10/08/11 5:35 PM ET
A Workout Day Interview with Ron Roenicke
By / MLB.com
RON ROENICKE: Well, Zack [Greinke] is going to go tomorrow. And Rick and I are going to have some discussions as soon as I leave here with a couple of the other starters. Yo [Yovani Gallardo] will probably go Game 3. And that allows him also to come back if there's a Game 7. So, just deciding on tomorrow and Game 4.
Q. You mean Monday?
RON ROENICKE: Monday, Game 2 and Game 4.
Q. Are you thinking about making some changes from the four guys you had in the last round?
RON ROENICKE: Probably not, no. We just want to make sure the order is right and where we're pitching them. And we want to have those conversations with the pitchers.
Q. Does Narveson's success against St. Louis tempt you in any way to pop him in there?
RON ROENICKE: I think that's hard to do. I think Wolfy [Randy Wolf] had a great game against him in their ballpark. Shaun [Marcum] has pitched well against them. So, probably not.
Q. Last night it wasn't clear yet that you'd be facing the Cardinals. What do you think about them being the matchup? You saw them 18 games, and many of those games were quite interesting.
RON ROENICKE: Yeah, they're a good team. Very good offense. They've had some pitching lately, starting pitching. You saw [Chris] Carpenter yesterday with an outstanding game. And we're going to have a battle. They're a good team. They're going to certainly be ready for it. They're hot. Last month of the season, incredible month they had and carried that into the playoffs. And we're going to have our hands full.
Q. Do you have to be leery of the extracurricular stuff going on in the regular season, keep that in the back of your mind or do you think it's not a factor?
RON ROENICKE: I'm not worried about it. We have a good team to play. We know that. We just have to make sure we're ready to do what we do best.
Q. How has Prince [Fielder] handled everything this year, coming in from where he may have been traded last year or not, and to be able to put the type of season he has, what has he been like in the clubhouse?
RON ROENICKE: Really focused, but surprisingly really relaxed and having fun. And I say that "surprisingly" just because sometimes with that free-agent year sometimes you put a little bit more pressure on yourself. Sometimes you think you need to get after it a little bit more. But he's been really relaxed. He's always smiling, laughing. And I think that helps you play better. I know there's some guys that can't go about it that way. His attitude and the way he's gone about his job has been great.
Q. [Albert] Pujols was in the same position as Prince was, with all those questions. He got off to his slow start, you said before it didn't surprise you at all he ended up right where he is.
RON ROENICKE: No, this is one of the best hitters in the game. And he's good defensively. He knows how to play. Smart guy. Smart baseball guy. And offensively, when you see him struggling, you know it's not going to last. You hope it lasts for the series you're in, maybe, but you know it's not going to last. We got him out early. And I don't know if we got him out or I don't know if he was just in a slump and he got himself out. We did pitch him well. The last couple we didn't pitch him well. We'll see if we can stay out of the mistake area that he doesn't miss, with [Matt] Holliday and [Lance] Berkman, they don't miss mistakes, and we really need to pitch well against them.
Q. Are you surprised, even though you've stated the Cardinals are a good team, that they came from this far behind to get into the playoffs and then are here today?
RON ROENICKE: Yeah, I would say I'm surprised. I think anytime somebody comes from that far back and is able to get the Wild Card like they did, and then go through what everybody thought was a fantastic Phillies team, which they are a fantastic team. In a short series you never know what's going to happen and St. Louis put it together, to pick up the three wins. I am surprised, just because of how far back they were. But they're really good. When they were playing at .500 ball, I did not think that was the team they were.
Q. You guys split the season series. Can you talk about pros and cons of facing a divisional foe in the LCS with such big stakes on the line?
RON ROENICKE: I think it comes down to we certainly know them, they know us. Who executes better, who pitches better. You saw in the last series the games that we pitched well we come out and all of a sudden we don't pitch well a couple of games. If you do not pitch well against the Cardinals, they're going to hammer the ball. They're going to score a lot of runs. We've got to pitch them well. On the same end, we've got to keep coming through with some big hits, keep getting people on base, putting pressure on them. But knowing them gives you doesn't give you necessarily an advantage, but what it does is it let's you know that if you execute what you need to do that you can get them out.
