DODGERS MANAGER DON MATTINGLY
October 3, 2013INDIANA SPORTS PAGE
ATLANTA, GEORGIA: Workout Day
]Q. Any update on Ethier and his status?
DON MATTINGLY: Pretty much the same as yesterday and still going to see what he can do today and continue to make that decision a little bit later.
Q. Are you guys going to have (inaudible)?
DON MATTINGLY: I'm not sure of the plans for him in terms of him trying to run. I just know they're going to wait as long as possible to see what he's going to be able to do. He did some running inside yesterday; he just didn't do any outside. We have had him run; he just didn't want to do it outside.
Q. Are you any more comfortable with this idea of him just pinch?hitting?
DON MATTINGLY: I've been comfortable the whole time. It's a matter of you're going to have a couple of guys sitting there that you're going to basically look at as just pinch?hitters, and so the fact that he can pinch?hit is pretty important to that.
What we've been waiting on is basically to see if we're going to have to run for him because that changes the dynamic of how you use your players.
Q. Have you decided yet whether or not he will be on the roster?
DON MATTINGLY: We haven't announced it yet. We pretty much feel like we have our roster. We just haven't announced it. We haven't talked to our guys yet, so we want to do that before we announce the roster.
Q. It seems like players' legacies are determined by how they do in October. Is there any truth to that?
DON MATTINGLY: I guess. I mean, you know, I think we all want to see what guys will do in big situations, so I think as a player you want to play in postseason to see how you'd react. Because as a kid you grow up, you watch games in the postseason and you watch the World Series and the playoffs and they're the most exciting times. I remember Reggie hitting three and things like that. Those are the things you remember.
I don't know if it's going to define, because some guys never get a chance, so it doesn't mean they're not great players. But I think you like to see what guys do under duress.
Q. Do you feel any more pressure personally, this being your first one?
DON MATTINGLY: Well, I think you feel pressure all the time for your club to perform and that you're prepared and all that. So you feel the pressure of that.
But just like I'll ask my players to do, I'm going to try to do for myself is make sure you cut all the surrounding circumstances away as much as possible and manage a baseball game. So that's what we'll try to do.
Q. What's your comfort level in Skip Schumaker, if he's the guy you put out there on an everyday basis? And does the fact that he has a couple of rings, does that make you feel better about it?
DON MATTINGLY: Well, Schu is a guy that we brought in to play center and also be able to spell Mark Ellis at second base. So he is the guy that design?wise was our center fielder. We didn't look at it like he was going to be playing center every day. But I think we're comfortable with Skip in center.
We've been working a few different guys out in center just to try to get some kind of comfort level, not necessarily us with them but them with the position, you know, when you get into anything that could happen in a game and you've got to make switches and you've got to do something. Sometimes you're not necessarily wanting to take Adrian out or you've got to take somebody out, maybe Schu.
Q. But he would be your guy, you're not looking at those guys??
DON MATTINGLY: For the most guy Schu is our guy.
Q. (Inaudible) does it mean a lot more for you to maybe make your mark as a manager? Have you thought about how special this could be for yourself personally?
DON MATTINGLY: I try not to think of it in those terms. Kind of that gets back to the other question of let's cut all the stuff around it out and do the best job you can, put your guys in the best position.
I played in one postseason, have coached in I think this is maybe the seventh, so I've been around it enough as a coach to know. But again, I think just the personal side of it as a coach or a manager, probably a little more as a manager, there's a little more tie to it. But it still for me just gets back to that same old thing, cut the stuff around it out, manage a baseball game, do it to get the best out of your team or try to win. Just go back to that and not worry about yourself.
Q. Girardi goes back to the Cubs, are you going to the Yankees?
DON MATTINGLY: T.J., you're back, aren't you? We're trying to win a baseball game today, you know that?? or tomorrow. Made me nervous.
I've said it a lot, I'm happy where I'm at. As long as they're happy with me, I'd like to be here.
