St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Joe Kelly, who will start Game 3, addressed the media this afternoon during an off day of the 2013 World Series against the Boston Red Sox.
Q. Can you talk about whatever differences you see in pitching in the postseason from the regular season. And do you think that’s amped up a little more for a World Series start?
JOE KELLY: I think the main difference is the crowd, the fans. The regular season we pack the house well, but in the postseason every strike is huge. Every out is huge. Every hit we get is big, even if we don’t score. I think that’s probably the main difference is just the excitement and the atmosphere that’s going on in the stadium.
I don’t think anything is different while pitching. You don’t want to change, obviously. But I wouldn’t say there’s anything different from you throwing a fastball to a team during the regular season, and you throwing a fastball to a team during the postseason.
Q. Other than the obvious fact that you guys are a great team, why do you think you’re so tremendous at home, especially the last month or so? And accordingly, could you talk about the confidence level when you are playing at home?
JOE KELLY: Well, we love playing here at Busch Stadium. Like I said, it’s a sea of red, and our fans are so great. They come out here and support us throughout the whole entire year. And to go to the postseason, we kind of do it for them, too. These guys, they’re just the best.
And it’s fun when we play here. It’s home. You get to sleep in your own bed. You get to do what you normally do on a regular basis. If you get coffee in the morning, you go to your coffee shop. It’s just a comfort level to know that it’s your home away from your offseason home.
Q. Carlos Beltran when he was injured two nights ago and we asked some of your teammates about his status. Their eyes light up. You can tell they’re really fond of him. I know his career, the Game 7 close calls going to the World Series. When it comes to his impact on the team, has he become a spiritual leader on this team?
JOE KELLY: Yeah, he has. It’s funny to say “spiritual leader”, very religious guy. Very, very good human being. There’s not one person in the clubhouse, position players and pitchers that don’t look up to him. When we saw him go down like that, we knew he was going to try to do whatever he could to get back in the next game.
Just hanging around him, all the wisdom he has, he even talks to the pitchers if he sees something wrong, “Hey, your mechanics are a little off.” There’s no boundary that ‑‑ he can cross any kind of boundary. It’s awesome when you’ve had a guy that has played the game so long at a high level to come up to me as a pitcher, and be like, “Hey, man, have you seen that hitter’s swing? I think you should throw him a curveball next at‑bat.” Just stuff like that.
As a spiritual guy, he’s got very, very good words of wisdom. Some day after the game he might be a manager. I think he’d be very, very, very good at that.
Q. How much of an advantage do you think it gives you guys here without the DH, the fact that they have to pick between Ortiz and Napoli? And you personally, are you happy that you only have to face one of them?
JOE KELLY: They’re very, very good hitters. Yeah, I mean, it’s the National League and the pitcher is going to hit. So one of those guys is going to be up. But every single hitter in this lineup is very, very dangerous, from top to bottom. I don’t know how well their pitchers hit, but you obviously can’t take anybody lightly.
So I wouldn’t say I’m happy that one of them is not going to be in the lineup, but it’s definitely ‑‑ probably takes a little bit off their very, very powerful lineup, just power‑wise.
Q. When you’re thinking about making a start of this magnitude, what do you do to kind of keep it in a useful perspective, so it doesn’t get too gigantic?
JOE KELLY: To tell you the truth, I don’t really like to lock in and focus on my start until the day of. Like the night before, I usually stay up playing video games all night, competitive gaming, more Call of Duty. But like you said, you don’t want to put too much emphasis and just mentally drain yourself of thinking, man, this is a huge start, and you have to go out there and perform. That’s not the way to go about it, as I would take it.
But, yeah, game day comes around, I’m definitely going to be locked in and ready to go.
Q. By the time you take the mound tomorrow you’ll have had a fairly extended layoff. Pitchers are often built around routine, but you had infrequent usage early this season. How much can that help as you kind of deal with the length of time between starts?
JOE KELLY: Yeah, the length of time, there’s been more than once that I can remember that I’ve had a very, very long layoff, and I came out and still did my job. It’s something that I don’t think. It’s something that people bring to my attention. It’s not like I’m going, wow, I haven’t toed the rubber in a while. I feel kind of rusty. That never goes through my head. I’ve been 13 days and 15 days this year without ever seeing the mound and went out and threw five or six innings and did my best. It’s just something I’m going to go out and not worry about it and try to make pitches and focus on what my job is that day.
Q. I wondered, has baseball always been your sport of choice or have you competed in other sports very much? And I also wonder if you play a musical instrument?
JOE KELLY: I’m horrible with musical instruments. Can’t sing and I can’t play an instrument. But I played basketball and football. Nobody ever drinks these (referring to bottled drinks) by the way (laughter).
I played basketball and football growing up. I didn’t play them in high school, but I did play different sports when I was younger.
Q. Yadi is one of the finalists for a Gold Glove announced today. Can you share one little tidbit where Yadi made a specific difference in the way you were pitching or going about things out on the mound?
JOE KELLY: Yeah, I saw that, too. Adam Wainwright, that’s awesome, too. Yeah, I saw that.
I don’t want to give away any scouting reports, but I’m usually a little bit slower than most pitchers to the plate. And to have a guy like that, he shuts down the running game. Sometimes if I want to be a little slow around the plate, and also he notices if I’m being slow. He’ll tell me, “Hey, man, give me a chance. These guys might steal on you. You’re a little slow to the plate. Try to speed it up.”
He notices every little thing. It’s great when you know that, like I said, you could throw a bounce curveball and he still has a chance of throwing a guy out. It’s awesome and we’re extremely happy for him.
Q. Word is that you can windmill dunk a basketball from standing right underneath the hoop, true or false? And can you tell us about your dunking abilities and any of your other assorted athletic abilities that you have high achievements in?
JOE KELLY: The windmill standing underneath is false, but I can definitely dunk from standing underneath by jumping straight up. I don’t want to talk about dunking abilities, and that’s probably not good. And I don’t think the GM wants to hear that. I don’t play basketball in the offseason, but, yes, I can dunk a basketball from very different parts of the court.
Q. Given Wacha’s performance in Game 2, do you feel any added pressure coming into Game 3 or how does that affect you overall?
JOE KELLY: I think it’s great. If you’ve seen our staff this whole entire year, we’ve been pushing each other from the very get‑go, and ever since I entered myself back into the staff. We watch each other bullpens, we push each other in the weight room. We compete. We want who’s faster, who jumps higher. Everything is a competition. To see Michael Wacha go out and do that, it’s almost like what we’ve been doing the whole year; I want to go out there and either outperform him or do just as well.
When we push each other like that, it’s very fun to see, and we’re extremely happy that the starter for us or the starter after us is like, hey, man, I set the bar, let’s see what you can do. It’s a little game we play with each other.
Q. That video game, is that something you’ve been doing a long time before the start? What do you get out of that?
JOE KELLY: Just relaxes me. It helps me not to think about anything else except for going out and competing. And I like to play competitive gaming, so actual matches and play with other professional players that I’ve met off Twitter and stuff like it that. It’s dating back to all the way since the original Halo. I don’t know if you know much about that. I’m more a first‑person shooter guy. It’s another way that I can get out there and just relax and compete at a different level. It’s just something that I’ve been doing for a while and it’s fun for me.