10/18/09 7:26 PM ET
Pregame interview with Randy Wolf
By / MLB.com
You were obviously here a pretty long time. Besides the obvious, this being a playoff game, how does it complicate or color or anything being back here for this game?
RANDY WOLF: Well, I have a lot of memories here, a lot of good memories here. I always enjoyed pitching here. The fans were always really great to me. But I think it's a lot of fun just being in a playoff game, an NLCS game against my former team. The fact that it's a rematch from last year makes it exciting.
But the main thing is when the game starts, it's a game, and it all starts over. I've got to pitch my game and all that stuff that's a memory, you've got to block that out.
When Joe brought up that you were going to start Game 4 in this series instead, how did he bring that up and how did he explain that to you?
RANDY WOLF: He said, "You're pitching Game 4."
Did he give you any reason why, anything having to do with you being familiar with Philadelphia?
RANDY WOLF: All I heard was I was pitching Game 4. From that point on, I was just getting ready to pitch that game.
Just for a second here, if you could take us back to '99 when you came up with the Phillies and you were embraced by the Wolf Pack here and your relationship with that group of fans, and how it's evolved through your career and then to other teams.
RANDY WOLF: It was pretty incredible. I remember 1999 was my first start, against the Pirates I believe. It was my second home start, and there they were. I think there was like three or four guys. Didn't know them at the time, and I pitched a pretty good game, won the game, and from that point on, they were just there. The better I got, the more people were in the Wolf Pack. I always knew if I was having a bad game and I was in the fourth inning and there was only four guys there, I wasn't pitching very well. It seemed like if I was pitching well in the sixth inning, there was a whole bunch of people there.
They are a great family. You know, they took me in and made me feel really welcome, and what could be kind of a tough city. But they were great to me, and I appreciated all the support they've given me, even to this day. I still keep in contact with them, and they're a great group of guys. It's pretty awesome.
This isn't exactly a pitcher's park, but do you feel like the cold weather kind of serves as an equalizer?
RANDY WOLF: I was telling some people yesterday I actually would rather pitch in cold weather than hot weather. If you go out there now, it's really not that cold. I've definitely pitched in colder weather than this. There's definitely days in Chicago that are worse than this.
I think no matter what park you're pitching in or what element, the main thing is to throw strikes and mix your speeds, and if you do that and you have a good game plan, you're going to be successful most of the time.
You guys when you were here came close about three times to getting to the playoffs. How close do you think that nucleus was of doing what the Phillies did the last few years, and what were your emotions last year seeing them win knowing you were part of maybe the building process?
RANDY WOLF: First of all, I was really happy for them. I played with those guys, came up with those guys, and to see them at the height of success, winning a World Series, I was extremely happy for those guys. Playing here you kind of understand the heartbeat of this city and what they've gone through for over 20 years, and for them to get that championship was really big for them. So I was happy for them.
But I'd be lying if I said there was a part of me that wasn't jealous. I was jealous. I was with that organization for a long time, and I obviously missed that boat. But at the same time very happy for them. You have to give a lot of credit to Ed Wade. You have to give a lot of credit to Pat Gillick and Rubin Amaro for really putting together a very strong, balanced team. Even after they win a championship, they haven't stopped trying to make their team stronger. You make an acquisition like Cliff Lee mid-season, who has really done an amazing job for them. It says a lot for the fact that they don't want to settle on just one championship, and that's pretty admirable.
Go back to pitching the first game in this ballpark and what it's been like pitching here. I don't think there's any advantage since you've been here, different conditions and things like that?
RANDY WOLF: Well, I know the other games my first game here I didn't pitch that great. I think I pitched here twice since then and had much better results. I think it's similar to pitching in Colorado, more so when Colorado didn't have the humidor. The best piece of advice I got was in 2000, and Terry Francona told me, the one thing you want to do in Colorado is be aggressive and limit your mistakes and not walk anybody. You might give up a home run, but you want to make sure it's a solo home run instead of a two run home run or a three run home run because you walked a couple guys.
You said you've stayed in touch with the Wolf Pack. If Padilla was here I don't know if he'd expect the "Flotilla" to be out, but do you expect the Wolf Pack to be out?
RANDY WOLF: I know they'll be here, but I don't think they'll be in costume. They're born and raised Philadelphians and they're Phillies fans first and foremost. I think for the sake of their own lives they'll keep that under wraps.
Do you feel slighted that it's not until Game 4 that you're starting? That's number one. And then number two, I'd be interested, we've been under the impression you were close to coming back here a few times. If you could take us through that.
RANDY WOLF: Well, the answer to the first question is I have a great opportunity in Game 4 to help this team win, and no matter what spot in the rotation you're in, it's important. When you get to the postseason, you can't worry about what day you're starting because whether it's Game 1, 2, 3 or 4, all of them are important. You know, that's what I realize.
