10/08/2004 7:06 PM ET
Jim Tracy workout day quotes
Manager confident in his team heading into Game 3
Q: Why do you think Jose Lima has been so much more successful at home?
A: Difficult question to answer. But there's a lot of truth, obviously, to what you're saying. He's been very successful in this ballpark.
I think Jose Lima feeds off of our fans, I really do. You know, our fans love him, and he is extremely appreciative of the way that they have supported him in games that he's pitched here.
I think that other things that possibly come into play is that, you know, in night games at Dodger Stadium, the ballpark plays a little larger than it actually is, which is a benefit to him. He has given up some home runs this year, several of which are solo in variety.
But he'll go out there and compete for us tomorrow, I can tell you that. He'll give us everything he's got. You know, if I had a wish, I'd like to set up a game very similar to last night, and us do something with runners in scoring position and two outs. That's really what the series boils down to. Everyone is suggesting how lopsided the series is thus far. There's been two games played where the final score is not truly indicative of how the games have unfolded. There have been key moments in both of those games where we had an opportunity to capitalize, and let it get away, then they got the same opportunity and got the two-out hits.
Q: All year long you talked about approach. Last night your approach was great, but you just didn't get the hit when you needed it. Are the guys pressing? What do you think the problem is?
A: The approach has been excellent, and indicative of that is the pitch counts that the Cardinals starting pitchers have logged over the course of the first two games.
You know, I think it's a matter of just, you know, relaxing, not trying to do too much in any one given situation, because I think one of the reasons why we've been such a successful ballclub this year is that when we got into some of the situations we've been in the first two games of the series, we've really realized the fact that a couple singles in a row can do a lot of damage -- an awful lot. And a couple singles and then a ball to the gap can really do some damage.
The unfortunate thing for us last night, like you're talking about, is we walked seven times, and I believe nine times in the last two games or something like that, but seven times last night we walked. And that approach that you're talking about, none of those walks come around to score. We hit three solo home runs, we walked seven times. None of the walked players come around to score.
Q: Why have the Cardinals been so successful in two-out situations? Jose Lima suggested perhaps the Dodger pitchers are trying to be too fine.
A: It can be a combination of both. Sometimes, as you've heard me say before, you have to give credit to the other side of the field. I think in a couple of those instances, they hit a pretty good pitch.
The first two-run single by Matheny with two outs in the fifth inning was a good pitch. If you look at the replay, it's a breaking ball going down and away from him in a good spot using very little of the plate on the outer half. He went out there and just got enough of it to lift it over our infield.
The second time around in the seventh or eighth inning, it was not a good pitch. It was a hanging, breaking ball sitting right in the middle of the plate with two strikes on him. And those balls normally in the Major Leagues get put in play when they're set in those areas.
But you know, the thing about the Cardinals' lineup, they're a team that -- you know, you just don't win 105 baseball games during the course of the regular season by sitting around in a fireside chat and saying, "Hey, we're going to win 105 this year." There's a lot of elements that go into that. There are a lot of little things that you have to do.
You know, for example, what Tony has been suggesting, they played for three outs. You get two outs, you've got two-thirds of the job done in any given half inning, you only have two-thirds of it done. Obviously, we have been victimized by that in the first two games of the series. You get the first two outs against this club, you still got another one to get.
If your focus and your attention span is not geared toward that, then they're going to hit you. You know, to what extent, you really don't know. Could be just a small number; could be a much larger number, like we saw in the third inning of Game 1. You've got to get all three of them out in a given inning. You've got to put innings down against this team.
You have to get people out in their lineup that you should be getting out, as you have suggested. If you're making quality pitches, you should get them out, and you have to get them out because of the likelihood of having to deal with two through seven in their order, which is a very formidable task.
Q: Would you talk about what Jose Lima has meant, not just on the mound, but in the clubhouse?
A: He's been a complete breath of fresh air. You know, his enthusiasm is -- what's the word I'm looking for -- infectious. It's genuine. I think it's something that our club has played on a lot during the course of this season. You know, when you see a guy, when he's not pitching up on the top step of the dugout, encouraging his teammates, you know, he's a wonderful teammate.
Until you really get an opportunity to be involved with him hands-on, you can't really appreciate how special he is. As a matter of fact, if you're over on the other side of the field, there's times he's very aggravating. But you just don't know what all the intentions are. There is really nothing that's obviously malicious in nature or anything like that. He's just a special guy that obviously, at his age, to continue to see the energy level with which he goes about it, I think it's very safe to say that he loves this game, he loves it. He doesn't like it, he loves it.
Q: We asked Dallas McPherson what it was going to take to come back, being down 2-0. He's only been in the leagues a couple of months. He said it was going to be easy. Is he correct and the pressure is off, or was it a loose term?
A: I think using the term "easy" for anybody that's been in the big leagues for two months is a little bit of a reach. He will find out some very new and interesting things as he goes along.
You know, this is not -- although not on this same scale, but for myself as a manager -- this is not the first time that I've been in this position. I managed a very good team -- probably one of the better ones, I think, in the history of Minor League Baseball -- in 1993 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. We were 50 games over .500 during the regular season, and we went to play the Eastern League Championship against Akron and lost the first two games in our own ballpark, and had to go on the road and beat them three times in their own ballpark, which we did.
