10/21/11 6:11 PM ET
Workout Day interview with Matt Harrison
By / MLB.com
Q. Can you tell me what kind of impact Nolan Ryan has had on the pitching staff.
MATT HARRISON: You know, since he became president, he's been a big influence on us. He came and talked to us in Spring Training when he took over and was talking about how he wanted to get us in better condition to be able to go deeper into games. He made sure we changed our throwing program to more long toss, more running. He made sure -- he wanted the starters to kind of be the backbone of the pitchers, and I think that's been a big influence on us.
Just seeing his presence every day, it's a big help for us, and to know that he's behind us, it helps a lot.
Q. Talk to me about how you might have been inspired by the way Colby pitched last night, and particularly with the situation with how with Texas the starting pitching has struggled throughout the postseason and what did he do for you?
MATT HARRISON: I think he was going to get us back on the right track, you know, because in the regular season when a guy, one of the starters did that, it seemed like we went on a run, and everybody wanted to do the same thing that the guy did, whoever pitched that good game.
He did a great job last night. He was matching Garcia the whole game, and unfortunately Craig got us again last night. But he kept the game close, and we were able to come back, and that's why we play nine innings. We were able to score two at the top of the ninth and take that game, which was a huge game for us, and to bring the series back home at 1 and 1 instead of 0 and 2.
Q. How satisfying or rewarding is it to be where you are starting Game 3 versus last year's World Series you weren't even on the roster?
MATT HARRISON: It's a big difference. Just sitting there on the sideline being a cheerleader last year, it wasn't my favorite thing to be doing at the time, but they were still my teammates, and I was going to be there for them and celebrate with them and stuff like that.
But this year I'm getting an opportunity. They gave me the opportunity in Spring Training to come back and make the rotation, and I was determined not to let it slip away this time. And I was going to keep that spot the whole year. Hopefully I was able to stay healthy the whole year, so that was a good thing. I was determined to make that postseason roster, if we made it back, and I would have been happy just to make a start in the playoffs, but I'm getting a chance to make a start in the World Series now.
It's like a dream come true and I couldn't ask for more. I just hope I can go out there and do a good job and give us a chance to win tomorrow night.
Q. When you study the St. Louis lineup, what's the impression that strikes you?
MATT HARRISON: I think they're pretty comparable to our team. They've got a lot of guys with a lot of power to the opposite field. I saw some guys doing that at their park. It was a little bit colder there, so the ball is not flying as much. But Freese and Pujols, Holliday, they've got power, and the ball is going to carry a little more here at our park. So I've got to make sure I keep the ball down.
They've got a good lineup 1 through 9, so I just try to keep the guys off the bases ahead of the guys in the middle, and just go out there and try to execute my game plan as best as possible.
Q. Everyone has asked you about being back home. We hear from your players how inspiring it is. Can you put into words what it does to play here in front of your crowd. Does it make a difference?
MATT HARRISON: It does make a difference. You're more comfortable in an environment that you're used to playing in all year. We had never been to St. Louis. We're in a new territory, so we had to get comfortable there, and we were able to pull one out. It seems like now it's just a five game series, and we've got three at home. We've got our fans behind us, which have been great all year. It's going to be a big confidence boost for us, and we're more comfortable playing at home. I think all around we're going to start picking it up a little bit.
Q. Talk about being in the Rangers organization. I know you didn't start off that way, and the fact that you got two teammates that both came from the other organizations because of the Teixeira trade. Do you need to maybe say thanks to Tex? Talk about being here.
MATT HARRISON: I thank the Braves for giving me the opportunity to play baseball in the Minor Leagues and stuff, getting a chance to play pro ball. But in that trade, it was kind of weird being traded. I was only 20, 19 or 20 at the time, and it was a little bit different being traded. But Texas gave me the opportunity to pitch in the Big Leagues and I couldn't ask for more than that. They brought me up the right way, brought me up slowly. I spent a year here in the Minor Leagues, but they taught me the right way. They had some great pitching coaches here coming up through the system, and barring a couple injuries I've had, it's been a great experience. I love playing with these guys. We've got great chemistry on this team. I look forward to spending a few more years here.
Q. C.J. of course pitched Game 1, and as another left hander, how much can you draw from what he did, what types of things in general, and how do you do that if you do draw things? Are you looking at videotape or is it just what you see in the dugout?
