PLAYOFF BASEBALL RETURNS TO PITTSBURGH ON TUESDAY
“It'll be electric. This city, its sports fans … they love their sports. They've had their Steelers and their Penguins, and have been waiting on their Pirates. And here we come … We wanted to make sure we're able to bring it back to Pittsburgh. One game. Now it's time to get it done.”
—Pirates outfielder Marlon Byrd on Tuesday’s Wild Card Game at PNC Park, the first playoff game in Pittsburgh since 1993. (Tom Singer, MLB.com)
“That's a long wait. Our focus is winning games and series, and we play for each other more than anything else. But we also play for the city and the fans. We knew how big this series was, for getting that one-game playoff back home.”
—Pirates second baseman Neil Walker, who grew up near Pittsburgh.
“The important part for me is getting these guys home and playing in a park where they won 50 games — and giving our fans a taste of postseason baseball. That's significant.”
—Pirates manager Clint Hurdle (Tom Singer, MLB.com)
“I can't imagine how loud and how rocking [PNC Park] is going to be when we host a playoff game. They deserve it. They've earned it. And we're working to do everything we can to make sure they get not only one but they get a number of series of home playoff games.”
—Pirates general manager Neal Huntington (Michael Sanserino, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
“I think it's huge. I know we're all excited to get it back to Pittsburgh, so we can play in front of our fans. We clinched in Chicago, and we haven't been back since. They can enjoy it with us … Hopefully it's not just one and done. Hopefully, it's a few more after that, and they can really have some fun.”
—Pirates relief pitcher Tony Watson
CLEVELAND HEADED BACK TO POSTSEASON
“How 'bout that? That's a pretty cool story. He deserves a lot of credit. I know Mickey [Callaway, the pitching coach] deserves a lot of credit but Ubaldo's the one who's had to do it. We're in a game where we need to win and we're thrilled he's pitching.”
—Indians manager Terry Francona, on Ubaldo Jimenez’s crucial late-season performance. (Mary Schmitt Boyer, Cleveland Plain Dealer)
“No one was talking about the scheduling when we were playing the Yankees, Boston and Detroit. If everybody feels that way, make it an even schedule. Let everybody play everybody the same amount of times so no one can complain about it.”
—First baseman Nick Swisher, on the perception that the Indians’ weak schedule down the stretch contributed to their playoff berth. (Paul Hoynes, Cleveland Plain Dealer)
“Tito and the coaching staff and the work they put in through the course of the season was instrumental in helping us get here… From Day One in spring training, we believed in the group of guys, and they've continued to demonstrate that resiliency. Every time we hit a tough stretch they came back and found a way to run off some wins. So it was really never a time we doubted the group.''
—General manager Chris Antonetti, on the expectations he set for the team upon hiring Terry Francona. (Boyer, Cleveland Plain Dealer)
“This is awesome. The team has trust in me. I'm just going to do my best there. This is just a little bit of what's going to happen. This is the beginning of a new era. This was the last game of the season and now we've got to keep going until the end.”
—Pitcher Danny Salazar, elated to be tabbed the team’s Wild Card starter. (Jordan Bastian, MLB.com)
“It's like a dream come true. It's like a personal moment, everything I went throughout last year, getting to pitch this game… I was really good. I was able to throw strikes, was able to compete. I felt really good. I wouldn't say the best [this year], but I got a lot of strikeouts. Everything was working — fastball, breaking ball. I was locating really good — away, inside. [Yan] Gomes was calling a great game.''
—Jimenez, on bouncing back from a rough 2012 campaign to help lead the team into the postseason.
HENDERSON ALVAREZ SPINS NO-HITTER
“This could be a good thing. Maybe this will be a wake-up call for our offense. Obviously we didn’t have everyone in there today but, hopefully, you can turn this into a positive… Congratulations to the kid (Alvarez). He did a terrific job.”
—Tigers manager Jim Leyland, on being no-hit by Miami Marlins pitcher Henderson Alvarez in the team’s last game of the season. (George Sippie, Detroit Free Press)
“He pitched really well today. Really it was all fastballs. He was throwing his two-seamer like 89 (miles per hour) and then he’d throw his four-seamer anywhere from 95 to 97. Pitched really effectively. Mixed in a slider and curveball here and there, but he hit his spots real well.”
—Outfielder Don Kelly, explaining Alvarez’s dominance. (Sippie, Detroit Free Press)
TROUT SHAPED BY JERSEY UPBRINGING
“My parents taught me to stay humble, don't be too cocky, and that's the way I've looked at it since Little League. Go out there and play hard and don't draw too much attention to yourself with your actions.”
—Angels outfielder Mike Trout. (Mike DiGiovanna, Los Angeles Times)
“Around his friends, he's the same guy he's always been. He likes to hunt, fish, golf. He'd prefer to do that than to hobnob at some Hollywood event.”
—Craig Landis, Trout’s agent.
“We had people coming to our door on Christmas Eve with things for Mike to sign. That was a little pushy.”
—Jeff Trout (Mike’s father), on the relentless requests that his son gets for autographs.
“There's a fine line between cocky and confident. He's confident but doesn't cross over and appear cocky at all. That's a credit to the [Angels] veterans over there and to his family, his upbringing.”
—Rangers reliever Joe Nathan.