Q. In maintaining this incredible home-field advantage that your club has had, how important is the atmosphere around you? People seem generally grateful to the club for bringing back the championship level after 29 years.
RON ROENICKE: Well, I have seen that and I certainly hear it when I go around town. I mean, it's great. It's great that they can have that feeling. It's great that we could come through and get to this next series. I think we all would have been disappointed if we wouldn't have won yesterday's ballgame. We had a great year. I think an exciting year the way we played. And it would have been a disappointment if we lost that series. Coming into this one we know we still have some work to do to get to the next level. But I think with the guys' attitudes, they understand what the city and the people that come out to see them play, they understand what it means. And it does mean a lot. It means a lot when we go to our ballpark here, we see everything packed. We hear the noise here. And then sometimes we go to other stadiums and we don't see that same support from their city. So this is a great place to play. The atmosphere was great in the playoffs as it was during the season. And it helps to pick up their game.
Q. Do you think Rickie is pressing at this point? Are his struggles enough that you might consider dropping him in the lineup?
RON ROENICKE: I don't think so. I really liked yesterday's ballgame from him. First at bat he smokes a ball to right field. That's really where he's had some trouble. And next one he gets hit, tried to bunt, actually the bunt wasn't that bad, but Kennedy got off the mound great down the line to catch it. So, I was OK with his at-bats yesterday. I thought that was an improvement from where he was. And I know he's feeling better all the time and hopefully he'll get it together in this series and we'll see the kind of player he was before the ankle injury.
Q. Even though you said you don't think there will be any extracurriculars, just to avoid another phone call from Joe Torre, will you talk to Nyjer [Morgan] before the series and just say play ball?
RON ROENICKE: I may talk to him. I may not. He usually pops in and says hi. I may have a comment for him. But he knows. We talked about it before, during the season and he knows. So, I don't expect there to be any problems.
Q. As a follow up to that, what would you say that people who have allowed that incident or other incidents to be an indictment of his character, and how do you guys at this point continue to keep those distractions at bay?
RON ROENICKE: Well, Nyjer's personality, it's the thing is it's not going to be behind closed doors. He's out there. You guys all see him. He's not too shy of the cameras. He's not too shy of showing his emotions out on the field. So, that type of stuff is going to be there. But I think if you know the guy and you know what he tries to do, you know what his personality is and you know how he interacts with the rest of the group, he's a great guy to have on our team. I know a lot of guys say that he's great he'd be great on a team, but if you're the opposing team you're not going to like him. I can see that. I understand that. So, that's probably always going to be there. And I talked to Nyjer about that before. So, he understands what the other side thinks about him when he's out playing. And it doesn't bother him too much. I think at times I think he likes to stir it up a little bit. But like I said before, I enjoy him. He's really a good young man and a guy who's trying to get better at everything he does on and off the field.
Q. As you said, that pitching obviously is going to be really big in the series, how huge is it that you didn't have to use Zack last night and got to use him in Game 1 here at home?
RON ROENICKE: Well, I think it's important. Anytime we have Zack ready to go, and I know you guys have brought the numbers to me enough to know that I know he pitches better at home. So, I think that's a good thing. I think if we would have used him last night we would have had some tough calls on how we run this rotation through the series. But the way it is now, it works out well. With Zack there we know he's going to be able to come back and pitch a couple of games. We know if we go to Game 7, Yo will be able to pitch a couple of games. And then we'll fill in the others with Marcum and Wolfy.
