Results tagged ‘ Cubs ’
There are a lot of unwritten rules in baseball. There are a lot of things that happen on the field that stay on the field. When I came up, umpires treated the veterans a little differently than they treated rookies. It was not in a bad way, it was just a respect thing, a seniority thing. Veterans have a little bigger strike zone when they’re pitching against a rookie. When I came up, Maddux, Glavine were getting calls on balls off the plate. You don’t say anything. You earn your time and you earn the right to say things.
But then it comes to a point where an umpire sometimes will say something out of the box. He doesn’t mean any harm, but he’ll say it to a young guy who doesn’t know how to take it and it gets back to the team and gets back to the manager or the front office, and after looking at the Marlins series and how the season has gone like ours, it’s not well received at all, even if it’s said in a joking manner. Maybe it can rattle a guy and when the outcome of that at-bat when he’s spoken to is a negative with a strikeout, it really doesn’t look right. The big thing in baseball is it’s a fraternity. Umpires are included in this fraternity and we all need to be on the same page and work together. Communication has to be out there.
Mike Quade had our backs in his post-game interview the other day. He said exactly what needed to be said — he didn’t say too much and didn’t say too little. He got it out there and it was heard and hopefully it doesn’t happen again. The umpire knows who he is and the player knows who he is and the umpire knows what he said. Hopefully, there’s an apology that comes the next time that crew comes to town and if not, just make sure it doesn’t happen again.
You have a guy like Ryan Dempster, who’s your bulldog when he comes in. It’s his day to pitch and you’re excited to see him on the mound. When he has to come out of the game, there’s that fire in him that he wants to stay out there and he wants to keep going strong. You have two strong-minded guys, Q and Demp. Q believed in one thing, going with his bullpen. Demp believed he could keep going strong. At the same time, people have to understand you need that. You don’t want a passive manager, you don’t want a passive starting pitcher. Sometimes you bump heads. We have 7 1/2 months together. It’s not all love. Sometimes it’s war, even in the locker room. We treat it like a family. What happened yesterday happened, and today you move on and go from there. Maybe Ramon throws six, seven innings and doesn’t want to come out and the bullpen is ready and it happens again. At the same time, that’s something that will always happen in the game of baseball just because of the competitiveness and the fire between players and staff.
If it had been Zambrano, it would’ve been blown up and blown out of proportion. The camera stays on Carlos. They’re waiting for him to have his next blow up. Dempster’s had blow ups, but you just haven’t seen them or hear about them. I’ve had my blow ups and you never hear about them. It happens to everybody. I guess it’s a Catch-22. If it’s Dempster, he gets a pass. If it’s Carlos Zambrano, it gets talked about more because he’s Big Z.
The kid who really impressed me on the Iowa team was Marwin Gonzalez, a switch-hitting shortstop. He hit a couple doubles, nice bat. He’ll be a pretty good player. I have to speak about Bryan LaHair and what he’s doing. His numbers are phenomenal. At some point, hopefully he gets a chance to help the team, whether it’s here or somewhere. Welington Castillo is looking good back there and still learning. He looks good at the plate. Jonathon Mota, he played second and third, had some good at-bats, really nice hands. I think that infield, regardless of who they put out there, is one of the best in Triple-A. Bill Dancy is running things and righting that ship. Look at his winning percentage as a manager. He was my field coordinator in ’99 with the Phillies. Some of the young guys were throwing the ball well — “Bergie” has a sub 2.00 ERA. He’s got big league stuff. Scott Maine was doing well. He made one bad pitch when I was down there.
All the young guys who are first-years in Triple-A, like Marwin and DJ and Welington, need to keep stepping up and keep getting better and keep learning and take that from now until they get to the big leagues.
No fear. None whatsoever. First at-bat at Iowa, I took the first pitch and my thought process the whole time was, “See the ball.” It wasn’t, “What’s going to happen?” That didn’t cross my mind. In the second game, there was no thought process whatsoever, it was just baseball. I knew I was ready then. I’m glad, because I wasn’t really sure how I was going to react and I reacted very well.
First off, I’m at the three-week mark, so I get to start running today. I’ll be running around on the field Monday so I’m progressing just like I want to and healing. Week No. 3, start running; Week No. 4, ramp it up a little bit and more activities on the field. Week No. 5, go out for a rehab assignment. Right now, I’m on pace.
Today I started shagging a little bit harder to find out how my legs feel. I’ve been long tossing for a week now so my arm’s still there. The strength is still there. I’ve been in the weight room every single day. I’ll go in there three times during the game and I’m hitting during the game, too. I’ve been working hard. I have to make sure when I go on the rehab assignment, I’m not DH’ing. I want to go in center field and start running around and play nine innings. Everything’s going positive as far as my healing.
