PostCards: Mike Matheny talks before World Series Game 3


St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny spoke to the media before World Series Game 3 against the Boston Red Sox.
Oct 25, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny (22) talks with the media during a press conference a day before game three of the World Series against the Boston Red Sox at Busch Stadium. Image Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Q. Just curious with all the real young pitchers that you have coming through and pitching right now, I’m wondering if you think Joe gets lost in the shuffle, especially with the strikeouts down, especially compared to some of your other guys?

MIKE MATHENY: Maybe outside of this clubhouse, but I know on this team we realize how important it was that Joe stepped up when he did and became one of our top pitchers. We needed somebody to come in and start and fill a void for us, and Joe was as good as anybody in the league for a good stretch of time.

And right when we were really pushing, we did need one of the young guys to take control of it and Joe did a great job for us. Not undervalued with us.

Q. At this stage of October which of your relievers are stretched out enough still that they could give you multiple innings in the middle of the game, should you need that?

MIKE MATHENY: I think we have multiple pitchers that can throw multiple innings. We saw that with Carlos Martinez in Game 2 and I think right down the line.

Right now, these guys can all‑‑ they’ve had enough rest, they’re all able to do whatever we need them to do.

Q. You place a lot of value in maintaining an even keel. Does that become more difficult when there’s so much weight and significance attached to each one of these games?

MIKE MATHENY: No, I think that’s part of the trap. I think guys who have been able to be here and have had success at this level, you talk to them about what consistently was their approach, and you find out that to be able to put those things aside is really the key and to just play the game. There shouldn’t be more weight. If you can control your thought process and control really what you’re trying to do at that particular time, which is either make a pitch or take an at‑bat or prepare for a pitch defensively.

When things start creeping into your head about the weight of the situation, it’s usually a distraction that’s going to take you away from being as effective as you can. So that’s why we’ve tried to be so consistent with our approach.

There’s not one series that’s bigger than another in the season because we’re preparing these guys for now. And this is a big series, and everybody knows it, but the more that you focus on that, the less you focus on what you need to do right at the time. And I think that’s the beauty of what these guys have been able to do.

Q. Looking back at your playing career I’m wondering where getting an opportunity to play in the postseason and World Series how it ranks with you?

MIKE MATHENY: No question, very important that I was able to experience firsthand what it was like, and then trying to put some of these different philosophies into place, and hearing from some of the guys who have been here and have succeeded, and hear some of the secrets to their success. I think it is very valuable as we move on and trying to pass on to this next group of players.

But it was on the list, no question. You play in this game, I think you go through different things. You just can’t wait to get to the big leagues. First of all, to play professionally, you’re among a very small group. And then being able to get to the big leagues is something you dream about since the first time you picked up a wiffle ball bat. And then once you get here, you realize this is a pretty good gig. But it’s all about winning, and then it’s how to be part of a winning team and be a player that can be part of the postseason. And once you get here, there’s not another thing that’s acceptable.

Q. Managers in the past have talked about the need to manage more aggressively in the postseason, look for a spot for the pinch‑hitter earlier, go to a reliever more aggressively, leave him in longer. What’s your philosophy on that?

MIKE MATHENY: I think if we’re trying to preach consistency with our club, they also need to see some consistency with what we do. But urgency is obvious. You only have so many opportunities to make something happen here. To us it’s a case‑by‑case situation. We watch our starting pitching and see, is this our best opportunity to leave them in right now? And same way with our relievers. I don’t think there’s a game plan that we map out ahead of time regardless of how they’re throwing. If they’re throwing the ball well, we’ll stick with them. If we like the matchups, if we like what we see how the ball is coming out of their hand, the at‑bats the guys are taking or the way they’re playing defense, we’re gonna stick with them. And if not, we’ll have to make changes, and they get that.

We have ideas of what we’ll do in certain situations, but to have it preplanned, I think you’re taking away from using the instincts that we have, and using the strengths that these guys have as players.

Q. Talk a little bit about Allen Craig. Was this a strong consideration to have him in there? And how difficult it is for you not to have him in there?

MIKE MATHENY: We’re pretty happy with the guy we have out there; Matt Adams has done a terrific job. Extremely happy that Allen Craig has been able to be added to our roster this round. And I know he’s worked hard to be a part of this team, which he should be. He’s such a big part of us being here to begin with.

