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February 24, 2014

The Week in Quotes

February 17-23

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


ORIOLES WAIT OUT THE FREE AGENT MARKET

“I think it was Dan or Buck or one of them who commented that sometimes the longer you wait, the better deals you get. That’s the case now. Sometimes, you wait on those guys, and in the long run, it's a good team deal.”
—Orioles outfielder Nick Markakis, on the signing of free agent Nelson Cruz to a one-year deal worth $8 million. The team also signed Suk-Min Yoon and Ubaldo Jimenez for three years and $5.75 million, and four years and $50 million, respectively. (Eduardo A. Encina, Baltimore Sun)

“We’re looking forward to him joining. I’m not going to say [he’s] competing for a starting job. I don’t want to insult your intelligence. He brings something we’re in need of. Not very often do you get a guy at this age with some good seasons behind him and good seasons ahead of him.”
—Orioles manager Buck Showalter, after Jimenez’s deal was announced. (Eduardo A. Encine, Baltimore Sun)

BONDS TO SERVE AS GIANTS SPRING TRAINING INSTRUCTOR

“He’s part of what we’ll do here. He’s going to be part of the group of instructors, like [Will] Clark, [J.T.] Snow or [Jeff] Kent. He’s going to be like the other guys and help where he can. I don’t have any concerns.”
—Giants manager Bruce Bochy, on the addition of Barry Bonds to the Giants’ coaching staff for this spring training. (Alex Pavlovic, San Jose Mercury News)

“To have his knowledge, and have a guy who’s one of the great hitters of all time talking to hitters, it’s going to be beneficial to everyone. Barry had talent, sure. But he was a very smart hitter. To hear what he has to say about hitting gives us another set of eyes and a brain to help out.”
—Bochy. (Henry Schulman, San Francisco Chronicle)

“You understand there will be a lot of attention with Barry coming back, his first time coming back since he stopped playing. Our goal is not to let it be a distraction. He’s here to help the hitters. He might talk to you guys about things, but that’s not going to take away from what we’re doing.”
—Bochy, on the impending media scrutiny that is expected to come with Bonds attending spring training.

STRASBURG ADDS SLIDER, IMPRESSES AT SPRING TRAINING

“He already throws cheese, so when I'm in that turtle, it looks like about 109 (mph).”
Washington Nationals outfield prospect Steven Souza, on facing Stephen Strasburg during live batting practice under a batting cage (Dan Kolko, MASN Sports)

“You go the whole offseason with nobody in there, so you just want to see where you want to start your pitches and what kind of movement you're getting and see how the swings are. I definitely ramped it up today. You always get in another gear when you're out there pitching in a real game. So I put something into it today, got some good work in. I'll just go from there.”
—Strasburg, on facing live batters for the first time this spring (Dan Kolko, MASN Sports)

“I think that he's feeling it right now. So I don't think he's said, 'I'm going to throw this pitch this year.' I think he's trying to get a sense of what it would do for his repertoire here, and he'll do it during the games in spring training. But like I said, today, out of how many pitches did he throw, thirty-something, four or five of them were sliders. I think he's just trying to feel it and see what it would potentially do for him. Does he add it to his arsenal in his first start? Who knows? Because when it gets down to the nitty-gritty, he's going to go with what got him here, for sure. But it may be a pitch that he can throw when he wants to, (and use it) as a show pitch to let the opposing hitters know that he's got one. It just adds more to their brain. He'll get a sense of that in spring training. Pitchers always come up with new things.”

