10/18/11 6:12 PM ET
A Workout Day Interview with Ron Washington
By / MLB.com
Q. We've talked about this a lot again, but could you reiterate the great job that Daniels and Ryan did to fill in the holes in the off season for this team.
RON WASHINGTON: Well, it was an excellent job, really. We lost Cliff Lee, which we thought we had him there for a second, but then we decided that we was going to go after Beltre, and when we got Beltre, what a move right there. He brought leadership, brought tremendous offensive capability and tremendous defensive capability and leadership, also.
And then we got lucky and got Mike Napoli. We always knew what he was capable of doing as far as getting on bases and punching the ball out of the ballpark, but here we had another guy that was a leader, and he turned out to be a tremendous receiver. Helped our young pitching staff make it through the year because they took on a load that they haven't experienced before, and he was able to help them get through it.
You know, it was obvious that we had some weakness in the bullpen as the season started and progressed until the trading deadline, and then it got us two pieces to help settle down the bullpen, and put people in position where they always knew where they would pitch when an opportunity presented itself in the ballgame, and from that point on we began to play the type of game we knew we were capable of playing, complete, and here we are.
Q. Nolan went on Galloway's show and said "Rangers in six." What do you think about that? And how do you go about trying to finish the job this time?
RON WASHINGTON: Well, I don't question what Nolan said, but we understand the game has to be played on the field. We know it's a seven game series, and we're looking for each and every game to be tough, and all we can hope for is that we do enough to win each and every one of them, at least enough to win the World Series.
And what was the second part of that question?
Q. Just being able to finish the job this time, getting back to the World Series, versus last year.
RON WASHINGTON: Well, I think Hamilton put it as perfectly as it can be put: Right now we expect to win, and that's the attitude we have. I don't think if you have that attitude, you shouldn't be here in the World Series.
We'll just go out there and play our type of game and try to play to what the game asks us to do on every given day, and hope when it's all over, nine innings, that we've got one run more than the St. Louis Cardinals.
Q. The Giants are sitting home right now, and getting back to the World Series year after year is so difficult. Coming in this year after being there last year, what was the mindset to get back in 2011?
RON WASHINGTON: Well, three words: Attitude, commitment and effort. On November the 1st we committed ourselves to trying to get back here because we knew we had the potential in the clubhouse to do it. A lot of times people say a lot of things that they like to do, and they don't usually live up to it. But the character inside my clubhouse, they lived up to it. Each and every day they just tried to be the best baseball team on the field that day, and it worked out for us.
Once again, here we are getting an opportunity again to play in the World Series.
Q. Do you ever lose focus?
RON WASHINGTON: I don't think you can go through a full 162 game season and then the tiers of playoff that we're playing and somewhere along the line focus leaves. But the thing is you always know how to gather it back. You know, this is a tough game, and each and every day to go out there, you're playing against tough opponents. There will be things sometimes that happen that's out of your control, but you have to do one thing on a consistent basis, and that's show up every day and pitch, show up every day and catch the ball, and be ready to perform according to what the game asks you to do on any certain day. It's not always the best team that wins, it's the team that plays the best on that day, and we just try to be the team that plays the best on that day.
Q. Have you set your rotation beyond C.J. and could you share it?
RON WASHINGTON: We've got Colby and we're still up in the air as to where we'll go after that, but Colby will throw the second game.
Q. What influences Colby?
RON WASHINGTON: Well, he's well rested, he's ready to go, he's been throwing the ball extremely well. With him and C.J. back to back, it worked all year, and we finally got back to that one two punch right there.
Q. How tough is this Cardinals' lineup?
RON WASHINGTON: Well, it's a very tough lineup. They can swing the bat. They can make things happen in many, many ways, and we're certainly our starting pitcher will certainly have to be on top of things to get through this lineup.
But we've got through some tough lineups in the American League, and we're looking forward to this challenge, and we'll see what happens tomorrow night.
Q. What's it going to be like matching wits with Tony La Russa?
RON WASHINGTON: Well, I don't think I can ever live up to matching a wit with Tony La Russa, but what I will try to do is put my players in the right position, and if my players perform, I don't have to worry about matching wits; they'll take care of things.
