10/06/2012 4:42 PM ET
Oct. 6 M. Matheny interview
Q.What does the rotation look like for this round and what about the roster?
MIKE MATHENY: The rotation is going to start, the guys heard some of this earlier, but Wainwright will throw the first game, Jaime Garcia and then Chris Carpenter will be the first three here.
MIKE MATHENY: Roster decisions, pretty clear with our bullpen. We'll be going with one lefty, it's the difference from what we just had with the game in Atlanta, where Sam Freeman is going to be coming off. And a couple of the position players to make room, Jackson and Anderson will be coming off, to allow for our other pitchers, other starters.
Q.How good is it to be starting the Division Series at home?
MIKE MATHENY: We love playing here, there's no question, but the playoff atmosphere is playoff atmosphere. It was exciting in Atlanta yesterday, and the fans were into it and we had a small representation of Cardinal fans there, as well. But I've talked to some of the young players who have not experienced this before. There's just no place like home when it comes to playoff baseball, and especially how this city gets jazzed up for this. I know they won't disappoint tomorrow. It will be exciting.
Q.How much does last year's experience help you guys? Is there a tangible impact considering some of your guys do have post season experience and Game 7 where the Nats do not really?
MIKE MATHENY: I've been very clear that I believe that it's huge for our guys. And I use the word as an advantage. But I want to be clear with that, too. I don't claim that we have an advantage against or over another team. I think it's an advantage for our guys individually. So every day they have post season experience, every day they have of going down the wire in September helps them in their development as players individually. And I think that in itself helps us as a team collectively. So I don't think you can say enough about what those guys went through in 2011, what they overcame, how much they were the underdog and how they were ruled out and all those things that brought them together which defines the character of a team, and ultimately defines character of people. All of those are benefits that they have earned and they worked their way through, and this team is doing the same thing this year.
Q.For a left hander, Gio Gonzalez has been extremely tough on righties this year. Obviously you guys have a very good right handed lineup. What is the best approach you think you might be able to take against him, and is there anything you've seen either when he pitched against you or on tape?
MIKE MATHENY: He's good. I mean, there's no getting around it. As far as our approach, we understand that each guy is different. Each one of our guys in our offense has to have a very clear approach of what he wants to do and what he needs to do in order to try to be successful. We go into every game from here on out knowing that we're not going to get a guy out there that's going to make a lot of mistakes, and so it's a matter of execution; execution either from the pitcher on their side or our guys sticking with the game plan and sticking with their strong suits and not deviating. So it's something that I believe our guys do well. I look at Mark McGwire, our hitting coach, and John Mabry, our assistant hitting coach. They do a very good job of individualizing our hitters to give them the best chance they have each night. But as far as putting a blanket over as far as how this is how we are going to beat this guy, they are all too good and they make adjustments, or they wouldn't be in the big leagues, one, and they wouldn't be pitching in the playoffs, two. So we have a lot of respect, but we also believe in ourselves.
Q.Managing the first playoff series, is there any additional pressure and was there any additional pressure on you yesterday?
MIKE MATHENY: Imagine there was. I don't know if I recognized it, pressure, if it was as much as excitement. It was an exciting atmosphere yesterday. This game, any game through 162 is unique; to be able to be a part of it, and then the heightened excitement about it through the game. I think baseball has done a great job this year, and yesterday I think proved to be as exciting as I think anybody could anticipate as far as a wild card playoff game. But with all things said, we all are very clear and we've been pretty consistent with an approach, and the approach is we've each got to do our part, and nothing more. We do our part and we do it on a consistent basis, and we'll be in a good spot in the end. That's been the message from day one and that's what I want the guys to stick with. As far as putting extra pressure on yourself, I don't believe that that makes people necessarily better. I would rather see these guys come out and just do their job, and in order for them to do that, they need to see me doing the same thing.
Q.To a degree, you look at the decisions you make over a 162 game season, is it any different than what you would make in a short series, and by extension, do you see a manager's influence being greater in a short series than it would be over a regular season?
MIKE MATHENY: Well, since I'm so experienced at this, suppose I should have a wealth of knowledge on the topic. Once again, I do believe baseball is baseball, and there are good decisions to be made throughout the season, and I think you are expected to make the same good decisions throughout the playoffs. Now, did I have a different train of thought yesterday when there was one game determining whether we get to play the next day or not, yeah, absolutely. We understand that. But you know, also, there's opportunities to make decisions every single pitch, and I think it just comes down to sticking with what we know works, not trying to get our guys to do something that they haven't been accustomed to doing, or may not have the ability to do on a high level of consistency. So a lot of it, to me, just needs to stick with what we've been doing, but also have heightened awareness of the urgency. This is the playoffs and it's one shot at this. So we have got a pretty good idea how to go about that, and try and balance the two.
