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July 9, 2012

The Week in Quotes

July 2-July 8

by Hudson Belinsky, Jonah Birenbaum, Andrew Koo and Matthew Rocco

DISPATCHES FROM WASHINGTON: ALL-STAR EDITION
“I’m just excited to get there and just have a good time. I think it’s exciting to go, and I’m excited to get there and be around all the top guys in baseball, of course. I’m just going to take it all in, try to enjoy it with the family, and try to just be as mellow and calm as I can. I’m excited. I really am. I’m really excited to get out there and be around those kind of guys and just try to actually enjoy myself as much as I can and really take it all in.”
—Nationals center fielder Bryce Harper on being the youngest position player to ever make the All-Star team. (Amanda Comak, The Washington Times)

“It will be an honor. That guy is unbelievable. He is 19 years old. That says it all for itself. It’s almost to where I’m going to use his line, ‘That’s a clown question, bro.’ If you have a kid like that in the All-Star Game I think it’s well-deserved to have him right next to you.”
—Nationals starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez on Harper.

“Well I’ll say this: Doc was the best pitcher I ever had at that age, and Harper’s the best position player I ever had at that age. But they’re both very special. It’s fun to watch them go out there and watch them express their talent. It’s just really fun from my viewpoint. You never know quite what you’re going to expect but you know it’s going to be special.”
—Nationals manager Davey Johnson

“It was up and down all week, up and down from the beginning of the all-star voting. I was just excited Chipper [Jones] got in and David Freese got in there. I don’t think anybody was going to really miss me. They have a lot of big-leaguers and whatnot there, so I don’t think the fans would have been upset me not being there.”
—Harper (James Wagner, The Washington Post)

“It’s definitely a tough decision. It’s one that we spent quite a few days kind of mulling over. But in the end, I think it’s best for the team and best for myself to take the rest. I would hate to be two, three weeks down the road and something happened and I didn’t take the four days to rest my body and put the team first.”
—Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond on opting out of the All-Star Game. Manager Davey Johnson first mentioned Desmond’s oblique soreness June 16, although Desmond has played in 82 of 83 games while receiving treatment every day. (Comak, The Washington Times)

“Risking something for the All-Star Game [when the team] could possibly down the road [be] playing in the playoffs or in meaningful baseball towards the end of the season — the cons just outweighed the pros. I think going to the [Kansas City] and hanging that piece of steak in front of your face and not being able to eat it just would add insult to injury.”
—Desmond

SHORT OUTING FOR GREINKE
“He beat me to the bag and I got real mad at myself because it was a mental mistake, and I think that's probably the first time I've never covered first on a ball hit to that side. So I was just really mad with myself. I don't know why I threw the ball down. I never make mental mistakes like that. I guess I was really upset with myself. I don't blame the umpire for what he did. I didn't mean it toward him; I thought the guy was safe. But I shouldn't have done that.”
—Brewers starting pitcher Zack Greinke covered first base but failed to get the out on a first-inning play. He subsequently threw the ball into the ground behind umpire Sam Holbrook, who then ejected Greinke. Manager Ron Roenicke also was thrown out of the game. (Todd Rosiak, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

“I was pretty much just embarrassed by how it happened, and it kind of put us in a tough situation, the whole team. The relievers have no plans—that happens once a year, where a reliever has to get ready in the first inning if something happening. But you're never completely ready for it. I put Livan in a tough situation, and he did the best he could. It kind of put everyone on our whole entire team in a bad situation today, and then Wandy went out and pitched really good himself. So that made it tough, too.”
—Greinke

“It's definitely a blow. You've got your guy out there pitching; Zack's been pitching great for us; and we're taken out of a game in the first inning and trying to scramble and figure out what we're going to do.”
—Roenicke

“He said he thought Zack showed him up, was mad at the call. He overreacted. He didn't even see what happened. Zack was behind him—he didn't even see him spike the ball or anything. You need to know 100 percent what happens if you're going to throw out a starting pitcher after four pitches in a ball game.”
—Roenicke

PIRATES FIGHTING FOR DIVISION TITLE
“It hasn't all been high fives and walk-offs and giggles.”
—Pirates manager Clint Hurdle on the Pirates’ first half. (Michael Sanserino, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

