10/11/10 6:50 PM ET
Off-day interview with Evan Longoria
By / MLB.com
Q. How much does having Carlos hitting behind you and hitting well impact you, and hitting in front of him, obviously the pitches you see and what you're able to do?
EVAN LONGORIA: It's a big impact. You know, obviously we've seen throughout the course of the year when Carlos does get hot, usually it affects the whole lineup, the way that they approach everybody, not just me. I mean, you don't want to put guys on in front of him when he has the ability to drive guys in or hit the ball out of the ballpark.
He's getting hot at the right time. It's good to see, and being on second and watching the swings that he's been taking and being in the dugout watching him hit balls out of the ballpark, it's exciting to see.
Q. You've already seen Cliff Lee once, doesn't walk a lot of guys, that's a big part of your game. You go back to the right-handed lineup. How do you guys go about trying to pick at him and get some things going?
EVAN LONGORIA: I actually think we've seen Cliff Lee four times up to this point, and we've had decent success against him. Obviously not as of late, but you know, throughout the course of the year we've had some good battles against him. You know, again, that's something that we need to look back as far as we need to look back to regain that confidence in going up against a guy like Cliff. Obviously he's had good post-season success, but at the same time, I mean, we're in a good spot. We've been able to bring the series back home, and we have our horse on the mound, too, and that's the biggest thing for us is giving Dave another chance to go out there and do what we know he can do.
Q. A couple of years ago in the ALCS, I remember you telling a story that you went to talk to Price when he was on the mound and you said, "You were born for this moment." Of course he was struck by the fact, I'm older than that guy. But do you think he was born for this moment, too? Is he just one of those guys?
EVAN LONGORIA: You know, he's the guy that I want out there tomorrow. At this point of the year, he's been our workhorse the whole year, and maybe not the leader of the staff, so to speak, but he's been our best guy throughout the course of the year.
You know, that's what you want when you set up a post-season series and you have a chance to win a game. You want your guy who's been the best for you out there all year. Without a doubt, Dave has been the best for us.
You know, I can't express how happy I am that we have -- that he has another chance to do what I know that -- when he closes his eyes at night, what he wants to do the next day. So I think he's really excited about that second chance tomorrow, and I am, too, because I think it's going to be a really fun night for him and for all of us.
Q. Are there any lessons that you learned in the last few games of the ALCS in 2008 that you can apply or that you're applying right now to the last few games of this series?
EVAN LONGORIA: Well, I think the biggest thing is just playing in the pressure-packed environment, playing when everything is on the line, and it's win or go home. We weren't in that -- well, until Game 7, we weren't in that situation. We were pretty much in command of that series, lost it a little bit in that Game 5 in Boston, but other than that, you know, we had played a good series up to that point.
But this time was a little bit different. But we've been able to regain control somewhat, so to speak, and put the ball a little bit back in our court, and again, still have the opportunity to continue playing October baseball. That's the biggest thing is we're not going home yet, and we've got one more chance to continue playing.
Q. Just a two-parter on the quad. First of all, did you find that running on grass was easier than it had been running on turf? And second of all, do you think that having a day game off and having a night game will give you more time to recover and be more beneficial for you?
EVAN LONGORIA: To answer the first part of the question, it's definitely a little bit easier to run on grass. You hear guys talk about all the time, playing on turf takes a little bit more of a toll on your legs than playing on grass does. But I think up to this point, it doesn't really matter. I think everybody's legs feel bad. Nobody feels 100 percent, and it's definitely not something that I'm pointing my finger at. I'm going to go out there and give everything I have for this next game.
To answer the second part of the question, yeah, it's definitely more time to recover and get treatment and do all the things that I need to do to get myself ready. Playing a day game is always tough, no matter what time of the season it is. But at this point it's particularly tough to play a game as intense as we played the evening before and then come back and play a noon game. It's pretty taxing on everybody's body. I think everybody is going to feel a little bit more fresh tomorrow night than we have in the past couple days.
