10/23/08 8:29 PM ET
Charlie Manuel pregame interview
Manager speaks about age in the rotation and strength in the lineup
By / MLB.com
There were a couple of situations last night where you had a runner on third base, one out and they played a shift on Howard. How difficult is it to hit a ball to the shortstop hole? And would you want him trying that in that situation?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Ryan Howard, they shift on him a lot, of course. And the reason they shift on him is when you're a little bit late, if you hit the ball late and everything usually the ball goes in the air. If you're early, you hit the ball on the ground, because you hit on top of the ball a lot. That's why when he hits the ball the right side of the diamond, it's a ground ball. When he hits the ball on the left side of the diamond, they kind of inside out the ball or have good bat control and try to do that.
Ryan Howard is a lot like most big hitters. I hear people say, why doesn't he push the ball another way or why don't he go the other way. You can say whatever he wants to. Ryan Howard when he hits in the ball in the air is when he's successful. When he hits the ball in the air, that's when he's successful. It doesn't matter where you play, he can hit the ball through the shift even down, because he's fast. Like when he hits the ball, he hits the ball real hard, and he can hit the ball right by people.
If you study the charts and everything and look at him as a hitter is when he does hit the ball in the air. You like for him to hit the ball on the left side of the diamond, that means he's trying to hit the ball over there, or he accidentally hits the ball over there. The angle of the bat will take it that way.
You talked a lot this year how important it was for Myers to get himself together and become an effective part of the rotation. He's headstrong, were there ever any times where you doubted that he was going to get it and get it back together?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Yeah, there's been times he was very headstrong, and he's changed that. And there's been times where I thought this guy, he might not never get it. But once he went down to the minor leagues and he came back, he was almost like a different person. And he came back with a different mindset. He came back with more determination. He stays focused more in the game. And like before at times it seemed like he had trouble having interest in the game, especially like if he did something good early, looked like he kind of got bored with what he was doing. And he's changed all that. And actually he's been a completely different pitcher.
I look for a guy tonight to throw a good game for us.
What did you see from Howard's at bats last night? And in general in the postseason, did you think there would be a carryover from his very hot September to October?
CHARLIE MANUEL: Last night he wasn't following the ball good. He wasn't staying on the ball. And he was trying too hard. And he wanted to hit too much. Like he was trying, he wants to hit too much and he wouldn't follow the ball. And I think I said something about it last night, take him for granted and start throwing to him, see what happens. He's had 148 RBIs, 48 home runs, check his batting averages and his run production from the seventh inning on or late in the game and see what you come up with. He will stay on my team, probably, as long as I manage it (laughter.) I like him that much.
Your ballpark has a reputation for playing small and the ball carrying out. The number of home runs hit has gone down in the last couple of years. What are the reasons for that in your mind, that's it's starting to play a little more fair than it did when it first opened?
CHARLIE MANUEL: At times sometimes when you see especially how the wind is blowing or the weather, it plays a part on you. If it's damp and the air is kind of heavy, the ball doesn't carry. And this time of the year when it gets a little colder, too, I tell you something, the ball doesn't carry as much. But our ballpark is considerably small, but you still have to hit the ball. And I think our pitchers have definitely learned how to pitch there, as far as they try to get the ball on the ground and also when they have to, they'll try to strike somebody out when it's called for. And I think just their mindset and their thinking has changed.
Who is your choice of DH tonight? Has your experience managing shown you that it's somewhat of a disadvantage to use the DH?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think it depend on who you've got, I think from the pitcher's standpoint -- Dobbs is DHing tonight. The reason I chose Dobbs, at one point I was thinking about putting Dobbs and Matt Stairs in my lineup, but then I went back to the fact that this ballpark, and the quickness of it on the infield, and I like Feliz's defense at third base, and I like the fact that he made some good plays last night and he's played on it. I know that Dobbs hasn't played on turf for two years. And I felt the fact that Feliz did swing the bat pretty good, and I wanted to make sure that we've got good defense on the infield. And Feliz is a tremendous defensive third baseman. And I wanted to DH Dobbs, because he has a high average and a good hitter.