Q. The starting pitching during the regular season dominated in both leagues. In both LCSs they were kind of beat up. Any explanation?
RON WASHINGTON: Well, I don't have an explanation but I do expect my rotation this time through to get us deep in the ballgame. That's the expectation, and they expect the same things out of themselves. We'll just play and see what happens and whatever necessary moves have to be made, we'll make them.
Q. To play off of that just a little bit, when a team has got a good bullpen, a manager often says you can shorten the game to six innings. With your bullpen right now, do you feel like you can shorten the game less than that?
RON WASHINGTON: Well, I think the circumstances will dictate that. You know, if we get into the sixth inning, get through the sixth inning with a lead, yes, we do believe we can shorten it. But I think anything prior to that, you just have to wait and see what happens. You know, you certainly at this point of the year, patience is not a virtue. You have to do what you have to do when you have to do it. I can't sit up here right now and say when I'm going to have to do that.
But my intention is for our starters to go deep, as they've done all year, and then we can go to the bullpen and do what we have to do after that. But it's tough to say when that will happen.
Q. After seeing a very close series and playing a very close series against the Tigers, we saw a lot of solo home runs, dominated bullpen series. What kind of series do you expect this one to be against the Cardinals?
RON WASHINGTON: Well, I expect it to be a great series. You've got two great teams that are playing against each other. I know the Cardinals got here through the wild card, but they earned it, or they wouldn't be here. They went through some pretty tough foes to get here. Same with the Texas Rangers.
If everything falls into place and their starters do what they want them to do, and our starters do what we want them to do, I think we can match up in the bullpen with anyone, just as the Cardinals can match up in the bullpen with anyone, and then we'll see where it goes from there.
But if there's a lot of mistakes made, you think you'll see the ball flying out of the ballpark, I think you'll see hits all over the place, I think you'll start seeing some exciting baseball. But we depend on our starting pitching, and our bullpen is solid.
We have the tools to go to work, it's just a matter of how we've got to use them when the opportunity presents itself.
Q. What challenges are presented when you haven't played a team for seven years like you have here with the Cardinals? How tough is that to prepare for?
RON WASHINGTON: Well, just the unknown, and you have to learn on the job. That's what we're willing to do. We have all of the paperwork that our scouts have done out here, and we know exactly from what they've seen what we should look for, some tendencies or whatever. But once you get in the ballgame, I think you have to go with the flow. So we'll see what happens.
But the advantage, I don't think anyone has an advantage. I think you've just got to go out there and play baseball, and baseball is something we play very good.
Q. Another roster question: Extra reliever or third catcher, have you made that decision yet?
RON WASHINGTON: No, we haven't discussed that yet. We just arrived, came right into the interview room. We still have a workout to do, and then we'll get involved in discussing that afterwards, but I have nothing for you on that right now.
Q. Finally, on C.J. Wilson, obviously he hasn't had the post season he would have liked. What do you think is the key for him to pitch like he has in the regular season?
RON WASHINGTON: Just keep the ball down in the zone. Through the playoffs that we've played so far to get here, he just elevated the ball too much. He knows what he has to do, and I expect him to do it tomorrow. You keep the ball down, use his pitches the way he's used them all year, he can be effective against any lineup.
Q. Do you have a lineup for tomorrow night's game?
RON WASHINGTON: I have it, but I haven't talked to my guys yet, and there's one or two guys that I want to let know before I put it out there.
Q. As you're making all these decisions, putting lineups, rosters together, can you talk about what kind of impact or how you have to change your construction of things not having a DH in these games?
RON WASHINGTON: Well, I don't have to change any construction in my lineup because my DH will be in the game. I just hope that the opportunity presents itself that my pitchers can drop bunts when I need them to drop them. Other than that, I'm running the same lineup out there I've been running all year that got me to this point.
Q. Given the history, recent history in the post season of pitching dominating, do you think there's a tendency for managers to play for one run in this setting, and does that go out the window given the way that these teams are hitting?