Q. Yesterday on TV, they showed you when Carlos was up. You had like a little container of Gatorade on your shoulder. Looked like you were filming it kind of. What was going on there and will you do it again every time Carlos is up tomorrow?
EVAN LONGORIA: I probably should. I was actually pretending like I had some sort of cannon because I was hoping he would hit some sort of home run, and he ended up hitting a home run, which was kind of irony of the whole situation. I didn't do it again. I didn't do it in the last couple hits that he got in the last game, so I'm not superstitious in that respect.
Q. Even though it hasn't shown up so far in this series, how much of a home-field advantage can this place be especially when it's really loud and they're going to open up 5,000 more seats for tomorrow's game?
EVAN LONGORIA: Well, I think the numbers speak for themselves. I was just looking at that sheet over there and it said we were like 35 and 18 or something when this place is sold out or above 30,000. That speaks for itself and the home-field advantage aspect.
We've just got to play a little bit better baseball. I mean, the first two games at home we were -- I mean, offensively we were stagnant, and the pitchers did their best to keep us in the game.
But I mean, that's a pretty good lineup over there, and to watch zero after zero of your team putting up no runs and then go out there with no runs supported, it's tough to keep a team like the Rangers at bay. I think the quicker that we can jump out and put some runs on the board, you know, the more comfortable that pitching staff is going to feel, and in turn the home-field advantage is really going to start to show.
Q. You just mentioned obviously David Price and how glad you were to give him another chance. Just knowing how competitive he is, how much more determined do you think he'll be after what happened in Game 1 and what's he been like the last few days?
EVAN LONGORIA: You know, he's been the same guy, laughing, having fun, enjoying his time. It's not like it's going to be a short time, but just enjoying the moment and being around the guys and being in the clubhouse. I know that he's very determined. He's antsy and anxious to get back out on the mound. But I hope at the same time that he just -- you know, he doesn't try harder. He goes out there and pitches the way that he knows how to pitch and the way he has pitched the whole year. If he does that, he's going to have great success.
Q. You guys have been able to make a lot of late-inning comebacks during the course of the year. How much confidence does it give you to have the bullpen the way it's been able to go and not give that lead back and just kind of shut the door a little bit?
EVAN LONGORIA: Again, our bullpen throughout the course of the year has had the ability to shorten the game, and when we do get a lead, I mean, even like the Game 4 where Wade was throwing a tremendous game and Joe was able to go to the bullpen in the sixth inning and mix and match those guys and shorten it up until we get to the 8th and 9th when Benoit and Soriano have been pretty much -- I don't want to say lights out, but they've been as good as you can be for an 8 and 9 guy all year.
When you have that ability as a bullpen, it gives you a lot of confidence throughout -- the whole team, we feel if we get -- you get ahead and you're able to maintain that lead, and once it gets down to those later innings, you've got a good chance of winning a ballgame.
Off-day interview with John Jaso
Q. What would you say are some of the traits that David Price has that you think would lend themselves to him succeeding tomorrow?
JOHN JASO I think the biggest trait that stands out in David Price is his competitive attitude. You know, when it's not his start, he's all over the dugout bouncing off all the walls, cheering everybody on, on the field.
When it comes to that day, when he gets the ball in his hand, you know, he turns into this competitor, and that's just who he is. That's his personality. You know, he's a winner. He doesn't accept anything less than a win, and you know, that drive him to success.
Q. We know how determined he is typically. Can you kind of quantify what you expect to see tomorrow night given how Game 1 went and the kind of feelings he wants to get back out there?
JOHN JASO Yeah, you know, I can't tell you the future or anything like that, but what I'd like to see is that David Price that we saw when we clinched our playoff spot. You know, he went out there, it was a big game, and he could have tried to do too much. He could have gotten wild with his fastball basically, like trying to throw too hard, trying to overthrow, all that stuff. But he didn't do that. He basically pounded the strike zone with his fastball, challenged hitters, here, put this pitch in play, let's see if he can hit this. He wasn't throwing out of the strike zone or anything like that.
So that's kind of, that's the David Price that I would like to see tomorrow and that I hope to see tomorrow.
