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April 28, 2014

The Week in Quotes

April 21-27

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


ALBERT PUJOLS JOINS THE 500 HOME RUN CLUB

“It’s pretty special. To have over 19,000 players who were in a big league uniform and to only have 26 players to do this, it’s pretty special.”
Albert Pujols, who hit his 499th and 500th home runs on Tuesday. (Adam Kilgore, The Washington Post)

“He’s got a lot of baseball left. I don’t know if there are many players who work as hard as Albert does in the off-season to get where they need to be. I look for him, when it’s all said and done, to be one of those handful of players you’re in awe of.”
—Angels manager Mike Scioscia, on Albert Pujols’ great milestone and his work ethic. (Mike DiGiovanna, Los Angeles Times)

“It’s a huge milestone in the grand scheme of baseball. You don’t want it to happen against you, for sure. But I admire the man. I admire his ability and I have for some time. I just wish he would do it against somebody else.”
—Nationals manager Matt Williams, describing his feelings towards Pujols’ achievement happening in a game against Williams’ Nationals. Pujols also hit his 400th home run against the Nationals. (Kilgore)

PINEDA SLAPPED WITH 10-GAME BAN FOR PINE TAR IMBROGLIO

“I know I made a mistake. I feel so sad today. It was a really cold night and in the first inning I [didn't] have a really good grip on the ball.”
—Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda, who was ejected from Wednesday’s game for his illegal use of pine tar. Pineda will serve a 10-game suspension for the transgression. (Bryan Hoch, MLB.com)

“I could see it from the dugout. It was confirmed by a number of camera angles in the ballpark. And given the last time we faced him, I felt like it was a necessity to say something.”
—Red Sox manager John Farrell, who asked home plate umpire Gerry Davis to inspect Pineda’s neck for a foreign substance. (Bryan Hoch, MLB.com)

“We certainly are responsible. There's certainly failure on our part as an organization as a whole that he took the field in the second inning with that on his neck. He's responsible for his actions, but we failed as an organization for somehow him being in that position.”
—Yankees general manager Brian Cashman. (Bryan Hoch, MLB.com)

“I'm not sure that he understood the implications, and I think it was more in his mind that he needed to grip the baseball. Whatever he had to do, I'm not sure if he thought there'd be an understanding of it, but it's one of those things where I'm not sure he understood what the penalties were—even though I had told him what could happen. I think in his mind, he needed to grip the baseball.”
—Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild. (Bryan Hoch, MLB.com)

“I spent a lot of years in Albuquerque. It’s dry. It’s cold and windy in the spring, and the option is this—I either get a grip on the ball or I hit someone in the neck because I don’t have a grip on it. You ask the hitters, they’d say get a grip on it. You still gotta make the pitches… You got to be a little discreet. You can’t just walk out with the pine-tar bottle and put it on your hands.”
—Mets manager Terry Collins, favoring hitter safety—and the pitcher’s discretion—over steadfast adherence to rules. (Andy Martino, New York Daily News)

“I mean, it's a young kid. I don't think he's trying to do anything to cheat. I think he's trying to just go out there and compete. It's unfortunate it happened, but we'll deal with it and we'll get through this. It's a little bump in the road and we'll be all right.”
—Yankees manager Joe Girardi. (Bryan Hoch, MLB.com)

BALFOUR’S VERBAL EXPLOSION

“I was (ticked) at myself and frustrated. I wasn't yelling at him or anyone else. I was really angry at myself for the way I went about it. It was a frustrating game, and it ended up even worse.”
—Rays reliever Grant Balfour, who went into a tirade after walking Paul Konerko in the 9th inning of Friday’s loss. (Marc Topkin, Tampa Bay Times)

“I wasn't going to have somebody yell that close to me. He has to understand if he's going to yell that close to people, you're going to get a guy every now and then that's going to ask why or take exception to it.”
—Konerko, on the incident. (Marc Topkin, Tampa Bay Times)

“I just think that pretty much was Grant being Grant—and you know that's how he is, we've known that for years—and I think that was Paulie trying to rally troops up a little bit.”
—Rays manager Joe Maddon, asserting that the situation was nothing more than a display of competitive fire. (Marc Topkin, Tampa Bay Times)

TWITTER

THE REST

“When they call, I just want to be ready. I have to keep working on things, working on my at-bats, work on running the bases and learning how to be a better baseball player. Right now, those [are] things I am focused on, I want to use every day to get better. I feel like I could play [in the major leagues] right now, but it is OK for me to be here for now.”
Pittsburgh Pirates outfield prospect Gregory Polanco, on awaiting his call up from Triple A (Paul Zeise, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

