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June 30, 2014

The Week in Quotes

June 23-29

by Nick Bacarella, Morris Greenberg and Nick Wheatley-Schaller


THOUGHTS ON TONY GWYNN AND CHEWING TOBACCO

“Honesty. Honesty is what you saw and what you got. He never tried to show anybody up. All he did was do what he did. Even though he was on the other team, you still had to admire the way he went about his business. To me we don’t have many , maybe not any… Derek Jeter has conducted himself in similar fashion. And the whole thing about it is, it’s role models for our kids. Kids are the ones we should be trying to show the way to, and Tony was certainly the type to do that.”
—Baseball legend Joe Torre, describing what Tony Gwynn brought to the game of baseball. (Kirk Kenney, U-T San Diego)

“I was close to him. It was funny that growing up he was my favorite player, and having an opportunity to play for him and actually get to know him from a different perspective, not just as a baseball player. … If the average baseball fan could understand what type of person he was, I think they’d love him so much more.”
—Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg, on Tony Gwynn’s impact. (Paul Sullivan, Chicago Tribune)

“I think it’s a disgusting habit, looking back on it. I was pretty naive when I started. Just doing it here and there, I didn’t think it was going to be such an addiction. … Bottom line is, I want to be around for my family. This is something that can affect people the rest of your life.”
—Strasburg, who is planning to stop chewing tobacco. Tony Gwynn credited chewing tobacco as the primary reason he developed salivary cancer. (Sullivan)

“I quit chewing tobacco, plain and simple. I’ve been chewing for 11 or 12 years, but I knew I needed to do it during the season because if I could do it during the season around guys doing it all the time, I knew I would be OK.”
—Angels outfielder Josh Hamilton, on his choice to stop consuming tobacco mid-season. (Sullivan)

“Needless to say, it was pretty awesome. Made the at-bat a little more difficult, had to fight the emotion and the tears and stuff like that. But that’s why guys who play here like to play here. When things are going well or regardless of whether they’re going bad or good, I think the fans stay behind us. Much appreciated by the Gwynn family.”
—Phillies outfielder Tony Gwynn Jr., who received a standing ovation in his first game back in the lineup for the Phillies. (Reuben Frank, CSNPhilly.com)

MAJOR LAWSUIT AGAINST INDIANS UNDERWAY

“It’s been offensive since day one. We are not mascots. My children are not mascots. We are people.”
—Robert Roche, a Chiricahua Apache and director of the American Indian Education Center, on the Cleveland Indians’ mascot, Chief Wahoo. Roche and his organization, People Not Mascots, have levied a lawsuit against the team and are seeking $9 billion in damages. (Justin McGuire, Sporting News)

“Can you imagine the baseball team in this city not being called the Cleveland Indians? I can’t picture that.”
—Bob Rosen, president of the Wahoo Club in Cleveland. (Mike Axisa, CBSSports.com)

THE REST

“I’m more busy than playing baseball. In baseball, I just take a few minutes to do my job. Now it’s the whole day. That’s what I wanted to do, help as many people as I can. We are all together for the same reason. It’s humbling to me—I have major leaguers, superstars, I have Hall of Famers, Hall of Famers-to-be, and many others. They’re here to help the foundation and the community.”
—Ex-Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, who inaugurated his first charity golf tournament this weekend.

“The important thing to me is that he’s able to bounce back. And that the knee is not an issue and it doesn’t get in the way and if it doesn’t then we can have him back fairly quickly. I’m hoping that this little break will help him physically be better and stronger. Because for it to get to that point my thought is maybe there was a little weakness in there before. But our hope is, yes, he will be better and he will be strong and he will help anchor this rotation.”
—Yankees manager Joe Girardi, on CC Sabathia’s rehab from knee inflammation. Sabathia has been on the DL since May 11. (Peter Botte, New York Daily News)

“This isn't a rebuild. It's a down year. Do the Red Sox maximize some pieces they can trade now to go with some of the other pieces they already have? If they do, I think Koji is a great piece. He may not be that No. 1 starter—a year and a half of David Price or Jeff Samardzija would probably take precedence—but there are clubs looking for bullpen help, and I would certainly think you're looking at the ability to bring back one impactful player and probably a B-level prospect for a guy like Koji.”
—MLB Network Analyst and former general manager John Hart, on the implications of potentially trading Koji Uehara. (John Tomase, Boston Herald)

"The hitters will let you know what's hard enough. On a night like tonight, when he really had everything working, and he threw the ball where he wanted to, that's what happens. He pitched. I don't think the radar gun really came into play."
—Indians manager Terry Francona, on Josh Tomlin’s pitching performance on Saturday. Tomlin tossed a complete-game shutout against the Mariners, allowing just one hit and striking out eleven.