Q. How badly do you think he wants it?
JOHN JASO I think he wants it very badly. You know, he's, I just saw him actually earlier today, and he's not walking around any different than he would be normally during the season, and that's good to see. You know, I hate the attitude of the post season and guys like really trying to do a whole lot, you know, to kind of make a win happen and stuff like that. You know, we've been winning all season long with the attitudes that we've had, and it's good to see that we're keeping that same attitude here in the post season.
Q. When Joe was in here talking about your at bat the other day, he referred to you as Mikey. Can you talk a little bit about that nickname and how widespread it is in the clubhouse?
JOHN JASO It's pretty widespread. Amongst our team, like guys on the roster and also guys that are everyday people that hang out in the clubhouse. It's a cool thing. It's fun, and it happened a couple years ago, and Carlos Peña kind of dropped that on me and the rest of the squad, and it just kind of stuck, and it's a fun thing. I like it. You know, people smile when they say it, and I know Joe gets a kick out of it, so it's a cool thing.
Q. Joe just said going back to Spring Training that you weren't really even being counted on to be part of the picture. Can you take us back to that point in time and what your expectations were?
JOHN JASO In Spring Training this last year?
JOHN JASO Well, yeah. You know, I knew what was on everybody's minds, especially like the coaching staff, the manager. And it was kind of, it was cool the way it happened, the way it happened in Spring Training. Joe basically called me into his office, and I basically had a one to one kind of conversation with him, and he told me basically what he didn't like about the way I played or presented myself out on the field and what he would like to see.
And that was kind of one of the that was kind of hard to kind of swallow. It was a hard pill to swallow at the time because I did take pride in what I did, and I did feel like I put in a lot of work to get better defensively. So it was hard to hear at the time. I'm not going to lie, it made me upset, you know what I mean? It was kind of nice because he had told me after practice, it gave me a chance to kind of go home and sleep on it, which I did, and I actually, you know, I kind of feel lucky in the sense I woke up the next morning with a totally changed attitude, like I'm going to put everything out there on the line, like this is it; this is the year that it has to happen. And I'm kind of glad I chose to do that and take the criticism constructively, you know, instead of kind of putting him out of my mind and saying, forget you, all this stuff. I'm glad I took it and kind of ran with it.
Q. In Games 1 and 2, the hits and the base runners weren't there for the offense. What do you attribute the greater offensively productivity to in Games 3 and 4? Was it just contagious when the hits started coming or was there anything that, a reason for that?
JOHN JASO You know, I think I can't really tell you the reason because it's been like that all year long. You know, it'll come in like waves or whatever. But I think that, you know, we went over to Texas kind of facing our elimination. They just had to beat us one game and we were done.
I think a lot of us kind of took that as, you know, it could end today, you know what I mean? And that mentality, it could go, I think, one of two ways. I think it could go the one way where it could end today and all of a sudden you're putting all this pressure on yourself saying, we have to win right now, we have to do it. But I think a lot of the players on our team took it the other way and said, this could end today; we should enjoy it right now. You know what I mean? And I think we went out there and played the game fun and loose knowing that it could end today. I'm kind of glad, like, our mentality kind of switched to that direction.
Q. You guys are going to get to see Cliff Lee again; they're going to get to see David Price again. Is there an advantage for the pitcher versus the hitter when you get to see that No. 1 starter going again so soon?
JOHN JASO I think so, yeah. You know, because a pitcher isn't going to try and reinvent like a different pitch or anything like that to get you out. So I think in a sense the hitter does have the advantage because the pitcher is going to come at you with the same stuff that he came at you with before.
You know, I think it's always in the pitcher's advantage because he's the one holding the ball, you know what I mean, and the hitter kind of has to be able to adjust with whatever the pitcher is doing. So in both cases I think the pitcher always has the advantage.
But it does help out the hitter more to see the pitcher again, yes, I believe that is true.
Q. After BP on Friday in Dallas, I believe you had a players' meeting. Did that really help everybody, this players' meeting?