—Washington Nationals manager Matt Williams, on Strasburg working on a slider (Dan Kolko, MASN Sports)

PRAISE CONTINUES TO POUR IN FOR JETER

“I think it was maybe 2004; I was on second or something and he just said, ‘You can hit .300 in this league.’ To hear it from someone like that, it just kind of opens your eyes. I don’t think it’s just me, I think he does it to everybody. But for some reason when he tells it to you, you think you’re the most important person in the world. He’s just kind of got that personality, and he’s so good with people.”
—Yankees second baseman Brian Roberts, on the effect Derek Jeter has had on his career. (Mark Feinsand, New York Daily News)

“He’s always been my favorite player to watch, just the way he carried himself on and off the field, winning championships. It all comes down to winning. You can have all the best stats in the world, but if you're not winning, it really doesn't mean nothing.”
—Angels center fielder Mike Trout, on his love for Derek Jeter growing up. (Jorge L. Ortiz, USAToday.com)


CONFLICTING OPINIONS ABOUT SEASON OPENER IN AUSTRALIA

“I would say there is absolutely zero excitement for it. There just isn't any excitement to it. I can't think of one reason to be excited for it.”
—Dodgers starting pitcher Zack Greinke, on opening up the season against the Diamondbacks more than a week before the rest of the league in Australia. (Mark Saxson, ESPNLosAngeles.com)

“I can't speak for everyone in here, but it seems like the general consensus is everyone is excited and we are kind of honored that we're going to be part of the first Major League game that's going to be in that country. I know the travel is going to be tough, but at the same time I know a lot of people have always wanted to go to Australia. To be able to bring my wife to Australia for a week and we get to play baseball? It's win-win. I'm excited about it. I think it's going to be a great trip.”
—Diamondbacks reliever J.J. Putz. (Steve Gilbert, MLB.com)

“The fact that they're giving us a week to come back to adjust to the time, it's perfect. I've done the Japan trip. I love it. I had a great time. So I don't see what the problem is.”
—Diamondbacks third baseman Eric Chavez.

JAVIER BAEZ WILL BREAK YOUR CAR WINDOW

“Everybody in the outfield heard it. I saw it fly, and then I heard a sound.”
Chicago Cubs infielder Logan Watkins, on watching Cubs shortstop prospect Javier Baez break a car window with a home run during batting practice (Gordon Wittenmeyer, Chicago Sun-Times)

“It sucks for the person who parked there. They’re parking too close to the field.”
—Baez on his feelings about the broken window (Gordon Wittenmeyer, Chicago Sun-Times)

TWITTER

—Free agent Tim Byrdak makes a great pitch for why your favorite team should sign him.

Bruce Chen apparently has Billy Butler’s number during simulation games.

THE REST

“We’re not saying that you can build a championship team through the minor-league system alone. That would be extremely challenging, if not impossible… We need to make sure that when the next wave of prospects comes up, they don’t take too much of a burden. We hope to have strong players around them, hopefully an impact player or two around them on the club so that they can break in the right way. You don’t want your prospects breaking in carrying too much responsibility. You don’t want them hitting in the middle of the order. You don’t want them having to carry a club or playing an instrumental role on the club. That’s important and that’s something that we’ve thought about, and we’re going to have to act on it.”
—Chicago Cubs president Theo Epstein, on the difficulty of building a team through prospects (Gordon Wittenmeyer, Chicago Sun-Times)

“We pitched like garbage. Starting pitchers were awful the first month, myself included. I mean, none of us were pitching like we wanted to, whether it was just bad luck that all five of us were going through that same time, or just putting pressure on ourselves.”
—Blue Jays pitcher Brandon Morrow, reflecting on the starting rotation’s poor start to 2013. (Jeff Odom, Toronto Star)

“I think that leadership thing kind of gets all blown out of proportion. Morney was definitely one of the guys who younger ­players looked to. I think it’s the ­veterans who play that role. Yeah, we obviously miss a good player and a good leader, but we have other guys, like Josh Willingham, in here, and other guys we’re getting to know. That shouldn’t be a problem.”
—Twins catcher Joe Mauer, responding to questions about who the “team leaders” will be in 2014. (Jim Souhan, Minneapolis Star Tribune)

