10/09/08 8:28 PM ET
Charlie Manuel pregame interview
Manager is letting team loose because they know how to play to win
By / MLB.com
CHARLIE MANUEL: Yeah, we have in our reports that we get and everything, there's a report about the managers and his tendencies and things, but that doesn't mean that they stick to that all the time.
And that's just something that you -- definitely I read and I look at and I try to remember some of the things. But I'm sure that Jimy Williams, some of our staff people, they'll recommend something if we think we've really got something.
But a lot of times the manager, he manages by how the game's going, and of course his personnel and things. And if we can pick up anything, we do, but at the same time that can -- he usually runs the game kind of the way he wants to.
When Pedro Feliz left San Francisco, the assumption was by going to a friendly ballpark his numbers would go up, and they actually went down a little bit. Do you have any theories why and were you expecting a little more offense from Pedro?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think it -- first of all, I think this is Pedro's first year over here. And I think the type of person that Pedro is and who he is and his personality and things, and also being new here has a lot to do with it.
I think this guy, I've always said, this year he could be a much better hitter. When I say much better hitter, I'm talking about hitting .275 to .300. And I think eventually you might see his numbers get a lot better.
This year he has got some real big hits for us. At times it's really -- it's hard to tell exactly when he's going to deliver. That's kind of the fun of it, really, because he'll come through with a big hit at a moment you never expected.
But he has a real good swing. He has a good approach at the plate. He's got good balance. And to my -- believe me, I don't know how to answer really. When I sit and think about it sometimes, I'd just like for him to be just a little bit more aggressive, and I think he could be a much better hitter.
But he's a tremendous defensive player and we couldn't ask for a better defensive ball player at third base. And he has gotten some real big hits for us.
I know you had a lot of success as a player in Japan. Could you talk a little bit how that affected you as a manager, maybe in strategy or your attitude toward managing?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think probably from an attitude standpoint, I think -- I've said this often, if I had never gone and played baseball in Japan I don't think I would have been a coach or manager. I think the fact what I learned was I learned that from a discipline standpoint there's more people -- there's a lot of different people in the world and there's more people in the world than Charlie Manuel. And I mean that I learned to respect things more, I learned everything about the part of the -- the knowledge in the other people that are around me and I was definitely more of an individual guy here as far as playing the game and everything.
I've always been a guy who didn't get to play in the Big Leagues and I used to pull from my teammates and all that. I've had Harmon Killebrew say to me before and I always took it as a compliment, he said, You might be the greatest player on the team that never played. And I took that -- he meant that because I'll always be talking. But as far as getting to really know and understanding people, really start caring about things, I think I learned that in Japan.
I think their ways, their discipline, their culture and things like that, I think it was something that I took time to learn not only learn myself but like I learned that there's more people in the world than Charlie Manuel. I learned to care about more things.
Briefly, strategy, any one thing you'd use? Strategy, any one thing that you do that you do different because you were there, workouts, approach to pitching?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Definitely workouts. Like especially when I was in the Minor Leagues and when I was a hitting coach. Practice to me made -- I came to the conclusion that practice made perfect. And now that my health is not as good as it used to be, I definitely -- the physical part of it would be hard for me to do what I used to do. But when I managed in the Minor Leagues no team in baseball hit more than we did.
Like I think that our players, definitely they enjoyed it. And I think especially the years I spent managing in AAA baseball, I think I had some of the best talent a guy could have, and I think we were very dedicated and we did a lot of hard work.
When I was a hitting coach in Cleveland, I used to see Walt Hriniak, he was a big worker, hard worker, and I was determined he was not going to outwork our guys. And that was kind of a self motivation thing, and I think in Japan is where I learned how to practice. And I learned how to be dedicated actually to myself and really get something, get as much out of the game as I possibly can.
And I think that's where I really became in control of myself. And everything became positive for me in baseball.
I've read that Jayson Werth last year dropped off a tape, highlight tape of his season from 2004 in an attempt to get a little more playing time. Do you recall that and did you watch it?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Yes, I do. I still have his tape. It's in my computer bag, and I watch it sometimes. Yes, he did. And, yeah, like I of course talk to him about his hitting, about his swing, about his setup, his approach at the plate.