Q.Was the Garcia decision just the home road split
MIKE MATHENY: He's been very good lately, so we are just excited to get him on the mound. He's done a nice job for us, and I would say he's throwing as good as anybody. He does like throwing at home, I don't know any of our guys that don't like throwing here, but it just worked out well.
Q.Yesterday did the delay in the game, the 19 minute delay, did that lead to you putting Motte in at that point in time? And part of that is, as aggressive as you were with your bullpen yesterday, how much of that was unique to the situation in a one game playoff, and how much of that was a blueprint of what you might do in the post season? I know you went back and watched how Tony threw in the post season last year and how quick he was to the bullpen.
MIKE MATHENY: That's too many questions at one time. (Laughter.)
Q.Would you like me to break it down?
MIKE MATHENY: No. I was going in to get Motte either way, but I needed the pinch hitter to be recorded before I could make that move. And then we just wanted to get the guys off the field for their safety's sake and it was just kind of a holding pattern. But it actually worked out well to where Jason could still get loose in the pen. My fear was bringing him on to the field and getting him loose and having another delay after he had been hot. That was a concern, but fortunately things got under control. As far as how we used the pen yesterday, it certainly was in part due to the nature of a one game playoff. But also, I still see us having enough depth in our pen to where we can bring in guys and the guys we have are pretty durable so we can use them similar to how we used them last night. I think it could be either as we go forward. We know that our game is going to resolve around our starting pitching but we also feel we have some depth at no matter what point we need some help that we have some guys that will continue to give us the chance to compete.
Q.Mark Rzepczynski was a guy that was used on and off throughout September and then a big spot in the game last night, what indications has he given to you that he might be right and how much weight do you give experience?
MIKE MATHENY: I put a lot of weight on the experience, and Sam Freeman has really impressed all of us, and he came in through September and didn't just come in and throw but threw in big situations. And in the meanwhile, trying to trying to get Zep right and get Zep confident, I really believe he peaked at the right time. He continued to have better and better outings, and then all of the while, knowing, and really the message we have had to him as we know that you're going to be able to perform for us when we get into that tight spot. Last night he did, and we are going to continue to need him and we are going to continue to use him. But we also have a different makeup bullpen and have all season where we have some right handers that are just going to have to get the tough lefties out, that's all there is to it. They have that ability and they have done it and they are going to need to do it from here on out. But it's nice to have Zep confident right now and be able to come into that role and do what he did.
Q.From your perspective is Matt Halladay getting healthier or just hot at the right time, and either way how important is that to you?
MIKE MATHENY: Yeah, either way it's nice to see. It's actually just scary to watch when he really gets going. So he's been slowly I think to answer the first part of the question, is it health related, I believe it's always health related. This season beats you down physically and then you begin to doubt a little bit in your mental approach and they all go hand in hand. But once it starts getting going right for a guy like Matt, they just seem to pile up, and towards the end of the season, we were seeing a single here and hard hit balls and hard outs like he had all season, and you can see his timing getting a little bit better to where his body is cooperating, and that turns into confidence which turns into success. Yesterday, the big home run, he can accidentally hit a lot of those when his timing gets right, and right now he looks very good. It would be nice to get the middle of our order all clicking at the same time, so hopefully something we can maintain right now.
Q.Wondering how you think you've changed over the course of the season from spring training on. Is there any one or two things you can point to that have improved a lot or gotten different for you?
MIKE MATHENY: Besides less hair and ulcers? I think every day I've learned something new. I love this game. I love the job. I love what I've learned along the way are the requirements, and it just turns into every day dealing with people. I enjoy getting to invest into these guys and then watching them turn and invest into each other. That's really the culture we have created here, is us this team going out and having each other's back all the time. And these guys, once again, this is something that has been set in place as you witnessed through 2011, and coming into this job, I knew that there was a culture that was already established that we just needed to try to maintain. And these guys have done a terrific job of maintaining that and trying to push it forward. But as far as such rising what I've learned and things that have gone on, the list is too long, because there's too much every day. But it's been a fun ride and continue to try and put these guys in position to do what they can do.
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