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February 10, 2014

The Week in Quotes

February 3-9

by Nick Bacarella, Morris Greenberg, Chris Mosch and Nick Wheatley-Schaller


SAYING GOODBYE TO RALPH KINER

“Losing Ralph is like losing a member of the family. His warmth, humility and sense of humor will be missed. I’ll always treasure being able to share a broadcast booth with a Hall of Famer in every sense of the word.”
—Howie Rose, on the passing of Ralph Kiner. Rose broadcasted New York Mets games with Kiner during the 1990’s. (New York Daily News)

“People stayed around to watch him hit those rocket home runs. He was a great teammate. All the players liked him. He was just a great guy. … Two players I saw hit the biggest power home runs ever? One was Ralph Kiner and the other was Willie Stargell. They hit those towering home runs. Just pure, home run hitters.”
—Former Pirates pitcher Bob Friend. Kiner totalled 369 career home runs, starting his career with the Pirates in 1946 before being traded to the Cubs in 1953. (Jenn Menendez, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)


“In those days we didn’t have hitting coaches. I was struggling. One September afternoon in 1969 (Sept. 15), I asked him to come and feed balls through the pitching machine. We talked for about an hour. He gave me tips on holding the bat. That night I had the greatest night of my career. I hit two home runs off Steve Carlton and we won, 4-3.”
—Former Mets outfielder Ron Swoboda. Kiner was a Mets broadcaster since the team’s first season in 1962 until 2006, when he limited his workload to cameo television appearances.

“The greatest thrill for my family and friends was when I came to Shea Stadium with the Dodgers in 1971 and got a game-winning hit against Tom Seaver. It wasn’t that I got a hit, it was that I was on ‘Kiner’s Korner’ after the game. My mom took a photograph of the television and she had it on the dresser in her room for all of her life. It was a great memory and a great honor.”
—Former player and Mets manager Bobby Valentine. Kiner’s postgame show, “Kiner’s Korner” began airing in the 1960’s and featured players and managers from the Mets and the opposing team. (Mike Puma, New York Post)

“Him coming into the booth for a ballplayer was the equivalent of a real spiritual person getting to meet the Dalai Lama. And really that’s what it was like. He transcends generations.”
—Former Mets pitcher and current SportsNet New York analyst, Ron Darling.

“He was a jewel. He loved the game of baseball. He loved to see it played correctly and smartly. He loved to talk baseball. He deeply understood the game, especially hitting.”
—Former Mets pitcher Tom Seaver.

“It’s a sad day for me, but you have to feel good that Ralph had 91 years and they were all good for him.”
—Seaver. (Bill Madden, New York Daily News)

“Who would’ve thought that my career as a broadcaster would have lasted five times as long as my career as a ballplayer? Nobody’s had it better than me.”
—Kiner, as Mike Lupica recalls in a conversation they once had at Shea Stadium. (Mike Lupica, New York Daily News)

ALEX RODRIGUEZ DROPS LAWSUIT, ACCEPTS SEASON-LONG BAN

“We have been informed that Alex Rodriguez has reached the prudent decision to end all of the litigation related to the Biogenesis matter. We believe that Mr. Rodriguez's actions show his desire to return the focus to the play of our great game on the field and to all of the positive attributes and actions of his fellow Major League Players. We share that desire.”
—Major League Baseball, after Alex Rodriguez dropped his lawsuits against the league and the MLBPA. Rodriguez will begin serving his 162-game suspension at the beginning of this season. (Michael O’Keefe, New York Daily News)

Alex Rodriguez has done the right thing by withdrawing his lawsuit. His decision to move forward is in everyone’s best interest.”
—Major League Baseball Players Association. (Ronald Blum, The Washington Times)

“His suspension runs for a year and when it expires, the expectation is that he will return. We’ll deal with that at the time, but we will try to do everything in our power to put every player we have in a position to help this club. But that’s for 2015.”
—Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, on the impact of Rodriguez’s ban and his future with the team beyond the 2014 season. (Michael O’Keefe, New York Daily News)

“There is no winning in these situations. It was an intractable situation. M.L.B. didn’t win—they got tarred dramatically here. Their dirty laundry was exposed. The use of drugs was exposed… When one of its major stars was turned into a circus side show, M.L.B. lost just as badly.”
—Employment lawyer Stephen G. Eckhaus, on the legacy of legal battle between Rodriguez and MLB. (Steve Eder, New York Times)