“I think it is still coming. It’s still a process. You can’t settle. You’ve always got to keep working. Next time, I want to throw my breaking ball better for strikes. I was able to throw it, but very few were in the zone for good pitches. You’ve always got to get better.”
—Orioles pitcher Chris Tillman, who has allowed just five runs in his last four starts, spanning 28 total innings. Tillman now holds a 4.18 ERA on the year. (Dan Connolly, Baltimore Sun)

“I didn't think I had that good command. I didn't focus on that. I threw strikes, and it came out like that. That's probably the best strike-ball ratio I ever threw in my life.”
—Rays starter Erik Bedard, who threw 68 strikes of 87 total pitches on Saturday. (Marc Topkin, Tampa Bay Times)

“More than anything, probably just getting out of my zone, chasing the pitch they want me to chase. I’ve got to have overall better at-bats, and if they walk me, take the walk, let the next guy do it. A little bit over-eager when guys get on second base. Right now it's something I've got to mentally get past and realize it's just another at-bat… I'm just searching a little bit. I've been searching for a while. At some point, it's got to come around. It always does. But obviously it's late June. It's a battling time. You've got to keep battling. Whether things are going well with the team or not well, you have to keep working hard and trust that it's going to come around.”
—Rays second baseman Ben Zobrist, who is hitting .246 on the season. Zobrist has been a prominent subject of trade rumors over the last two weeks. (Marc Topkin, Tampa Bay Times)

“That’s a bizarre outing—you (give up no hits over four innings) and strike out nine, then they score all their runs off the home run in the next two. That’s a bizarre outing.”
—Blue Jays starter R.A. Dickey, who has allowed 13 home runs in his last 44 innings. (Mark Zwolinski, Toronto Star)

“I’ve been able to work out of some trouble this year that maybe in prior years I haven’t been so good at. I’ve been able to slow the game down a little bit better and recognize situations and understand when is the time to pound them with sinkers and when is the time to mix it up, especially with runners on base… In years past, I’ve fallen into the habit of throwing a lot of sinkers because that’s my best pitch and maybe not necessarily setting it up and going about it in the right way.”
—Tigers starter Rick Porcello, who has recalibrated his approach to situations with runners in scoring position. Porcello threw his first career shutout last week. (John Lowe, Detroit Free Press)

“I just have confidence in myself. A lot of people say I’m like C.J. Wilson or Derek Holland. I like to think I am. I’m a big fan of David Price, too. He’s a bulldog on the mound. That’s how I take it when I’m on the mound. Now, I’m not 6-4. I’m only 5-11. But I feel like I’ve got the stuff that’s good enough to pitch in the pros right now.”
—Royals first-round draft pick Brandon Finnegan, who will make his first professional start at Class A Wilmington in July. (Andy McCullough, Kansas City Star)

“I get that question a lot. I think a majority of that comes down to the fact that most catchers are wired to have their mind and eyes on multiple things, which can happen with other position players, but I don’t think it’s as common.”
—Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, when asked why many of today’s managers are former catchers. (Pete Grathoff, Kansas City Star)

“Obviously there's a lefty going, so I didn't really expect to play just because of that fact. But it's kind of something we've both been dealing with, having success and then not playing the next day. It's different, but it's what our roles are right now.”
—Brewers second baseman Scooter Gennett, on platooning with Rickie Weeks (Todd Rosiak, Journal-Sentinel)

"A guy came up and in on me throwing 95 or whatever and just dropped me. It knocked me out for five or 10 seconds. I got up and I had a huge knot on my head where it hit the rim of the helmet and the helmet bent in. Thank God it hit the helmet. It caused a hematoma on the outside of my skull, and I had to have surgery to close off a small artery in my temple that had been cut open and healed closed and created a big blood knot (on my forehead).”
—Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy, on being hit in the head with a pitch (Todd Rosiak, Journal-Sentinel)