“It can be a combination of dirt stains, grass stains, bloodstains — he'll blow out a knee or a butt cheek. He's in the top two or three for most-soiled every night. He's old-school.”
—Angels assistant equipment manager Shane Demmitt, on the daily state of Trout’s uniform.
“The Sistine Chapel.”
—Rays manager Joe Maddon, when asked to define Trout’s ceiling.
WEDGE CLEARS UP DECISION TO LEAVE MARINERS
“Let me be clear here, the contract was not the reason I’m not coming back here. If they offered me a 5-year contract, I wouldn’t have come back here. Okay. So let’s be clear on that.”
—Mariners manager Eric Wedge, who announced that he won’t return as the club’s skipper in 2014. Wedge addressed the media on Saturday after Friday’s coverage portrayed his decision to be based largely on the organization wanting Wedge to manage on a year-to-year basis. (Ryan Divish, Tacoma News Tribune)
“Where they see the club, they being Howard (Lincoln), Chuck (Armstrong) and Jack, and where I see the club and my vision of the future is just different. That’s as plain as I can make it.”
“It’s just about sticking with the kids you believe in, adding to it, being patient and sticking to the program. And having consistency. You have to have consistency of personnel. Every time you turn over, you start over again to a certain extent.”
“I was surprised. I was looking forward to having Eric back. But through his series of thought processes, he decided this wasn’t going to work. There was never a discussion of not bringing Eric back.”
—Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik. (Ryan Divish, Tacoma News Tribune)
Kawasaki, the #BlueJays new DH: "I am Little Papi."
— John Lott (@LottOnBaseball) September 26, 2013
—Blue Jays shortstop Munenori Kawasaki, after going 4-for-5 as the DH on Wednesday.
“It’s one of those things where man to a man, we all have to take accountability for what has happened. Nobody’s going to feel sorry for us, and it’s up to us as an organization to fix it.”
—Astros manager Bo Porter, whose club finished the season a major league-worst 51-111. (Jose de Jesus Ortiz, Houston Chronicle)
“I'm a little biased, but I think I have the best seat, catching the best pitcher in baseball.”
"Oh God, that's early. You play a night game, and it's not like you can go back to the hotel and pass out. You have to wind down. You don't get to bed until later, and you have an early wake-up call. It's tough, but there's going to be 18 guys that are doing it.”
—Angels outfielder Kole Calhoun, on the 11 a.m. start time of Saturday’s game against the Rangers. The game start was moved up due to forecast of heavy rain. (Mike DiGiovanna, Los Angeles Times)
“It's about time to start looking for a house. I'm trying to see what direction my career takes me. Do I want to buy a house out here or some other place?”
—Trout, who will likely return to New Jersey this offseason to live with his parents. The Angels renewed Trout’s contract for $510,000 this season and the two sides have yet to discuss a long-term deal. (Mike DiGiovanna, Los Angeles Times)
“I’d feel a lot of pressure if I got caught cheating on my girlfriend.”
—Rangers starting pitcher Yu Darvish, when asked prior to Sunday’s game whether there was any situation under which he would feel extra pressure. (Gerry Fraley, Dallas Morning News)
“It's a little hard, because I don't like only in my career being a DH. I have a lot of energy, so I don't like to just DH. I like to play defense. It's not happening at this moment. The manager needs me to DH and that's what I'm doing, because we're fighting for the playoffs.”
—Designated hitter Carlos Santana, on his transition from catcher to full-time DH. (Boyer, Cleveland Plain Dealer)
“Yeah, definitely. That was kind of, I guess, the beginning of my career in a lot of ways that year. And to have [the season] end darn near pretty close to the same time with a pretty dramatic injury, I just hurt for him. You don't want to see it happen to anybody, but when you see what kind of special player he is and special kid he is.”
—Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts, on the similarities of Manny Machado’s season-ending injury to the one Roberts suffered late in the 2005 season. (Dan Connolly, Baltimore Sun)
“It’s not a stretch to say we’re a better team with Nelson in the lineup. He served his sentence, 50 games without pay, he’ll be available to our club tomorrow.”
—Rangers general manager Joe Daniels, on the decision to reinstate outfielder Nelson Cruz in time for the team’s one-game playoff against the Rays. (Evan Grant, The Dallas Morning News)
“There was no way I could dream of a complete game. I just thought it would be me scuffling out there, and Joe would have to come and get me… That’s a good feeling. The last thing I wanted to do was be in here saying, ‘Man, I hung a slider! Game-tying home run! Can you believe this?’ and have to live the rest of my life with that one.”
—Yankees starter Andy Pettitte, after finishing his major league career with a complete game. (Mark Feinsand, New York Daily News)
“(Reliever Ryan Dempster) came out before he went to the bullpen and was just yelling that they lost, kidding around. Everybody was kind of watching, but you’re coming down and (starter Jon) Lester is going. We’ve been a team that takes care of our own business all year, so we hadn’t really paid attention.”
—Red Sox catcher David Ross, on securing the highest playoff seed in the American League. (Scott Lauber, Boston Herald)
“I think the Yankees have shown interest in Robbie Cano; I don’t think there’s any doubt about that. But with free agents and trades, it takes two to tango.”
—Yankees manager Joe Girardi, on upcoming contract negotiations between the team and current second baseman Robinson Cano, who is reportedly seeking a deal worth $305 million over ten years. (Mark Feinsand and Bill Madden, New York Daily News)