RON WASHINGTON: Well, I think you make that decision according to how you feel the opposing pitcher is able to dominate. You know, for instance, Carpenter, if I get a runner on second base and Elvis comes up, I'm going to get him to third. It's just that simple. Because if those guys are dominating, there will be a premium on runs, and you have to get as many runs as you possibly can when the opportunity presents itself to get them.
We'll just, once again, play according to what the game asks. If the game asks that I have to bunt, I'm bunting.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports
Workout day interview with C.J. Wilson
Q. It's going to be cold tomorrow, 32, 33 fahrenheit, thereabouts. How big of a concern is that for you? How do you approach those kind of conditions, especially given the climate back in Texas you're used to?
C.J. WILSON: Well, Texas and St. Louis have similar summer climates, it's humid, it's hot, so I guess the same thing if I was a pitcher here. I haven't really pitched in cold weather too often, but you wear sleeves and put on a jacket in the dugout and that's pretty much all you can do. I don't worry about it too much.
Q. The team's determination, trying to reach the pinnacle of baseball, this is your second shot two years in a row. What do you sense in terms of the team's atmosphere and determination level?
C.J. WILSON: Well, I think last year because we didn't really have a much of a pennant race, we had such a big gap between us and the Angels at the end of the season, the A's, as well, the season just sort of dragged on and we sort of knew we were going to the playoffs and all that stuff. But this year having a pennant race, I feel like it was much more focus towards winning the whole way through, and the season seemed to fly by. And now that we're in the playoffs again, we have the same goal we did last year, but the experience level that we have is a obviously a lot better.
Some of the guys on the Cardinals have played in the World Series before and won the World Series, so have a different level of experience from us. But having the fresh experience from last year, what kind of know what to expect and we have to come in here and answer questions and how to prepare for the National League angle and all that stuff. Like I said before, a couple weeks ago, the biggest thing that we can do as players is keep is it routine and make sure that all the press and the distractions that are around don't take us out of our routine.
Q. How did you discover cryotherapy and get into it? And how does it help you?
C.J. WILSON: It helps with the cold weather, right? Yeah, the cryotherapy thing is cool, literally. I guess, boom. No, the Mavs were doing it. The Mavs were doing it during the playoffs, and obviously we have a big affinity for the Mavs in Dallas. There was an article in ESPN The Magazine about it, so I figured I'd give it a shot. I'm kind of an experimental guy, I'll go for the hyperbaric chamber, drink a new type of sports drink that's supposed to keep your blood sugar regulated. I'll do whatever. Because the 1 percent really at this level really is valuable.
Q. What does it do for you?
C.J. WILSON: It helps you recover. Basically you stand in this freezing can and cold air circulates around you. I did it a couple days ago. Went down to 295 or something. So 35 degrees should be no big deal, right? Although I didn't have to pitch when I got out of there, so it should be different.
Q. Tony LaRussa was talking the other day, he's never seen a post season like this with the starters going so short a time and the relievers taking on such a burden. Have you guys talked about that as starters? And is it something you're taking personally and really worried about, or is it just as a team, win, you don't care when you need to pitch?
C.J. WILSON: I wouldn't say "worry" is a good word. You don't worry your way to the World Series; you have to win. A lot of like obviously Carpenter threw 240 innings or whatever it was that year, and I threw 200 something innings, as well. So we have the ability to go deep in the games, it's just, like, sometimes the game situation hasn't dictated that. The games have been close, but it's been like 6 7 or 3 3 in some of our games, and then boom, there's a grand slam or a four run inning. I don't know if we are better rested because of that, we haven't had to throw 125 pitches a game. You can look at it any way you want.
The starting pitchers on our team, I can speak for us, and for Colby, we talked about it and said we're here to win, and however we have to win, it doesn't really matter. We don't really care. If we only get to throw five or six innings that's fine because our bullpen is awesome. Their bullpen is good, too. That's just the way it's been shaking out.
