Thanks for the get well messages. I’ll be OK and come back playing as hard as ever!
Note: I told Marlon that several fans had left get well messages on his blog, and he really appreciated the thoughts and sentiments. If you want to jot down a note, leave it here. We’ll make sure he sees it.
— Carrie Muskat
Let’s start with two of the guys we were hoping would be here for a long time, Mateo and Colvin being sent out. A lot of guys have been in that position. I had a great rookie year and got sent down my second year, third year, fourth year, fifth year and then I finally established myself. Sometimes a young guy has a great first year and shows what he has, shows the talent and the league makes adjustments and they have to re-adjust. I think he fell into the category of all the other outfielders were hitting and they couldn’t figure out a way to plug him in there last year. We know Mateo has great stuff. He can pitch, 95, 96, great slider. He has to re-tool, refine some things down there. Colvin same thing. Everyone knows he can hit. He has to regain that stroke we know he has, get him at-bats, make sure his development doesn’t get stunted and he can come back and help this team.
As far as this team now, we’re not even close to where we need to be. Thank goodness it’s not too late and it’s not September and we’re not 10, 15 games out already. We still have a chance to turn it around and that’s what we need to do. It starts with the veterans and we all need to step up and do our jobs. Veteran hitters need to drive in runs, veteran pitchers need to keep us in games. Veteran pitchers in the back of the bullpen need to close it out, which they’ve been doing all year. It’s very simple. Pitching, hitting — timely hitting — and defense. You do that and you’ll win games. That’s what we need to do. It’s easy to say but difficult to do, but the teams that get to the playoffs all do it.
We had a 7:45 a.m. bus in L.A. and guys were on it. Ready to go. Everybody. It takes some extra work. The first couple series here with all the rain, we couldn’t get on the field like we wanted to. We have to take advantage of the warm days and getting on the field and being able to let it loose and see the ball fly and not being in the dungeon in the cage. We make it work.
Let’s see, we have early hitting on night games. Anyone who gets to the field early, we hit at 2:30 and we don’t finish until 3:45 or so. Guys are in the cage, working on the breaking ball machine. We have to do our homework — we get our scouting reports on the starting pitchers, the relievers. We have to go over all of them. We also go into the video room — I’ll spend 15 minutes watching the starting pitcher’s last two starts. We’ll watch the relievers to see if they’re tipping, we’ll watch glove movements, any indication to see if a pitch is coming. That takes time because we need to see a slow breakdown. We also have to go over our swings at the same time.
It’s hard for people to understand how much work we do. For a 1:20 game, I wake up at 8 in the morning and I’m here at 8:15 so I’m prepared to go out there and not just for this game in May but to be prepared for a game in September and be ready for that playoff run. I leave an hour and a half, sometimes two hours after a game is over because I have to go in the weight room and I look at video again to see what my swings looked like that day.
I don’t look at bad swings at all. I only look at my good swings. If I don’t have any good swings that day, I’ll look at Manny Ramirez’s hands on his separation, I’ll look at Ian Kinsler’s feet for my timing, and I’ll look at Michael Young for his timing, especially when he’s in two-strike mode. There’s a lot of work that we put into it that people don’t see. We have the greatest job in the world. I know people watching on TV think it looks easy but when you’re here and playing this game you know it’s not. This is the creme de la creme. It takes a lot to get here and it takes even more to stay here.
I love playing the Reds. I don’t know how people will take this but I love their swagger. I love the way they play. I love how they go out there and they feel like they’re the best team. They’re the defending Central champs but at the same time, I feel we can match their swagger. My boy, Brandon Phillips, I love the way he plays, I love what he brings. A lot of people think it’s over the top but that’s the way your team is and it helps you win then so be it. That’s the way you should be. That’s one thing I remember talking to a lot of guys in Texas when I was there is having that team swagger and not worrying about what other teams are thinking — it’s about what you’re doing and winning games. I feel if we can get that feeling over here, teams start see us having fun, sort of like what I do after I catch balls. I give my salute to Soriano, I give my salute to Fukudome after outs. I’m having fun out there. I think if we get to the point where we’re just having nothing but fun out there, I don’t think there’s a team out there that can beat us. It doesn’t matter who it is — St. Louis, Cincinnati — they won’t be able to play with us. We have to get to that point. At the same time, with swagger comes winning. It’s hand in hand. With winning comes swagger. Until we start winning, it’s hard to walk that walk and talk that talk. These series are going to be big. It’s going to be a battle.