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September 30, 2014

The Week in Quotes

September 22-29

by Nick Bacarella, Chris Mosch and Nick Wheatley-Schaller

JORDAN ZIMMERMANN PITCHES FIRST NO-HITTER IN NATIONALS HISTORY

"He saved me. All those guys behind me today, the fifth inning I had three rockets off the bat and right at guys. That's when I knew it might be something special happening. I don't think anyone in the stadium expected Souza to get to that and somehow he turned it up another gear and got there."
Nationals pitcher Jordan Zimmermann, on the great plays made by his defense to preserve his no-hitter, including an incredible catch by rookie outfielder Steven Souza Jr. (Byron Kerr, MASN Sports)

"Even when I first got called up I thought there was no way this would happen. My career numbers are like one hit per inning so I figured if I can make it out of the first a hit is coming in the second. Today was one of those special days. Actually, I was joking with Jerry Blevins today and I said, 'Well, if I go nine innings I'm going to be pretty mad stuck on 199 2/3.’ But I guess I'm pretty happy."
—Zimmermann, on having never expected to pitch a no-hitter (Byron Kerr, MASN Sports)

"We hit some balls hard today, but they just found some people. That's what you need to have a no-hitter happen. He's a great pitcher, with great stuff. You combine that with getting some balls hit at some people, and it has a chance to be a special day. Credit him for making those pitches at the end. That's tough to do, and he did it."
—Marlins outfielder Christain Yelich, on Zimmermann’s performance (Joe Frisaro, MLB.com)

DEREK JETER BIDS FAREWELL

“It's just another game. I'm trying not to think about it. We still have a week left, so we're trying to win games. I'm going to go out there and play hard like I've always done my entire career until we're outta here. Can't help but think about it because you guys ask about it every day and I hear it from the fans, players, managers, coaches, but when we're playing the games, I'm trying to help us win… Obviously, this year up until this point hasn't turned out how I would like it to, but you've got to keep fighting, you've got to keep battling, and regardless of how you've done, you get to come to the field and have a chance to help the team win.”
Derek Jeter, who closed his career at Yankee Stadium with a walk-off single against the Orioles. (Anthony Rieber, Newsday)

“That's why you never plan too much.”
—Yankees manager Joe Girardi, who had originally planned for Jeter to finish Thursday night’s game against the Orioles, take a ceremonial walk around the field, and leave the field accompanied by several of his former teammates. (Brendan Kuty, NJ.com)

“I knew that was my last at-bat. I was trying to get a hit. I was just happy I ended my career with a hit . . . I gave everything I had physically and everything I had mentally. Now it’s time to step back.’’
—Jeter, who chopped an infield single in his final career at-bat at Fenway Park on Sunday. (Dan Shaughnessy, Boston Globe)

“I’m not even tired, and I haven’t slept in 28 hours. There’s just something about being here. I’m hurting for money right now, but I love history, and this is history. You have to take advantage of a chance like this. To see Derek Jeter play his last game, you can’t put a price on that.”
—Geoff Blankenship, a current senior at the University of West Virginia, on making the trip to Boston to watch Jeter’s final game. (Wayne Coffey, New York Daily News)

"There isn't a thing that I would change. It's easy to say, 'Yeah, I would change; we'd be in the playoffs' or 'I would change that we'd have won more championships.' But I wouldn't change it because this is what I wanted to do.”
—Jeter. (Maureen Mullen, USA Today)

ROYALS BREAK PLAYOFF DROUGHT

“It will be nuts, absolutely nuts. People have been waiting a long time for this day… Now, we're giving them something to cheer about. Hopefully, this is just the beginning.”
—Royals outfielder Alex Gordon, on the euphoria of bringing playoff baseball back to Kansas City. (Bob Nightengale, USA Today)

"People are going crazy here,'' Royals outfielder Jarrod Dyson says. "I've never been a part of anything like this. They've been waiting a long time to party.''
—Royals outfielder Jarrod Dyson. (Bob Nightengale, USA Today)

“It's nice to see the city not embarrassed about the baseball team anymore. There are a lot of long-suffering fans here, so people went pretty crazy all over the city Friday when they clinched. Really, the place exploded … The younger generation was into it a lot more than I thought they would be, but they probably listened to their parents complain about the team for so long, they had pent-up frustration too.”
—Former Royals outfielder Brian, McRae, whose father played for the last Royals team to make the playoffs. (Bob Nightengale, USA Today)

“Really, that's what you're looking for, that's what you dream of, winning that game in front of your own fans. Any clinch is great, like it was in Chicago, but you don't dream about that. You grow up as a kid dreaming of winning at home, with every seat filled, getting that adrenaline kick.”
—Royals designated hitter Billy Butler. (Bob Nightengale, USA Today)