JOHN JASO I think it did, yeah. It helped kind of basically if everybody is thinking the same thing but nobody wants to say it, it kind of helps to get some things out in the air and help you realize everybody is thinking the same thing, you know. And then after that is being said, to kind of, you know, like make that, kind of harness it in the sense to bring back team unity. We are thinking the same thing, nobody is like separated in this situation, and we are a team, you know.
I'd like to think that in Texas we played as a team. There was a lot of big hits. I mean, you could say, you know, Longoria getting all those big hits, but if you look back, there was a lot of guys that were all through the lineup that were getting big hits. B.J.'s hit, I think, was huge the other day, you know, and then Peña's hit, that was big.
You know, that whole sense of playing as a team kind of came about.
Off-day interview with Joe Maddon
Q. The reports back here over the weekend said that the plane ride to Texas was pretty funny and comical. How was the plane ride back yesterday?
JOE MADDON: I was sleeping most of the day. No, it was a little bit more subdued but good. The guys are feeling very confident. They were feeling confident going into that game yesterday, too, so I think it's just a nice carryover. I love the way our boys are handling this moment right now and they definitely will be ready to play tomorrow night.
Q. On the mound during Game 1, David looked like he was upset with himself, like he was angry for his performance. Do you get that sense? Do you get a sense of determination on his part that he gets to --
JOE MADDON: Yes.
Q. -- try again?
JOE MADDON: Yes, David was not happy with himself the first game of the Series, and if anybody -- nobody could be more critical of David than David can be, and he's going to definitely come into this game tomorrow with the right mindset. He's going to be charged up, amped up and not overly so. I really believe he's going to be in control of his emotions. He's a unique individual.
From what I've seen from the time that first pick out of Vanderbilt and that circus of a year there for him and how well he handled that. Then he comes to us as a first round draft choice and handles those expectations well. Throw him into a pressure cooker in 2008, he's fine
So I just think I have a lot of confidence in David; we all do. So I expect a good performance tomorrow night.
Q. Obviously you had some strong performances from your starting pitchers the last couple days. How big has the bullpen been?
JOE MADDON: Great point. We talked about Matt a lot and we've talked about Wade a lot, but the whole bullpen has been fabulous.
Yesterday I didn't talk enough about Grant Balfour. What he did yesterday was tremendous. The day before that role was played by Joaquin Benoit. They got, I think, four or five outs each, and actually the way Grant did it in that second inning against the very meaty part of the batting order did it within, I don't even know, five to ten pitches, yeah, very quickly, which is wonderful. You always like to get those outs quickly, man, get them in and get them out. He's done a great job, Benny, and of course Rafael. The whole group, Choate has come in and gotten the lefties out like he's supposed to.
We haven't use much of Danny or Quallsy yet, but we shall in the right moment. So listen, our bullpen has been that all year, and you know that.But I didn't talk enough about Grant yesterday, and I thought about that after the game. His performance really made that game work for us.
Q. Obviously these last two games you're left handed hitting lineup fared pretty well. Obviously against a lefty what are your thoughts on where you go from there?
JOE MADDON: There's different things we could consider, but I'm really much a believer in what's ever gotten us to this point you want to stay with it for the most part. I'm definitely willing to tweak things and make adjustments if I feel the information is good, and just reading our situation, if it's the appropriate thing to do at that time.
I'm debating a couple little things quite frankly for tomorrow, but more than likely you're going to see a very similar lineup for us versus a left handed pitcher. I do have a lot of confidence in this group. Our record against left-handed pitching has been actually very good this year.
Most recently we had a good game against Sabathia up in New York with the same lineup. We didn't have such a good game versus Matusz and versus Chen recently, too. I'm trying to consider all of that.
Our left-handed hitters really have not swung the bat often against left handed pitching this year, although they did a nice job against Texas when I left them in there versus their bullpen. So there's different things to consider.
Q. What do you recall, I guess, about the last time you guys played in one of these all or nothing games in '08, just sort of the atmosphere here, especially when you brought David into the game, how electric that was?
