10/21/10 4:29 PM ET
Workout day interview with Ron Washington
By / MLB.com
RON WASHINGTON: That's exactly what it means. You know, especially in the playoffs, that's what you want to do, peak, and try to play your best game. Because every game is more meaningful than the next, because if you it don't get it done, you go home. So that's exactly what I meant.
Q. A lot of people talk about Cliff Lee waiting till Game 7, but can you talk about your level of confidence in Colby, given how well he threw in Game 2 against these guys in this ballpark?
RON WASHINGTON: Well, we have confidence in every one of our starters we send out there. We certainly have a high level of confidence in Colby. You know, the key, I think, to trying to beat the Yankees is keeping them in the ballpark. If you don't keep them in the ballpark, you got no chance. If you keep them in the ballpark I'm not saying you can't win ball games by keeping them in the ballpark but you allow yourself a chance to beat them by keeping them in the ballpark.
That's the key to Colby, is continue to just maintain his command, get his spots keep, the ball down and we have all the confidence in the world that he can do that.
Q. When a guy like Cano is so locked in right now, what challenges does that present to you?
RON WASHINGTON: Just continue to try to make your pitches. You know, you have to be a lot smarter when there's runners on the bag when he is up there. And maybe when there's open bags, he can put them on. He's hitting everything, he's hitting breaking balls, balls down and away, hitting balls up. He's just a tremendous hitter.
You just try to continue to do the things that you think we all have weaknesses, and he has a weakness. We just have to make sure we stay there. But if you don't, good hitters get you, and he's a good hitter and when we left pitches out over the plate, he don't miss.
I'm not surprised, because he's one of the better hitters in baseball. So you know, we just definitely have to make sure we are very careful with runners in scoring position and their big runs out there, maybe we have to decide to let someone else beat us. But in that lineup, you're always picking poison. There's no letup.
Q. A Rod, relatively speaking, you've held him in check, have you held him well or has he missed some pitches?
RON WASHINGTON: Well, he's got a lot of walks. He's been on base a lot. He may not have been doing any damage, but he's definitely gotten a lot of walks. He's very careful up there at the plate at what he wants to hit, and he's making sure that if we don't do it, he's willing to pass it to the next guy. So you know, you can't stop Alex. All you can do is try to contain him, and that's exactly what we have done so far, contain him to the part where we have kept him from producing runs. But you know, in a minute, he can bust out. You just don't stop a good hitter like that. We are very fortunate to this point and hope we can continue that.
You know, as you say, Alex hasn't been getting off, but there are a few guys in our lineup that haven't gotten off, either. Once again, we have just got to concern ourselves with playing our game, concern ourselves with trying to execute what we feel we have to execute, and if we do that, things will take care of themselves.
Q. I guess Nelson is going to test today and see if he's going to be able to play, but given the numbers of injuries you have had to deal with this year, wide variety of injuries, how would you assess the importance of the depth you have had on this team getting to where you are now?
RON WASHINGTON: Well, the depth we have had has been the main reasons we are here besides our pitching.
And every time someone went down, someone stepped up. You know, Nelly had a little tightness yesterday, and the way the weather was yesterday, cool, I didn't take any chances.
Once he said he felt some tightness, I just got him out of the lineup, replaced him with David Murphy and David went up there and did a good job. That's what's been the backbone of our team. Everyone has been doing their job. But Nelly is fine to go tomorrow, get a workout today. It was precaution.
And that's all it is.
Q. Josh missed a lot of September, and was a little slow after getting back in the lineup. How close is he to being the Josh that so dominated the league when he was healthy this year?
RON WASHINGTON: Well, you know, the only thing he has to dominate now is the Yankees pitching staff. I think he got rhythm back, he's looking much better at the plate, and he's certainly a big presence, and he's a dangerous presence, and that's a presence we certainly need in that lineup.
And I think he's back to that part of it. But you know, what he's done for the league, that part of it is over. Now he's just got to try to dominate this Yankee pitching staff. You know, they have been pitching him very careful, and he's been fortunate enough when they have made some mistakes that he's hit them.
We have just got to see how it goes when tomorrow comes, and just take it as that.
Q. We have talked quite often this year about how loose this team is and how they can comeback and move on and come out tomorrow. You've also talked about blazing a trail for post season; do you sense the same attitude, the same approach, or do you sense anything different with this team?
RON WASHINGTON: No, I sense the same attitude, simply because we haven't done anything. That's the mindset we have to keep.