“I don't know the details of the posting system, but I think the Yankees gave him a little bit too much.”
—Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish, jokingly, about the size of Masahiro Tanaka’s contract with the Yankees. Darvish later apologized when his comment was taken seriously. (Mark Feinsand, New York Daily News)

“We've got to temper that, because his history is well documented. Two days ago, he had a phenomenal day, running the bases at full speed, his defensive work was at full speed, he’s handling live pitching well. Those are the only things you see right now. Everything has been very encouraging. We’re going to have to temper either our enthusiasm or really how much we push him just to gradually get him back into game shape.”
—Red Sox manager John Farrell, on Grady Sizemore’s abilities. Sizemore has not played major-league baseball since 2011 due to a series of injuries. (John Tomase, Boston Herald)

“It still hasn't sunk in yet. But I know I'm happy. It was still up in the air. There was nothing that was sure yet. We were really close the whole time I felt, and it got done. I'm really excited about that. I'm really happy to be here. This is the team I grew up watching. So it's a dream come true.”
Atlanta Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons, on signing a seven-year extension (Mark Bowman, MLB.com)

“We’re very different animals. I’m proud of that difference. I always cringe when people lump us together. Other baseball teams sometimes do that. They are still, this year at least, relying heavily on their inimitable old-fashioned Yankees style of high-priced, long-term free agents. And, uh, I can’t say that I wish them well, but I think that we’ve taken a different approach… If you compare what we did last year in the offseason to what they did this year, there’s quite a contrast there. But I’ll quickly say we do keep open the prospect of having, signing a long-term deal with a free agent paying a sizable amount of money to attract a star in his prime.”
—Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino, outlining the disparate team-building approaches of the Yankees and Red Sox. (John Tomase, Boston Herald)

“I only did it because I thought it was necessary at the time. I would prefer not having to do any of that stuff and just making it roll, but if you can remember last year, I thought there wasn't enough 'crazy,' and we needed a little more 'crazy.' That's why we did it.”
—Rays manager Joe Maddon, responding to third baseman Evan Longoria’s thinly veiled criticism of stunts intended to lighten clubhouse the mood. Maddon recently brought in animal handlers to entertain the team. (Marc Topkin, Tampa Bay Times)

“If it would have been a ball, I don't know what would have happened. If I would have walked the guy and we would have been down by one, all the pressure would have been on us going into the bottom of that eighth inning. And if we didn't win that game, then the season would have been done and my high school career would have been over and I wouldn't have had my junior college coach come see me.”
—Rays outfielder Kevin Kiermaier, who credits his rise to the major leagues to one pitch made during a high school playoff game in 2008. Without it, Kiermaier believes he would be out of baseball. (Marc Topkin, Tampa Bay Times)

“We had guys tell us he had the best stuff in the minor leagues. Most electric stuff. Biggest fastball. Best slider.”
—Royals Assistant GM J.J. Picollo, on minor-leaguer Kyle Zimmer’s repertoire. Zimmer is expected to be called up around mid-season. (Andy McCullough, Kansas City Star)

“I think people saw our defense last year and really appreciated it. Our pitching staff and our defense kind of go hand in hand. When they're working good together, we're a hard team to beat. We definitely take pride in every position being solid. We made two good acquisitions to go along with what we had and hopefully it'll make us even better.”
—Royals outfielder Alex Gordon, on his team’s defensive prowess. Last year, the team had three Gold Glove winners: Gordon, catcher Salvador Perez, and first baseman Eric Hosmer. (Dick Kaegel, MLB.com)

“It’s weird when you find another generation of players that has been looking at you as one of their idols, and all of a sudden you are their teacher. To me, the most important thing is to try to help them become better players. Maybe some day they can establish themselves in the big leagues and say, ‘Wow, I got Omar to help me on a couple of things, and it really worked out for me.’”
—Tigers infield coach on Omar Vizquel, on transitioning from player to to teacher. (John Lowe, Detroit Free Press)

