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April 14, 2008

The Week in Quotes

April 7-13

by Alex Carnevale

NO PETTY GRUDGE IS TOO SMALL FOR A TRUE STEINBRENNER

"The first thought was, you know, it's never a good thing to be buried in cement when you're in New York. But then we decided, why reward somebody who had really bad motives and was trying to do a really bad thing?"
--Yankees president Randy Levine, on a construction worker who buried a David Ortiz jersey under the concrete in new Yankee Stadium.

"I hope his co-workers kick the shit out of him."
--Yankees owner Hank Steinbrenner, on the construction worker who planted the evil t-shirt.

"Tell Hank he can come meet me if he wants to try-and tell him to bring [catcher Jorge] Posada, because he's the one Yankee I can't stand."
--construction worker Gino Castignoli

"It's typical Yankees. It's not like I snuck in there. It didn't do any structural damage. I didn't put anyone in harm's way."
--Castignoli

"Hopefully the Jimmy Fund will auction it off and we'll take the act that was a very, very bad act and turn it into something beautiful."
--Levine (ESPN.com), on the jersey that was removed from the concrete.

AROUND THE WORLD WITH A MID-EIGHTIES FASTBALL

"First of all, I was recognizable because I was one of only three players who was over six feet tall and not Asian. But my wife and I would be in the malls out there, which are usually six stories or so, and on every floor they'd stop us, and my wife would take pictures of people with me. And everywhere we'd go, you could hear them whispering my name."
--Mets starter Nelson Figueroa

"I finally had a chance to start in Philly, and I gave them eight quality starts out of 12. Then they sent me to the bullpen. And the questions start again."
--Figueroa

"I know my rap has been that I'm a quadruple-A pitcher. Well, I have had very limited opportunities to get the ball every fifth day and start."
--Figueroa

"All I hear about is lack of pitching, lack of pitching for teams. Maybe if I'd burned a bridge? But I have always done well by teams, put myself out there, appearing at schools, anything I can do."
--Figueroa, who pitched in Taiwan, Mexico, and on Long Island, among other places.

"I'm ready to go well past 100 pitches. I'd like to give the bullpen a rest. They've been worked hard this season. I'd like to give them eight and turn it over to Billy for the ninth."
--Figueroa. His family packed into Wagner's suite for Figueroa's first start with the Mets, in which he gave up two hits and two runs in six innings to beat Milwaukee. (Howard Megdal, New York Observer)

HE ALSO TOTALED HIS CAR...HE REALLY KNOWS HOW TO CREATE MEMORABILIA

"There's nothing wrong with that. He flipped the bubble gum thing over a little bit."
--Cubs manager Lou Piniella, on his fiery ace Carlos Zambrano, who went off during last Friday's game.

"I was a water cooler guy. I enjoyed [smashing] the water cooler more than the gum basket. I wasn't messy."
--Piniella

"The sad part about it is you look at these major league dugouts, and there are no more water coolers. Now you have to tussle with the Gatorade [jug]."
--Piniella

"I actually had to buy four or five of them. I used to have them sent to my house. If I paid for them, I wanted them in my garage. I got rid of them. I wish I had kept them. I'd be selling them on eBay."
--Piniella, on the water coolers he smashed.

"The concern that I had was that, when I got kicked out, the league basically discouraged me from theatrics. Here I was, doing a commercial with theatrics. I made sure it went to the league, and they approved it, and then I did it."
--Piniella

"I'm talking about the dirt, cap. The cap's OK, I think. I learned in New York from Billy [Martin] and from Mr. [George] Steinbrenner. Mr. Steinbrenner always used to tell me, 'Look, part of your job is to put fannies in the seat--when you get kicked out of a game, put on a show.' I guess the league doesn't like that, so we'll do away with it."
--Piniella (Carrie Muskat, MLB.com)

NEXT INNOVATION: BATTING THE PITCHER FIRST

"Of all the lineups I projected in my head, Jenks leading off was not one of them. That's why I love Charlie [Manuel]. When I stopped laughing, I thought, 'That might work. That might really work.'"
--Phillies outfielder Jayson Werth, on Geoff Jenkins as a lead-off hitter.

"I told him I had to have the green light. He said, 'Hey ... no.' They say you can see something in this game you've never seen. I just saw it. But hey, we have a glitch in the system right now. A few guys are banged up and we have to pick up the slack. That's what good teams do."
--Phillies outfielder Jenkins, on his conversation with Manuel.

