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May 5, 2014

The Week in Quotes

April 28 - May 4

by Nick Bacarella, Chris Mosch and Nick Wheatley-Schaller


HOW TO BEAT THE SHIFT?

“Our sport—less than football or basketball—tends to rely on ‘play to your strengths’ as opposed to ‘take what the opponent is giving you.’ Maybe playing to strengths is necessary for the psyche in a failure-driven sport. I would think in the strikeout era, we could see a re-emergence of bat-control skills being valued. Unfortunately, many current players know how to launch but do not know how to manipulate the bat.”
—Padres general manager Josh Byrnes, on whether he believes there will be a movement towards more opposite-field hitting to counter widespread use of defensive shifts. (Joel Sherman, New York Post)

“I work on it in batting practice and when the situation is right, they're giving you a free baserunner so you might as well take it. That was my whole thing on that—just get on, get a good secondary [lead] and wait for Billy to put one down the line or in the gap and tie the game up.”
—Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer, on bunting against the shift. Hosmer was unsuccessful in his attempt to beat out a bunt during Thursday’s game against the Blue Jays. Toronto’s defensive alignment wasn’t a classic “shift” but the third baseman was playing deep enough (and off the third base line) that Hosmer decided to try to bunt for a base hit. (Dick Kaegel, MLB.com)

“It's the next phase. Hitters are adjusting. It was one thing when you just had Tampa Bay and maybe a few other teams shifting on you. But now it's 30 teams. Everybody is doing it. You see it all the time. So when you see it all the time it's time to start thinking about making adjustments. Brian had two hits going the other way against Tampa. He's a good hitter. Not all hitters can do that, but the good hitters can do it.”
—Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long, on Brian McCann attempting to tailor his swing to occasionally take advantage of an extreme defensive shift. (Tom Verducci, Sports Illustrated)

“Now, see, we learned something there. He saw the defense and tried to go the other way. We take note of that. Some guys will try to counter the shift. He's one of those guys. The next time we won't overshift as much. You learn who those guys are.”
—Red Sox coach Brian Butterfield, on Orioles infielder Ryan Flaherty beating Boston’s shift with a single to left field earlier this season. (Verducci)

“It's like macroeconomics and microeconomics. You might expect the data to match up and show the same trendline, but that's not always the case. One of the things you have to remember is that we're only talking about 10 percent of the plays. For 10 percent of the plays to impact the 100 percent is not something that's going to show up clearly. The average team shifts four times per game.”
Houston Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow, on defensive efficiency in 2014 being slightly lower than it was a decade ago despite the increase in shifts. (Verducci)

“The game, it's changing, man. It's becoming more number-oriented. There's so many numbers out there. It's almost overwhelming for a guy like myself. I like to keep it as simple as possible, not get too many things going on in my head. I just want to go out there and try to make pitches. "But I don't worry about any of that stuff, to tell you the truth. It is what it is. I'm not one of the coaches, I'm not one of the guys that are figuring this stuff out. I just work here, man. I'm a pitcher, and whatever they're going to do, they're going to do.”
—Angels starting pitcher Jered Weaver, on getting used to his club using defensive shifts behind him. (Alden Gonzalez, MLB.com)

“You're going to get beat; you're going to have balls that go through different parts of the field. But over the course of the season, you can look back and go, 'Wow, we won out more often than we didn't.' And I think we're on that track.”
—Angels coach Rick Eckstein, on implementing defensive shifts. (Gonzalez)

KEVIN TOWERS REFLECTS ON POOR START

“To me personally, it's not a tear down. I'm hoping Hudson comes back. If we had Hudson right now, Reynolds, Hernandez, and Corbin, we're a better ballclub. But that's a year away. Do we have that year? I don't have that answer. I feel terrible for [Kendrick]. He went out and spent a lot of money on this club and it's not performing. That's a reflection on him and his entire organization, and that hurts. I know how frustrated he is and to me, he wants to win.”
—Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers, on the organization’s 11-23 start. Towers indicated that he still feels he and manager Kirk Gibson are on the same page with managing partner Ken Kendrick and club president Derrick Hall. (Barry M. Bloom, MLB.com)

“We all thought that with our payroll we had a good chance. And we got off to a horrible start and he's probably scratching his head. 'Do I have the right manager? Do I have the right general manager? Is this really what we have? Is this really who we are?' I guess if he believes that we're terrible and we stink and we're bad, then we're probably in trouble. If he believes it's a blip …”
—Towers. (Bloom)

THE REST

“I just don’t like the whole inconclusive deal. With replay you’re either out or safe, I don’t know what inconclusive means. Maybe it means someone doesn’t want to make a decision. We all make decisions every day. Some of the hard, some of them are not. You have to make them though.”

—Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia, after umpires upheld a questionable call due to inconclusive evidence. Replays demonstrated that Pedroia’s foot beat Rays catcher Jose Molina’s tag to home plate, but without confirmation that Pedroia’s foot did indeed touch the plate, he was called out. (Michael Silverman, Boston Herald)

“I told him, 'You start letting mine go through, I'll start letting yours go through… It's one thing to make the routine play, which he certainly does, but it seems like he gets very good instinct as far as positioning himself, [for] that first step, which is obviously very important playing third base. It looks like he's quick. It looks like he's instinctive. Those are all good traits to have for a third baseman.”
—Mets third baseman David Wright, on Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado (Jack Etkin, MLB.com)

“I definitely feel the Thiamin injections are working nothing short of miracles. And before I go any further may I frankly assure you that I haven’t even had ONE beer.”
—Former Yankee Lou Gehrig, in a letter to his doctor shortly after being diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). The letter, in which Gehrig expresses his beliefs that he will beat the disease, is up for auction until May 17th. (Michael O’Keeffe, New York Daily News)

“I needed a team to sign me, believe in me. They let me go out there and play my game. They gave me a chance to make a team. When I made the team, and they needed me to run out there every single day starting right around June, I did and I put my game together. Hopefully I helped them out a little bit, me and Bucky bringing Vic Black back [in the trade] -- a strong arm, a closer for the future. Hopefully we helped each other out.”
—Phillies outfielder Marlon Byrd, prior Tuesday’s series opener against the Mets, on being grateful to his former team. (Adam Rubin, ESPNNewYork)

“What I like is the progression that I see that he’s made over the last month. Early on, people were like, ‘What’s his approach like? He’s striking out a lot.’ But I’ve seen it going in the right direction. He’s gradually giving good at-bats and making adjustments at-bat to at-bat.”
—Red Sox outfielder Shane Victorino, on Jackie Bradley, Jr.’s, progression thus far this season. (Scott Lauber, Boston Herald)

“He’s an interesting guy. A little bit misunderstood. I think he cares almost too much at times. And he expects so much out of himself, that it can work against him.”
—Royals assistant general manager J.J. Picollo, commenting on reliever Danny Duffy’s approach to the game. (Andy McCullough, Kansas City Star)

“You're certainly more susceptible to hands injuries when you go in headfirst. But his main weapon is speed and his efficiency at stealing bases. If he's more productive that way, then that's the way he's going to do it. I hate to take that away from him. It's what he does and who he is and what makes him special.”
—Reds manager Bryan Price, on Billy Hamilton sliding headfirst (John Fay, Cincinatti Enquirer)

“I was trying not to give up runs. Sometimes you have to throw more pitches to do that.”
—Yankees starting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, commenting on his pitch-intensive Sunday outing. (Roger Rubin, New York Daily News)

“When you do things together, you kind of come together, like going out to dinner or having a chant or wearing something the same. This team over here, we’re very close. We have fun. We laugh and do a lot of things. That’s what you kind of have to do to withstand all the failure that you have on the field.”
—Tigers outfielder Torii Hunter, referring to the Zubaz pants phenomenon taking the team by storm. Reliever Joba Chamberlain apparently has a connection and is getting pairs for the entire squad. (George Sippie, Detroit Free Press)

“I think the Cubs will spend money where they feel like it’s needed, and maybe it will be Samardzija. We don’t know that. The Cubs might be playing a bluff card. That’s part of going into a negotiation, too. There’s so many strategies.”
—Reds starting pitcher Homer Bailey, on the Cubs extension negotiations with Jeff Samardzija (Gordon Wittenmeyer, Chicago Sun-Times)

“It's nothing that would prevent him from pitching as soon as he feels better. [Head trainer] Richie [Bancells] said he's out of it, he's real drained. First time he thought he was having a stroke or a heart attack, his whole chest. So they went for an MRI today and they thought there was a spot. We are treating it very serious right now.”
—Orioles manager Buck Showalter, discussing pitcher Kevin Gausman, who was placed on the DL with pneumonia. (Eduardo A. Encina, Baltimore Sun)

“I was being selfish, I guess. Little things would happenbloop hits. I would be getting it in my own head and saying, 'Why is he getting on?' I was trying really hard. We all sat down, it was an emotional meeting. We talked it through ... I never went through anything like that before. It was good for me. That's what turned my career aroundthe mental aspect of the game.”
—Nationals starting pitcher Tanner Roark, on having a discussion about his mental approach with three coaches (Bill Ladson, MLB.com)

“You know what, I went into the game not worried. I didn't go in there nervous and everything. I wasn't worried about mechanics. I just knew I was going to go out there and grind and just trust everything I've been doing. I wasn't stressing. I was like, 'Let's go, let's party.’”
—Orioles infielder Steve Pearce, who had three hits in his first game after resigning with the team. (Eduardo A. Encina, Baltimore Sun)

“How about that effort from everybody on that entire team throughout the evening. I am so impressed with our guys and their ability to stay motivated. It's pretty amazing. If you're a Rays fan you've got to be proud of your players right now.”
—Rays manager Joe Maddon, after his team pulled out a 14-inning victory over the Yankees on Friday. (Marc Topkin, Tampa Bay Times)

“We’ve been playing some good games and we’ve been struggling down there in the ’pen,” Gibbons said. “We may re-arrange some things down there. You can’t let it demoralize you. You have to show up again tomorrow. We’ve definitely got to get better down there.”
—Blue Jays manager John Gibbons, whose team allowed three runs in the 9th inning on the way to a 6-5 loss to the Pirates. (Richard Griffin, Toronto Star)

