10/17/10 4:40 PM ET
ALCS off-day interview: Washington
Q: Can you talk about how much Elvis Andrus has stepped up in this series? I know he slumped towards the end of the regular season. Can you talk about him?
RON WASHINGTON: Well, you know, towards the end we got him a little break there, and the kid is turned into a big game player. He's certainly the guy that ignites us. He's certainly the guy that makes things happen. And we're very pleased that he caught his second wind and was able to do just that. He's a very talented young kid. He plays the game with a lot of awareness and we follow his lead.
Q: There's been so much talk about Cliff Lee in the last three or four or five days. Is there any chance that the rest that you're putting too much emphasis on Lee and going into the third game that there's too much about Lee and not enough about the other 24?
RON WASHINGTON: I don't think we did that. I think it's things that are being written, things that are being said. We are in our own little bubble. Cliff is in his own little bubble. I think Cliff's main goal to go out there and do the best he can to keep us in the ballgame. But it's the other 25 and other guys that's on the field that goes through the process of trying to put runs on the board, they have to do that. Cliff can't do it by himself. All he can do is go on that mound and pitch his game and the rest of us have to do it. Cliff don't have that mindset. We don't have that mindset. The only time I know about that is when I read about it.
Q: This might be repetitive but this guy comes with extraordinarily high expectations. Have you seen that get to him at all? Are you worried that that kind of pressure on him is a little too much?
RON WASHINGTON: No. When you have the ability that a Cliff Lee has, he expects that out of himself. But not that he thinks his opponents are any less than competitive. He just goes out there and he throw his game. He has good stuff. And on any given night, if it's working, it can be successful. But he's only human. If anything go wrong, he's going against a ballclub that can make you pay. So once again, his focus is tight, and all he's thinking about is what he has to go out there and do. And I don't think he can do anything about the hype. He comes as he is. He's Cliff Lee. He's that guy that people expect to go out there and throw amazing ballgames. All you can do is hope that the day he takes the rubber, that happens. But you don't know. It's tough to predict baseball. You have to play it between the lines. And we know who our opponent is, and we're certainly not taking them light and Cliff certainly isn't.
Q: When a club comes back as yours did in Game 2 from a really difficult defeat and plays exactly the kind of game you said they would play on every single level, that has to be extraordinarily gratifying for a manager.
RON WASHINGTON: It is. Especially when you know your club. You know where their heart is. You know their passion for what they're doing. You know how they're always in the moment. That's what's so special about my guys. They play for the day. And the game of baseball is so much adversity, all you can do is think about the things that you are capable of doing. And if you come out after a bad loss and all you're thinking about is what happened, you will miss what's supposed to happen. We turned that corner during the course of the year where we learned how to just come out and play for the day. That's why we're so confident that they can come out and continue to play the type of baseball that we play. Yes, it hurt. But you have to get over that quick. That's what competitors do. And we're definitely competitors.
Q: Andy Pettitte as a pitcher has always been so good at being mindful of the guys on base and controlling the running game. How much does that affect what you guys do, if at all? You guys are so aggressive and you guys like to get guys moving. What does Andy's presence do to that?
RON WASHINGTON: You know, we'll show up, as usual. We'll go play. If we can't run the bases, we're not going to force it. We can play baseball in many ways. Whatever it takes for us to do on that day to win a ballgame, we'll do. If our base running has been taken away from us, we have to do it in other ways. We're ready to do that. I think everybody in baseball knows what Andy Pettitte is all about. We certainly know. It's going to be a very good game tomorrow night. And once again, we're looking for opportunities. We're looking to take advantage, as they are. If we can't run the bases, we have to do it in other ways. We're not going to give in simply because we can't be aggressive on the base paths. We know how to play the game in many, many ways and we win games in many, many ways.
Q: Joe Girardi was in here earlier and gave pretty high praise to Elvis Andrus, compared him to Omar Vizquel. Your history, you know a lot of infielders, you have worked with a bunch of them. Where does Elvis rank for you and what do you see for him going forward even?