“He’s a coach first and a player second. He’s here to help our young players make the transition from the minor leagues to the big leagues and to show them how hard he works, how well he works, which he does an unbelievable job.”
—Iowa Cubs manager Marty Pevey, on Manny Ramirez joining the Triple-A team as a player-coach (Steve Greenberg, Chicago Sun-Times

"There's a wide range of what he can do. It puts something in your head, he's a tough guy to go up there and sit on a pitch because you never know what you're going to get. He has a heck of a mix, he drops down, invents some stuff out there. He's fun to catch."
—Reds catcher Devin Mesoraco, on catching pitcher Alfredo Simon (C. Trent Rosecrans, Cincinnati Enquirer)

"His change is going to be important keeping those guys off his fastball. I thought he threw a lot of changeups his first start and they were really good for a young guy. The changeup is going to be huge for him. The slider is an out pitch. The key to him will be to be able to locate and throw that slider for strikes. He's going to have to do that to get deeper into games."
—Marlins manager Mike Redmond, on recently promoted pitcher Andrew Heaney (Juan C. Rodriguez, Sun Sentinel)

“I feel like trying to throw a true four-seamer and it's coming out more like a two-seamer. I'm not saying that it's got the two-seam rotations but it's got the movement of a two-seamer, so it's got too much left-to-right action. It's not really keeping the angle and not really pounding it down, and I think it's just something that I kind of focus in on mechanically to get back to hitting the spots a little bit better and not having it tail over the plate.”
—Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg, on improving his mechanics (Joe Popely, MLB.com)

"So he'll report, see how he feels. Again, nine innings his first time out last night. We have to look at how he feels today, but he can DH tonight... Three, five, seven, nine (innings) - he's progressing. We certainly want him back-to-back nines, whether it's mixing a day off in there or not. One nine-inning stint is not enough. So we'd have to go (nine innings) again at least. So that could be today, it could be tomorrow… I'm not going to share it just yet. But yeah, I do. I have a plan."
—Nationals manager Matt Williams, on Bryce Harper’s return from injury (Dan Kolko, MASN Sports)

“When you're that guy, it's hard to be realistic about doing away with something like that. You can make suggestions, especially after an injury. It's something we address frequently. I don't want to take away the backyard mentality of trying to make a play the best way they feel they can make it.”
—Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, on telling his players not to slide headfirst (Tom Singer, MLB.com)

"I just fight, fight, fight, trying to make contact. I stayed with my approach. Then when he throws the ball in the middle, I have to hit it. Yeah, I knew [it was gone]."
—Pirates prospect Gregory Polanco, on hitting a three run home run against the Mets at PNC Park (Tom Singer, MLB.com)

“He’s got an arm. It’s a little erratic. And late in the game [Friday], there were some situations where he didn’t know where he was at. We were telling him to play in [at shortstop] and he was backing up. That’s understandable. He’s been in A-ball. He’s got a lot to learn… We all saw where his talent is right [now], it’s his swing and his running. He was flying. Very talented young man. He’s just has to improve on his defense. He’s got the skills. He’s got the arm.”
—Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, on the potential of prospect Jorge Polanco, who was called up to the big-league level on Thursday. Polanco’s highest level of experience is High Class-A. (La Velle E. Neal III, Minneapolis Star Tribune)

“It doesn’t seem like he’s getting much better. I don’t think he’s comfortable with it. He can play if we get into an emergency situation. Unless that happens, he won’t play.”
—Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson, on shortstop Chris Owing’s shoulder injury. (Zach Buchanan, The Arizona Republic)

“I think we all look for the opportunity to pick the team up, look for a way to be positive.”
—Giants starter Tim Lincecum, who threw his second career no-hitter this past Wednesday. (Gabe Lacques, USA Today)

“It doesn’t really come into play except in the aftermath. It’s pretty cool. Those guys have done a lot for this game, and hopefully I can be in their shoes some day. It’s definitely something I savor.”
—Angels pitcher Matt Shoemaker, who beat out Yu Darvish this past week. He now has held his own against Darvish, Cliff Lee, David Price, James Shields, and Chris Sale this season. (Mike DiGiovanna, Los Angeles Times)

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
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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