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July 23, 2012

The Week in Quotes

July 16-22

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

YOUKILIS RETURNS TO BOSTON
“I think the comment I made early, he made a big issue out of, and I don't think he ever wanted to get over it.”
—Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine, when asked about Kevin Youkilis, who returned to Boston for the first time since being traded to the White Sox on June 24. The third baseman’s relationship with Valentine was reportedly turbulent. (Gordon Edes, ESPN Boston)

“I'm not worried about Bobby V versus Kevin Youkilis or vice-versa. It's about the Chicago White Sox versus the Boston Red Sox and playing baseball.”
—Youkilis, prior to making his return Monday night. (Joe McDonald, ESPN Boston)

“I'm a competitor, and it doesn't matter who the opposition is, because I'm looking to win every game. That's my goal.”
—Youkilis

“It’s exciting, and it's exciting to come back to the ballpark. I’ve known this home for a long time. It's a little different on the other side.”
—Youkilis

“I don't think it's any different or any bigger than any one. I think the biggest ones always are in the playoffs, and basically those are the best ones. You never know. We could be in the playoffs again, and I can hit another home run.”
—Youkilis (Mark Gonzales, Chicago Tribune)

“He's showing off now. He's rising to the occasion for us and being in big spots. There's some of it, when you get traded, there's something to prove and that all goes into it with a lot of people that has happened to. Not that he says anything, (but) it's nice for him to get in those situations and come through.”
—White Sox manager Robin Ventura, jokingly, on Youkilis.

WHO NEEDS THE STEELERS?
“We’re seeing a lot more of the [Pirates] brand when we travel on the road. It was kind of similar to the situation in Colorado. We didn't see a lot of Colorado fans for a long time. Then, all of a sudden, they started popping up. I can remember a time here where it wasn't really cool for kids to wear the CR. It's kind of the way it had been in Pittsburgh. Now you go to our stadium, and the kids are proud.”
—Pirates manager Clint Hurdle on the team’s rise in popularity this season. (Michael Sanserino, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

“Things are going very well. We project out we'll finish ahead of last year, that's for sure. In the 42 home games played through the All-Star break, attendance has been up 12.25 percent over last year. And last year finished up 22 percent over 2010. So you're seeing some pretty significant attendance growth at PNC Park a couple of years in a row.”
—Pirates chief marketing officer Lou DePaoli. (Dan Majors, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

“I'm looking at Andrew [McCutchen], this might be the best I've ever seen. It very well could be. It's not about looking at the numbers; I'm watching this young man perform. Then, I'm taking into account the cast of characters, the team involved, and I'm thinking ‘Wow. This is special.’”
—Hurdle (Michael Sanserino, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

BRAVES ERASE NINE-RUN DEFICIT
“I still can't believe it. I mean 9-0. That's never happened to me since I've been here.”
—Braves third baseman Chipper Jones on Atlanta's comeback win over the Nationals. (Carroll Rogers, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

“Once we started chipping away, everybody was of that mindset, hey let’s go out and have fun. ‘We're getting our butts kicked right now. Let’s catch them in hits and see what happens.’ The guys on the bench stayed upbeat all night, and once they started giving us a crack here and there to be able to chip away, you could slowly feel the momentum building on our side.”
—Jones

“I was telling (first-base coach) Terry (Pendleton) when I got on base, ‘Really crazy game.’ But it counts, right? All that matters is we end up with one more than them.”
—Braves shortstop Paul Janish

“You’ve got to give credit to the guys for grinding. Never say die, right?”
Eric Hinske, who had a pinch-hit double during a four-run sixth inning for the Braves.

DISPATCHES FROM ANAHEIM
“The answers we're looking for are likely internal. The best moves we can make are getting Santana back on track and a fully healthy Haren contributing like Danny does. I don't know that we or anyone else could do better than that [at the deadline].”
—General manager Jerry DiPoto on potential acquisitions at the trade deadline. (Anthony Castrovince, MLB.com)

“It's not necessarily that I'm going to come back throwing 95 mph — but the quality of the pitch, the angle on my fastball, the angle on my cutter, being able to finish better.”
Starter Dan Haren on expectations for his return to the rotation after a DL stint. (John Schlegel, MLB.com)

“I think he wants to contribute, he wants to make us a better team. Right now, everyday at-bats aren't there for him. He understands that.”
Manager Mike Scioscia on the return of Vernon Wells, and the lack of available playing opportunity for him. (Alden Gonzalez and Joe McIntyre, MLB.com)

“Peter might have a slight edge right now on the defensive end, but you're talking about what's the difference between a Mercedes Benz and a BMW. Those guys are both difference-makers.”
Scioscia on the defensive abilities of his two star center field gloves, Peter Bourjos and Mike Trout.