RON WASHINGTON: Well, you know, Joe has an eye for talent. We were fortunate enough to have Omar Vizquel here in Elvis' first year. He mentored him. He gave him a lot of smarts on the mental side of the game. Not so much of the physical side of the game, it's the mental side of the game. And that was the most important thing that he got from Omar Vizquel. Talented, the kid is off the charts. He hasn't really reached his potential yet. He's still in the process of learning. He's only 22 years old. You know, I think the presence of Omar here last year grew him up quite quick. He's taken that. He has trust in his ability. He's a very smart guy, sometimes to a fault. He'll go up there sometimes and at bats gets away from him because he's true I go to do something to help the team. Trying to describe Elvis, I don't have enough adjectives. But to rank him in Omar Vizquel's category, I think he has to get some more years under his belt first. But he's certainly on the way.
Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports.
ALCS off-day interview: Lee
Q: Because of the trade and your terrific postseason record, you have extraordinary high expectations coming in with this start. How do you feel about that?
CLIFF LEE: I've got high expectations for myself. Regardless of what's happened in the past or what other people expect of me, I expect as much out of myself or more than anybody is going to expect of me. So I don't look at it any different than I would any other game. I expect to be successful and that's the game tomorrow and every time I take the mound and every time I take the mound.
Q: You've been able to achieve this high level and maintain it despite changing addresses real frequently. Are you particularly adaptable? Doesn't matter after a while?
CLIFF LEE: I don't know. I feel like I've developed a routine that works for me, and I focus a lot on that and get caught up in my routine and focus on that and preparation and, you know, each day what do I need to do today to prepare for tomorrow and kind of stay within that and not get my sights too far past that or too far in the past out of that. Just focus on the here and now and what do I need to do now to prepare. I feel like if I do that, I should have success. There should be no reason for me to go out there and expect anything less than being successful and helping the team win.
Q: Going back to the question about expectations, Cliff, do you just tune that out? Do you avoid reading or watching things that talk about the series? Is that kind of how you deal with it?
CLIFF LEE: Definitely. I've never been one that reads newspapers or watches too much media and gets on the internet and checks that kind of stuff. I'll watch SportsCenter and watch the MLB Network, but other than that, that's all I follow with the media coverage and stuff. I know there's going to be a lot of different angles and stories and stuff. That's you guys' job to come up with that stuff. To me I don't get too caught up with that.
Q: Obviously the Yankees lineup from 1 to 9 is extremely difficult. What's your feeling about how to pitch to the Yankees? Do you have a sense of to keep from getting intimidated or anything?
CLIFF LEE: I'm not going to get intimidated. I know they're a very good team, the defending World Series Champions. Rightfully so they're in the postseason again, and they've got a good team. I know it's a team that if you miss out of the plate and find yourself in 2 0, 1 2, bad things are going to happen. I have to stay away from 2 0, 3 1, not walk guys and stay out of the heart of the plate and mix speeds. That's the key to pitching, regardless who you are. I'm going to try to that's what I'm going to try to do, locate and keep the ball down and away, down and in, up and in, out of the strike zone here and there to keep them honest, and just try to keep them off balance.
Q: Cliff, you've gone from being a pitcher that doesn't walk very many batters to this year being somebody that doesn't walk almost anybody at all. Can you talk about where that confidence to go after people and not go around them, keep the ball around the plate comes from, the aggressiveness?
CLIFF LEE: It's just experience. The more you do something, the better you should become at it. That was one of my goals coming into Spring Training. Pitching in Seattle, it's a pitcher's park. We had Gutierrez and Ichiro running things down. We had a really good defense. Going into that past year, I knew that we had a great defense. And a great pitcher's park. So why should I walk guys? It's something that I've every year tried to improve on and I'm going to continue to try to improve on it. I would like to throw a full season without walking anyone. I know that's probably unrealistic, but if you make every single team you face swing around the base, it's going to pay off in the end. That's something I try to improve on and I'm going to continue to try to get better at.