PAUL KONERKO CLOSES DOOR ON ILLUSTRIOUS CAREER

“I haven’t swung the bat well for me since probably 2011. Even 2012, when I got off well in the beginning, that wasn’t the way I swing the bat … But you gotta be good, you gotta have your act together, and it was a gentle reminder that you don’t always get what you want.
—White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko, who finishes his career with a .279 batting average and 439 home runs. (Daryl Van Schouwen, Chicago Sun-Times)

“How could it not be retired? Of course it will be retired.”
—White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, declaring that Konerko’s number 14 will be retired. (Toni Ginnetti, Chicago Sun-Times)

“I saw people crying out there. That’s crazy, just because I play a game. But I get it. It’s something you do for closure for them as well.’’
—Konerko. (Daryl Van Schouwen, Chicago Sun-Times)

“Oh, he’s worthy of a statue.”
—Reinsdorf. (Toni Ginnetti, Chicago Sun-Times)

“It was my time. I walk away with no what-ifs.’’
—Konerko. (Daryl Van Schouwen, Chicago Sun-Times)

TWITTER

Everyone looooooves a walkoff.

THE REST

“Kind of hung in there and was able to put enough on it to find the gap, and [third-base coach Gary Jones] said he threw up the stop sign, but I was just kind of happy to be running the bases, honestly. That was an exciting point in the game.”
Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta, on hitting a triple in his last game of the year (Brian Sandalow, Chicago Sun-Times)

"That's Pirates baseball. We don't go away. Gritty, hard ... frustrating at times. At the low points, we talked about how much sweeter it will be at the finish. And it is."
Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole, on clinching a playoff birth with a comeback 3-2 win over the Braves (Tom Singer, MLB.com)

“I don’t think there is anything that I can just come up with that I need to do better. There are things, without a doubt, but they’re little things here and there that you listen and you think about, that maybe you can do better. But when we’re thinking about trying to figure out what happened in the season in the end, we’ve talked about everything, and I can’t give an answer on what happened. Like I told you guys yesterday, you can point to what happened, but the ‘why’ is what we really need to figure out.”
—Brewers manager Ron Roenicke, on his team’s late season collapse and what he could have done better (Tom Haudricourt, Journal Sentinel)

"I try not to think about hitting doubles. It's like trying to hit homers. When you try to do it, it's not going to happen. You've got to go up there and try to hit the ball hard. I can't do that; I'm not good enough. I have to react and try to hit the ball hard. It just worked out."
—Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy, on tying the franchise record for doubles with his 53rd of the year (Tom Haudricourt, Journal Sentinel)

"I have 107 pitches, there's a man on third. I mean, I don't understand why he trots me out. At the same time, I'm really happy and I'm happy he's confident in me and I went on to get my lead. That's what I don't understan —he could have brought in a pinch hitter, but he believed in me."
—Reds pitcher Johnny Cueto, on being sent out to hit in the eighth inning in a 1-1 game with a runner on third base. Cueto hit a go-ahead single that allowed him to win his 20th game of the year (C. Trent Rosecrans, Cincinnati Enquirer)

"Special, special. The way I wanted to end it -- on the field. Thanks to all the fans for the ovation over there and my teammates, they're a part of that. It was nice. I don't think it could be better than that."
—Mets outfielder Bobby Abreu, on receiving a standing ovation from the Citi Field crowd following his final major league hit. Abreu announced on Friday that he will be retiring (Tim Healy, MLB.com)

"It was quite funny after the fact. I'm actually glad I didn't see it while they were doing it because I might have laughed myself out there on the mound."
—Braves closer Craig Kimbrel, on Phillies fans behind home plate mocking his pre-delivery stance (Mark Bowman, MLB.com)

“It’s a different feeling. I don’t like it. Hopefully we don’t get very many more years like this. … It’s the worst feeling in the world and it will be on Sunday. You kind of prepare yourself because Sunday is the last day and no matter how we are going—losing or winning five in a row—you’ve always got tomorrow. On Sunday, there is no more tomorrow. That’s all we got. For me, that takes a little while to get past that.”
—Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez, on being eliminated from the playoffs (Chris Vivlamore, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

“Everybody knows that I came in riding the coattails of what these guys did for five months. They did the work. But it feels great to have contributed some and finally to have gotten to October. That's a big weight off my shoulders.”
—A’s designated hitter Adam Dunn, who will make his first career postseason appearance on Tuesday. Dunn had the longest active playoff drought of any major-league player at 2,001 games. (John Hickey, San Jose Mercury News)

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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