By Eduardo A. Encina
The Baltimore Sun
4:35 PM EDT, October 7, 2012
Orioles manager Buck Showalter spoke to the media before tonight American League Division Series Game 1 at Camden Yards, the first postseason game in Baltimore since 1997.
Here's a full transcript of Showalter's pregame news conference:
Would you start by giving the lineup today?
BUCK SHOWALTER: Let's say, we've got McLouth leading off, Hardy, Jones, Wieters, Reynolds, Machado, Davis, Ford and Andino. Hope I got that right.
We just got the roster for the series, and the decision to leave off Steve Johnson, Arrieta and Britton obviously, you had to add some of the starters, but was it a difficult decision, particularly with Johnson because he has been a starting option for you?
BUCK SHOWALTER: Well, I think it's hard to handicap what's more particularly, this guy or that guy. They're all hard. We put a lot of thought, keeping in mind that you've got to be cautious with -- if you have an issue physically with somebody. I've talked to everybody about whether you leave Avery off, whether you leave Tolleson off. You could make a case for everybody. They've been such contributors for us. As good as we think Steve could field, there's some unknown there with the knee.
But we're going to keep him here. We're going to send probably a couple guys down to Sarasota to the instructional league to be in that camp there. But we'll decide that after the game. Every one of those guys, as I told them today, has to have the mindset that they're playing tomorrow, because they could be. They could be playing tomorrow.
Obviously given it a lot of thought and readdressed it this morning after the meeting last night to make sure after some sleep, which we didn't have yesterday, that we still felt the same way. It was a good idea Dan had, so we went with what we felt yesterday.
There's a lot of variables that I won't bore you with, but that's kind of where we're at, and we feel good about it and at the same time feel bad about it. You're always going to leave somebody off that was a contributor, but it can change very quickly, and that's the mindset they have to have. They'll all be here for the game tonight for the introductions, and then like I said, there's the potential that a couple of them will head to Sarasota in the morning to be ready physically. I think we're thinking about Britton and Avery going down there, which Britton, could take him down there and start him because he could be an option, but that could all change tonight if Hammel has a physical problem.
Is Hammel's condition one of the reasons that you have five¿¿ what you'd look at as five starting pitchers, Saunders on the roster, as well?
BUCK SHOWALTER: No, we have Saunders' availability out of the bullpen, Tillman is out of the bullpen, and that gives us two options as we get into Thursday, hopefully Thursday and hopefully Friday, or hopefully not, just depending on how you look at it. It gives us the most versatile way to cover our needs. I think Joe himself is another option with the left¿handed laden roster that they'll have. Both of those guys will be in the bullpen tonight, as will Miguel González.
Kind of the flip side of the first question, Tommy Hunter is one of the guys you probably considered, as well, as a starter. Is that the reason you went with him?
BUCK SHOWALTER: That's one of them. Tommy pitched very well out of the pen. When we acquired Tommy, we felt like if we presented good options as a starter, we felt like Tommy could be a real contributor as a reliever, too, and he's certainly done that since he's pitched out of the pen. Plus, he can give us some length out of there if we need it. The off-day plays into it a lot.
If the weather looks good tomorrow, I think we'll get it in tonight, but with the off¿day looming there, you don't worry too much about extending guys if they're the best option for you. But that's part of it. That was part of it. But the experience all means one thing: That you've done it before. It's kind of like Joe's experience in Texas. The last one -- last two -- have been real good, so I kind of lean on the latest experience. It's kind of like see a guy's numbers against a certain team, if you take them from 2006 as opposed to 2012, I kind of lean on the most recent stuff.
When you got here, you talked about wanting to get back to the point where you guys were playing big games in front of big crowds. Is it pretty cool to actually realize you're at that point now?
BUCK SHOWALTER: Well, we should have a good crowd do you think? I'm just kidding.
Yeah, it's great. The one challenge, too, it's impossible to tell your players to take the emotion out of an at-bat or a pitch or a throw or whatever. I think everybody, you'd like to get -- it is kind of like football, everybody that has played, you know, once you get that first contact or first tackle or first block, you kind of get in your environment. Players are such creatures of habit and routine, that's why we've tried to do as much as we can, everything the same with some exceptions, with the schedule, we'll have an advance meeting, the same thing, and a lot of it won't have to do with them because it'll fall underneath the you know what. We've played the Yankees 18 times this year, and probably 20, 22 counting Spring Training. We're trying to stay in routine, and what was your initial question? I don't think I got there. My point I was trying to make before my 56-year-old brain wouldn't let me is it's tough to take the emotion out of it. You can't coach taking the emotion. That's part of it. It's also part of what is good. I think we saw it last year when we were playing some real meaningful games for the opposition in their ballpark, and our guys kind of fed off the emotion of the ballpark. We saw that with Toronto and even Boston at the end, our ballpark was electric.
I think everybody in our locker room will be more comfortable when they get into the environment that they're used to being in, which is after they play the National Anthem, we play a game. I think that's what Mattingly used to say, what time is that song over, that anthem. Then everybody is in a position to control their destiny, so to speak. That's pretty deep.
If you could talk a little bit about your starting rotation, which has been a work in progress all year, you don't have any true aces, but for the most part they've been fairly consistent in pitching just good enough to keep you in games so you could use your bullpen. I'm just wondering, has that been kind of a secret weapon for you all year?