Coming back to Philadelphia, yeah, it was close. It was close a couple times. You know, I wasn't hiding it at all when I signed with the Dodgers in '07 that I wanted to take the opportunity to play at home. It wasn't anything at all against Philadelphia. It was just growing up in Los Angeles, it would be just like a kid that grew up in Philadelphia. His team that he probably dreamed of playing for was the Phillies. For me to play in LA was an opportunity that a lot of times guys don't really get a chance to pick what team they go to, and it was one time in my career that I was able to. It worked out because they went to the playoffs that year.
Did this park factor in at all?
RANDY WOLF: No, it really didn't. I read some things that Pat Gillick said it had a major involvement, but it really wasn't. It just didn't work out.
The sort of conventional wisdom is that a left-handed pitcher has an advantage against this Phillies team. But they've actually been one of the better teams against lefties. What is it that makes them so dangerous against lefties even with the left-handers they have in the middle of the order there?
RANDY WOLF: They have a very solid lineup, from top to bottom. You know, you've got to be really on your game against this lineup because not only do they have guys that hit the ball out of the park, but they have very patient hitters, as well. You sometimes have to flip a coin whether or not they're going to be aggressive that day or very patient that day. They could really run up pitch counts. They can foul off pitches until they get a mistake and then capitalize on that. And then you have the eight hole hitter, the Dodger killer Carlos Ruiz, who's been tough to get out. You get guys like Ibañez and Chase and Ryan Howard who really don't fall off much against left-handers. And I think that has to do with the quality of their approach to hitting, especially Ryan. He's got great opposite field power, and when a left-hander has that against another left-hander, he can really wait back on that fastball away, and he could drive it the other way and hit it out of the park.
You waited a long time to get to the playoffs, and you're finally here, and you're pitching here. How weird is that?
RANDY WOLF: It's kind of surreal. It's really weird. You know, my second postseason start is against a team that basically I was born and raised with. But it's a lot of fun. I feel like just walking around the city and just seeing people, they're really supportive, at least to my face (laughter). I think they realize that I really enjoyed playing here and I really appreciated the fans of Philadelphia because I've seen both sides. I've seen players that haven't been received very well and players that have, and I was lucky enough to be received really well here.
Being a Southern California guy, you had alluded to a penchant, maybe a liking to pitch in the cold. Where did that come from, and why is it the case?
RANDY WOLF: Well, if you haven't noticed, I'm not the tannest person in the world, and I think there's somewhere in my ancestry where they were used to cold weather because the sun and I usually aren't friends.
I've always had a tough time pitching in like Florida and Atlanta, and sometimes I turn about three shades of pink and I overheat. Where in the cold I feel a lot more alert, I feel like my energy level is always there, and the fact that you can blow on your hands when you're on the mound in cold weather, your hands are only affected. As a pitcher you're the only guy that's moving every pitch. The pitcher has probably got the easiest job of keeping warm.
I guess before the season, how close did you feel you were to going back to Houston, maybe stopping that run of one year contracts? And do you feel that that didn't work out, that this kind of worked out for you because of where you are right now?
RANDY WOLF: I mean, at the time I thought it was somewhat devastating, but it definitely has worked out for the best. I wouldn't be in the situation I'm in now, wouldn't be on a team like this, who had a great year, and I ended up coming back to LA. Maybe financially it wasn't the best thing in the world, but I've never played the game for that reason. So it's been all about winning, and to have that opportunity here in LA, it's been great.
Was there anything in particular that was going well for you during the stretch in August and September? And the NLDS start, was it just a question of simply location?
RANDY WOLF: Yeah, it was definitely location in that game. You know, the main thing is I wasn't able to get my fastball down and away to lefties. I wasn't able to get the lefties out, which I had been successful all year doing. So when you fall behind and you're not really able to locate that fastball down and away to a lefty, it makes it a lot harder. That's the biggest thing, I had walked a couple lefties and gave up hits to lefties, which I don't do. Luckily I was able to make some pitches in some tough situations to minimize the damage because that first inning could have been four or five runs. Luckily I got out of there with one. I definitely didn't have my best game without a doubt.
But going back to the first part of your question, those last couple months I think I just happened to be more on the left side of the decision column than I was in the first half. I didn't think I was pitching really that much better, just happened to be different scores. But I think that's the main key.
You mentioned Ruiz being a Dodger killer. I'm just thinking the Phillies have a really solid lineup and some players may seem to stand out more than others. But as a pitcher all the notes you've taken over the years, do you kind of keep a little file cabinet going of this guy might be supposedly the best player but I know I can get him out or this guy doesn't have a great batting average but I have trouble with him?
RANDY WOLF: Yeah, without a doubt. You have to take that into consideration. Whenever you go over your scouting reports, and I learned this a long time ago, there's certain guys that you look at their curveball numbers and they can't hit a curveball, but for some reason they hit yours. And they may have great fastball numbers but they can't hit your fastball. You have to take that into consideration.
There are some times where there's the best hitter in the lineup that has the best numbers, but for some reason doesn't see you or doesn't really pick you up. So you might pitch around the guy before him to get to the best guy in the lineup, which seems really unconventional, but because of the success you've had against him and because you can read his swings a little bit more, it works out more in your favor. You definitely have to take that into consideration whenever you're facing a team.
Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.