IT’S BETTER IN SAN DIEGO
“The at-bats are better, and I see guys up there with a plan and a commitment to sticking with it. And if they have to make an adjustment, they've been able to do that pitch-to-pitch.”
Padres hitting coach Phil Plantier on the improved team hitting. The Padres have scored 50 runs in 10 games since the All-Star break, going 7-3. (Corey Brock, MLB.com)

“He's fearless. When baserunners are aggressive and fearless, they let their abilities and instincts take over. When people are tentative, they don't get as good of jumps because they're afraid to make a mistake.”
—First base coach Dave Roberts on Everth Cabrera’s base thievery, which led to a game-tying steal of home on July 14. (Corey Brock and Chelsea Janes, MLB.com)

“I'm happy about it because I've been working for this moment last year and in spring training. Studying and thinking about the pitcher and what they do when they go to home plate, when they pick their foot up, when they go to first. I think that's partly why [I've been so successful].”
—Everth Cabrera. Including his minor-league games, Cabrera is 33 for 33 in stolen-base attempts this season.

“The guy who tried to make that play is a terrible fielder. They should change that from a hit to an error. You ask the fielder, he’ll tell you. Terrible play. Embarrassing if you play baseball.”
Starter Edinson Volquez on fielder Edinson Volquez. Volquez the pitcher threw a one-hit shutout Thursday, with the lone hit being a ball in no man’s land that Volquez fielded. (Bill Center, UT San Diego)

“Yaz’s defense and his handling of the pitching, game-calling and pitch selection, has been pleasing, more so than the hitting. His interaction with me and the coaches has been very solid.”
—Manager Bud Black on rookie catcher Yasmani Grandal. (Bill Center, UT San Diego)

“This is not a roster we want to tear down.”
Padres general manager Josh Byrnes. The team extended outfielder Carlos Quentin for three years on Sunday. (Corey Brock, MLB.com)

STRUGGLING STARTERS SWAPPED
“He's a very capable guy who has very good stuff. The next step he needs to take it to a different level is throwing more strikes. Maybe a change of scenery will do a world of good for both of them.”
—Rockies manager Jim Tracy on Jonathan Sanchez. Sanchez was acquired from the Royals in exchange for the also-struggling Jeremy Guthrie. (Troy E. Renck and Patrick Saunders, The Denver Post)

“I was surprised. I am hoping it’s better in this league. I know some of the hitters. It just didn’t work out in [Kansas City]. I did my best and gave 100 percent. Nothing went my way.”
—Jonathan Sanchez (Troy E. Renck, The Denver Post)

“There are a lot of home runs in [Coors Field]. You just have to pitch and be aggressive in the zone and get quick outs.”
—Sanchez

“There are no excuses, but the injury did throw me off my routine. It was certainly an annoyance. It wasn't a pitching injury. But to have discomfort that lingered took away at times what I was trying to do on the mound.”
—Jeremy Guthrie

“All things considered equally, the ball broke less at Coors Field. They just seemed to square it up more consistently. There were times that I didn't feel like my pitches had the same bite. My fastball was hit pretty hard, and I consider myself a fastball pitcher. Even when the velocity was there, and I felt great on a particular day, the results weren't there.”
—Guthrie

QUOTES FROM COOPERSTOWN
“I'm going to tell you guys something before I get started. This is un-stinking-believable! Unbelievable!”
Barry Larkin (Mark Sheldon, MLB.com)

“As the nurse was wheeling him into the operating room, I heard him telling the doctor that the timing was perfect for this operation because he could be back for Opening Day. Only Ron. That's what was on his mind, getting ready to broadcast Cubs baseball on Opening Day.”
Ron Santo’s widow, Vicki, gave the acceptance speech on the day her late husband was formally inducted into the Hall of Fame. (Paul Hagen, MLB.com)

“Right now, my heart is coming out of my chest. My job has been like winning the lottery. I could not play baseball. I did lead my high school in ‘Does not apply himself’ comments. I did not go to university, but I was fortunate to grow up in a sporting family.”
Toronto Sun baseball writer Bob Elliott received the J.G. Taylor Spink Award. (Spencer Fordin, MLB.com)