MATT HARRISON: It's hard to see from the dugout, but I'll go back and look at the video of the game and get some feedback from him, too, and he'll let me know some things that worked for him. We've got kind of similar pitches, but there's a couple guys that he was getting out pretty easily on a certain pitch. He'll let me know. I'll go back and look at what he did and some other lefties throughout the season, the regular season, how they pitched these guys.
I have my game plan and there's ways I like to pitch, too. I love listening to the scouting reports and everything we have, but I'll go with what's working for me that day, and if I get beat with that, I get beat with that.
Q. When we talked to Ron yesterday, he said the one thing he'd like to see from you is maybe go another extra inning or two. You went five good innings your last two starts. Is there anything looking back on those last two starts that you can do to facilitate that or make it happen?
MATT HARRISON: Definitely not walk three people each game. You know, the two lineups we faced, the first time was a little bit of jitters in the playoffs when I pitched against the Rays, but the Tigers have a good lineup. They had a lot of righties, and they made me work a lot of deep counts. Hopefully I can get some quicker outs this time, maybe put some more balls in the strike zone but in a good spot in the strike zone and get some quicker outs. That would be a big key to getting deeper in the game, and I think that's what I have to do.
Q. You guys have done a pretty good job of neutralizing Pujols in the first two games. What is it you guys are doing so well?
MATT HARRISON: You know, sometimes we've been pitching around him. We walked him a couple of times. But with him and any of the guys in the middle of the lineup, you have to be aggressive with them, you have to get ahead of those guys. You fall behind 2 0, 3 1, you're in fastball counts with them, and guys like that aren't going to miss fastballs, it doesn't matter how hard you throw. So the big key is being aggressive, mixing the pitches, mixing in and out, and I try to keep them uncomfortable.
Q. There was so much talk coming into the series about the two lineups and the Cardinals have an AL type lineup and it seemed like the pitching was being overlooked. Were you offended by the fact that the people were overlooking the starting pitching on both teams?
MATT HARRISON: I don't think it offends us. I think it kind of motivates us a little bit when people aren't behind us or people aren't thinking we're doing our job. I think it's just going to help us listen to criticism and help us be a better pitcher. I think we'll take that into our starts. We've been doing our best so far, but I know the numbers haven't really showed quality starts. But a few of those games we were able to keep us in the ballgame, and that's what we're supposed to do. It would be nice to have some deeper ballgames, but if we keep doing our job and just keep going after guys and keep being aggressive, I think we'll get more quality starts out of the series.
Q. How much do you think Elvis is becoming one of the better shortstops in the game with all the things that he can do?
MATT HARRISON: He did a great job last night especially, but the guy has some of the best range I've ever seen of a shortstop. He's mature for his age. He seems to always read balls off the bat so well, and I think he's come into his own. As long as he stays focused, he'll do a great job and just keep away from the mental mistakes. But the guy has got great range, a great arm, and he's going to be a big help to his team for a long time.
Workout Day interview with Ron Washington
Q. How different does the world look tied 1 1 than down 0 2 like last year?
RON WASHINGTON: It looks totally different. Now it looks like it's 0-0. Everybody gets a chance to start fresh and we get a chance to start in our ballpark. We're just looking forward to tomorrow.
Q. You keep getting the chess match, matching wits with Tony question, and it strikes me that maybe that isn't what this is really about, that it's whose players succeed on a given night in the positions they're put in.
RON WASHINGTON: Well, to me that's baseball. There's a lot of things you can do as a manager, but I always say it comes down to the players executing. Last night we executed in some situations and we won a ballgame. The night before they executed in a situation and they won a ballgame. We both understand we've got good pitching, and in the first two games the starting pitching showed up and the bullpen played a part on both sides. The first night, our guys we had in, we wanted to be right there, and Craig got us, and then last night he ends up getting us again. But we were able to fight and come back and do some good things, and here we are tied 1 1, and we're at home.
Q. Two part question: What has Mike Adams brought to the Rangers? And two, did you think the pitch he threw to Pujols was a home run last night?
RON WASHINGTON: When he hit it I thought it was hit a little too high. I thought the air in the park, in Busch Stadium last night and the night before, was pretty heavy. So I was really hoping that it wasn't. But the way he swung at it and the reaction from him after he hit it, he thought it was gone, and I was just hoping it wasn't. It was really a tough call.