As far as being able to throw him out there defensively, it’s a process, and he took some more ground balls. He feels good and made a stride forward today. That may end up happening, but right now the timing, we just can’t do it yet, as far as a start goes. But not to say we can’t insert him into the game defensively later on.

We have his bat off the bench, we have the ability to bring him in if we need to. But we’ll just see how the next couple of days go.

Q. Now that interleague has been stretched out over the course of the length of the season not just one part of it, has that made you more familiar with managing and playing that way? When you get to the World Series do you think it makes sense to play by two different rules during the course of seven games or does it not really make a difference?

MIKE MATHENY: Fortunately for us, I think there’s probably more of an adjustment for the American League team coming into the National League than vice versa. There’s a lot more moving parts with double‑switches and trying to put your roster together. But fortunately, we went into an American League city kind of with an American League roster, with having another guy we knew we wanted to have as part of our lineup. So that worked out pretty well.

As far as preference, we don’t spend a lot of time there, because this is what we do. And it’s a challenge to put your roster together for an American League city, but when we get back home, our club is designed for a National League‑style play. And hopefully that goes into play during these next three games.

Q. You mentioned the need for consistency from the regular season through the pressure cooker that is the World Series. We noticed the synchronized stretch in the bullpen during the game, something about Trevor mocking John, and then it stayed. Camaraderie like that, how big is that to carry the team through tough seasons?

MIKE MATHENY: I think it’s the personality of our guys. We encourage them to have fun. This is a game, even though it’s a business. But they’ve done a nice mix. We talked about this yesterday, kind of talking about Joe Kelly and Adam Wainwright, guys who aren’t afraid to go out and laugh. They need that. It’s a long season. You have to realize we reported early in February, and we’ve been going every day ever since. If guys aren’t able to be themselves, if we don’t create an atmosphere where they can have fun, it’s going to beat them down.

So we encourage it. The good part about that is there’s balance. These guys know when to turn it off and they know when to turn on the competitor, which each of them has, and all the guys we talked about, there’s no question that they’re ready to compete. So to have some fun in the meanwhile is a good thing for our club.

Q. Can you describe Joe Kelly’s attitude and mentality heading into this game?

MIKE MATHENY: Joe’s a pretty consistent guy. He’s intense, just like we talked about here just a second ago, he’s not afraid to have some fun. He does understand what he needs to do to prepare. And each guy does it differently. His attitude, he feels that he can go out there and give us a chance every time he hits the mound. He’s got a great deal of confidence and he should, because he’s got the stuff to back it.

But he prepares well, and he competes well. Right now it’s just a matter of him trusting what he’s done all season long. And that guy who we watched for a long period of time towards the end of the season is the guy he can be and the guy we need him to be.

Q. In the American League they very rarely double‑switch. How far in advance are you thinking of potential moves?

MIKE MATHENY: Well, we’re really trying to predict what we can do. There’s a few moves that we can make, and have made throughout the season to either help us defensively or give us an offensive boost. The guys are prepared. Our players have done a real nice job from early on in the game being ready for a double‑switch, knowing that’s a possibility we have.

So they’ve done a great job of preparing, it’s just a matter of whether the situation presents itself. But we think about those moves before we even go out there, and understand that the game is really going to dictate whether it comes to it or not.

Q. Lance Lynn has such a long postseason résumé, it’s easy to forget he’s 26 years old. Is he still an evolving pitcher for you? And in what areas do you feel he’s still evolving in?

MIKE MATHENY: I think he’s one of the guys that gets overlooked, as we start talking about the youth of the staff. Lance is a guy that won 18 games for us last season and has done well in the postseason. And he does carry himself like a guy that’s been around a while. But I believe he’s still a young pitcher and still learning, still adapting, a lot like we talked about Joe Kelly.

I believe earlier this season Joe and Lance were kind of fighting, “what kind of pitcher am I?” That sounds odd for a pitcher in the big leagues. Once they get here, they can fight with a guy that can be a power pitcher. Am I going to be able to pitch for contact and be more efficient?

So these are things that they’re still sorting through, because both of them have the ability to throw with high velocity. So I think a lot of it is a day‑to‑day adjustment, but overall just getting their philosophies together. But Lance, a lot like Joe, an intense competitor. And a guy who loves being on that big stage, and the opportunity to do something big for his club. We saw that Lance was fighting his way through September and we got into a heated spot, and all of a sudden he turned it up another level and got some big starts for us. So we’re anxious to watch him come out and do what he’s been doing.