Q: Besides just the shear numbers, if you look back on these seven previous postseason starts, is there anything in particular that you're proud of the way you did things?
CLIFF LEE: I'm proud of just being competitive and giving the team a chance. Like I just said before, forcing the other team to swing the bat and not walking guys. That's probably what I'm most proud of, just competing and forcing the other team to do something. Yeah, if I had to pick one thing, that would probably be it.
Q: Cliff, your teammates have expressed a lot of confidence knew. How confident are you in them judging by the way they're fielding the ball and hitting the ball, especially hitting the ball more than when you first arrived?
CLIFF LEE: Yeah, I'm very confident in our team. The lineup is not a lot of fun to face. I have had to face them over the years. It's definitely a potent lineup. There's not a whole lot of breaks there. It's a good team. I mean, we're in the ALCS. Any team that gets this far is obviously doing a lot of things right. And we're definitely doing that as a whole. It's not like we're relying on one or two guys in our lineup to carry us or one or two pitchers to carry us; it's really a group effort. It's one unit playing, 25 guys playing as one. That's really it.
Q: You are going up against the guy who has most postseason wins than anybody ever. I want to know if you ever crossed paths do you know Andy at all? And as a fellow professional, what has enabled Andy to have such a postseason career?
CLIFF LEE: I met him for the first time at the All Star Game this year. He's obviously a really good person and his credentials speak for themselves. He's pitched for a long time at the highest level. He's got a ton of experience. You know, in my opinion he's probably the best postseason pitcher of all time just by the number of wins and the number of rings he's got. Yeah, he definitely knows what he's doing with the ball. There's no doubt about it. He's been doing it for a long time and got tons of experience and seen a lot. I don't have to hit off of him so I'm not too worried about that side of it. But I do know he knows what he's doing with the ball. He's geared for these kind of games for sure. I don't know how many 18 wins, I think he's got in the postseason? 19? That says a lot right there. He's a good pitcher, and he's got a ton of respect from me just as far as being a competitor and a guy that's had a very long career and been successful the majority of that career. It's impressive what he's done.
Q: Cliff, with all of your success and now added with your postseason success, are you surprised by the number of teams you've played for? What does this say about the business of baseball? Are you kind of surprised that this has been your path?
CLIFF LEE: Maybe a little bit. But part of me understands why. It's totally a business. When teams go into Spring Training with high expectations and things don't pan out the way they expect it, players get traded. That's just what happens. That's the business side of it. Sometimes you wonder why when you have had success and done well for an organization why they would want to get rid of you. But it's a business. And there's no team that's out there making deals trying to make their team worse. Every time a player is traded, they are trying to improve their team or trying to move in a different direction. So there's reasons why they do those things. And I do understand that.
Q: Cliff, every lineup is different. What distinguishes the Yankees' lineup from your perspective?
CLIFF LEE: They're basically an All Star team. From top to bottom, they have threats everywhere. When you have Jeter, A Rod, Posada, Robinson Cano, those are some pretty good hitters. Teixeira. You can go all the way down the order. It's a highly impressive lineup on paper when you look and see all those names. It's a good team. They are pitchable. They still have to put the bat on the ball. For me, it's about staying away from 2 0, 3 1 counts where they can get really aggressive and staying out of the heart of the plate and try not to get into too many patterns.
Q: Cliff, there's been some talk in New York about your cap and whether or not it creates any sort of advantage on the mound. I was just wondering is that something that's ever come into question for you, that an umpire has questioned before a start and what your stance is on it?
CLIFF LEE: It definitely makes me way better. I know that much. Without that hat, I don't know if I could do it. I don't know. It's rosin is what it is. I go to the rosin bag quite a bit. I touch my hat in the same place over and over. And it just accumulates. I couldn't pitch without it for sure.
Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.