“My training ground was in uniform, behind the plate, and in the dugout. While learning how to play this game, I was learning how to think this game. And that was the basis for my learning how to explain the game years later.”
—FOX Sports broadcaster Tim McCarver received the Ford C. Frick Award. (Paul Hagen, MLB.com)

TWITTER

—Indians skipper Manny Acta on Shin-Soo Choo, Asdrubal Cabrera, Michael Brantley, and Jason Kipnis. Among Indians’ qualifiers in 2012, those players rank first, second, fourth, and fifth in TAv, with Carlos Santana ranking third. (Jordan Bastian, @MLBastian, MLB.com)
 

—Regression may hit him hard, but Melky Cabrera entered Sunday with 4.2 WARP on the season. The Melk Man has certainly come a long way since the Braves elected not to tender him a contract after the 2010 season. (Mark Bowman, @Mlbbowman, MLB.com)

—The Nationals’ rookie outfielder jokes after a pair of gaffes. Moore had never played in the outfield in the minor leagues, but became an outfielder this season and has stuck around long enough to smack five home runs for the Nationals. (Adam Kilgore, @AdamKilgoreWP, The Washington Post)

—Outfielder Darnell McDonald cut his dreadlocks in line with Yankee rules. Less than two weeks after joining the Bombers, McDonald was designated for assignment. (Jack Curry, @JackCurryYES, YES Network)

—Mets GM Sandy Alderson (@MetsGM) puts his club’s struggles lightly. If flow time doesn’t come soon, the Metropolitans may not be buyers as the July 31 deadline approaces. The team entered Sunday with a 1-7 record since the All Star break. (Andy McCullough, @McCulloughSL, The Star-Ledger)

—The A’s pitching staff has been among the best in baseball this season and deserves plenty of credit for the team being where it’s at thus far in the season. (Jane Lee, @JaneMLB, MLB.com)

—Former big-leaguer C.J. Nitkowski on the differences between 1995 Double-A baseball and 2012 Double-A baseball. Nitkowski, now 39, is attempting a comeback with the Mets. (CJ Nitkowski, @CJNitkowski)

THE REST
“I just thought it was kind of a funny situation. I thought I could laugh about it. Just the way the crowd reacted when I walked off the field, they all together were like like: ‘What the hell is this guy doing?’ I was like, ‘Alright, I’m an idiot for a minute. Now let’s go back to the mound.’ ”
Giants starter Tim Lincecum, on walking toward the dugout after inducing a ground out of Vance Worley. There were only two outs. (Alex Pavlovic, Mercury News)

“I’ve got the utmost confidence in myself that I can catch anybody. I’ve never questioned that. I’ve caught Timmy plenty and had a lot of success with him. I haven’t caught Barry as much as Timmy, but I’m definitely comfortable with him as well.”
Giants catcher Buster Posey, proudly insisting that he can catch any starter. Backup catcher Hector Sanchez has been catching Barry Zito and Tim Lincecum recently. (Henry Schulman, SFGate.com)

“I’m excited that they’re letting me play at those positions. That will make me more versatile. I think that will help me get to the big leagues, playing more than one position.”
Rangers top prospect Mike Olt, on playing positions other than his natural third base. Current Rangers block both Olt and fellow prospect Jurickson Profar at their positions at the major-league level. (Anthony Andro, FoxSports Southwest)

“Our team is going through a bad stretch right now. But, my personal belief is we’re way better than our numbers are. … I know a lot of people didn’t expect us to be as good as we have this year, but I believe this team is way, way better than what it’s been playing. And regardless of the fact what other people might think, October is not here yet. … Right now (the Nationals) are playing good baseball, but I don’t believe they’re a better team than us. They’re playing great baseball. But a better team? I believe we’re the better team. We just have to play as we’re supposed to. Every team goes through a bad stretch. I told Terry two months ago I haven’t seen a team better than us. We just have to believe how good we are and just go out there and perform. I believe we are the best team in baseball. We just have to play like one. That’s what we’re not doing.”
Pitcher Miguel Batista, who was designated for assignment on Sunday, remained optimistic about the Mets after a loss to the Nationals last Wednesday. (MetsBlog)

“This team is cursed, man.”
—Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz, who is the latest player in Boston to suffer an injury. (Nick Cafardo, Boston Globe)

“Trust me, if I knew (what was wrong), it would be fixed already. I’m just not pitching well.”
—Jonathan Sanchez, after a rough outing against the Mariners on Monday night in which he surrendered seven runs over just 1 1/3 innings as his ERA ballooned to 7.76. The Royals designated him for assignment the following day. (Bob Dutton, Kansas City Star)

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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