Some of these questions are obviously from earlier posts. I’ll catch up if time permits this week.
Q-Who do you think is a better closer at this point, Papelbon or Rivera?
A-Not a question that can be answered with anything but opinion really. Mariano is, in my opinion the best closer of all time. His resume better be a unanimous first ballot Hall of Fame one. On the other hand I think Paps is the best closer in the game right now.
Q-What do you think is different about Alex this year? Is it because he’s thinner, doesn’t care since this is his walk year, has learned from his first 2 years NY? Did you handle Alex differently tonight knowing on the tear he has been on then in season’s pass?
A-I think the biggest change is based on what he stated early in the year. He trimmed down and feels like he’s quicker this year.
Q-I noticed that everytime you walk to and from the mound, you deliberately do not step on the first base line….why is that? A superstitious thing, an OCD thing?? Just curious…..
Q-I was wondering what your opinion of the job Hideki Okajima did. Did he pitch his butt off or what? I mean, he had to face Jeter, Abreu, and A-Rod (and Thompson as well) and only gave up the walk.
A-He’s been nothing short of phenomenal this year. A huge lift for us and given how well our pen has been as a whole it’s been one of, if not the reason we have gotten off to the start we have.
Q-do you think Mo has maybe hit some sort of wall, mental or physical. the man has been hands down the most dominant closer of our generation(I’m 28). and has done so for 10+ years…he has to eventually fade away.
A-Not at all. Having closed I can tell you one of the hardest parts of closing, and relieving, is staying sharp while not consistently pitching. Most relievers will tell you that being able to throw on a semi-regular schedule far outweighs any other factors when it comes to staying sharp.
Q-Quick question. I know it was brought up on SoSH a lot, but A-Rod currently looks like he’s so comfortable in the batter’s box that he may as well bring a laz-y-boy chair and a pitcher of margaritas. Is there any reason why not to try and brush him back once or twice and make him think a little more?
A-This was written after our first series obviously. Bottom line is that you go into a game with a plan for everyone, and guys that are as hot as he was that’s no different. You have smaller margin for error obviously but you have to execute. Coming in on guys to make them uncomfortable is one way of doing it for sure, but the only pitches that have an effect on a hitter on the inside part of the plate are pitches that something happens with. Breaking a guys bat, jamming him badly, knocking him down on occasion. If you aren’t getting one of those results then most times you are wasting pitches.
Q-Do you think any umps read your blog to see what you say about them? Do you think it would influence how they call the games? I’d love to read an umpire’s blog. Would he admit the bad calls he made after each game?
A-I don’t know either way. I am not going to sit here and hammer a guy for having a bad game. A large majority of umpires are good, and they are good guys. I’ve always felt that the real bad ones are going to be bad regardless of what you say or do. A few are bad enough that it really doesn’t matter what you say or do, but most of them are working hard to do it right and make the right call.
Q-With the sappy stuff out of the way, how do you feel about your velocity right now? Does it feel natural or are you easing into it/trying to extend to reach it? You made a comment earlier about “going to the well,” how much does this actually take from you physically? And how much does the situation/adrenaline/moment play into your ability to tap into that resource?
A-My velocity is certainly different this year, no question. Bottom line is that I need to make the proper adjustments to win with what I have.
Q-John Flaherty on the YES network stated last night that you really work the umpires. I think this is a good thing. The hitters work the umpires too. As long as it doesn’t get personal, this has to be a good thing. You mentioned the good umpires will often approach a player after the game and admit a mistake. Can you approach a home plate umpire the day after and say something like,…”Hey, in that tough inning last night, I think you missed a couple strikes there?” Do the umpires really control the dialogue?
