Results tagged ‘ Marlon Byrd ’
The dude was trying to break up a double play. Holliday plays hard. You have to appreciate the way he plays. He’s not labeled as a dirty player. He didn’t go spikes up. The only thing that made it look bad was that he slid late. That’s it. Whether he could reach the bag or not, I don’t know. If I’m in that situation, and I’m playing to win, trying to get to a pennant race, I’d do the same exact thing. Even though we’re second to last and in fifth place in this division, I still try to flip infielders. It’s as simple as that. I try to play winning baseball, and that’s all that is.
You call a play dirty when a guy is going out there trying to hurt somebody and that’s not what he did. If Holliday wants to go in and hurt somebody he will. He’s 6-4, 235, 240 pounds. That’s him playing hard. The way we take it when we see it is we want to defend our players at the time. When you go back and really look at it and how the game is played and how it should be played, there’s nothing wrong with that. If the umpires want to make their call and say he was too far off, so be it. Being dirty or being malicious, it’s not even close.
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.
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.
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.
The first time I started boxing was at the Boys Club and I was 12 years old. Back then, you put gloves on and you’re just swinging. You learn a one-two combination, which is a jab and right cross. Other than that, you’re throwing hooks, and it’s really wild hooks.
In 2008, I had surgery on my knee, so going into the 2009 season, I couldn’t do much running, and I worked with a Gold Glover named Angel Romero in Philly. I worked on little things — hitting the mitts, double-ended bag and a heavy bag. In 2009, I had a great season, my legs felt good, I felt more explosive. Last year, before I came to Spring Training, I did more sprinting. Everyone knows how I felt about my second half last year — I got a little bit tired. My whole thought process going into this year was to do more low impact stuff, save my legs, make sure I drop my weight and still be explosive. I talked to Hammerin’ Hank Lundy, who is a boxer in Philadelphia. He’s 19-1. The guy he trains with is Danny Davis. Danny Davis is also Bernard Hopkins’ trainer. Their gym is Joe Hand Boxing in Philadelphia. The strength coach there helped with my core work and kept my cardio up.I went there Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 10 o’clock, and I did my core for 30 minutes and then I went 30-45 minutes boxing with the speed bag, the upper cut bag, the heavy bag. We worked on mitts, worked on the heavy mitts, we worked on focus mitts. We also sparred a little bit and worked on the sticks for defense — they’re styrofoam sticks. If you don’t keep your hands up, they’ll hit you in the head with them.
The biggest thing about that was me being in the gym with other professionals. These are amateurs trying to become professionals, or professionals who are trying to make a name in the business. Just the mental aspect of being with these guys was big. To use a cliche, being with those guys, they have the eye of the tiger. It gave me a different sense of urgency as far as going to the gym and working out. Those guys get in, get out, and have to go work 9-to-5’s. It really got me mentally prepared for this grind. I’m a guy who always works hard, and everyone knows that. I think I can always better myself and step it up a little bit. Boxing, that thought process of being in the gym three minutes on, 30 seconds off for 30 to 45 minutes straight mentally got me right.
I worked with Danny Davis and also went to San Francisco and worked with Nonito Donaire, who is a 122-pounder. On Feb. 19, he knocked a guy out and broke the guy’s orbital bone and his jaw in a fight. I worked with one of his mitt guys on different techniques to be more explosive. We intertwined everything with my first steps in the outfield. We timed my right cross with swinging the bat, and throwing my right and bringing that back hip through. It was funny, I’ve always done baseball-specific training. The past couple years, this is the first time I’ve done nothing baseball-specific but everything transfers over to baseball.
Would I ever fight? No chance. I realized just sparring with the guys and trying to hit the guys, I play baseball. It’s like a boxer trying to come out and play in the big leagues. No chance. Not happening. If I trained for maybe a year, two years, I could do an exhibition fight. Like Mike Tyson said, everybody has a plan until they get hit. I don’t like getting hit.
Carlos, everything he’s done in Tampa, he knows how to win. We’ve bonded. We were the big dogs coming up through the Minor Leagues, got to the big leagues and scuffled a little bit. We went back and forth, Minor Leagues, big leagues, knowing we could play but we needed that one team to take that flyer on us. It was Texas with me, Tampa with Carlos. Carlos comes up, does what he does, signs that big deal in Tampa. We can feed off each other because at the same time, what we also have in common is Rudy. He was with Rudy in Texas before I was. Now we have that rapport, so we’re talking about getting his swing back to where it was. There’s a lot that goes through your head when you struggle. He struggled last year and still put up big numbers in the power category. You have to get that average back up, get that confidence back up. I had the same thing, hitting .220 in the Minor Leagues and going to Texas and working with Rudy and had to get that confidence and that feel. I knew I could hit. We started talking from day one — actually at the Cubs Convention, we started talking hitting right away. Then when we came in here the first day, we started going to the cage together, working on little things. I see things he’s doing now that I did when I first came to Texas. Having more than one eye — not just Rudy’s eye but my eye — and having that trust factor will help. He trusts me. When I see something, he says, “Hey, you’re right, I feel it.” All from that, we’re learning and feeding off each other as far as hitting. I get to feed off him as far as that winning mentality and everything he did in Tampa.
There are certain things that happen in the clubhouse. I can go to him and say, “What do you think? Do we need a meeting? Do we need a one on one?” We can go back and forth. That’s a good thing. We have all these veterans in here and we have a lot of help — Kerry Wood, Braden Looper, all those guys. Me and Carlos, being position players, he’s very vocal, just like I am. we can talk and make sure everything stays on the up and up with this team. Last year, you have your ups and downs, but you want to keep those very, very small and stay consistent. Now, we have that rapport and hopefully we can be part of leading this team in the clubhouse and on the field and carry us all the way into the playoffs.
He’s not tentative because he’s the new guy. You saw me last year when I came in here, sort of loud mouth in the beginning. Everyone was like, “Marlon talks too much.” At the end of the year, they were saying, “He talks for a reason.” Carlos, it’s the same thing. He’s talking for a reason. He’s not speaking out of turn, he’s not speaking just to talk. He’s speaking because he needs to. The time he’s put in the big leagues, the winning he’s done, the numbers he’s put up, everything, he’s earned the right for people to listen to him.