“Not at all, because I know I’m a damn good player, and he is too. We’re going to roll through baseball over the next 20 years hopefully and make people turn their heads. He’s going to do it, and hopefully I can do it, and [Yaisel] Puig and everybody else in this game. Matt Harvey. There’s a lot of great young talent, and [the attention is] just because it’s me and Trout. That’s the way it always has been, and that’s the way it’s going to be.”
—Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper, on whether he measures his success against that of Mike Trout. (Adam Kilgore, Washington Post)

“When we're talking about our infielders, we focus on the ground-ball distribution. In general, we've been aligning ourselves as an industry (in a way) that covers real estate proportionally. That may not be the best way to do it. It's not the best way to do it. I think we're proving that.”
—Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow, on the organization’s extreme usage of defensive shifts this season. Recently, the Astros implemented an extreme shift on Mike Trout, who tends to pull ground balls despite having a more even distribution on line drives and fly balls. (Ken Rosenthal, Fox Sports)

“I’m glad he’s on my team. There’s a reason why his nickname’s Ace.”
—Royals designated hitter Billy Butler, after starting pitcher Yordano Ventura shut out the Orioles on Friday. (Andy McCullough, Kansas City Star)

“I’m getting closer. You never feel 100 percent, but every day gets a little easier, every day it’s a little better and just continue to work at it.”
—Red Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski, on adjusting to life with a new team. (Chris Zelkovich, Boston Herald)

“You never want to see something like that. It breaks your heart a little bit. Obviously, it's never something done intentionally, but whenever you're involved in a situation like that it puts life in perspective... Thank God, from everything we've heard he's OK. It could have been a lot worse.”
Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun, on accidentally hitting teammate Jean Segura in the face with a practice swing (Tom Haudricourt, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

“A little bit worse than what we thought it was going to be. Strain, I guess is what we’re calling it. It’s kind of crazy because I don’t feel terrible. I’ve never had anything like this before. I figured it would just be a few days and then we’d forget about it.”
—Orioles first baseman Chris Davis, who went on the 15-day DL on Friday. (Dan Connolly, Baltimore Sun)

“It’s definitely disappointing, frustrating. I do a lot to try and take care of my body and prevent injuries. You play this game long enough eventually you’re going to run into something like this, but I’m going to stay positive.”
—Davis. (Dan Connolly, Baltimore Sun)

“It's always been one of those hazy [rules]. They were really putting a lot of pressure on the umpires. There were a few times we had a throw across the field, the first baseman catches it, and he's four steps into the dugout before he finally goes in and grabs the ball and then the umpire raises his hand [to signal out]. They were doing their job [in waiting for the transfer to be made], but it was a tough interpretation of the rule. Now, there's probably going to be some hazy situations, but I think it's a little more like what we were accustomed to."
St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, on the revised interpretation of the transfer rule (Jenifer Langosch, MLB.com)

“We talked about putting together a pinch-hit package. Putting something down on paper, committing to something based on where we were in the game. So we gave the players a little road map. Here's what we want out of you this pinch-hit at-bat, here's what the game's asking you to do, rather than take for granted that they know or let them freestyle. We're just trying to help them shape up and focus…Most teams have a machine. We've taken this machine and kind of slapped it to make it mad and angry, tried to add more adrenaline, more confrontation to the practice session."
—Pittsburgh Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, on his team’s program to help pinch hitters feel comfortable with their role, including batting practice on a machine throwing high-velocity pitches (Jenn Menendez, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

“We need the time as well to make sure we do this right, because we’ve got one shot at this,” said Stephen Brooks, the Jays’ senior vice-president of business operations. “As soon as you put jackhammer to concrete . . . you better know what you’re doing.”
—Jays senior vice president Stephen Brooks, on installing natural grass at the Rogers Centre. (Brendan Kennedy, Toronto Star)

“I really wanted to go and pay my respects. This country has been amazing to me. So I’m here learning about it, being right there. When I was in school, history was my favorite subject. I want to learn a little more. When I go to Washington [next month], I want to see some things.”
—Marlins starting pitcher Jose Fernandez, on visiting the World Trade Center Memorial in Manhattan during the club’s day off on Thursday. (Manny Navarro, Miami Herald)