“I think it’s a good move for him. A-Rod had no chance legally, and the commissioner got his authority validated.”
—Former MLB Commissioner Fay Vincent, expressing his opinions on the case. (Ronald Blum, The Washington Times)

JOE MAUER ADJUSTS TO LIFE AT FIRST

“Joe was the best catcher in the game. Of course you’d hope he would be able to stay back there his entire career. But things happen that you can’t anticipate. So you adapt.”
—Twins general manager Terry Ryan, explaining Joe Mauer’s move to first base. Mauer suffered various injuries at the catcher position last season. (Phil Miller, Minneapolis Star Tribune)

“There have been some pretty good first basemen who were doubles-type hitters. You can win with them. I don’t see Joe changing his swing, changing his strike zone, just because he’s over at first. We wouldn’t want him to.”
—Ryan.

“The person who least wanted to accept the decision was Joe. He just loved being a catcher. It was a major give-up for him to have to move away from that position.”
—Ron Shapiro, Joe Mauer’s agent.

“Joe has a pretty good grasp of it; we’ve had a few sessions, and now that he can devote his full attention to it, you might be able to get into a little more [detail]. I’ve got a couple of things in mind that I’d like to pass on to him. It takes a lot of repetition, but he’s such a good athlete, he’ll be fine.’’
—Former manager Tom Kelly, on Mauer’s aptitude at first base.

“I’m excited to see how I feel in August. You won’t believe how much better you’ll feel.’”
—Mauer.

DIAMONDBACKS ADD TO ROTATION DEPTH

“To me, we wanted to create a lot of depth. There could be injuries, a lot of things could happen before the middle of March, when we have to get our roster at least down to 28. I don't want Archie to feel just because of the Arroyo signing he's destined for Double-A or Triple-A. We want it to be a very competitive spring, and we want to get out of the gate early and quick.”
—Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers, on Archie Bradley’s role with the team following the signing of Bronson Arroyo. (Steve Gilbert, MLB.com)

“It’s good to have a guy with that kind of experience in the rotation, especially with a bunch of young pitchers. He takes the ball every five days regardless, and he eats innings. He knows what he's doing on the mound. I see him like Livan Hernandez pretty much.”
—Diamondbacks catcher Miguel Montero, on Bronson Arroyo’s potential impact on the team. (Steve Gilbert, MLB.com)

MULTISPORT ATHLETES ON PLAYING BASEBALL

“I know he was honored to be drafted by the Rangers, but there is no pressure or obligation to report. Ideally, people will allow Russell to enjoy the Super Bowl victory and relish in that accomplishment before making any firm commitments for the offseason.”
Russell Wilson’s agent Mark Rodgers, on Wilson possibly attending Rangers camp. (Richard Durrett, ESPN.com)

“What I want it to turn into is to pursue a professional baseball career. This is my childhood dream. I don't know where this is going to go, honestly. But I’m committed to it...This is just sheer love for the game. It’s just an athlete that always wanted to fulfill his dream to play baseball.”
—Recently retired NBA All-Star Tracy McGrady, about pursuing a career in baseball now. (Tim Brown, YahooSports.com)

TWITTER

—That’s one long bus ride.

THE REST

“I’m going into spring training trying to win that Opening Day job. That is my mind-set going in, no doubt about it.”
—New York Mets starting pitcher Zack Wheeler. (Kevin Kernan, New York Post)

“I feel really sorry for Curt and the news about his health, that was so unexpected. I will be praying that he will compete with this situation like it’s a big game because he’s a big-game pitcher!”
—Former Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez, expressing his condolences for former teammate Curt Schilling, who was recently diagnosed with cancer. (Michael Silver, Boston Herald)

“It’s a very strict policy. We have no exceptions, unless talks are about a multi-year contract. That’s always been the policy.”
Atlanta Braves general manager Frank Wren, on his team’s “file and trial” approach to arbitration, in which they only agree to multi-year contracts with players after the arbitration filing deadline has passed (David O’Brien, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

“Freddie has established himself as one of the best young talents in the game. We are excited to sign one of our own homegrown players to a contract that will keep him in a Braves uniform for the next eight seasons.”
—Wren on signing Freddie Freeman to an eight-year, $135 million extension (David O’Brien, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

“You can tell he’s determined to go out there and do well. If you had to place a bet on it, you know he’s going to go out there and have a good year. I’m really looking forward to seeing him play again. He’s having a lot of fun right now.”
—Yankees pitcher David Phelps, on Derek Jeter’s progress in preseason workouts. (Anthony McCarron, New York Daily News)