“It's a long race. It's not how you start. It's how you finish. The feeling is good, and it's real good. There's no denying that.”
—Reliever Jason Grilli

“We still have a lot of baseball left to play, but to be in this situation, to be where we're at right now is obviously a good feeling. The second half, coming back from the All-Star break, is going to be big. I think everyone in here realizes what happened last year.”
—Shortstop Clint Barmes

“We figure it's going to be close the whole way through. We have a much better veteran presence on the team this year than we did last year, and I think that will help stabilize us.”
—Starting pitcher Kevin Correia

RICKY AIN’T SO FINE
“I don’t know what it is, I really don’t.”
—Jays starter Ricky Romero, who could offer no explanation for his struggles this season after Monday’s 11-3 loss to the Royals in which he surrendered eight earned runs on 11 hits and three walks over six innings. His ERA stands at an abysmal 5.22 despite a record of 8-4. (Mark Zwolinski, Toronto Star)

“[This is] far from what we’re accustomed to seeing from him.”
—Blue Jays manager John Farrell, on his ace’s disappointing season thus far.

“I don’t think it’s that he’s trying too hard. But what has been elusive is that one pitch … when he needs it.”
—Farrell

“We looked at what he was doing last year that made him so successful and part of that was (the left side) of the plate he could go to. It would force right-handed batters to reach over the plate at pitches. We also told him he has multiple pitches, a cutter, a changeup, to get back into counts. He doesn’t have to feel like he’s weaponless.”
—Farrell

“Like I said, this sport works in mysterious ways some times. You can be on top of the world one day and the next day you’re trying to find yourself and that’s what I feel like right now. You feel like you’re in quicksand and every time you keep getting deeper and deeper and you don’t know how to get out of it. I’ve got to stay mentally strong. I’m going to continue to stay positive and get through this.”
—Romero (Mike Rutsey, Toronto Sun)

NOT A HAPPY PAPI
“It was humiliating. There's no reason a guy like me should go through that. All I was looking for was two years, at the same salary ($12.5 million). They ended up giving me $3 million more than that (actually $2.025 million), and look at my numbers this year. Tell me if they wouldn't have been better off.”
—Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz, who expressed his displeasure this week with how his contract situation was handled this past offseason (Jorge L. Ortiz, USA Today)

“And yet they don't hesitate to sign other guys. It was embarrassing.”
—Ortiz

“The one bad year I had, a lot of players would tell me, 'I'd take a bad year like that.’ But people were used to seeing you hit 40 home runs. The thing is, people need to know baseball is not something you go to the drugstore and buy. It's a hard game.”
—Ortiz

“I wish when I came up to the big leagues I had the mind I have right now. I would have 700 home runs.”
—Ortiz

"If you go crazy and give contracts to whoever comes along despite not knowing how they're going to do, then you don't give me my due consideration, even though I do my thing every year, (expletive) that. I'm going to be open to anything. My mentality is not going to be, 'I like it here.' It's going to be, ‘Bring it to the table, and we'll see what happens.’ ”
—Ortiz

SCOTT SNAPS HITLESS STREAK
“Just take a 300-pound gorilla and pull it off my back. It's just been a lot of weight, a lot of pressure. I hope that this is the start of getting back on track."
—Tampa Bay designated hitter Luke Scott, who snapped his 0-for-41 hitless streak with a home run off Cleveland’s Justin Masterson on Friday night. (Marc Topkin, Tampa Bay Times)

“You could just imagine, 0-for-whatever that was. In the baseball world, that's not easy to live through. He wore that as well as that could be worn. He was still supportive of everybody else. He still came out and did his work. He wasn't crying. He wasn't blaming everybody else.”
—Rays manager Joe Maddon, on Scott’s recent struggles.