“You score runs however you can. When you look up at the scoreboard, it doesn’t say how you scored them. They don’t keep track of that in the won-loss column.”
—Twins first baseman Chris Colabello, referring to the team’s ability to score runs without swinging very often. The Twins lead the league in walks by a wide margin. (Phil Miller, Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Since everything happened to me, I've always been positive. I've never had a bad thought about if this thing could happen again if I could have any trauma on my head again. They want to put (the screen) on the first time and we used it the first time just because it was the first time. I always feel that everything is going to be OK. I don't think it's possible that this could happen again. I'm just positive that mentally, I'll be OK. My mind is set up to be able to do things without thinking about it.”
—Reds closer Aroldis Chapman, through assistant athletic trainer Tomas Vera, who served as his interpreter. Chapman threw batting practice without a screen prior to Saturday’s game in Atlanta. (C. Trent Rosecrans, Cincinnati Enquirer)

“He’s in a slump. He’s been trying to do a little too much in the games. His work has been great. He just needs to get a couple of hits and get the monkey off his back.”
—Indians hitting coach Ty Van Burkleo, who insists that Indians third baseman Carlos Santana’s slump isn’t motivated by anything unusual. (Paul Hoynes, Cleveland Plain Dealer)

"In the beginning, I thought no one would see it. They say it's cute, but I think it's bad. My dancing sucks. My rhythm's not there."
—Milwaukee Brewers Wei-Chung Wang, on a video posted on Instagram involving Wang and other Brewers relievers dancing to 1986 classic “Everybody Have Fun Tonight” by Wang Chung (Todd Rosiak, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

“Sometimes when you have young superstars like that, you don’t know what their work ethic is going to be like. When you’re playing against somebody, you always want to not give them the benefit of the doubt and find that kind of an edge. But coming in here and playing with him and seeing what he went through in spring training to get back to play after (the hamstring injury) and then watching him do his work — he wants to improve as a defensive player. I see him out there all the time, before day games taking groundballs. That, to me, is more impressive than him hitting two home runs in a game. He’s a stud. (He) really is striving to be a complete, frontline shortstop.”
Chicago Cubs catcher John Baker, on teammate Starlin Castro (Patrick Mooney, CSN Chicago)

Maybe this is one of those games that you watch on ESPN Classic three or four years down the road and you say, 'Well OK, that was nice to see.' ... I haven't seen two pitchers hook up like they did today since that (Roy) Doc Halladay-Josh Johnson, one guy went a perfect game, the other guy went I think a two-hitter (Johnson allowed just one hit), and that was one of those classic games. And this one I think ranks up there.”
Atlanta Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez, on the pitching duel between Alex Wood and Jose Fernandez on Tuesday night. (Zach Dillard, Fox Sports)

“When I woke this morning it didn’t feel like there was a crumpled up piece of paper in my eye, like it has been. Everything feels good today. [On Monday] I couldn’t see out of my left eye the whole game. I knew I could see playing defense and I think I can help defensively.”
—Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman, on playing through eye troubles (Carroll Rogers, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

“He’s a different guy than I saw in spring. I didn’t know much about him. He was sinking everything. Big sinker … trying to induce ground balls, and he was a high groundball pitcher.”
—Astros pitching coach Brent Strom, on Collin McHugh’s last two excellent starts he strung together. (Evan Drellich, Houston Chronicle)

“We wanted to send a clear statement to the A's, the fans, (owner) Lew Wolff and Major League Baseball that we want the A's at the O.co Coliseum and want to keep baseball in Oakland.”
—Nate Miley, an Alameda County supervisor and the authority chairman. The Oakland Athletics this past week turned down the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Authority’s 10-year lease proposal to continue baseball in Oakland. (Kale Williams, San Francisco Chronicle).

“There's no debate whether they got it right or wrong. In the end, you have the biggest Jumbotron in the country out there in center field that would strongly suggest the runner was out on the pickoff, and then to say he's not – it seems to contradict what everyone in the ballpark thought was an out. I didn't get it, it didn't make any sense to me.”
—Reds manager Bryan Price, on a pickoff play he challenged during the first inning of Sunday’s game. Price was ejected from the game after arguing the call after it wasn’t overturned. (C. Trent Rosecrans, Cincinnati Enquirer)

“There's just no room for racism in any of our games. That would be tough [for me to attend games]. I mean, what is a suspension going to do? He still owns the team. He's still making money. Do you fine him? He's a billionaire. What is fining him going to do? This is bigger than the game. I'm just shocked that people still feel that way toward Latins, blacks, white people. We are all the same. We all bleed the same.”
—Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp, on alleged remarks made by Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling. Kemp, who took a picture with Sterling’s then-girlfriend V. Stiviano that she then posted on Instagram, was mentioned in an audio tape leaked to Deadspin.com. On Sunday, Kemp changed his at-bat music to Michael Jackson’s “Black or White.” (Anthony Witrado, ESPNLosAngeles.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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