Mike Adams has been doing a great job. What he has done since he's been here, he gave us an opportunity to set up our bullpen and put guys in spots where they know it's their time of the game. We've been able to be consistent with that. That's what he's brought.
Q. What's it like having Nolan Ryan as the club president? And what kind of impact does he have on this club on a day to day basis?
RON WASHINGTON: Well, he's a matter of fact guy. You always know where you stand with Nolan. I think everyone would like to have that in any job that they have, and that's what we have here. You know, he brought an attitude about pitching, and Mike Maddux and Andy Hawkins have implemented it, our players have bought into it, and the results are we're pitching very well as a Texas Ranger team. And I know in the past that wasn't the mantra here, but it is now, and we hope to have that here for many years to come.
Q. Just on the fact that this guy is a Hall of Famer, to have a guy of his stature being the president and representative of your team.
RON WASHINGTON: Well, there's no doubt about that, and as I said, he's a matter of fact guy. When he comes around and has something to say, he doesn't bite his tongue, he says what he has to say, and we move on. It's nice to have that type of guy around.
He's been successful in his career. As you said, he's a Hall of Famer.
Q. Can you put into words just what Michael Young means to this franchise and means to the clubhouse, and especially after the turmoil, for lack of a better word, in the offseason, and how he kind of reinvented himself on the field this year. How satisfying was it to see him come through in such a clutch moment yesterday?
RON WASHINGTON: Well, the one word I can say about Michael is professional. He does everything in that manner. He was taught very well as a young player how to bring young are players along, the things that you do on a daily basis to be consistent is what this game is totally about, being consistent no matter what area that you're in. He's a leader in the clubhouse, he's a leader in the dugout, he's a leader on the field. All he wants to do is win, and he settled that little issue over the winter this year as soon as he hit Spring Training. He settled it, and it hasn't been a problem since. Why? Because he is a leader, and those guys in the clubhouse follow him. And that is certainly the type of guy you want to have on the team, and I think teams that are successful have those type of guys in the clubhouse.
Michael Young is the longest tenured player here on the Texas Rangers team, and he carries a lot of clout, and he's a great leader, and his teammates follow him. And last night we needed exactly everything that he gave us in that situation in the ninth inning, and we were able to close the game down, and here we are 1 1.
Q. To go back in on pitching, what has Mike Maddux specifically brought to improve the staff?
RON WASHINGTON: Well, the same thing that I mentioned that Nolan brought: Matter of fact. He commits himself and he tries to commit the players to throwing to contact, committing to whatever pitch you decide to throw. As I said, my coaching staff is an outstanding coaching staff, and Mike leads it. He's the reason why we are able to go out there now in this Texas Rangers organization and do something that may not have been here four or five years ago. That's pitch, and keep your team in the ballgame, and that's what it's all about. The only thing a pitcher has to do is make sure he gives his team an opportunity to have a chance to make one swing of the bat or do something on the base paths or do something defensively to help them win, and that's what our pitching staff has done, and that's a testament to Mike Maddux.
Q. Coming off last year's World Series when offense was tough to come by for you guys, coming into this World Series having been through that experience, was that a good learning experience in the sense that when you're not scoring tons of runs that you guys can think of different ways to score or to be patient? Can you look at that as a learning experience having been through it?
RON WASHINGTON: Well, it is a learning experience, there's no doubt about it. But we've always felt of ourselves to be that type of team that you just described. But you know, last year those Giants' pitchers, they were awfully good. When a pitcher is on, you just don't have any offense. It's a testament to the first two games in this series. I think we both have powerful offenses, but when the pitching is on, you've got to scratch and claw for runs, and I think we both are doing that, and of course, you know, we ended up allowing the Giants last year to have some big innings on us. So far they haven't been that, but stay tuned; it'll happen.
Q. Have you settled on your DH, first base combinations in Game 3? And is there any change with Hamilton's condition from last night to today?
RON WASHINGTON: No change from Hamilton's condition. And I have settled on my lineup, who's going to DH and who will be at first base and who will catch, but you know, we just arrived at the ballpark, and I haven't had a chance to tell my guys yet, so you'll just have to wait a little longer on the lineup.