"I'm Rickey Henderson."
--Jenkins (Ken Mandel, MLB.com)

ON BEHALF OF HIS FANTASY OWNERS I'M FEDEXING HIM $500,000 WORTH OF CORTISONE SHOTS

"He's just frustrated right now. He started getting outside the strike zone, which is something that he doesn't normally do. He showed a good sign tonight, last two at-bats, took some pitches that are outside the zone. When he's doing that, he's at his best. It doesn't matter who you are, if you're swinging at balls, you're not going to get hits."
--Red Sox hitting coach Dave Magadan, on the early slump of David Ortiz (.077/.250/.154).

"I think the biggest thing is just trying to get him to relax. As good a hitter as he is, you know, guys feel it. He understands his responsibility, he feels his responsibility probably more than anyone here. Sometimes he carries too much weight on his shoulders. When you ask about the walks, that's good. I think David's going through a period now where he feels like every pitch is a strike, he's getting down in the count, he sees a pitch and he fouls it. That's what part of going through a tough time is. He'll get untracked, make somebody pay for it."
--Red Sox manager Terry Francona

"I just think it's the right thing to do. He came in today with kind of a little bounce to his step, a little more light-hearted than he's been. He'll have a good work day and then he can take a little bit of a mental [day off]. I think it's gotten to the point where it's building, where he needed a break. That's the best way to put it. I think he woke up this morning knowing he wasn't going to play and he can go get his work done. It's never a lot of fun to not have his presence in the lineup, but I think it's the best thing to do."
--Francona, on sitting Ortiz for Sunday's win over the Yankees.

"That is kind of different. Obviously it just shows that even the greatest players are human some days."
--Yankees manager Joe Girardi, on Ortiz.

"David has been one of the best hitters in baseball for the last so many years and at the end of this year, I promise you, he'll be one of the best hitters in baseball this year. That's just who he is. He will be what he is when this is all said and done."
--Red Sox first baseman Sean Casey (Ian Browne, MLB.com)

NATE WILL FIND A WAY TO INCLUDE THIS IN PECOTA, MARK MY WORDS

"There's, like, three different ones from which I choose, but my main one is a mage."
--Astros right fielder Hunter Pence, on his avatar in the World of Warcraft computer game.

"I keep it on the low. I don't want to let anyone know that I'm smart. I don't think any of them know that I've made grades like that [laughs]. I want everyone in the baseball world to think that I don't know what I'm doing. It's kind of like my hidden trick that I know what's going on."
--Pence, on making the dean's list in junior college.

"Yeah. That's my hobby. The 'South Park' episode is really funny, actually, and that's the only thing most people know about it: 'Oh, you're a nerd in a basement.' But really, it's for the competitive edge in me. I always have to be competing. There are different things you can do in the game, but all of what I usually do is play with my brother [Howie]; it's a way for us to keep in communication. It's like, two versus two where we go and battle two other people. You put your team together and battle it out…you have to have your own character."
--Pence (David Brown, Yahoo! Sports)

BABY STEPS, O'S FANS, BABY STEPS

"Andy brought up some statistics at our organizational meetings last winter. Five of the eight teams in 2007's postseason were at the top of the chart in on-base percentage, in working the count and in pitches seen."
--Orioles manager Dave Trembley, on the new identity of his Orioles.

"We've tried to put an emphasis on that. Add situational hitting--making productive outs, moving runners, getting guys in from third base, being able to bunt, being about to hit-and-run, being able to hit with two strikes."
--Trembley

"Melvin Mora puts it best. He says, 'It's just like they tell you on the airplane. At first you have to put the mask on yourself and then help your children.'"
--Orioles president Andy MacPhail, on Mora's leadership. (Hal Bodley, MLB.com)

IS HE ANGLING FOR THE KNICKS JOB?

"I read an article by [basketball's] Larry Brown and he said he wanted to come back and coach again because he didn't want to end his coaching career on such a bad note and in last place. I understood exactly where he was coming from."
--Reds manager Dusty Baker, on his return to managing this season.

"I even asked [for a one-year deal]. No problem, just give me one more shot. … But that's OK. I have one now."
--Baker

"I want it even more now than I wanted it before. It's just that I'm trying not to have it be 100 percent of my life...A lot of times your work becomes 90 percent of your life and then you neglect family and your health and then when that's gone, you have a tremendous void in your life. … I'm not going to say it's not important, but it's not everything."
--Baker

"I hate losing. Here I was trying to figure out a way to get us on the winning track and it seemed like quicksand, where it got worse and worse and then it affects your sleep pattern, your health, you're irritable. It worsened because we were losing. We finished last. That's not me. But sometimes things are out of your control and acceptance is probably the hardest thing in life."
--Baker (Melissa Isaacson, Chicago Tribune)

WHEN THE OFFICIAL SCORER CALLS OUT AN ERROR, THE MANAGER PUTS HIS FINGERS IN HIS EARS

"I think we are one of the best-fielding teams in the American League. We're just not doing it right now."
--Mariners manager John McLaren, on his team's defensive ability.