Before the Brewers series you talked about wanting to -- when you're deciding where to throw Brett and Jamie you talked about throwing Brett at home. And his numbers this year are a lot better at home. You obviously played a hitters' park, why do you think he has so much success here?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Actually, the game, the pitch against Milwaukee, when I was watching him, the crowd kind of got behind him, and the type of personality Myers is I think he feeds off of that. I think he feels like that they're with him and they're pulling for him. I think it's kind of -- it kind of motivates him. It kind of sets him off. I think he gets more determined and I think it helps him to stay focused. Who he is, like who he is and the fact that like that he knows that they're pulling for him and he hears the noise, he knows that's for him, I think that helps make him better.
There's some key players on both teams who are going into their -- who will be free agents after this season. Do you think that factors in at all in how they perform, like late in the season and in the postseason and all?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think if a guy is a free agent, I think it's only natural that he wants to really play good every day. He wants to do his best. Put the best possible year up. I think of nothing better than to be on a team that wins the World Series and be part of it. I think if you were a free agent, that would play a role in especially you being a winner and also possibly other teams would look at you as more of a leader, too.
And I think definitely that is a selling point for an agent.
You started Chooch four games in the Milwaukee series, continues to struggle offensively, do you plan to ride him out here or do you see a scenario a game to coach here or there?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I don't really know. As long as we keep playing good, as long as we win, that's why Chooch has been getting to play. Like Coste, he wasn't having a very good September and just started catching Chooch some and we started winning games. That's the only reason that Coste hasn't been getting to play quite a bit. Like I've been going with what's been working for us, and I like Ruiz basically, too, a little bit better because of his defense, and he throws a little better.
Outside of that, Coste definitely has a better bat. And the fact that we've been winning, we've had a good September and that's why -- and he was struggling hitting a little bit, Coste was, and that's why Ruiz has caught more.
Brett was in here a little earlier, seemed pretty loose and relaxed. He was joking around. That generally something you'd like to see out of him on a day before a start?
CHARLIE MANUEL: To me, that's who he is. If you look at him, the night before he pitches sometimes and we're playing, he'll be down in the dugout, he'll be moving around everywhere. Can't sit down and as long as he -- as long as he's loose and it's conducted in a good way, it's great.
Let him be that way because that's going to help him pitch the next day, that's fine. He's always been like that. He's always very energetic. He's always moving around. Of course, he's rearing and ready to go. And there, again, that's why I think when he feels like the fans are behind him and everything, I think he pitches better here.
You said yesterday that you expected an evenly balanced series. It would be fair to say, wouldn't it, that your lineup has an edge in productivity, power?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Power wise? Think I would say -- yeah, I would give power to our team, yes. I think the Dodgers, though, you've got to remember they do have Manny, Manny hit 30 some home runs 37, something like that. I want to say 37 or 38. But also they've got guys like Kemp. They've got a lot of guys who have from 15, almost, or 20, in that area. They've got down through their lineup they've got what I call balanced power.
If you look -- and of course we've got some our guys, Burrell, and Utley has over 30. Rollins can hit the ball out of the ballpark, so can Victorino and so can Feliz and Werth. Yeah, we've got some power.
Talk a little bit about the influence Walter Austin had on your career and talk about your managerial style, how you've been able to get so much out of your bench players, Greg Dobbs has been one of the best pinch hitters in the league and you've really done a great job these last couple of years getting extra out of your players.
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think Walter Austin, at that time, like I said, I felt like I wasn't interested in coaching. I wasn't interested in managing. I just wanted to get to play. I was sitting on the bench with the Dodgers, I never got to play. And seemed like for some reason I'd always land close to him. And he didn't say a whole lot but he would talk to me during the game and things.
The more that I would sit there and watch him and the more and how actually how calm and cool that he was and how he had a lot of respect for his coaches and the people around him, I think that definitely -- the more I think about it, I think definitely I learned something from him.
And Walter Austin was the kind of guy when I was in spring training, when I first went to the Dodgers, I'll never forget this, in Vero Beach I didn't know anybody, I just left there from the Twins, and my first day there we eat at this cafeteria, and they had grits. Because I was from the South, I was the only guy they gave grits to.