“My arm hasn't felt this good in a few years. I feel like I have a whole new arm. They keep telling me, don't throw 95 [mph] yet.”
—Dodgers pitcher Chad Billingsley, enthusiastic about his future nine months after having Tommy John surgery. (Ken Gurnick, MLB.com)

“That guy is amazing. He gets guys out with any pitch. Every pitch is a strength. He doesn’t have a weakness.”
—Red Sox minor league catcher Blake Swihart, on teammate Henry Owens’s pitching repertoire. (Scott Lauber, Boston Herald)

“A strong rotation is critical to our success; we rely heavily on our starters and losing someone like Jeremy is tough. We're fortunate that the procedure was minor and look forward to him coming back healthy and strong during the summer.”
—Rays executive vice president Andrew Friedman, on the impact of starter Jeremy Hellickson’s elbow surgery. Hellickson will be sidelined until at least mid-May. (Marc Topkin, Tampa Bay Times)

“If I’m ready to play, I’ll play. If not, I'm not going to play. I don't want to come back at 80 percent and get hurt again. I want to be 100 percent the whole year and give everybody what I can give them with a full year of me being healthy.”
Matt Kemp, on possibly starting the season off the field if he is not 100 percent. (Mike Axisa, CBSSports.com)

“Your turnstile is variable depending upon how your team is doing on the field and the economy and those kinds of things. But when you have a 10-year contract and you have a sustainable income coming over a 10-year period, it helps build a foundation and you can make better decisions.”
—Rangers co-chairman Ray Davis, on the Globe Life reaching a 10-year deal with the Rangers to have the home park be named Globe Life Park in Arlington. (Richard Durrett, ESPN.com)

“We asked if he held a grudge against us for trading him last year and (agent) Scott (Boras) said, 'Absolutely not.' And he's been a good influence in our clubhouse.”
Milwaukee Brewers general manager Doug Melvin, on signing relief pitcher Francisco Rodriguez to a one year contract after having traded him to the Baltimore Orioles in July 2013 (Tom Haudricourt, Journal Sentinel)

“As a manager, you need to have a lot of energy. You need to be positive, especially in the situation we're in right now. As a team, we're kind of on the up-and-coming path. There are some lumps you have to fight through and it takes a very patient man. With our team, it's a great fit. It's not like in 2007 or '08, when we had a very veteran-laden team, so we brought in a veteran coach to handle all those personalities. I think now it's a little different situation where we need to teach more from the ground floor up and I think Rick is a great guy for that.”
Chicago Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzija, on manager Rick Renteria (Tony Andracki, CSN Chicago)

“We'll map out a schedule for him. (Pitching coach) Rick (Kranitz) has already begun to do that, depending on what he needs in spring training to get ready. He has enough history to know himself and what he needs to do to get ready for the season. It'll be conversations and what we see, and we'll come up with a plan. And also during the year, is this a guy you want to keep on track every fifth day or if he gets an extra day when the schedule allows will that help him? Does it help in the middle of the season to bump him a start? That will be an ongoing thing depending on how he feels and how we can maneuver it.”
—Milwaukee Brewers manager Ron Roenicke, on the team’s plan for recently signed starting pitcher Matt Garza (Tom Haudricourt, Journal Sentinel)

“I don't want to put a jinx on [the Washington Nationals] because a lot of people are picking them to win this year. I am. I picked them and like my decision better today than I did six years ago.”
—Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig, on what he thinks of the 2014 Washington Nationals (Dan Kolko, MASN Sports)

“I'm very proud and I'm happy that I'm going to get an opportunity with Miami. We'll see what happens, but I'm imagining I'm going to be pitching in the final two innings.”
—Relief pitcher Carlos Marmol, on signing with the Miami Marlins (Jesse Sanchez, MLB.com)

“How many people have a job where you can go spend two months in Florida every year? The two best times of the year are going to Spring Training and going to the playoffs.”
—Braves visiting clubhouse manager John Holland (Mark Bowman, MLB.com)

Nick Bacarella is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Nick's other articles. You can contact Nick by clicking here
Morris Greenberg is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Morris's other articles. You can contact Morris by clicking here
Chris Mosch is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Chris's other articles. You can contact Chris by clicking here
Nick Wheatley-Schaller is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Nick's other articles. You can contact Nick by clicking here

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<< Previous Article
Fantasy Article Fantasy Players to Tar... (02/10)
<< Previous Column
The Week in Quotes: Ja... (02/03)
Next Column >>
The Week in Quotes: Fe... (02/17)
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Premium Article Minor League Update: C... (02/10)

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