“We do want to take a holistic approach," he said. "We want to find A.J.'s weaknesses, if his core strength is where it needs to be, if his rotator cuff strength is where it needs to be. Does to he need to work on his lower half? Does he need to work on his upper half, and does he need more flexibility? And then we put all of that into the rehab program. It's not just come in and do two hours of therapy on the elbow and go home. It's about putting together the best package we can for him.”
—Athletics head trainer, Nick Paparesta, on hoping to improve A.J. Griffin’s overall physical condition while he recovers from Tommy John surgery. (Jane Lee, MLB.com)

“I'm really positive about this. I feel really normal, I have a lot of confidence in myself, I don't have any fear or anything. There's no hesitation, I feel really normal. I think feeling positive like I am right now is what's giving me confidence on the mound right now. I have no fear at all.
—Reds closer Aroldis Chapman, on pitching in his first rehab game since suffering an injury on the mound during spring training (C. Trent Rosecrans, Cincinatti Enquirer)

“He's going to be out there the majority of the time. He's got to be. He's showing he's the future and he's getting better at it. When he starts hitting .195, we'll have to look and get him out of there. But right now, he's getting on base, he's doing all the things you want. People don't score on him when he's got the baseball in his hands. He right now would be our everyday guy.”
—Mets manager Terry Collins, on moving center fielder Juan Lagares into the everyday starting lineup (Jack Etikin, MLB.com)

“It was a little windy last night, and I just put the glasses on to try to stop it. But I couldn’t see with the nosepiece, so I took them off. But everything’s good. It was just windy last night. My eyes are fine. I was just trying to block the wind, do anything I could, because my eyes were drying out with the wind blowing right into my face.”
—Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman, on trying to keep his eyes from drying out (David O’Brien, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

“I always thought about that, 'What am I going to do if I hit a walk-off?' 'What am I going to do with my helmet?' I just chucked it. Somebody else said it was a good toss.”
—Rockies infielder Charlie Culberson, on his walk-off home run against the Mets on Saturday. (Thomas Harding, MLB.com)

“Mentally, what it does to you, I don't know. You think, 'Am I good enough to keep doing this? Can I keep doing this? Do they have faith in me?' So to kind of battle through that and change roles a bunch of times and go from the bullpen to the rotation and back to the bullpen and then sit, it's been tough.”
—Astros starting pitcher Collin McHugh, on the ups and downs of his career. (Brian McTaggart, MLB.com)

“My hips were flying way too early, so my hands were dragging. He picked it out right away. I went into the cage the next three days and just swung, not even moving my hips, letting my hands work and teaching myself to not even use them at that point.”
—Athletics outfielder Josh Reddick, on his dad giving him advice over the phone about his mechanics prior to his recent hot streak. (Jane Lee, MLB.com)

“Sometimes you have meetings and guys expect you to rant and rave and throw stuff. I popped in the hitters’ meeting today for a little bit and told the guys, ‘Hey, let’s whoop somebody’s ass today. Let’s go out there and score three, really put it to them!’ It kind of got a giggle.”
—Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez, on trying to lighten the mood in the clubhouse prior to Sunday’s game against the Giants. After Sunday’s loss to the Giants, Atlanta’s losing streak is now at six games. (David O’Brien, Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

“From my standpoint, I'm truly embarrassed. It's an embarrassment because I'm not allowing my teammates to get into the game when you're walking that many guys and allowing the runs to score, you don't give your team a chance to win in that case. The fans that even stayed today, it's pretty embarrassing because the type of game that I pitched, it's not the type of game I'd like to credit myself on.”
—Phillies starting pitcher Cole Hamels, on struggling in his debut performance against the Mets (Todd Zolecki, MLB.com)

“I was in the box, had my head down. I don't know what the rule is. I've been quick-pitched before, but I've never been quick-pitched when I'm not looking, and also quick-pitched up and in when I'm not looking. So that's what bothered me. I didn't like the fact he quick-pitched me, because he's (a) Cy Young (winner). He can get guys out without doing that. But if he would've quick-pitched me and threw one right down the middle, on the outside corner for a strike, I would've been pissed off that I was down 0-1. But I would've been like, all right, I need to get back in the box and get ready. But when he quick-pitched me, I wasn't looking. I had my head down, and he came up and in. I didn't like that. If one slips, hits me in the head when I'm not looking ... it's just over something stupid. I have the utmost respect for him. I've been competing against him for a long time. But I didn't like that at all. It was nothing like I wanted to go after him and fight him or anything like that. I just wanted to let him know I didn't appreciate that. We're playing this game trying not to get guys hurt. Whenever you do something like that to me, I think that's not good at all.”
—Nationals outfielder Denard Span, on being quick-pitched up and in by Cliff Lee (Dan Kolko, MASN Sports)

Nick Bacarella is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Nick's other articles. You can contact Nick 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

Related Content:  Quotes,  Major League Baseball,  MLB

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