Q. How much is this whole image of the Rangers changed from just a team that used to swing for the fences versus the versatile type of team that steals bases and --
RON WASHINGTON: I think it's been a 360 degree change. As I expressed earlier, we believe as an organization that you have to be complete. You have to be able to play every single part of the game, defense, baserunning, pitching, hitting, execution of the fundamentals. All of that comes into play when you talk about baseball. And you don't always get it done, but the thing I love the most is when I see my guys make the approach and do the things that it takes to try to do it, and if they don't get it done, we live with it.
But that's the change we've made. We committed ourselves to play baseball. That's it. Play baseball, and that entitles whatever it takes, we feel like we are able to do.
Q. We've heard you talk about this with the other players, what does it mean to be here at this park? Does this park give you a boost? Can it make a difference?
RON WASHINGTON: Well, when you have the fans that we have, and I think you'll find out tomorrow night, it certainly gives you a boost. I think you're always comfortable in your home ballpark. There's no doubt about it. Does that mean that you totally can win? No, the game is played between the lines. The things that happen through the course of a ballgame that you have to deal with, and if you deal with them, you get the last opportunity at your ballpark. And we've been pretty good with last opportunities at this ballpark. This is our home park, so we feel comfortable here. But that doesn't just automatically say you're going to win a ballgame. It's played between the lines.
Q. I wanted to talk about your two young pitchers, Ogando, you put him back out there again, and we saw the outcome, and then you came in with Feliz. What do you say guys to keep them so focused because the world is watching them play this game of baseball?
RON WASHINGTON: Well, what I've done so far this year, I've learned from my past experience of being in the World Series, the less I say, the better off I am. Just stay out of the way. They know what they have to do, they know what's at stake, and I just stay out of the way until it's time for me to step in. Other than that, I leave them alone and I let them play and I try to enjoy watching them play. I step in when I have to step in and do what I feel I have to do. And once again, if the player execute it, I look good, and if the player don't execute it, I don't look so good. But that's the game of baseball. It's all on the players. I'm just sitting there watching them play the game of baseball and having just as much fun as they're having. That's what you say. And so far this year, I've stayed out of the way. Since we won the division, I have stayed out of the way. I haven't had one meeting.
Q. Going back to the starting pitching, I think coming into the series there was so much talk about the lineups and the bullpens. Do you think your starters and their starters for that matter took that as a challenge to try to step up their game?
RON WASHINGTON: Well, I hope they did. Everything has been centered on the bullpens, and at this time of the year it's always been about starting pitching, so I hope they do.
You know, I think you will continue to see good starting pitching out there, and then at some point both Tony and I will have to go to the bullpen. And once we go to the bullpen, it's up to those guys to come in and execute and get it done, and he believes in his and I believe in mine, and that's why I say it's going to be a great series, because they have starting pitching, we have starting pitching, they have bullpen, we've got bullpen, we've got power, they've got power, they're complete, we're complete. Just looking forward to tomorrow.
Q. Last night your running game virtually won the game for you. Is this how you envisioned when you came in five years ago and wanted to develop that complete team that you've spoken of before, and how something like the running game could help be a factor in your road toward the championship?
RON WASHINGTON: Well, no doubt about it, you put pressure on people when you're able to run the bases. And we understand that Yadier is behind the plate, but that's the way we play. You're just going to have to keep blowing us up. When we see an opportunity to do something, we're going to do it. I always tell my guys, we're not going to play baseball scared. We're going to do what we do, and we'll live with the consequences, and if he keeps blowing us up, we'll keep brushing ourselves off, coming back, and keep trying to take advantage of opportunities that's given to us. Yesterday we got a break, we took advantage of an opportunity, and he made one hell of a throw. But we beat the throw, and that's what it was about. And then Elvis did a great job of reading the throw and getting to second base, and the rest the sacrifice flies took care of.
We're just going to play baseball and we're going to play our style of baseball. Some nights we might run ourselves off the field but the next night we'll come back and continue to do the same thing because that's how we play.
Q. How has Harrison improved this year? Has there been a specific pitch or pitches that you've seen him develop that are at the top right now?
RON WASHINGTON: I think his sinker is his key pitch. Harry gets a lot of ground balls, he gets a lot of double plays when people get on the bag. But he's also developed his secondary pitches, change ups and his breaking ball. He can throw them at any time in the count. When you can do that, you can keep batters off balance. And I think more than anything else, that's what he's been able to do this year is to keep the batters off balance more consistent than he did in the past. And that's maturity.
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