Q. I think it was this event last year you were asked a lot of Cliff Lee questions and you made a lot of Cliff Lee answers. I'm interested in your reaction that morning when you wake up and he's not a Yankee, he's not a Ranger and he's in Philly, and whether you thought this was going to be a much harder task to get back to this point?
C.J. WILSON: Well, there's no such thing as an easy task in professional sports, I guess, other than like putting on a uniform. That's where the ease ends, because you have such a long season, no matter who's on your team. As you guys have seen, the teams that were picked to be in the World Series, they're at home right now. You guys are all guilty of this, saying, hey, all these guys got these new acquisitions and made this big deal, but we got some new acquisitions, too. Adrian Beltre, Mike Napoli, those guys were huge for us, hit 30 home runs and they fit in really well.
So I think we were able to not necessarily upgrade over Cliff, because Cliff is one of the premier pitchers in all of baseball, but we upgraded in other areas where we needed to upgrade, and that's in the long run, you have to address all aspects of the team, not just one player at a time.
You know, but like I said, the starting pitchers this year, we carry the load, and I feel like Alexi, Colby, Matt, Derek and I all stepped up and improved over where we were last year to some degree, and that added to where we were at.
Q. We're guilty of that, too
C.J. WILSON: Right, you are guilty of that.
Q. Did he have any lasting effect on your stats?
C.J. WILSON: I don't know. You take a guy like Derek, Derek is a perfect example, right, he has he throws 97 miles an hour. He's got four pitches. He had all those pitches and all that velocity beforehand, but he was just young. Now it's his third year in the majors, so his experience naturally going to carry him to a different level. It's the same thing with Harrison and same thing with me. This is my second year starting so I'm going to develop on my own. Just like a 14 year old kid is going to be bigger than a 12 year old kid because he's growing and eating more vegetables, and that's how it goes.
Q. Getting back to the World Series, historically is really a tough chore for any team. Coming into the season, was there a mindset, a focus, that type of thing, knowing that just because you were there last year that you might not get back this year?
C.J. WILSON: I think because we went back last year and lost, a lot of us sat in the locker room after Game 5 against the Giants and we were really upset. We're like, this is not how we wanted it to go. Obviously it was a great season for us, last year and this year, despite whatever happens. Nobody expected us to go all the way here except for us.
But you know, we are here to win, and that's what we've been doing all year, and the sting of losing last year is what carried us through the off season and helped us take it to the next level I think in a lot of ways, and that energy and that focus that we share as a team is in large part because it's like the us against the opinion thing or whatever.
So the World Series is four wins. It's the first team that wins four games, obviously it's over. You know, we understand that. We might not win the first game, we might not win the third game, but we're going to try to win every game we play because every game is do or die. That's the way it goes.
Q. When Berkman signed with the Cardinals over the Rangers, he made some comments about the Rangers, basically saying that he thought they would be mediocre this year.
C.J. WILSON: Yeah, he addressed that before the season started, and then actually I just want to set this straight: I heard about it, I heard about his comments. I heard them live on the radio, and then I commented on it live and defended our organization and our team, and defended the Adrian Beltre signing and that kind of stuff. And Lance had a great first half. He was an All Star. And when I got to the All Star Game this year there was actually a note in my locker from Lance saying, "Hey, congratulations on you guys' success, I guess I was wrong. Not the first time." So we actually talked.
I ran into him at breakfast a couple days later and we talked about it and he was really awesome. So I have no issues with what he said. Much like myself, I'm going to say what's on my mind. You guys know me by this point. So if I say something and it turns out to be wrong, then I've got to wear it. And they're in the World Series, we're in the World Series. I'm happy for him. He played great. He played a lot better than he did last year. So in that regard he stepped up to his end of the bargain and we stepped up to our end of the bargain and here we are, so it's actually kind of cool, actually.
Q. The Cardinals have a deeper lineup with Berkman obviously. How do you approach a guy like Pujols? Is he as dangerous as he has been in the best?