Q. How concerning were the last few starts for Marcum and Wolf?
RON ROENICKE: Well, anytime you go through a little stretch where you're not pitching as well, it's always a concern. I still really like these guys. I think it's comforting to know that they have pitched well against St. Louis. I think they know that, which should give them confidence. And whatever the case was in the two starts that they had, whether it was just being amped up too much for the playoffs, which has happened to a lot of guys, hopefully the second start they'll calm down a little bit. They know they get another shot at this, which they really want because they weren't happy with the way they pitched the other games. So, I think they'll both be fine.
Q. Did you ever personally refer to Nyjer Morgan as "Tony Plush"?
RON ROENICKE: No.
Q. Good. Will you consider maybe flip flopping Wilson and Green at this point?
RON ROENICKE: No, we just talked about it. We set the rosters tomorrow morning, we'll probably keep it the same. But we're talking about it.
Q. You haven't been here as long as guys like Rickie and Ryan and Prince who have heard 1982 since they were coming up from the Minor Leagues, but do you have any sense of the fan base talking about history, and the last time they played in a series against the Cardinals, and there's probably a lot of residual anger about that series, do you hear anything like that, regarding 29 years ago?
RON ROENICKE: I hear something about the 29 years ago, but not necessarily who they were playing and how the series went. I know a lot of those guys that played on that team, a great bunch of guys, and offensively guys that could mash the ball. But as far as who they were playing or what went on, I haven't heard that much about it.
Q. You mentioned you've heard about the 29 years. Your players have heard about the 29 years. On the record they are very respectful of what the team accomplished. But is there a feeling of like we'd like to write our own chapter in history in this clubhouse?
RON ROENICKE: I think there always is. I haven't heard that. I don't think those are comments that guys are walking around saying. But I think it's always the case. No player now wants to have everybody say, well, you remind me of this so and so team that was, whatever, 10 years ago, 20 years ago. They want to be remembered for what they've done this year. So, if they feel that way, I think that's natural.
A Workout Day Interview with Zack Greinke
Q. Are you getting more used to the postgame celebration situation where there's all kinds of guys around and lots of partying, and it's not really your thing?
ZACK GREINKE: The one yesterday was more exciting than the first one to me. It was fun.
Q. How much will your Division Series start impact your start in Game 1 of this series?
ZACK GREINKE: Not much. I guess I know what to expect when the game starts now. But it was just kind of like a normal start. And maybe a little more intense and a little more focused. But it really wasn't that much different. So, I'm expecting the next one to be the same way.
Q. How much did you warm up in the bullpen last night before the 11th inning, and will it affect you in any way pitching tomorrow?
ZACK GREINKE: It shouldn't affect me. I guess probably got like almost completely loose. But I threw like a really, really light bullpen earlier. So, it was probably about the equivalent of a normal bullpen session, maybe just like a little bit more, but it shouldn't make a difference.
Q. When you look at the Cardinals' lineup, what strikes you about it?
ZACK GREINKE: Mainly it's just I think it's the best lineup in the National League. It's just really deep. There's really no easy outs in the lineup. And not only that, they have a couple of guys on the bench that they could plug in and are just as good as the guys in there. I think it's the deepest lineup in the National League and the best.
Q. After being around it for 18 matchups this season, do these two teams legitimately dislike each other?
ZACK GREINKE: Maybe now. I think no one really likes [Chris] Carpenter. But besides that, I think they respect mostly everyone on their team.
Q. I'm curious, with the rally towels and stuff, is that distracting to a pitcher, because you guys see it more than the hitters do?
ZACK GREINKE: I couldn't even tell you if it was going on when I was pitching, the last time I pitched. If I was pitching when that was going on, that's your answer. If I wasn't, I don't know yet.
Q. Did you hear Ryan Braun's comments after your start about living life awkwardly, and what were your thoughts?
ZACK GREINKE: Yeah. He just I mean, he's jealous of a lot of things I do (laughter). But my wife was actually mad at him because I complimented him and he said that. That doesn't bother me.
Q. Is that a glimpse of just how loose the clubhouse is and how you fit in with this team?
ZACK GREINKE: I guess everyone has different opinions on it, like he didn't even see it, but I guess he assumed that it wasn't normal. I don't know, it was just what we do.