“I was just trying to be friendly. Luke Scott was struggling quite a bit. He was coming close to a record. I figured, what the heck, give him an opportunity to get out of it. I gave him a nice pitch to hit, but I didn't think he even got it. Michael Brantley was just about an inch away from catching it. It's just about people helping people. I'm a giving individual. I'm all about helping guys out. Especially where we were at [in the game].”
—Masterson, who was magnanimous enough to give Luke Scott a pitch he could handle in the fifth inning of Friday’s 10-3 Rays victory. (Paul Hoynes, Cleveland Plain Dealer)

HAREN ADMITS PITCHING THROUGH SEASON-LONG INJURY
“At some point, you're hurting the team rather than helping it. I think stepping back, maybe, and finding out what's really wrong and getting a grasp on it and going from there (is the best thing). I can go out there and pitch no problem—but at what effectiveness level? ... I'm not going to say I'm 60 percent or 90 percent. I don't know where I'm at. But I have to feel better than I am right now.”
—Angels starter Dan Haren, who was placed on the disabled list for the first time in his career last week. With seven straight seasons of pitching 215-plus innings, Haren has prided himself on his signature durability. (Bill Plunkett, The Orange Country Register)

“It's gotten to the point where we have to find out exactly what's going on in there. There's not a pitcher out there that doesn't pitch with some nicks in their body wherever it is—aches and pains, stiffness. Dan has pitched some great ballgames over the years when maybe he started out in the bullpen a little stiff here and there but got into the flow of the game.”
—Manager Mike Scioscia

“It's never been an issue like this. I hurt it last year but that was just like one sharp pain that went away after a week or 10 days. This has been lingering now ever since spring training. I kind of tweaked it there at the end, the last start before the season started.”
—Haren

UPTON HEARING BOOS AND RUMORS
“You know what? To be honest with you, I don’t care anything about what the fans think of me. Whatever the fans want to think, they can think. They can call me lazy. I’ve heard that in the outfield. They can call me washed up. Whatever they want to call me. But at the end of the day, I’m thankful for every opportunity I get to come out on a baseball field. I come out here and I try my hardest every day.”
—Diamondbacks right fielder Justin Upton, responding to Arizona fans booing him. (Nick Piecoro, azcentral.com)

“Honestly, home fans, they shouldn't be booing the kid, period. You've got to stick behind him and encourage him to play through the tough times. He's been playing hard. Can't say enough about him. He's worked on every
aspect of his game. Though he's been struggling at the plate, he's run hard, he's been way more aggressive in the outfield, he's been working on it daily. He's had a real good attitude about it.”

—Manager Kirk Gibson (Steve Gilbert, MLB.com)

“It's tough, fans here take a little while to do that, they aren't quick to do that. But sometimes it's hard to watch your fellow teammate get booed. We know he's playing as hard as he can. He's come up in big situations a lot, it's not easy to produce every time. As a teammate, we feel for him.”
—Starter Ian Kennedy, with sympathy for his teammate’s struggles. (Tyler Emerick, MLB.com)

“If people are untouchable, how do you ever gather info? There are a lot of GMs who are like that—they won't talk about a guy. Well, who knows, somebody may value the guy way more than you do, and my job is to continue to make this organization better going forward. So if you put everybody off limits, nobody is going to call you. So at least you find out value on your players and how others value them. I take the same approach every single year. If they want to speculate as to who might be available that's up to them.”
—General manager Kevin Towers, on the circling trade rumors surrounding Upton. (Gilbert, MLB.com)

ADENHART ALWAYS REMEMBERED
“I thought it was the perfect time to use it. I thought it (using the glove in his start) was a great thing to do for him and his family.”
—Orioles starter Miguel Gonzalez, who made his starting debut in Angel Stadium, a winning one, pitching with a glove given to him by late former teammate Nick Adenhart. (Bill Plunkett, The Orange County Register)
“It's the first time I pitched with it. I thought it was a great time to do that. He was a great teammate. He gave it to me in 2007 when I was with him in big-league camp.”
—Gonzalez

“We played together for two years. I'm with him in my heart and also the family. I'm with them, too.”
—Gonzalez

“It meant a lot to him. Sure, I did (feel emotion). I'm an old fuddy-duddy. I think about those emotional things. There isn't a day that goes by that something doesn't take an emotional tug on me. [...] With the road Miguel traveled, the things he’s been through in his life. I don’t think he thought of anything about tonight as added pressure.”
—Orioles manager Buck Showalter

“I saw that. It’s a cool deal to see people show that kind of respect for him. It shows how many people Nick touched while he was here.”
—Angels starter Jered Weaver, a close friend of Adenhart’s. (Mike DiGiovanna, Boston Herald)