A-Umps are human, they have good days and bad days. There is a line there though, that you don’t want to cross. I never want to kiss their butts but I also want to make sure there is dialogue during a game. I want to be able to ask them about a pitch without showing them up, or them thinking I am trying to show them up. Doing that, home or away, is a recipe for disaster. It’s hard enough trying to get hitters out and adding an umpire that’s pissed off to the equation makes it that much harder. You like to be able to talk to them and work with them. As players you look for them to be as consistent as possible, for hitter and pitchers both that is the #1 priority in my opinion. Show me what’s a ball and what’s a strike and in my mind I can work within that box. The problem comes when strike one is called ball three, or ball one gets called strike three. If you aren’t sure a pitch is being called one or the other then it makes it hard to work in the zone, not knowing what the umpire considers ‘in the zone’.
Q-Do you think these come from behind dramatic wins HAVE to happen early for them to happen at all? Whats the clubhouse feeling like on one of these teams that seems to comeback alot–I guess 2004, 2001 d-backs, 93 phillies? At what point in the season did you know you were part of something “special”?
A-I think they do. I know in 1993 when we swept the Astros to open the season, coming back in the final game of the series, we knew we had something special. We felt it in spring training but that game confirmed it for alot of us I think.
Q-No kidding. It was all I could do not to throw the remote right through the plasma. Unacceptable. In your little notebook, write 100 times on A-Rod’s page “no fastballs down the middle.” Pettitte threw smarter pitches to Pedroia, for crying out loud.
A-Thanks for that, I’ll note it.
Q-In A-Rod’s 2nd at bat, Tek set up outside and #13 swung and missed on a FB riding up and in for strike 2. Flaherty said you missed your target, but with men on, it looks like you might have been trying to cross up A-Rod if he was getting signs from Jeter at 2nd. Which was it, and do you ever (aside from ‘Tek rotating signs) concern yourself with ways to cross up the hitter with men on?
Q-After the ‘Tek/A-Rod skirmish in ‘04, what happens at the plate when A-Rod comes up? Do they exchange pleasantries or is there lingering animosity there?
A-I don’t think there is any exchange there.
Q-Flaherty said you are not “one of the most popular guys in the league”. Could you comment on what you think he means by that? (Not that it matters to us in the Nation one damn!)
A-Honestly I don’t. I spent about two weeks with John in spring training and got to know him a little bit, but I don’t know him that well. I am sure I’ve played with guys I didn’t get along with, but I don’t think I’ve ever been a bad teammate to anyone. Being opinionated has by no means won over people, but it’s who I am. The funny thing is I’ve never had anyone say anything to me about it, other than to ‘hear’ things like this. I certainly have fun in the clubhouse, I prepare to take the ball every fifth day and do what it is they pay me to. I don’t do drugs, I love animals, I don’t hit my wife or kids, I don’t talk trash on my teammates (except Millar), carry a gun, or wish bad things on people. I answer the questions the media asks me, sometimes to a fault, but other than that I don’t do much.
One of the things I find somewhat ironic is that people give opinions of others and the public takes those opinions and makes them facts almost. Ed Wade used the quote “He’s a horse every fifth day and a horses ass the other four” about me when I was in Philadelphia. That’s followed me every since. My question is, who is Ed Wade to call me out? What did he do that gave his opinion credibility? Ok he was the GM, but what does that mean in the grand scheme of things? Does that make him smarter than anyone else? More insightful? He GM’d a team that never won anything yet his comment was taken to be fact.
I’d certainly like to think no one dislikes me, no one wants to be disliked, but I also realize that’s not the way life works. People are going to dislike you regardless. The bottom line is I am who I am and I’ve never changed that to change peoples opinion of me. For better or worse I’m myself. There are times when being myself doesn’t work out and something I say gets me in trouble, but again that’s part of life. Ask me a question about baseball, the game I’ve played for the last 35 years of my life, and chances are you won’t get a no comment.
Q-I see where the CHB got in a dig in his column today where he said you needed an editor more than a pitching coach.
A-Shocker. I expect that to be the norm. No one’s happier when I don’t do well than he is. Not something I worry about though.