They put a big stack of grits on my plate. Actually I didn't really like grits. And Austin came down sat beside me. He looked at me and he said, man, you must like grits. I kind of looked up, I said, not really. He sat down started eating like he started eating breakfast with me.
And like when they didn't know you, didn't matter who you was or what. Like if you're sitting there, like he would he'd sit down eat lunch or breakfast with you. Or he would see -- he'd be walking down the street sometimes and see you in a restaurant, and you'd get up and go to pay the bill he'd already picked up the check. Things like that. I was always like -- the things you pick up from someone.
And he always had time to talk to you. And I think you'd be surprised sometimes people in baseball that do not talk to the players or people. And I think I always liked that because he always made you feel like you were part of the team and you were wanted. At the same time he was very quiet and he carried a lot of respect. He kind of carried it naturally.
And of course his managerial career speaks for itself.
So do you pick up a lot of checks now? And second question is why Dobbs, why Feliz over Dobbs?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I do pick up checks as long as the Phillies are paying for it. Dobbs has been -- he's a big asset on our team. You guys know that. Today I looked at our lineup. We've got Hamels pitching, and like he throws a lot of changeups and he likes to keep the ball close to the right-handed hitters, and so therefore the defense definitely comes into play.
But I looked and I saw where Dobbs against Lowe was like 0 for 9 and I remember the game he pitched this year when I played Dobbar and I seen Feliz 3 for 25 with two home runs and two or three walks, seven Ks, and I thought to myself, like, who we had pitching and everything. I figured that I would play Feliz tonight. That doesn't mean that Dobbs -- Dobbs might play tomorrow. And I like Dobbs' bat. I've talked to Dobbs about his defense and everything.
And actually I think the more he gets to play, the better that he will play. I think he definitely can play regular. I think it's just a matter of him getting to play more.
It's one thing to believe you can win with a certain group of guys, and it's another thing to accomplish it like you did with the Division Series win over Milwaukee, to get over that first round hump. What did that do for you winning the first round, you personally, and then some of the core guys, especially as it will affect the series you're about to go into?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I look at that everything we do, like I definitely playing and winning the games, I think the players definitely -- they're the ones that do the playing, they're the ones that execute it. They're the ones that get the hits and pitch and they're the ones that catch the ball. Do I have something to do with it? I hope so.
But at the same time I look at that as it's definitely their time and you're like they're the ones that they make you a good manager. Just like I said yesterday. Manny Ramirez can make you a good hitting coach. And I mean that.
I put my time in and I want to see -- I want to see us improve. Actually, I want to see us play perfect. And at the same time, like I would definitely want to communicate with my players, and I want them to look at me as being honest and fair and true to them, but at the same time I also feel like I am the guy in charge and I think that's the communication part that comes into play, and I think when it comes down to playing, I think we know exactly how we want to play and it's up to me to kind of turn them loose and let them go at it.
What do you expect of the level of contribution Kuo is going to make and how does that change their bullpen?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think Kuo, I think they definitely would want to put him on Howard and Utley and I think that he -- I think it depends on like how much he can pitch. And like in how he feels. And, I don't know, I'm kind of pulling that he would be feeling pretty bad, really. But he's a good pitcher. He pitched good against us and he's got good stuff, and he's very good.
How seriously, if at all, did you consider adding Rudy (Seanez) to the roster and getting Happ off the roster?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I considered that. Rudy is a guy early in the season and all the way up through the middle of the season he did a tremendous job for us. Had a little down period in the start of September. And when he came back, he got some work in, not a whole lot, and when Happ -- Happ of course he started some games for us, a couple of games for us, he did a good job.
But when we look at it, Happ, I like Happ on the roster because of the fact that he can give us -- be our long guy, like if we need innings at the start of the game if something happens and it gets out of control.
And I'd say the biggest thing is if we have a tie game and it goes extra innings, goes a long time, like in extra innings, and multiple innings, I think he's the guy on our club that can give us that.
Say it goes over 12, 13, 14, 15 innings or something, or 10 innings, whatever, I think from there on out, say it goes from 10 to 15 innings, I think he's the guy that we got that would be the guy that would have to pitch that.
Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.