“He’s doing a great job of creating a good environment. Not only in terms of making the team feel like a family, but he works hard, and he makes you want to work hard.”
—Tigers catcher Brian Holaday, on manager Brad Ausmus’ effect on team morale. (John Lowe, Detroit Free Press)

“I want to get back to form. I want to get back to being the same kind of pitcher I was in 2011 and 2012. I want to be dependable and I want to be counted on. Those are two things I care a lot about.”
—Indians pitcher Vinnie Pestano, hoping to put a difficult 2013 behind him. (Paul Hoynes, Cleveland Plain Dealer)

“I know because of injuries I haven’t been the same player the last two years, but what I’ve been able to do, I’ve done on one leg and coming off surgery. If I feel 100 percent, I have no doubt I can reach the goals I’ve always had.”
—Angels first baseman Albert Pujols, revealing his expectations for the year. (Jorge L. Ortiz, USAToday.com)

“I really do try to block out the hype. Being on social media, it’s everywhere. It’s really hard to avoid. You just kind of have to be humble about it. Just go about your business the same way and everything will take care of itself.”
—Athletics prospect Addison Russell, on his strategy of handling the hype about him. (Joe Stiglich, CSNBayArea.com)

“I have to be careful to not do too much. I’m going to get sore. It’s going to take all of spring to make sure I’m 100 percent healthy. Every day is going to be a little different, and I need to make sure I don't overdo it. I can go out there and be full speed, but I'm going to limit what I do just to make sure when it comes to the season, I’m ready to go.”
—Recent Mariners acquisition Corey Hart, on his approach to being as healthy as possible for opening day. (Greg Johns, MLB.com)

“I see a young man who still has a chance. I can’t want it for him. At some point, the light has to come on for all of us. My talk with him was he’s at a crossroads. It’s time to either put up or shut up.”
—Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon, evaluating inconsistent first baseman Jesus Montero. Montero is currently in a weight loss program after checking into camp at 270 pounds, 40 pounds more than expected. (Bub Dutton, The Bellingham Herald)

“Hitting in front of Beltre, that’s not a bad thing. I am not going to argue about it. You’re going to do whatever the manager tells you to do, but I think it definitely helps knowing where you’re going to hit every day and just knowing where you're going to be.”
—Rangers first baseman Prince Fielder, on his outlook on hitting in the three hole this coming year for the Rangers, in front of Adrian Beltre. (T.R. Sullivan, MLB.com)

“There’s such a scarcity of catching in today’s game, not unlike quarterbacks in football. It only makes sense to make rule changes to keep them healthy and behind the plate.
—Chicago Cubs general manager Jed Hoyer, on the new home plate collision rules (Gordon Wittenmeyer, Chicago Sun-Times)

“It’s going to help him all over. Balance in the box, outfield, first-step quickness, on the bases, running. Everything that he does, when you can do it without having to think about a certain way to do it, it’ll free him up to play to his best capabilities.”
Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, on Travis Snider playing in 2014 with a healthy toe after recovering from surgery (Bill Brink, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

“He's not a guy that comes into a new organization and just sits quietly and watches. His personality -- he's just all over the place. He's vocal; he's laughing. What I like about it is he really works hard. I think that's a great combination to have. You have fun when you need to but when you need to bear down he can bear down. He really prepares well. On game day, you won't see him like that (goofing around). I think it's good to have personalities on a team. It's good to have characters on a team. And he's a guy I think will fit in and really help us with his personality.”
Milwaukee Brewers manager Ron Roenicke, on having Matt Garza in the clubhouse (Tom Haudricourt, Journal Sentinel)

“I'm going to try to use it a little bit more. Last year, early in the year, I ran into trouble throwing fastball/slider, the pitches I was throwing. Whenever I did throw a curveball, it was out of the (strike) zone. The main thing is to try to throw it for strikes more, try to throw a good curveball to get me back even in the count or get ahead in the count with the first pitch. I think it's going to make a huge difference. I was able to do that the first few years when I came up. In '07 I was able to throw it in any count.”
—Milwaukee Brewers starting pitcher Yovani Gallardo, on throwing more curveballs for strikes (Tom Haudricourt, Journal Sentinel)