With the team, it’s been a tough road trip, tough teams. We haven’t played the way we wanted to play — everybody knows that. It seems like all aspects of the game aren’t there at the same time — pitching, hitting, defense, timely hitting. We have to figure out a way to get Oswalt today and go back home with a win under our belt. It’d be positive on the plane ride home. Hopefully, we’ll get some home cooking and try to straighten this thing out.
It’s not too late. I told some of the older guys if we can decrease this thing by six, seven games going into the All-Star break, and be five, six games out, we still have a chance. We’re not focusing on trying to get a 15-game winning streak but trying to win a series at a time. Hopefully, nobody takes off in the Central.
It seems like it doesn’t get easier. The Brewers are winning, they’re hot. They’re not playing at home, which is a good thing but that won’t make it any easier. Just the Yankees being the Yankees, they’re professionals, they’re expected to win and they’re going to come in and do their thing. We have to get our focus. We know we can play any team.
I’m glad everyone has taken steps to make sure I’m OK and they’re not rushing to get me back on the field but making sure I heal correctly. That’s the main thing. I’ve seen Dr. Rosin here in Chicago. I’ve already had three, four appointments with him and I’m going to see him again today. I saw a facial guy, and in Boston, I saw neurologists, I saw radiologists, ophthalmologists. I had three facial doctors — they checked me, and then one guy went and got his boss and the other guy went and got his boss. I had the team doctors, Dr. Adams and Dr. Gryzlo, when I came back here look at it. It hit me in a sensitive spot. It hasn’t really been tough because I’ve had a great support system. I’ve had great doctors working with me and nobody has misstepped anything. I can’t be thankful enough for that. My support system with my family and friends and the fans writing in and wishing me well, I can’t thank them enough.
I have no clue when I’ll be back. All I know is I have to heal first, that’s first thing. Second, start baseball activity. Third, then I have to go on a rehab assignment and see how my body feels and see how I respond as far as seeing the ball. It could be a timely thing or it could be very quick.
I’ll be fine. Watching pitches and everything, I haven’t flinched. The ball’s been thrown at me. I’m one of those guys when something happens, you say, Oh well, it happened, and move on. Until you get that first ball actually thrown near you or at you, you’re not sure how your body or your mind is going to respond. Hopefully, I’ll be OK.
It’s nice to come out here — I can’t wait to come out here and see the fans and salute the bleacher bums.
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.
Everybody wants to talk about the three-hole. My take on it is, Mike Quade’s the manager and he makes the decision. Who he wants in the three-hole is who’s going to be there. I’ll do anything to help this team. If the team is better off with Starlin in the three-hole, that’s fine with me. If they want me in the three-hole, same thing. You have to hit in this game to stay in the top spot and the hot spot. You have to go with the hot hand. Is Starlin ready? I believe so. But at the same time, I’m a male, I have my ego, and I want to do whatever I can to stay in the three-hole. The lineup is going to go back and forth. I have to do a better job of making Quade’s job easier. Starlin is doing the job he’s doing in the one spot, Barney is doing the job he’s doing in the two spot, I have to make sure I do my job, and then one, two, three, four stays solidified. Again, you have to go with the guy who’s doing the job and driving in runs, which is Starlin. A lot of people comment about it but it doesn’t bother me. I know the job I have to do. Everything I’ve done last year, what people really don’t know is last year was the first year I really started off hot. Sometimes it takes time, sometimes you lose your swing and you have to find it. I’m going to keep battling. When September comes, I’ll be exactly where I need to be, whether it’s three, six or wherever that is.
I guess everyone knows about my blowup last Sunday in Milwaukee. There are certain things that happen in baseball that you keep in the clubhouse, you keep between the manager, you keep between the players. Quade came out and said there was miscommunication. I got asked the same question. The big thing about me is I don’t throw managers under the bus, I don’t throw coaches under the bus. The best way for me to keep DeJesus’ name, Dernier’s name and Quade’s name out of the media and my name not attached to any negativity is to not say anything. That was the only way I could get my point across to the media that day.
When you see it on ESPN or MLB Network, nobody knows the reasoning and it makes me look bad. I don’t mind that. Again, the whole point was it was handled internally and kept that way. I didn’t come out and say anything. Nobody is sure what happened and if people want to put the blame on me, that’s fine. I don’t mind that. Everyone makes mistakes in their job. But to harp on it just because a negative came out of it instead of a positive, I thought was unnecessary so that’s the reason I reacted the way I did.
I will always have my coaches backs, my whole organization’s back — all the way from the Ricketts to the clubhouse guys to the janitors to the guys working at Wrigley. I think I have respect in this game and a lot of people understand where I was coming from. The main thing was to have Mike Quade and the 25 guys on this team understand where I’m coming from and they did.