JOE MADDON: If you remember that whole thing, we were up in Boston prior to that and had a pretty good chance at putting things away. We had like a seven-run lead, I think, in that particular game and gave it up, and then they win another game and all of a sudden we've got to go seven. I do remember that we were very confident regardless of what was going on. I remember Garza was really on a good roll pitching-wise at that time.
But for the most part I always try to take stock of our guys. How are your guys? How are they -- are they chatty? Are they quiet? Are they sitting in front of their locker? Are they just not conversing as normal? That always bothers me. I hate quiet locker rooms; I like loud. So I want to see them be themselves and I want to see them interacting as normal. If I see that then I feel pretty good about the game that night.
We weren't interacting well enough, I didn't think, in the first and second game against the Rangers, honestly, and then even the third game concerned me. But since we were able to get on top in the third game, all of a sudden the dugout came alive, you've got the boards chirping on a wire again and everything looks back to normal. So as long as we can maintain that appropriate camaraderie, that interaction, then I'll be pretty confident going into tomorrow night's game.
Q. The Rays announced today they're going to take the tarps off the upper decks and open up about 5,000 more seats. How much do you think that can create maybe a little bit more of a home-field advantage?
JOE MADDON: It's loud the way it is. That makes it even louder. Those people are even closer to the roof. I also believe there's going to be a discount for those wearing plaid in those seats. If we can get that in conjunction with the front office somehow, I'd love to see, what is it, 5,000 people up there in plaid at least. We're going to attempt to work on a discount. Sorry, Matthew. But I thought it would be a great idea.
Q. In Game 1 there was a lot of talk about how David threw a lot of fastballs, even maybe a higher percentage than usual. Of course, if you throw in breaking balls and given up hits, then everybody would have said well, why are you giving your second best pitch. How do you kind of stand on that philosophically about how important it is to mix pitches or just let that fastball loose?
JOE MADDON: It's all about counts. I mean, he was getting into some bad counts. They had two 3-0 big hits against them, the 3-0 homer by Cruz and a 3-0 double-up off the center field wall by Vladimir. And I think Francoeur was ahead in that count, too. So it's all about counts.
I mean, if David gets ahead and if he's sitting ahead and they have to honor the other pitches in the back of their mind more readily, then the fastball becomes for effective. But when they're in fastball counts and they're seeing fastball, most Major League hitters can pretty much time that thing and put a good swing on it.
So for me it's about David getting into better counts for him, and if he is then he can throw all fastballs actually when it comes down to it. He's pitched really well throwing, I don't even know, 90 percent fastballs. A lot of our guys, we're a high fastball throwing team.
Although I think we're also very good about throwing other pitches for strikes when we're behind in the count. I encourage that. So I would think that specifically what you're asking, if he were to get behind in the count, he may have to come a little softer at different moments, and it's hard when you have 95 or 96 in your back pocket. They're not going to be looking soft. So getting ahead is a big part of his fastball abilities.
Q. Was there a defining moment in this series that really swung the momentum back for you, aside from the scores, but something that may have occurred on the trip to Texas or maybe Carlos Peña's speech to the team?
JOE MADDON: I don't know, what was the big hit? I'm blanking out right now. Which put us on top? Oh, Mikey's base hit, yeah. It was the 0-2 pitch from Feliz. Obviously that sets a pretty big at bat right there. We had fought back to even, and this guy is 0-2 on Mikey right there, and I saw the video of how well he stayed inside that ball and drove it back through the middle. I really believed from that moment on our dugout was pretty much back to normal. And to have Mikey do it was really appropriate. Here's a guy that beginning of Spring Training we weren't counting on him to be this guy at this point of the season at all, quite frankly. We were not. And if you had told me that he would be, I'd really look at you kind of like weirdly because I didn't see it happening.
But to his credit he's growing into this player very quickly. He's tough. Believe me, this guy is tough. He's one of the tougher players I've been on the field with, just physically -- I compare him to rebar. He's that tough, this guy. He's done a lot of big things for us in a very short career, and I just love the way he handles the moment. But I think that that particular hit versus their guy was probably the moment that switched things around.