Q. With Hanley, to what extent is the back, the sciatic nerve issue, something he's still getting treatment on, and where is he at physically right now?
DON MATTINGLY: It's hard to say because obviously he's feeling good now. He came out, he's been coming out of the games that he's played. We kind of give him one, give him off. He's came out of all those good, so we haven't backed him up. We haven't pushed and pushed. Hopefully with the schedule in the playoffs, it's two and one off, and that way he stays strong.
We don't know how he's going to necessarily react, but we have found out that he bounces back even when it gets sore during the game. He seems to be able to get through it. The next day he bounces back, and then at some point it comes back.
I don't think we're sure. I think we're sure that Hanley is going to play with it, and he's not going to be trying to take days off.
Q. What have you made of?? what do you make of Puig's September? He was down a bit, seemed like the walks were up, strikeouts down. Does he look tired to you?
DON MATTINGLY: I don't know if he ever looks tired. Seems like he's always moving pretty good. I think what we see is just natural for a young player coming in. You still see his numbers are still really elevated. He's a young guy that they're going to continue to try to do things. And we've talked about all along, it's always going to be cat and mouse. They're going to figure out how to try to pitch him, they're going to have success until they make an adjustment, he makes an adjustment, it's going to change again. I think Yasiel is a work in progress. He has a lot of talent but still a work in progress and still huge ceiling to continue to try to get better. But his September I don't think has really bothered us in any way. We've seen improvement from the standpoint of less baserunning mistakes, hits the cutoff man a few more times, just the things that we've been working on and trying to continue to improve on. He's been fine with us.
Q. What are your thoughts on Chris Medlen and how do you like the way you guys match up against him?
DON MATTINGLY: Well, he's pitched really good against us, a guy that is obviously a quality starter that throws the ball where he wants, changes speed. He's a handful from the standpoint he's not really predictable, command guy that basically throws the ball both sides of the plate, has movement, both sides of the plate, can crisscross you a little bit. So he's a handful. So we're going to try to stay with him and kind of nick him for a run here or there hopefully and put some guys out there and get him in trouble, and hopefully we're going to get some key hits.
Q. Along those same lines, just their club in general, kind of a lot like you guys this year, having guys with injuries and trying to plug guys in?
DON MATTINGLY: They obviously started off really well. They've been kind of the club all year long that's been kind of really the best team in the league. They're a power club. They're not really a burn?? team that's going to do a ton. They have a lot of guys that hit for power. They've got good pitching. Their bullpen at the end of the game, you feel like you don't really want to get to Kimbrel in any way. Just a power club that has been confident all year long. Look at them as being basically dangerous.
Q. Your team has great rookie players. They have been good in the regular season, but I think postseason is a little bit different than regular season. How do you expect your team's rookie players to play in the postseason?
DON MATTINGLY: I think they'll react good. Yasiel seems to just play. He doesn't seem to play with any fear of anything, he's just going to go play.
Hyun?Jin is a guy that's a rookie but has really pitched a lot of baseball professionally, just not here. So he's an older type rookie. I'm hoping we'll react good. You don't know how anybody is going to react, but I feel like they'll react good, and I look forward to watching it.
Q. What did you know about your guys, your team in the clubhouse when it didn't start as well as a lot of people put out there that it would? What did you know about the room that the bounceback was actually possible?
DON MATTINGLY: Well, we knew the talent was there. That's the main thing I think that you see. We had a group of guys that weren't running and hiding that continued to work. And I think mixed with a coaching staff, I felt like just being experienced through all that, did a nice job of keeping these guys together and us continuing to work and not panic where we were at at that time.
And we finally got healthy, but the room has always been pretty good. We didn't have any trouble last year. A lot of people talked about that in Spring Training, chemistry and things like that. But there really was never any trouble in that room as far as guys getting along. So I was never really concerned about that.