BUCK SHOWALTER: Well, it's the whole thing years ago that our No.1 pitcher is pitching that night. It's not like we haven't had some deep, dominating efforts from our starting pitchers at times. Certainly you look at a guy with a track record of a Sabathia or a Pettitte and those guys, you don't have that kind of bird in the hand and knowing what you're going to get for X amount of innings. There's some unknown there. But they understand their job is to keep us in the ballgame.
I think Joe Saunders was a great example of that in the first couple innings against Texas. He knew it was to minimize damage, keep us in the ballgame and keep the game close and see if we can do some things out of our bullpen.
I think as much as anything, this club knows who they are, and they know who they're not, and they don't try to be something that they're not. It's very sincere. I don't want to say humble, but a grounded team that doesn't get involved in a lot of drama and other stuff. They really feed off each other's mentality.
You made reference a minute ago to the season¿ending series last year against the Red Sox here. I'm wondering in terms of you're trying to build a winning environment here, if you felt that the way your team played in those three games produced or any kind of carryover effect as something that you could take into Spring Training this year.
BUCK SHOWALTER: Winning games is what creates that environment. Let's don't ¿¿ you don't create an environment and then you win. Winning games helps create that environment because after a while if a team, an organization aren't getting return on the scoreboard and in the standings, it doesn't really matter.
But I'd be less than frank if I said that didn't have something to do with it, to be playing in that environment and responding to it, as well. We kept challenging with the professional integrity of the schedule, and one day the shoe is going to be on the other foot and we're going to hope that someone -- we want to set an example the way you're supposed to go about your business in September. Obviously, because of the 40¿man call-ups, we were in a position that we weren't in in July and August. But everybody was playing by the same rules.
I think coming into spring training, there was a positive vibe about the competitive part of it, and I think more than anything, I'm feeling proud of the way they presented our organization in the month of September.
Machado batting sixth, beyond the fact that there's a lefty on the mound, what does that say about him and the confidence you have in him that he's an important spot in the lineup in Game 1?
BUCK SHOWALTER: Well, is that because of the confidence I have in him or the lack of confidence I have in guys behind him? No, I'm kidding.
You face a lot of starting pitchers, and sometimes you're facing a four and five guy. You're making sure your batting order is such that you can attack their bullpen and make it tough on these one pitchers to get multiple outs. But with a guy like Sabathia, your whole mindset is try to figure out a way to get him out of the game before nine innings are up, because that's the biggest part of the equation. We just try to separate the left-handers a little bit and present¿¿ from what our roster has to happen, the most challenge. We had two or three lineups that we messed around with but this was the one we felt like we were going to go with really on the plane back.
I believe your first playoff game was started by Andy Pettitte, who you're now going to face tomorrow.
BUCK SHOWALTER: Was it really? Good choice, huh. That was a real hard decision.
I was going to ask you what you remember about that day, about that game, and if you find it remarkable that all these years later your postseason paths have crossed again here.
BUCK SHOWALTER: The teams that we are with has nothing to do with me, and it doesn't surprise me at all with Andy. It doesn't. The heart that he has -- you know, the heart and the makeup and the want-to and all that stuff is great. This time of year talent plays. He is talented, and that's why he's still capable of giving his team a chance to win is that he's a talented young man. I felt at that time that Andy hadn't had that much experience under his belt, but that wasn't some astute evaluation to start him. Those things are easy. I'm sure the Yankee fans and baseball in general feel fortunate to have been around to see Andy pass their way, because he's a good father, good husband, good teammate, and a guy that it's important to him to be consistent and be there. So that'll be tough tomorrow. Not that tonight's not.
You mentioned the weight given to the recent numbers you have against someone and the fact that this year against CC, the numbers have been pretty good. What's been the key for you guys' approach thus far against him?
BUCK SHOWALTER: You know, all that stuff¿¿ I know this is here he goes again, but I understand it's something to approach that this is what may happen, this is what may not happen. Kind of thrown out the window. We've got some guys that haven't had success against him. If you're looking for matchups against guys like Sabathia that are in your favor, it is a short look. You are kind of picking your poison. It's a given he's going to do what he does. I think what people miss about CC is how much of a pitcher he is as opposed to a thrower. I saw him early on in his career with Cleveland, and he could just overpower the game, and at times he can still do that. He's an athletic, big, strong man that is a pitcher. You look at the percentages of breaking balls and changeups and all that stuff, this guy has got a lot of ways to get you out, and I think Martin does a great job with him behind the plate. That's an easy guy to catch for. All catchers look pretty smart there. Wieters was talking about that the other day with Johnson. He always said there's not a wrong finger to put down.
The Yankees always talk about anything short of a championship for them is a total failure. Do you want your players to take the same mindset or do you want them to try to find some way to enjoy and relish this experience wherever it leads them?
BUCK SHOWALTER: Yes. You're always walking that line. I told them before the Texas game, I told them before, have fun. This is something -- you always hope that you get a chance to do it again, but you don't know. One of the things I'll tell them, have a blast, trust yourself, let it rip, have fun. You know, you don't want to insult their intelligence with obvious things because they get it. The last thing you want to do is draw more attention to it. There's a little comfort in the fact that it's not a sudden life, sudden death game, but we all know how important each one of these games are. Just do the math.
But if you're been in our clubhouse this year, the one thing I don't have to worry about them is living in the moment, enjoying it, but the competitive part of it, they get the opportunity. You hope it isn't rare, but you approach it that way. It's important because it's important to our fans, but our guys have a grip on the reality and the whole scheme of life of what's going on here the next couple days, and hopefully whatever number in New York.