Q. Just wondering how limited, if at all, you think Longoria will be, and also getting back to the lineup real quickly, you didn't use Peña in that Game 2. Would that even be close to an option in this game?
JOE MADDON: No, that was versus Wilson. That's a different -- actually Carlos has had some very good history against Lee.
The Wilson thing, if you look at Wilson's numbers against left-handers, they're really ridiculous and I'm sure going to piggyback those two tomorrow night if necessary. He's really good against lefties. Carlos has had several homers, I think, against Cliff Lee. And right now just from the side I can see Carlos' swing having a lot more confidence. He's attacking the ball much better compared to what he had been doing. He was not feeling for things right now.
No, Carlos is definitely in that lineup tomorrow. And Longo, you're going to see a lot of what you've been seeing, and I think I mentioned it the other day. Part of his problems I thought was that he was chasing pitches, and yesterday he got some pitches to hit and he did not miss them. That's where Longo has to be. He's got to be on his pitch, be ready. What he does sometimes is he really wants to move the ball in RBI situations and maybe sometimes give a pitcher an advantage. But when he's patient, he's very dangerous.
Q. Health wise he's okay?
JOE MADDON: Yeah. I mean, what you're seeing -- what you saw the last couple days, you're probably going to see a lot of the same. This day off might help. It's actually like two days off, playing a noon game yesterday and it's going to be 8:00 tomorrow night. So that gives him plenty of time to recoup, and I really, like I said before, I have a lot of faith in our training staff.
Q. Can you talk about the 2010 season going through the American League East, having so many games that people called must wins and how it prepares your ballclub to be maybe a little battle tested when you finally get to that one game for advancement?
JOE MADDON: Well, from the very first year I was here, people have often spoken about don't you wish you were in another division, and I've always said, no, and I've always believed that by playing in the American League East has permitted us to get better quicker, sooner.
When you consistently have to play in Fenway or Yankee Stadium or the new Yankee Stadium or now going into Toronto has become very difficult, Baltimore is difficult. I'm not denigrating the rest of the league, but we play almost 80 games against these teams, playing nine teams in each one of these venues, it really hardens you up pretty quickly, and I think it's good. It's good for our young players. We got beaten up a little bit a couple years ago several times in both of those places, particularly Fenway and New York, but we learned from it. So I've often thought the best way to get good quick lead is to play the best as often as you can, and if you play the best as often as you can, then that expedites your getting better yourself.
Q. Both teams have their best pitcher going, and both teams have to win. Just as a general philosophical kind of approach, would a manager be more likely to go longer with a starter or have a quicker hook?
JOE MADDON: It's just going to depend. When you've got your best guy going out there, quite frankly, you probably are going to be a little bit more lenient, there's no question. I wouldn't argue that point.
But then again, just going to have to watch what's going on, and if you have to shift it, you've just got to shift gears, you've got to do it. But I'm sure from their perspective, Cliff Lee and from our perspective David Price, you really feel you've got your best guys out there. You're probably going to be a little bit more lenient in regards to when you want to make a move.
Q. Though he's not in the lineup, how good or how important is it to have Rocco in the dugout? There's a lot of shots on him on TV.
JOE MADDON: Yeah, Rocco has been great. And when he came in and talked to me the other day, he was just really telling me how badly he felt, both about not being able to play and how badly he felt physically. Rocco is a uniquely wonderful young man for those of you that have had a chance to have a conversation with him. He's very -- what I asked him at that point is I said, listen, even though you can't play, I really want you to be here. I want you to walk around, I want you to influence, I want you to talk to these guys, et cetera. So Rocco is all about that. Rocco is a team guy. This is absolutely eating him up inside to not be able to participate right now.
If you had been in that conversation with me, you would have seen that, the day he came and talked to me in my office. I know his heart is in the right place and he's a big part of what we're doing, has been, has been a big part of our fabric. But yeah, I love seeing Rocco in our dugout.
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