Q. What's your impression at this point of Nyjer Morgan, and just all the ways that you can talk about?
ZACK GREINKE: Ninety-five percent of the time he's great. Everyone else probably likes him 100 percent of the time. But every now and then he talks too much for me and gets annoying (laughter). But I tell him that. Everyone on the team loves him. He has a good heart and he's fun.
Q. When you tell him that, does he shut up?
ZACK GREINKE: Sometimes.
Q. You talked about in the beginning about the rivalry with the Cardinals, for a while it was the Brewers chasing the Cardinals and now you guys are right there?
ZACK GREINKE: I don't know what it is, but it seems like everyone always wants to make a rival with the Cardinals. Maybe just I don't know, I like how they play the game. I think their manager is really smart. I like how their players play. They play the game good. They hardly ever make mistakes. I don't know why it seems to be like that, but coming into Spring Training, no one liked the Cardinals on our team. And I guess the Reds didn't like them last year. And I mean, I don't understand it, but a lot of guys respect how they do it and a lot of guys get mad at them.
Q. Going back to Spring Training with your interview with us, is there any part of the public part of this that you're comfortable with or do you still lay low?
ZACK GREINKE: I guess I'm getting more used to it every year, just kind of get ready for my starts, and that's all I really worry about. And the media hasn't been a problem at all, even in the playoffs. It's kind of set up pretty easy. I don't mind talking to you guys, I just don't like when I'm trying to get ready and then someone comes and talks and tries to talk to me about something. If it's set up like this, it's fine and doesn't really bother you at all. I just don't like it when it gets in the way. And it hasn't this year at all.
Q. Could you speak a little bit about your chemistry with [Jonathan] Lucroy, in calling the games and what it's like to throw to him?
ZACK GREINKE: I like him a lot. I actually ... the guys give him a hard time because he's a young guy. Like John Buck, I used to throw to him. And when he was first in the big leagues, I thought Lucroy was way ahead of where Buck was when Buck first got in. But now by like the third or fourth year, I told Buck it's unbelievable I think Buck is great back there now. And he has an amazing understanding of the League and the hitters. But it takes a while sometimes. We give Lucroy a hard time on what he does, but I think he's farther along than any other young catcher I've ever thrown to. And does a good job blocking. A good job throwing. He's not like the best in baseball blocking, the best in baseball at throwing, but overall package, I think he's a very solid catcher, and for how young he is, he's ahead of where most people are.
Q. Here's one you haven't heard before, home-field advantage. Is it just impossible to ignore now, since you won all three games this past series at home and you just continue to win at home?
ZACK GREINKE: Yeah, you know, I never really thought about home-field advantage being that big of a difference. In the playoffs the crowds were just so intense, and I really think it definitely helps. It's just the crowds are so good here. And in Arizona the crowds were great there. And I could definitely feel how the momentum can change just by that slight difference.
Q. Did you help Lucroy with his development or how did that happen? I know he played with your brother.
ZACK GREINKE: Yeah. I don't think so. Maybe a little bit. I don't know. Most people, they make fun of young guys, that's how it always is. But I try to let him know that ... I mean, I think he's really good. And even right away at the first month and a half or something, I think I threw to like a different catcher every start. And I told our coach, I don't know why you keep messing with me. I like throwing to Lucroy. Not that I hate throwing with other people, but I like throwing to the same catcher and not switching. I think Lucroy is really good. You can just let me throw to him. And just experience I think has helped him more than anything, more than people helping him.
Q. So what do the guys have against Carpenter?
ZACK GREINKE: I don't know. They think his presence, his attitude out there sometimes is like a phony attitude. But and then he yells at people. He just stares people down and stuff. And most pitchers just don't do that. And when guys do, I guess some hitters get mad. Some hitters do it to pitchers. But when you do that some people will get mad. There's other pitchers in the league that do it, but, I don't know, a lot of guys on our team don't like Carpenter.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.