“The idea is, these guys from this company will train and empower our own staff so that they can do it themselves eventually. What it's given us is additional information that may have not been readily apparent to the eye. A lot of it is about core strength and flexibility. Hips are always a big issue.”
—Milwaukee Brewers assistant general manager Gord Ash, on the team hiring a company called Move2Perform to evaluate their players’ musculatures (Todd Rosiak, Journal Sentinel)

“That's the first time I've ever been on the disabled list, but you always have to keep your head up. Baseball is a mental game. The whole time during my injury I could have been down and cried about it, or I could get back up. That's who I am. It was a freak accident, but I'm not worried about my ankle. I'm just going to go out there and play my game. Hopefully I can start off on a hot streak and so can the team so we can be in the race early.”
Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Ben Revere, on the ankle injury that ended his season in 2013 (Bob Brookover, Philadelphia Inquirer)

“If you add it up, most guys that steal end up scoring. It's probably an extra 10 to 15 runs a year, which I'd take off my ERA any day of the week. I'm sure it would get me a couple more wins and keep my team in ballgames more . . . I was a lot more aware of it last year because guys were doing it repetitively, and it was the same guys.”
—Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cole Hamels, on working on holding on runners in spring training (Ryan Lawrence, Philadelphia Inquirer)

“I think people know we do things professionally and the way we go about our business. So I think our reputation is very good.”
—Philadelphia Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr, on the reaction to the Phillies reporting a player to the NCAA (Matt Gelb, Philadelphia Inquirer)

“I want to keep playing the game. I want to be a part of a team. To come off the bench - we've talked about that - it's not a problem for me. I just love to play the game. I know I can still play. To have this opportunity right now, it's fun.”
—Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Bobby Abreu, on returning to the major leagues (Matt Gelb, Philadelphia Inquirer)

“Your heart kind of leaps out of your body right there for a second.”
—Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier, after Sandy Koufax was struck in the head by a line drive at the Dodgers’ spring-training complex on Friday. Koufax underwent a CT scan to rule out internal bleeding and luckily wasn’t seriously injured. (Dylan Hernandez, Los Angeles Times)

“Write that one down.”
—Washington Nationals first baseman Brock Peterson, after hitting a home run over the batter’s eye in center field during batting practice (Dan Kolko, MASN Sports)

“When the over-rotation started back in 2011, it was kind of the Louis Tiant, it was a very compact turn and tuck and come out — there’s time when he can get away from that. I don’t think it matters if he gets over-rotated and flies open or if he has no rotation and fly open — we don’t want him to fly open and there’s times where he can get so dramatic in the turn, it creates a more difficult time to repeat the mechanics. That being said, he’s coming off a lat strain, he’s coming off a history of shoulder fatigue and things of that nature, we’re trying to make it easier for him to repeat the delivery.”
Cincinnati Reds manager Bryan Price, on improving starting pitcher Johnny Cueto’s mechanics (C. Trent Rosecrans, Cincinnati Enquirer)

“He wasn't even going full speed… He's my favorite player I've ever seen run the bases. I love watching him run [out] triples or go from first to third... Beautiful, graceful, the way he runs the base. He cuts it.
—Atlanta Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez, on watching outfielder Jason Heyward run the bases (Joe Morgan, MLB.com)

“He's a great asset for us to have in-house. But we had started this process even before he had joined us. So it was great to have him sitting in on some of the meetings as we were progressing and having some of those conversations. But also the landscape has changed. He'll be the first to tell you that it is a different environment than it was in the early 1990s, when they became the first club to make this approach to signing young guys vogue.”
—Atlanta Braves general manager Frank Wren, on receiving assistance from John Hart while negotiating the team’s recent contract extensions (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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