And our approach was not that this is the easy part or this is going to be easy. Our approach was simply this: that we play a pitch at a time, and we play an inning at a time and a game at a time. We try to win or tie each and every inning that we're involved in.
I think instead of saying that this is going to be easy, because it's not, to look at, you know, the picture in smaller increments and telling yourself you tie or win every inning that you play from this point forward. If you can do that, then obviously you're going to play three more games. You're going to have to go back to St. Louis. You have a chance to win if it works out that way for you.
Q: This ballclub has come back from behind many times during the season. Is this just another great opportunity to do so?
A: We don't know what the word "quit" means. We have shown that type of resiliency all year long. We will continue to do so.
As I was saying to one of the earlier questions, we had a situation really last night that could have completely changed the complexion of the game we played. We end up getting beat 8-3. But you know, when you've hit two home runs in one inning, you have reloaded the bases, and you have a three-ball, no-strike count on your No. 3 hitter, and the leading home run hitter in the National League standing on deck, you kind of like the situation that you've put yourself in.
As I've been saying, I have not seen, and I know I will not see, because I haven't seen it for 164 games, there will be no lack of effort from this team. The situations that we encounter, we'll do the very best we can with them. I wouldn't be sitting here talking to you if the group of players I've had all year long have not and had not approached it in that manner.
Over the course of the last few weeks, we have had one thing or the other that we've had to deal with that you'd like to see your club be a little bit more consistent with. We went through a phase where from a starting pitching standpoint from about a two-week period, it was tough getting through five innings. And then during the course of the last week of the regular season, we started to pitch very well and get deep into the game, and the quality starts that we had gotten a lot of earlier in the season, and then scoring runs became a tough thing to do. We're kind of still in that phase right now.
So to try to find the balance between the two and put them together for a few days is what's necessary, but that's what's missing right now.
Q: When you acquired Brent Mayne earlier this year, did you know there was a previous relationship between him and Jose Lima? How important is that rapport between a catcher and pitcher?
A: First of all, I was aware of it from their days in Kansas City together. So the answer to that is yes.
To the second part of the question, I think that the rapport and the relationship between a pitcher and a catcher, and the comfort level therein between the two, is paramount as far as success is concerned. Has to be there. Has to be some type of relationship. Has to be an understanding and a thought process that's on the same lines with one another before things end up getting screwed up.
When you do things like that or you have that type of miscommunication, 60 feet, six inches apart from one another, you get beat an awful lot by not having it work the right way. You lose.
Q: Given Jose Lima's unique outlook and attitude, is he uniquely qualified to pitch in this situation?
A: He's really unique on any given day. But in this case, you know, I think from the standpoint of looking at his track record and the experience that he has, and having gone through this before, having been a 20-game winner in the Major Leagues, he's not going to be overwhelmed by the situation.
You know something? He's going to put his best stuff out there on the table and do the very best he can with that and see if that's good enough.
You know something? I think in any situation, that that's the approach you have to take. We've had a couple of questions in here about, Are we trying too hard, do you need to step back? Sometimes you do. Sometimes you need to step back and ask yourself the question, "Am I trying to make too much happen with what little I have in front of me?" Really, I can't make what I want to have happen according to the situation that's in front of me, so I have to take a step back and take little pieces instead of trying to get the big chunk all at once.
I think that's the way Lima will approach his game, feel it out, see where it's going to go, then take it from there.
Q: Finley comes over, does a great job. Walker did the same with the Cardinals. Would you talk about each contribution to their team?
A: Well, I know this, I can't sit here and say to you that if Steve Finley had not come to our ballclub, that we would have been able to finish the task that we accomplished during the course of the regular season.
You know, he added a dimension to our lineup that I have not experienced here as a manager for four years in the fact that hitting a lot of the time now in the three spot, but when he initially arrived, he was doing a lot out of the two spot in the lineup for us.
I know for a fact that there's not been any days prior to his arrival that I ever wrote a name down where the guy had 30-plus home runs and/or the capability to do that in the two hole of the lineup.
So he lengthened out our lineup. He brought that dimension to our club. He brought stability to our club as we saw last weekend against the Giants, the ability to be able to relax and understand what was in front of him, witnessed by the at-bat against Wayne Franklin when the bases were loaded and the score was tied 3-3, the dimensions that he has added to our clubhouse from a character standpoint, an example standpoint, just like Ventura is going to come up here and talk to you, he is another guy that fits into that same mold, those type of players, that type of stability is necessary.
If you look at any of the eight teams that are competing in the postseason, you're going to pick out guys on each and every club and talk about them in the same fashion as you would some of these guys.
Larry Walker, I think really in essence he did something very similar to the Cardinals lineup that Steve Finley did to ours. They took Larry Walker and they inserted him in the two spot in their lineup. Now, here is a guy, who he is a 30-plus home run guy with a great knowledge of how to run the bases, and obviously may not be the fastest guy in the league anymore, but his knowledge of how to run the bases, how to go from first to third, he's a pro. He's been a very successful professional.
I got a chance to see him at a very young age when he first started in Montreal. This guy really knows how to play the game. He just added another veteran player with a real knowledge of what's going onto a ballclub that the St. Louis Cardinals have that already has a bunch of guys that know what the hell's going on.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.