NLDS Pre-Game One: Bruce Bochy Interview

NLDS Pre-Game One: Bruce Bochy Interview

San Diego Padres manager Bruce Bochy wouldn't commit to his game two starter on Monday – odds are it will be decided by whether the Padres win or lose game one. A win and Chris Young appears with David Wells going on the road and a loss could mean Wells salvages the second home game.

Bruce, can you speak to the idea of how much you want to pitch to Albert Pujols and whether you should pitch to him at all?

Bruce Bochy: We know what a great hitter he is. There's going to be times we pitch to him. Obviously when you have a hitter of that caliber, you're hoping not to make any mistakes. The game will dictate that. And my decisions on whether to pitch him or not are going to be probably controlled by what's going on with the game situations and things like that. I mean, this guy's a tremendous hitter. We know it. But they have a good hitting lineup. And you know, we're going to play to win every game. If that means pitching to him or putting him on, we'll do what we think we need to do to win that game.

Bruce, I want to get your thoughts. How would you describe your confidence on this day right now compared to a year ago going into the same series against the same opponent?

Bruce Bochy: I mean, we feel good about ourselves. I think the club should. We've been playing good baseball. And, you know, we had to win a lot of games down the stretch here to get here. So there's a sense of confidence with this ball club as there should be, where last year, you know, we struggled getting in. So it's going to be important that we do go into this series with confidence. The Cardinals are a very, very good ball club. We know it. We've had our tough times with them in the past. So we need to play our best ball. And the only way you do that is have confidence. And I think this club's going in with a lot of confidence right now.

Boch, do you approach managing a playoff game, how different is it from a regular season game from your perspective and the decisions you have to make?

Bruce Bochy: I don't think you approach it too much different, to be honest, because you're trying to win every game. That's the only way you're going to get here is if you have a winning season. So in that respect, you know, we're going to pretty much be doing the same thing hopefully that we have been doing all season, and I think we'll be all right. Now, sure, there's going to be times when, you know, you may stretch out a reliever, go a couple more innings because you're not looking at the big picture as much as you are in the earlier season. You saw a little bit of that in September. In that respect guys, could get used a little more. There's days off. It allows you to use your relievers a little bit more. But as far as our position players, our starters, you know, we're going to be pretty much to how hopefully we played during the season. If we do that, we'll be all right.

Can you tell us who your day two and day three starters are and why you came to that decision?

Bruce Bochy: Well, right now we're just -- Peavy. Good chance. We're looking at Boomer, but we'll talk about that after tomorrow. Jake is our guy starting tomorrow. He's got -- he's our guy. He has experience, so that's why we went with him.

Does Chris Young's success, all the runs this afternoon, factor into the decision on games two versus three?

Bruce Bochy: Again, right now we got Jake going tomorrow. Chris, he'll be slotted in there, and, you know, we're going with who we think we should have out there at this point. And Jake's ready to go. Boomer will be on his normal rest. C.Y., he's probably going go the third, fourth game. But it's not so much dictated how they've done whatever. It's where we think they are at this point, when is the best slot to put them in. That's why we haven't etched anything in stone. After tomorrow.

Last year you had Jake coming into that series, and unbeknownst to everybody, he had broken ribs and tried to pitch through that game. Having him healthy this year, obviously there's nothing wrong with him that we should know about, is there? And having him in more of -- in a peak position physically to pitch has to be, you know, more confident for you.

Bruce Bochy: You're right. To have your guy healthy, it's so important for your club. And last year we didn't. But you know, with Jake, we always wait until right before the game to make sure he's okay. We're trying to get through tonight with him. But don't question, the guy was hurting last year, gave us everything he had. Didn't let us know anything. And sure, that's going to affect you. This game is hard enough to play when you're completely healthy. But you're facing a good ball club and you got a cracked rib, you definitely have your work cut out. That's great news for us that Jake at this point is healthy.

Such a different group of guys that got you to this point this year as opposed to last year. Do you, as their manager, feel differently heading into the series than you did a year ago?

Bruce Bochy: Well, you're right. It is a different group. It's a great group. I've enjoyed these guys all year. I think they've played with a lot of heart. And do I feel different? It's always a great feeling when you get to post-season. But yeah, I feel different in the way we did get here. I mentioned earlier, the way they had to respond to the competition and the way the Dodgers played and the Phillies, we had to keep winning and they did that. They've been resilient all year, and so, in that respect, sure, I do feel better about how we've gotten here.

Jake's ability to come up with freak injuries has become kind of a running joke. But during the celebration Saturday, did you find yourself watching him, putting an armed guard on him? Any -- any special precautions?