We haven't done anything. You know, if we are fortunate enough to get past this series right here and get to the World Series, we still haven't done anything, because our goal is to be in the World Series and win it. So our focus has to stay in the moment, and, you know, myself and my coaching staff, we are doing everything we can to make sure that we keep these guys in the moment.
Now, once they go between the lines, we can't control the emotions and anxiety and all that that they feel. We just hope that they can stay in the moment so that they can be aware of when the game asks them to do something, they are able to do it. That's all we can do. Once the game starts, we are at the mercy of the players oh, except for the moves I may have to make. Then they are at the mercy of me, and they have done it.
Q. This is your fourth year; why did it start this year, besides better players, did you do something in the off season to change the culture or attitude?
RON WASHINGTON: No, this is something that's been happening and building since I got here. When I got here, as I said, I'm an old school baseball guy. I believe in pitching, defense, and I believe in the execution of the fundamentals. I'm no different than any other manager; they want their players to do the same thing.
I'm just a guy that loves to stress the little things in the game of baseball, because those are the things that take care of business and the big things happen.
Those are the things we have been trying to develop the four years I've got here and I'm very fortunate to have a group of guys that believe in me, believe in my coaching staff, and through that, they begin to believe in themselves.
As I always say, things that you ask of people, especially in the game of baseball, this game is so beautiful, it will show it. And then they begin to know that maybe you're right about what you're seeing, and you know, that's what's happened here. We preached a certain style. We preached a certain style, and the things that we ask them to do, you go out there and you play the game, and then you can figure it out and say, wow, we lost a ballgame because we didn't do this little thing.
And those are some of the things sometimes that get lost and those are the types of things that we like to keep in the forefront so that they can understand that we are not interested in you looking at results. We are more interested in execution and the results happen. So that's something we develop as far as the culture goes here.
Q. But why did it take four years?
RON WASHINGTON: Because I'm no miracle worker. Everyone takes time to develop and understand what's right and what's wrong. If it was that easy, I think everybody would be able to go out there and create something. But it don't happen like that. It's a process. It's a mindset. Especially when in Texas, when you know, pounding the baseball was the forefront here. We tried to change styles as far as our pitchers learning how to pitch, our defense learning how to become a better defensive team; us understanding how to run the base paths, understanding when the situation says just move someone, understanding when you can get runs without even getting a base hit, just make an out.
It takes time to do that. You just can't turn that around just because you say it. It's a process.
Q. Do you convey all your philosophies to the players or is there anyone who understands your philosophies and attitude and conveys to other players?
RON WASHINGTON: You know, that's what a team and an organization is about. You set standards that you would like to be reached. You set expectations, and you hold people accountable for it. And accountability not only starts with me, and then it flows through my coaching staff and into the players; it starts at the top.
So we all had to expect to do something, and then we had to go out there and do the grunt work to make sure that those expectations are met. In the end, though, it all falls on the players. It all falls on the leadership in that clubhouse, making sure that when things don't get done, that everyone is aware of it. Because if it's just me and my coaching staff constantly making them aware of it, sometimes that can get lost.
I was a baseball player, too. I played in the big leagues. It meant more when it came from the guys that were on the field, you know, doing the things that it takes to win ballgames, more than it takes for the coaching staff or the front office. I have guys in that clubhouse that are veterans and they make sure that they police their own clubhouse.
You know, my coaching staff is the closest to the players, and whatever I feel like I need to convey, I convey to my coaches. They get it done through the players and if there is anything I need to convey to the players, I would definitely personally talk to them. Again as a manager, I try to stay out of the way of that and let them play baseball, and make sure the things that I feel need to be corrected is known through my coaching staff. I will go to the players directly if I have to, but as I said I try, I try to stay out of the way of that.
Q. What about the old baseball superstitions, is there anything before the games or during the games that you have always done?
RON WASHINGTON: I just stay under control and do what I do every day. I come in, sit down and put out the lineup. I check with my coaches to find out what the mood is because they are more closer to the players. I try to find out if there's anything that I feel like I need to say to them, and if not, you know, I walk the clubhouse, I watch them hit. I go in and watch them play cards. And mostly, I just stay to myself until it's time to go on the field for BP and then I go out there and I get involved. I'm a working manager. I throw my BP, I hit my fungos. I talk to my players. Most of the time, it's just loose situation about maybe something that they have done that day. It's not mainly about baseball because sometimes you can get too flooded with talking about the game.