TWITTER

Bobby Valentine on former Red Sox outfielder Darnell McDonald, who was claimed off waivers by the rival Yankees. Apparently McDonald was “one of the guys who knew the signs” when he was with Boston. So Bobby, some Red Sox don’t know the signs? Raise your hand if you’re confused. (Jack Curry, @JackCurryYES, YES Network)

—Michael Schur’s reaction to the trade that sent Carlos Lee to Miami for a pair of prospects. (Michael Schur, @KenTremendous)

—Oliver Perez has returned to the big leagues with some success, striking out nine batters in as many innings and pitching to a 3.00 ERA out of Seattle’s bullpen. Perez was once a rising star for the Pirates and given that he’s still only 30, some team may actually take a chance on him. (Jeff Passan, @JeffPassan, Yahoo! Sports)

—Anthony Gose, often considered the second fastest runner in the minor leagues, recognizes that he couldn’t beat out Billy Hamilton in a foot race. (Jonathan Mayo, @JonathanMayoB3, MLB.com)

THE REST
“As my arm got stronger and I was long tossing, I was progressing into going out there by myself off his mound at his throwback. It's got a little radar gun at the top. It's pretty cool actually.”
—Braves starting pitcher Ben Sheets built arm strength by throwing off a mound he built in the backyard of his Monroe, La., home for Seaver, his 9-year-old son. Sheets underwent Tommy John surgery in August 2010. (Teddy Cahill, MLB.com)

“I'm flattered to go to this year's All-Star Game with this being my last year and my last opportunity to do so," Jones said. "But I'm more excited for my boys, because this is the first that they're going to and I can't wait to see the look in their eyes when they see balls sailing out of the ballpark in the [Home Run Derby]. … I'm going to be a kid in a candy store carrying four other kids in a candy store.”
—Braves third baseman Chipper Jones, who will travel to the All-Star Game with his four sons. (Mark Bowman, MLB.com)

“My brother called me and basically was listing off these things that he saw that he didn’t really like what I was doing. I got to the point where I had nowhere else to go. I’ve tried a million things this year and none of them seemed to work, so I had to change some things.”
—Braves catcher Brian McCann had a hitting session with his brother, Brad. (Carroll Rogers, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

“Our M.O. is we grind out games. We don’t hit for much power, we don’t steal a lot of bases, but we’re grinders. We play the game to the last out. ... Guys aren’t just rolling over and going through the motions. It seems like guys have this attitude we’re going to win the game no matter what the score is or the situation is.”
—Mets third baseman David Wright on another two-out rally for New York. Wright hit a game-winning single off Jonathan Papelbon to cap a ninth-inning comeback against the Phillies on July 5. (Brian Lewis, New York Post)

“You can say what you want to say, but I've never—never, neve –in my whole career been around a pitcher that doesn't elevate the ball, who doesn't try to overthrow, whose mechanics are just as solid as the foundation as this building. It's incredible. It's incredible. And I tell him all the time.”
—Angels reliever LaTroy Hawkins, praising bullpen mate Scott Downs, who has allowed just one earned run in 30 innings pitched this year. (Alden Gonzalez, MLB.com)

“As we go along and they're commanding the strike zone the way we've seen it done in a few of the games, hopefully they can go out there and take an extra 10 pitches, to 85 or whatever it might be. You've got to get in the strike zone and keep the ebb and flow of the game going the way it's supposed to go.”
—Rockies manager Jim Tracy on giving his starters more than the planned 75 pitches per start. (Thomas Harding, MLB.com)

“I really want to see what I can do. I have an idea. I think it would maybe take some creativity for a team to accept it. But if it worked, it might create an entirely new position in baseball ... a position that would give a team an extra player.”
—Padres’ Micah Owings on his mission to become a hitting/pitching hybrid. (Bill Center, U-T San Diego)

“When you leave the country to go play overseas, it's pretty tough to get back. People kind of forget about you. They just assume that you're going to re-sign there and go back there again. To come back and get into an organization is pretty tough. I'm happy for him.”
—Giants starter Ryan Vogelsong on Athletics starter and friend Travis Blackley, who pitched in South Korea last year and returned to the major leagues this year with success. (Susan Slusser, San Francisco Chronicle)

Jonah Birenbaum is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Jonah's other articles. You can contact Jonah by clicking here
Andrew Koo is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Andrew's other articles. You can contact Andrew by clicking here

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