Bruce Bochy: You know, when you finally get there and you have a celebration, you kind of forget about everything. And afterward I thought about it. I wish I would have been watching him. But I think Jake, he learned from last year. You draw on your experiences. And I'm sure Jake has. And you know, it was very under control, I thought. And been a long time since we'd been to post-season, you know, when we got there last year. So there were a lot of emotions flying, and probably got a little crazy there. But this year they did a great job. They enjoyed it. Savored the moment, but did not go overboard.

Bruce, could you compare and contrast managing in the post-season versus the regular season? And part two of the question: What is it like to match with Tony La Russa?

Bruce Bochy: Well, the answer to the first question, you know, post -- you know, really if you look at the past month, you know, it's almost been a post-season type play. I mean, every game is so important, so vital, especially on that last road trip. So in that respect, both clubs have been in that boat. Even the Cardinals there at the end. So that's the way we've been playing for a while now. So hopefully we don't change anything, continue to play the same type of game we've been playing. We know how important every game is in post-season.

As far as managing wits against Tony La Russa, I have so much respect for this man, what he's accomplished and the job he's done in St. Louis, and I know what he's done to me, too. We've had a tough time with him, but this guy is going to go down as one of the best managers ever in the game. He's a brilliant man that does a great job there.

Bruce, when was the last time you actually won an argument with an umpire and he overturned the call, and how often does that happen at all?

Bruce Bochy: You know, it doesn't happen very often. I count on one hand the number of times where they have reversed the call. And they got it right. And I tip my cap to them, because that's what they want to do. And they always try to get it right. Now, a lot of them are judgment calls. You know, he admitted that he forgot that it was a forced play. So he did the right thing and got the umpires together and they ended up overruling that. But it doesn't happen often. But they're human too. Just like players, we make errors. I make mistakes. Umpires do. What's important is that they do get it right. And they did in that situation.

Do you take pride in getting that call overturned? Do you consider it a feather in your cap?

Bruce Bochy: No. I was just happy that the game was over, believe me. That's the way we've done things all year, seems like. Goes down to the last pitch. So you have that euphoric feeling hitting you, that's all you think about. Hey, it's over and now we're division champions and we get to come home here. So there are a lot more thoughts going through my mind than that.

Boch, I'm sorry if this question has been asked, but how important is it to get the first win at home in a game like this?

Bruce Bochy: I mean, every one is important. I think both teams feel that way. And especially when you're in a short series. But it's the best out of five. So you try to get every one you can. Doesn't matter which one it is. Obviously you like to win the first one. Both clubs would, and that's what you're out there, when you hit the field tomorrow you're out there to try to get that win. And it's always important to get it. But you know, if it doesn't, then, you know, you gotta be resilient in this game.

Back to Pujols for a minute. Now that you've had a chance to reflect on it and the division is clinched, et cetera, Wednesday night, did that homerun plant any ideas in your head about how to handle him in the future and would you have done the same thing in that circumstance again?

Bruce Bochy: Well, you know, now I'll look and say no, I wouldn't have done the same thing because I saw the daggum ball leave the ballpark. That's the tough thing about this game, is that they have -- these Cards have backs. I have a guy, Meredith, a guy I have all the confidence in the world. No reason to think about walking a guy with what he's done. And I know how good Pujols is. And we were in a tough situation there. We have a one-run lead. Do you put the tying run on second and winning -- winning run on second and tying run on third? That's a difficult call. And we had two outs and have a right-hander that's done an unbelievable job for us. It just didn't work out. Did it plant a seed? We'll see. We'll see when we have any kind of situation like that that comes up.

Putting together your post-season roster, obviously that's a big question today. What are some of the factors that go into putting the best 25 guys out there that you and Kevin see fit?

Bruce Bochy: Probably more than anything to a coach is the health of the guys. Khalil Greene, where he's at. Klesko. Those are two guys that made a lot of progress here in this last week. So that's coming to play. As far as the other guys, they've been here all year. Bowen, Bard, they're going to be there. So the only concern really was where those other two guys were, Greene and Klesko, and we're going to wait tomorrow and have this thing done. But that definitely helps answer some questions.

Is there any concern about Meredith because he's been used so much, lately, is there any concern that he's tired or anything like that?

Bruce Bochy: No. He's had a couple of days off. He feels fine. We're hoping not to use him. Yesterday we didn't. But he's the guy that's been healthy all along. Even when we used him a lot in that stretch. He says he's felt great. He's had no arm problems. We're able to rest him a couple of days. So that was big. So I don't have any concern there. Really the whole staff, we have zero concern with anybody in the bullpen.

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