It actually kind of turned into, I think, a positive for us because these guys, I don't think I've ever been around a team that has more fun than these guys. And they're fun to be around. They seem to enjoy playing. They have a good time, but they seem to know when to get down to business. It's been an enjoyable group. It's a group I don't have to worry about for the most part. Obviously you always have guys here or guys there that something is going on, but as a group I really haven't had to push and push and get guys ready to play.
Q. The last time you guys were here, you took leads into the later innings and didn't quite work out. Can you talk about how your bullpen has changed since the last time you were here?
DON MATTINGLY: It hasn't changed a whole lot. I think maybe we had?? did we just make the change with Kenley or was it before that? I'm not sure. So the personnel has been the same, and that was just during a period that we seemed to be struggling, period. I think Paco gave up a home run, that thing to Upton late, and Kenley gave up one. I think Gattis, got him late, and Simmons. I think just kind of more settled and understanding where they're going to be and what parts of the game we're going to use them.
I think our whole team in general is a lot more settled as far as kind of knowing who we are, where we're at, that type of thing.
I look at the bullpen a lot like the team, just a little bit different team now. Same guys but just more of a confident team than they were when we came in here before.
Q. What can you tell us about your probable starters beyond Kershaw in Game 1 and your thought process behind those decisions?
DON MATTINGLY: Zack is going to be Game 2, and Hyun?Jin 3 and Ricky 4. So that's our?? and really these are the guys that really have pitched the best. Zack, I know his record is better at home, but feel like he can win anywhere. Hyun?Jin is throwing the ball good for the most part all year long, and Ricky is throwing the ball good for us.
Obviously I guess that could be subject to change if we would have to do something in a game early on something like that, we would have to be flexible with Ricky and what we would do and we would have him ready.
Then at some point we've just got to pull the plug on that part of it.
Q. Just to follow up, do you feel like maybe the additional rest might help Ricky's staff, maybe miss some more bats after having a longer layoff?
DON MATTINGLY: Well, Ricky, we look at the whole body of work, and it's been pretty good. It's kind of like anything else, you're going to look at a guy and this is who he's been for us since we acquired him. He was a little bit rougher at the end, but I think we know who he was when we acquired him, know what he's capable of.
A couple of those in there I always feel like were a little skewed because of San Francisco twice, two bad matchups for him that we didn't try to manipulate because of where we were at in the standings. We're confident with Ricky and what he can do.
Q. Is there a circumstance, say, if you guys are trailing or something where you would consider bringing Kershaw back on short rest for Game 4?
DON MATTINGLY: We haven't talked about that. Right now we're at Ricky, and obviously we don't know what's going to happen in the series, but we haven't talked about Kershaw. I don't think we've ever talked about him pitching on short rest.
Q. Can you talk about the depth of this team, the importance of the bench and the bullpen as you go into this NLDS?
DON MATTINGLY: Well, our depth has been tested through the course of the year, and it's, I guess, part of that testing has really helped our bench because it ended up giving a lot of bats to Nick Punto, a lot of at?bats to Schumacher, a lot of at?bats to different guys, had to play, Federo did a nice job for us backing up. So that's kind of increased these guys' playing time, which has kind of since kept them sharper. So that part we feel good about.
These guys being experienced, been through these type of games, so confident with them in and out of situations.
What was the other part, the bullpen?
Q. Yeah, just the importance of the bullpen.
DON MATTINGLY: Well, the bullpen is always important. You're hoping that obviously when you look at Kershaw and Zack that we're getting deep into games with really the playing, you'd always like to be able to do, and the game will tell us. Hopefully we're not into our bullpen a lot. That will tell you we're throwing the ball good as starters. But they have a chance to be a big part of this, obviously, bullpen, in the postseason it seems like they can lock things down, seems those are teams that are able to move forward. If you're scratching, giving up leads and things like that, that doesn't bode well in the postseason. They're going to be important to what we do hopefully.