"Defense is a big part of our game and we've been really sloppy. It's something we take pride in and we have to do a better job."
--McLaren

"When you give anybody free outs, they take advantage of it. We're better than this. We have too many good gloves out there to be struggling like this."
--McLaren

"That was the key. The only thing I have to worry about is making quality pitches because I know I have a great defense behind me."
--Mariners starter Carlos Silva

"When it's your strength and it works as your weakness, it's not good."
--McLaren

"We were hoping that the medication would kick in like it did [before his previous start]. It has kicked in, but he still feels it a little bit. We're going to play it on the safe side."
--McLaren, on ace Erik Bedard, who is limited by a hip injury. (Bob Sherwin, MLB.com)

"WHEN A MANAGER HATES AN UMPIRE/SPEND EVERY LAST DIME"

"I asked where the pitch was. He said, 'I don't want to hear any more.' That's the first thing I said to him. It's not professional."
--White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, on his hate-hate relationship with umpire Phil Cuzzi.

"It may be personal to him, but I'm just doing my job. It's as simple as that. The pitches he complained about, they were good pitches. The ones I called balls weren't. It's as simple as that. He may have it in his mind, but I don't."
--Cuzzi

"It doesn't bother me in the sense that, if that's what he decides he's going to do, that's his business. I'm just doing my job. He had nothing to complain about. The tape will prove that.''
--Cuzzi

"Put it this way, as soon as I know he's going to be behind the plate, I know I'm going to get ejected? You can ask my bench coach. As soon as [I see Cuzzi], I say, 'You're going to handle this game today because I know I'm going to be ejected because that's how I feel about that situation.'"
--Guillen

"I got fined a lot of money. That's all I can say. A lot of money. I was supposed to buy some land in Venezuela. Now I have to [wait]."
--Guillen, on the penalties for his conflict with Cuzzi.

"I don't like him. He doesn't like me, I don't like him. I didn't like him the first day I saw him. And I think he feels the same way about me. Every time he's behind the plate we might have a problem. I gave them my ideas and my opinion, so hopefully in the future stuff gets better."
--Guillen (Joe Cowley, Chicago Sun-Times)

THE REST

"You can't take a one-year player or two-year player and make him a five-year player. You've got to go through some growing pains with him. He's a big-time player just waiting to happen. Usually with guys that are talented like him, with a swing like that, it happens a little quicker than it does for other people."
--Tigers manager Jim Leyland, on Alex Gordon. (Gerry Fraley, The Sporting News)

"It felt great. It's nice to do something well at home. (Fans) want me to be good. I've never had a beef with them. I think they like me as a guy, and when I do well, they're going to cheer."
--Mariners first baseman Richie Sexson (Ryan Divish, The News Tribune)

"I think when it does happen, Trevor will know. He's got too much pride. He'll know probably before we know. He's not going to hang on just to hang on. He cares too much for his teammates to do that."
--Padres general manager Kevin Towers, on the end of the line for closer Trevor Hoffman. (Jon Heyman, SI.com)

"There wasn't one person that said a little fly ball in right-center was gone, and every fly ball in left and in right down the line were gone. They did all the wind studies. Every single one was wrong."
--former Reds general manager Jim Bowden, on the Great American Ballpark. (Gerry Fraley, The Sporting News)

"I don't think there's anybody in this clubhouse that hasn't gotten booed yet. That's kind of your rite of passage. If you get booed, you know you're doing something right in the game."
--Mets third baseman David Wright, on Johan Santana getting booed in his Shea Stadium debut. (Anthony Dicomo, MLB.com)

"We feel we can get what we need this way,"
--Pirates general manager Neal Huntington, on scaling back his advance scouting and relying more on video. (Dejan Kovacevic, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

"We're playing hard. We're playing good baseball. Are we getting every clutch hit we need? No. Are we getting the quality starts maybe we need to win? No. But we're still playing decent baseball out there. The guys are playing hard, working hard, giving me the effort."
--Nats manager Manny Acta, on his recipe for success. (Howard Fendrich, Yahoo! Sports)

--

Alex Carnevale is a contributor to Baseball Prospectus.

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