C.J. WILSON: I've never pitched to Albert, so I don't know. I can't really honestly say that there's one particular way to get a guy like that out. I made a joke the other day, yeah, I'll just throw it down the middle because I'm not going to tell you guys what my game plan is. But at the same time, you have to pitch to the whole lineup and you have to be conscious of the whole lineup. And obviously in the National League the pitchers bat, so you have to that factor in there as well. You have to be strategic. You can't just go there and try to be macho and throw the ball as hard as you can. I think you guys have seen that he's hit like 500 home runs or something like that, so it's not really a good idea.
But with Lance and Holliday and Freese obviously, all those guys hitting together for power in the middle of the lineup. It's an American League lineup, just like ours is. It's the same way I have to navigate a Yankees' game or a Red Sox game or anything like that.
Q. Along those same lines, have you seen another lineup that's so right handed and switch hitting dominant like the Cardinals are right now in the American League?
C.J. WILSON: Off the top of my head I'm not really placing one. The Tigers' lineup pretty much the same way. They have a lot of really good right handed hitters and then Victor Martinez is their switch hitter extraordinaire.
Our lineups are very similar in that regard. We have a bunch of really good hitters and they have a bunch of really good hitters and you have to attack each hitter individually. If you end up walking a bunch of guys and the bases are loaded, one of those dudes comes up and you have to pitch to him, that's when the game gets out of hand and gets ugly and that's what we saw obviously in the NLCS.
Q. You mentioned that the inning totals this year of you and Carpenter, but when you get to this point, does fatigue play any factor in it because of the stage and the adrenaline? Do you burn out quicker in these type of games? Obviously a manager doesn't want to take out his starter after five innings. I was wondering if there's something that they notice in you that changes or is it a matter of they think the bullpen is better suited for it?
C.J. WILSON: Well, the perfect example of how this is a weird situation is my Game 1 against the Tigers. You know, we had two rain delays, so that's all I could throw. They weren't going to let me go back out there after an hour and a half of rain or whatever it was. At that point, yeah, I only threw four and two thirds or whatever it was. If we would have had zero rain delays, I would have had a chance, because I didn't have that many pitches, to go however many innings I would have gone. I came back from the first rain delay, tried to do it, doesn't do very well. And the second rain delay hit and that was it.
I wouldn't say there's any particular factor. It's a coin flip. If you have a good game or a bad game, the other team you're facing now is so good, there's not much margin for error because the pressure is on the manager in order to keep the score down. We have like five guys in the bullpen that can come out and throw at any inning, not counting the closer, and strike somebody out with a guy on. They're going to have a quick trigger. That's just the way it is. Tony did the same thing for St. Louis in their series, too. It's literally like two of the same teams playing each other. It's going to be kind of wacky.
Q. Obviously you had a terrific regular season. What's the key for you to do it on this stage? Is it fastball command? First pitch strikes? What do you think?
C.J. WILSON: I would say that there's no particular thing. I mean, if you throw the ball where you want it, then that's going to be your best result. It's not like you're going to throw harder, throw slower. I mean, I'm pretty much the same guy I was in August or September. It's just a matter of, like I said, you make a couple bad pitches and then a guy hits a home run, then that skews the numbers a little bit. If you take anybody for a three start stretch or four start stretch you never really know what you're going to get going ahead. That's why some guys make what they make because they go out and do it six, seven and eight years in a row like Roy Halladay.
I would say that for me I don't feel any particular increase in nerves or whatever, like this start versus a normal start. It's just kind of like when I pitched against Halladay in May, I was excited I get to bat off, like, the best pitcher, you know what I mean? And I was like, I guess I'm going to have to lay a bunt down because we probably aren't going to be swinging for the fences against him. Against Carp it's the same thing. He's a phenomenal pitcher and he has been for a long time. I can't really afford to, like, work my way into the game. I've got to be on right from the first pitch.
Q. Nolan said that you guys would win this in six games. Your thoughts?
C.J. WILSON: I love Nolan's confidence in us. It's great. I haven't heard anything about that. Contrary to popular belief, players try to not pay attention to what people are saying about them during the situation because our focus is forward on doing our thing. But Nolan has had nothing but confidence in our organization since he took over, and I'll stand behind him whatever he said because he can beat people up.
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