Q-how come your “bloody sock” stayed red, is it just me or is it a known fact that blood turns a brownish color when it hits the air……..do u have “super blood” or are u just a phony????? im gonna go with phony,one reason for that is because before the 2004 season u were photographed wearing a yankee hat because u hoped to be traded to the yankees, then when u got to boston u professed how much u hate the yankees(u went as far as wearing a “Yankee Hater” hat with the interlocking YH instead of NY)……..i understand that you are a red sock and that the yankees and the red sox are the biggest rivals in sports, i just do not understand why u have to be a total phony????
A-If you had an ounce of truth in here it would be worth answering.
Q-When you have an outing where you’re rocked for a couple of home runs like yesterday, how hard is it for you to regain composure & focus to go back and get to work with the next batter?
A-Depends on the person. SOmetimes it’s easy, other times it’s next to impossible. You grind it out. I am certainly going through that phase right now, trying to grind it out and get back to being the pitcher I know I can be.
Q-Do you ever notice the lack of respect the Sox get, specifically people like Ortiz? When A-Rod gets a few walk-off’s, ESPN rolls the footage for about 3 hours straight, flipping out, praising him, praising the yankees… it seems to me that Ortiz has done this consistently for almost 4 years now.
A-I would disagree. I think we get as much, if not more, national coverage than anyone. Almost to the point where people are sick of hearing and seeing it.
Q-I’m no scouting expert, but I’ve noticed that Alex is not a good high and inside ball hitter,
A-I don’t know of anyone in the game that is a ‘good’ high and inside ball hitter. I also know that 4 straight high and inside balls is a walk.
Q-1 – As a father with kids that enjoy catching me saying things I shouldn’t – do you ever catch grief from your kids when they see you on replay like after that first A-Rod homer?
A-My oldest son Gehrig is very much into the game now. I’ll talk to him before starts and he’s usually got some ‘tips’ for me on how to pitch certain guys.
Q-It’s no secret that you have had your troubles with quitting chewing tobacco in the past. As someone who’s been dipping for 8 years now, I know what it’s like. I’m 26, and it’s getting to the point where it’s starting to scare me.
Any pointers on how you kicked the habit? I’ve been trying, but it’s tough.
A-I’ve only really quite one time. I stopped for over a year back in the late 90′s. I did it with the Nicotine patch. It’s by far the hardest thing I’ve ever tried to do and failed at. I know I need to quit, but I have had so much trouble getting there.
Q-I read some story awhile back that said Manny Ramirez is such a good hitter than he “sets up” pitchers. In one example, it was written that he would “miss” on a particular pitch on purpose & then crush the same pitch in the later AB. I know that pitchers will often set up hitters but I’ve never heard of such a thing for a hitter. Is this bunch of BS?
A-Not at all and especially as it pertains to Manny. He is one of the best in the game at setting pitchers up. He studies pitchers as much as anyone I’ve ever played with and I’ve seen him go into games sitting on one pitch he knew he’d get, wait until he gets it for a strike, and crush it. He’s done that countless times. It takes an extreme level of confidence to take that approach and there aren’t alot of hitters that can do it like he does.
Q-Torre handed you a couple this weekend and actually probably more times than anyone can count in the past…(04 and much, much more)
While your bats warmed up quite nicely, torre’s relief motto of “every pitcher, every day” doesnt exactly translate into victories.
A-Someone has to pitch the innings.
Q-Question for you, who is the hitter you dread to face today and why? As well, I know you are into watching videos of the opposition, how much time is invested in doing so, and how much of a difference do you think it has made on the game today?
A-I don’t think there is any one hitter you dread facing because the situation is as important as the hitter. You never like to face contact guys with a runner on third and less than two outs, or guys that don’t strike out with RISP and no outs.
As far as watching video it depends on the team. A team like NY that I have faced so much I will watch less than someone like Tampa or Anaheim. It also depends on how you are feeling about your stuff as well. Right now I am watching a lot of video….
I’ll grab more up to date Q&A over the next week and do some when we get home.