And Stairs, I think he's 3 for 11 off of Shields this year, 3 for 20 lifetime. I think he can definitely hit Shields, but at the same time I wanted to keep Feliz in the game because of his defense.
I know it's a pragmatic decision because you want to win the game, what's your sentiment about Moyer going out with his first World Series start after all these years?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think Jamie Moyer, after all these years, I think he's earned the right to start a game in the World Series. I think he's one of the big reasons why we're here today. He won 16 games this year and at one time this guy was our most consistent pitcher, whether you believe it or not.
He's done a tremendous job for us.
We sometimes in other sports talk about the home court advantage. With the noise you have at Philadelphia, the comfort level you have there, do you have an advantage playing at home?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think yes. I think our fans definitely -- it's going to be loud. Matter of fact our place is going to be probably the loudest that we've been this year. The last game we played in Philadelphia, whether you realize it or not, it was louder than Milwaukee. And Milwaukee had the thunder sticks and it was pretty loud.
Like I said last night, we quieted the thunder sticks by hitting balls out of the yard. But the last game we played there, it was the loudest that we've played with this year. And I think that could be a factor. But also I said before, I've seen it work just the opposite, too. It also can pick the visiting team up as much as it can a home team. Because I remember in Seattle when we played in '95 and I was with the Indians, and they had Randy Johnson pitching, the Dome was so loud, and actually our guys got in the flow of it. I thought we got up more at the game than Seattle did. That's kind of how I looked at it.
But if you win at home they'll say the home field, you have an advantage. If you lose they'll say that, you know, the visiting team came in there and took over the home field or whatever.
Talk, if you would, about how big Chase Utley has been, especially getting you guys jump started in the last postseason games.
CHARLIE MANUEL: He's a tremendous player. He definitely he's a big part of our offense. He definitely gets big hits for us. He's a tremendous player. He's a tremendous hitter. And when he hits the ball definitely, he plays a big part in the lineup.
When our offense is going good, you'll see the top of your order, that's what carries us. And he hits in the three hole, and he plays a big part of that.
Joe Maddon said last night after the game that he was impressed with how fundamentally sound you guys were. Do you think the fact that you hit so many home runs, because you get so many home runs, the fact that you're a well-balanced team, a well-rounded team it gets overlooked?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I think it definitely gets overlooked. But the key for is to get our speed on base. I think anytime we get our speed on base, I think we definitely -- for the last two years, our base running, our stealing bases has definitely improved. I give Davey Lopes a lot of credit for that. He's a tremendous teacher. From an offensive standpoint, when we get our speed on the base, I think we definitely can take advantage of it.
You've talked about the difference between a thrower and a pitcher. Is Jamie sort of the ultimate pitcher, given what he has to work with?
CHARLIE MANUEL: I'd say so. He has a tremendous feel for pitching. And I think he has more patience than the hitter. When he's good, he controls the game. He can speed the game up, he can slow it down and he has a knack or feel for doing that. And also like when he's putting the ball where he wants to. It's not like Jamie doesn't rely on velocity and throwing the ball by somebody, he relies on putting the ball where he wants it to go. When he's doing that that's when he's real good. And at times, if his command is not there, he has a good chance of -- he'll get in trouble.
But he's also the kind of guy that can come out and give up two or three runs or four runs or whatever early, and he'll end up still going like six or seven innings for you. nd it makes it difficult sometimes to really know when to go get Jamie Moyer in the game, because he's a different bird.
How much do the teammates get on Jamie for his age? And what are some of the best lines you've heard about that?
CHARLIE MANUEL: They call him about everything you can think of. They get on him quite a bit. They ride him. But he enjoys it. He handles it pretty good. They call him old man, grandpa, and all that stuff. Sometimes they call him a lot of things they call me (laughter.) He takes it pretty good. He has comebacks for them, too.
CHARLIE MANUEL: He'll say whatever is on his mind.
Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.