They understand where we are and what we have to do. And I just try to lead by example, and I have a lot of wisdom, and I impart that wisdom when I have to, but I don't make it an every day thing if I don't have to. I do what I have to do when I have to do it. Other than that, I let my players be who they are, because they know the stage that we are on and they know what we are trying to do.
Workout day interview with Colby Lewis
Q. How valuable have these two starts that you've made been for you in terms of preparing for this one?
COLBY LEWIS: A bunch. I mean, like I've always said, I mean, you can't really get too used to it, but I mean, I think that you can get more comfortable.
You know, I think every playoff game and atmosphere is a little bit different. But I mean, I think that's what makes guys a little bit better, like Andy Pettitte. He's got how many starts in the post season, and I think it definitely helps him get more comfortable for sure, and Mariano and those guys that have so many appearances for sure.
Q. When a guy like Cano is so locked in right now, what challenges does that present to you?
COLBY LEWIS: Make better pitches. You know, I mean, that's basically it. Try to make your pitch and hopefully he miss hits it somehow. That's all you can do is try not to make mistakes, because when a guy is locked in like that, you do make a little mistake, and he takes advantage of it, for sure.
Q. Since the Yankees had not faced you and you faced them, do you change up anything now that you have a better idea what to expect since you are facing them again?
COLBY LEWIS: I think it's like anything in the regular season. Like me, I think I faced the A's six times this year. I think you just kind of stick with your approach on how you feel that day in the bullpen and you make your adjustments from there.
You try to command your pitches and see what type of swings they are making, and like I say, make your adjustments from their point of view.
Q. Can you talk a little about, you know, any pressure or nerves you might be feeling, not only to just close it out and get it done, but to not have to go to a Game 7, that type of thing.
COLBY LEWIS: Of course, you want to finish as quick as you can, but yeah, I mean, I don't think there's any extra added pressure on us or anything like that. We are really comfortable. The clubhouse is really relaxed. We are back at home where we have been playing really well, and we just got to go out and take care of it. I mean, that's all there is to it.
Q. After all of the times you've been signed, released, moved around, Japan a year ago, how grateful are you for an opportunity to actually be in a position where it's up to you to put a team into the World Series?
COLBY LEWIS: Yeah, I mean, it's a great feeling, of course. I mean, that's I mean, I don't know what else to say, but to tell me that I'd be in this situation two years ago when I was thinking that, you know, me, finishing up my career in Japan, I would have told you you'd be nuts.
But it's a situation where I'm totally grateful for it, and grateful for the opportunity that the Rangers gave me to come back and continue to prove my talents here in the States.
You know, I just want to go out and do what I've been doing all year, try to give a quality start, and leave it in the hands of the hitters.
Q. You were talking about how loose this team is, how comfortable they are being home, but it seems to have started at the beginning of the year and things haven't seemed to change. Did you sense what this team was feeling coming out of Spring Training, even though the enormity gets greater every time you come out?
COLBY LEWIS: That's exactly what we said in Spring Training, we wanted to win the World Series, and we are one win away from getting there. Now it's right there in front of us and we've just got to take it.
Q. Last outing, you pitched great, but you said you couldn't pitch as long as you wanted. Have you been thinking about that, how to stay longer?
COLBY LEWIS: I mean, basically all that's going deep into the game is getting quick outs and not getting guys on base and not walking guys.
That's the approach that I've tried to take all year, and that's what I want to take into tomorrow's start is try to get quick outs and go as deep as I can in the ballgame for sure.
Q. Your manager has talked for a couple of days about how aggressive your team is, how he's told guys to take what the game gives them, and you can just see it, not only in this series, but for a long time now, taking extra bases, stealing bases. How much fun is it to pitch or just to watch a team do that, especially with a guy like Elvis who really seems fearless?
COLBY LEWIS: Yeah, it's a situation where our team, I think, puts the extra added pressure on them.
We take advantage of the small mistakes. We take advantage of the little things that some teams might not do. Like Wash says, you know, sometimes we might get ourselves in trouble, but more often than not, we put ourselves in better situations; taking a bag here, a hit and run here. It's just like he said, try to do the small things.
Q. Are you superstitious? I know you're serious about getting this job done tomorrow might, but anything you do during the season?
COLBY LEWIS: No. I think the biggest thing is that since my son was born is really just quality family time all the time. I think that's the biggest thing that's really helped me in my career is staying focused on that aspect of it, and that it's more than just baseball; it's being around your family and that's what keeps me relaxed.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.