and try to adjust from there.
For some younger pitchers, like we talked to CC about this, about his struggles trying to close out the Red Sox last year and he said maybe he was a little too amped up and too excitable. What role do you think your maturity plays in your ability to have success in these certain situations?
Well, again, I'm just trying to keep things simple. To me there's no secrets, but I think it's hard to learn that, and I can give you an example. I'll go back: When I played in Baltimore, I don't recall the year the All Star Game was in Baltimore, but I think it was the day before the break or the day going into the All Star break, and there were a lot of people in the clubhouse pre game that were there for the All Star Game, and there was a lot of distraction. I got caught up in all that and really lost focus of what I was really supposed to be doing for that day, and went out and pitched a horrible game. And I'll never forget that because that was a distraction. That was a challenge for me, and I didn't accept that challenge or understand that challenge because of all the distractions.
So what I try to do is stay away from the distraction, or if there is a distraction, realize what that distraction is. And if I have to let it come through, I let it come through and then let it go away and focus on the task that I have that's in front of me.
It's human nature obviously to think ahead. You've never been to the World Series. How hard is it to kind of focus in that regard and not look at how close you are to getting there?
I don't find it difficult at all, because number one, I haven't been there, so I don't know what that excitement is, I don't know what that feeling is. If we don't win tomorrow, or win this series, I'll never know. So to me, the focus is on tomorrow. Hopefully we can win, and then if we do win or we're fortunate enough to win this series, we still have another series before we would even be able to get to a World Series.
To me, yeah, that World Series would be great to get to. I would enjoy it. I think every one of my teammates would, as well. But if we lose focus of that and start thinking about the World Series when we're not even out of the first series here, it can make things very difficult.
Jaime, you've got an opportunity to do something tomorrow that very few players your age have ever gotten to. How much does it mean to you to have the chance to pitch games like this at this stage in your career? Have you had a chance to sit back and savor it all?
I probably haven't had any chance to look back because I choose not to take that opportunity to look back at it right now. I feel like I need to take advantage of the moment.
Back to the beginning of your question, this is a great opportunity to pitch, period. And whether it's the postseason or even during the regular season, at 45, I try to respect where I am and the contributions that I can make to a ballclub but also try to respect my teammates and the team across the field.
But ultimately, you know, this is a great opportunity. And to me at this stage it's an honor to come here every day just to put the uniform on, just today to come here to work out. I look at that as a huge honor. But I have to bring some accountability to my team, and I look at that on a daily basis. I feel like I have to do that whether I'm pitching or not. I have to come here and be accountable for who I am and what I do and being a teammate, and I think that's important.
I feel like if I focus on that, the rest takes care of itself.
Charlie, you mentioned yesterday that Jayson Werth was maybe pressing a little bit too much at the plate and you were moving him down. Do you see that in the middle of the lineup right now?
No, I think last night when CC definitely used up all our lefties. I think if you go back and look, he made pitches on our lefties and he pitched to them good. He threw fastballs in, he threw some good breaking balls out away from them, and he pitched them tough. We had other guys step up and do the job for us, and that's kind of what the team is about. That's what every day is about.
This game is hard to explain. As a matter of fact, Jaime and I, I said something to him today, it's hard to explain to someone how you feel on certain days, and it's hard to sit there and tell somebody and it's hard to really explain it to them, like how you feel and what you thought or what you think happens. He's like, yeah, because sometimes it's hard for someone to understand that every day is different, and you look at it every day, and that's why we try to give the best effort we possibly can and play as good on that day as we possibly can, and we try and never get ahead of ourselves.
Really, I look at things, too. When a guy makes his -- if he's in the lineup and he's not hitting and he goes -- I don't get upset when somebody goes, whether he realizes it or not, if he goes 0 for 4 or 0 for 10 or something like that because I look down our lineup, and other guys they got a chance to pick you up, too. That's what team is all about.
Sometimes when you plug somebody into a game, like for instance, Florida is a good example of it, when I took Dobber (Dobbs) out of the game and I put Feliz into the game. And I could have stuck him in the nine hole and, I ended up making a decision to leave him, where Dobber left and he hits a two run home run and things happened in the game.
Guys step up, and that's what the game is all about, and you keep things on an even keel and you've got to have confidence. Just because somebody makes outs, it doesn't bother me a whole lot.
I remember when I was a kid, I used to be a big Dodger fan. If I'm not mistaken, you go back, I don't know what year it was, Gil Hodges, he had a big season, and I want to say he went like 1 for 18 or something in the World Series, and I thought I was going to die (laughter). I couldn't believe that Gil Hodges went 1 for 18 (laughter). When I think about it, and once I became a Major League player or also just a professional player, 1 for 18 is pretty easy to get sometimes. I mean, you can get there real quick (laughter).
But if you panic, you can dig a bigger hole for yourself. It's an everyday game, and you go out there and perform every day. That's what makes Howard a great hitter and that's what makes Utley a great player. And also, that's baseball. If it ever it comes in baseball, and every day is different. Because I didn't get no hits yesterday doesn't mean I'm not going to get any tomorrow.
I think I faced Gil Hodges in that series (laughter).
I wasn't the manager, Jaime.
Jaime, I know you used to carry around an old scouting report. What did it say about you, and what was the motivation behind doing that?
There probably wasn't any motivation. It just happened -- I think it may have been sent to me, to my house, and I think at some point I showed it to somebody a long time ago at the ballpark. And I just happened to put it in my shaving kit, and I've just left it there.
It's come up in conversation a couple times recently. It's nothing to brag about, I know that, because there's nothing -- none of the ink is jumping off the paper on it. I've had a couple people say this year, "Back when you were younger when you threw 88 to 90..." I said, "Wait a minute, I never threw that hard." That's when I pull it out, and I say, "You want me to prove it?" And it's 82, 83.
It more or less just says, you know what, he's got average stuff, he likes to compete, he's learning how to pitch, and you know what, he's left handed, so you never know what can happen (laughter).
How are you a better manager and maybe even better prepared to manage in the postseason than you were even just a short time ago when you took the job with the Phillies?
First of all, I think the players have everything to do with that, and I think how they play makes that happen. But I think that it's kind of -- I think you've got to stay consistent every day, keep it cool and manage the same way. The only difference is maybe handle the pitching staff a little bit different in the postseason. To me you don't let the game get away from you and stuff like that. But at the same time, I think it's just kind of knowing how to run the game and stuff, and also trusting the people around you and the people that I talk to in the dugout and stuff. It's preparation, being ready, who you're playing. Scouting reports definitely help.
But I'll tell you, the biggest thing about it, it's the players, how they play. Like Jimmy Rollins the other day when he slides and turns a double play, it turned out pretty good. That was a hell of a double play. Charlie didn't have nothing to do with that, but I liked the W (laughter).
What role, if any, do you think the change of ballparks will have on the series? It seemed like the home crowd and some of the quirks of the park in Philly helped out a little bit. What do you think will be the impact this time around?
I said the other day about the noise, and after last night's game in Philly we had a lot of noise in that game. But like I said when you close the dome, I think with a sellout crowd, I don't think, I know, the noise can get real, very loud. But I don't think that's going to affect us. If anything, it might motivate us.
I think the guy sitting over here to my left, he's been there a lot of times before. I remember he beat an Indian team that I was managing in the playoffs, and I still remember that real well. I think he's been there, he's got the experience, and I think our team -- I think as far as where we're at, it's no difference. I think he's going to pitch his game in a way that he wants to pitch. I don't see a whole lot of difference.
When you're a hitter and you're in the dugout, do you think hitters think when they watch Jaime pitch, I'll toast that guy, I can hit that guy really well? And does that help his success in your view?
I think, first of all, in the times I've gotten to know Jaime, I've seen him pitch a lot more than he ever probably thinks that I ever did. But the times he's been with Philly now has given me a chance to get to know him, and I understand exactly his success and everything because he knows exactly what he's doing.
I talk a lot about tempo, rhythm, things like that. Jaime has a tremendous feel for pitch. He knows when -- like he knows when to do something, and also he studies the game, he studies every hitter, he knows everything about them, and if he doesn't, he'll sit there and ask all the questions in the world, and he's got all the information how he wants to handle that hitter, and when it comes right down to it, if he makes his pitch, he's going to get that guy out.
If I was hitting against him, I'd look at him and say, yeah, I can get this guy. But then when you walk up there to hit and he starts doing his thing, yeah, okay. (Laughter).
Jaime, you've talked over the years about how Cal Ripken helped you a lot become a better pitcher. I was just wondering what was your motivation for kind of picking his brain, and when did you get in there?
Well, having the good fortune and opportunity to play with Cal, being around him for a couple years, I really saw how he studied the game and worked at his craft as a shortstop. But he always seemed to have an insight with hitters. If you ever went to him and asked him about a particular hitter or situation, he always seemed to have an answer for you.
And there were times, when things were going well and when things weren't going well, where I may have grabbed him on the airplane or grabbed him in the clubhouse and say, hey, you got a minute, and we'd sit down and we'd talk about situations. Or he may add something during a game and say, hey, I think you need to pound this guy in a little bit more, and let's stay away from him and stay soft, and see what he'll do.
I think from his perspective at shortstop, he's seeing the same thing I am. Again, a lot of it was his experience. He had a lot of experience as a shortstop. I respected that. Cal was the first player I ever had come up to me and apologize to me for missing a ball coming off the field one day, and it floored me. I'm thinking, here's Cal Ripken apologizing to me because he didn't get to a ball? He was apologizing because he thought he was out of position. I thought that was pretty cool that he would come up to me and say that. I didn't give it a second thought when it happened, but it left an impression on him that he needed to say something.
I feel like I had a really good rapport with Cal, and he really understood hitting and hitters. So it was really nice.
Brady Anderson was another guy. He'd stand in left field when he was playing left field, and sometimes I'd struggle with left hander and I'd say, "Brady, what do you see?" And he'd say, "I think you need to pitch this guy in a little bit more." I'd start doing that, and things change.
I've told this to a lot of our younger pitchers. It's great that we can have give and take conversation with hitters and pitching, but how many times do you sit on the bench or on the airplane or in the clubhouse and go to one of your own teammates and talk to a teammate about hitting, and I used to do that a lot with John Olerud, who I really respected as a great hitter. As a pitcher, I think you can learn a lot by talking to a hitter.
Again, getting back to Cal, I think you can pick up a lot, and to me that's the game. As a player, you've got to want to learn. You've got to want to continue to get better because my feeling is if you become stagnant, you start to go backwards.