PostCards: Mike Matheny talks before World Series Game 6


St. Louis Cardinals manager Mike Matheny spoke to the media before World Series Game 6 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. You guys have had a lot of success using young starters from the minors and putting them in the bullpen, like Martinez, Rosenthal, Kelly before. How difficult a trick is that? And can you share some thoughts on the long‑range plans for guys like Martinez and Rosenthal?

MIKE MATHENY: Well, really it normally comes down to a need we have, where we’ve had somebody going down, and see who is the next guy throwing the ball well. It’s often times one of the guys in the Minor League system. And we give them a shot, and usually try to put them in situations where they can have some success, and fortunately we’ve had quite a few that have been able to answer the bell.

As far as long‑term plan, we plan on giving these guys a lot of opportunities. Some of them really want to start. They’ve proven that they can start. We’ll spend time this winter evaluating where we are as a club, where we think that they can be individually, and how they can help us moving forward. But we’re not afraid to stretch them out, like we did Trevor Rosenthal this past spring. We told him to be ready to start. We’ll make adjustments as we need what’s best for our team.

Q. We heard you didn’t get in until 11 p.m. local, and you were on the one way for seven hours. Is that something that can affect the performance of your players today? And for you personally, how frustrating was it for you to be on that plane for so long?

MIKE MATHENY: First of all, I can’t tell you how impressed I was with how everybody handled it. We travel a lot, so you kind of anticipate that everything is going to go smooth and it has all season. And you get to this time of year, and things kind of went in a different direction.

But it was amazing how the guys handled that long of a time, especially as we had lots of family, lots of kids. Impressive, to be honest with you. I didn’t hear any complaining at all. Normally guys are, even if they’re just in jest, they’re still throwing some things out there, but we didn’t hear anything. But guys did what they do. They hung out with their families. They hung out with each other. There was a lot of fooling around going on. Guys were making the best of a situation they knew we didn’t have any control over.

How that affects us? I don’t think it really does. We’ve been resilient, but you take what comes and we adjust and get ready for the next day.

Q. Can you talk about the development that you’ve seen from Yadier since the first moment you saw him in Spring Training a decade ago and the responsibility he has now with the pitching staff?

MIKE MATHENY: Yadi is special, there’s no question. And I could see it the first time I saw him. And I knew that obviously he had some pretty impressive bloodlines with what his brothers had been able to do even at that point. But he just had a drive. And what he’s done is he’s been determined and has worked hard to try and figure if there’s any part of his game that could be improved on. He’s motivated to improve on it. And he continues to do so.

I’ve said how important that is for our club as a whole to have this culture of some of your best players are some of your most driven players. And Yadi and you throw a couple others, like Adam Wainwright and Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday who aren’t complacent with any part of their game. They want to see how they can get better. And that’s what Yadi does. And whether it’s working with the staff, whether it’s mechanical things that he needs to do with his position, he’s always pushing. And it makes our whole club better.

Q. Going back to the plane for a minute. Can you share a specific anecdote or example that made you feel good how the guys were handling it?

MIKE MATHENY: I think it was what was not said and what they didn’t do. There’ve been situations, I think we’ve all been there, and you put a normal group of people on a plane and leave them on the tarmac that long, you’re going to hear people barking and complaining. And especially when you have a group of people around the people they work around every day. It’s just a freedom to kind of let yourself be heard. And we didn’t have one incident of it. And to have that many kids on the plane and not hear screaming and craziness going on. We had the whole gamut from newborns to toddlers to older kids.

Obviously there’s been some good parenting going on, as well. But the guys set a great example of how you handle a situation that’s not exactly what you asked for. But also we were in a situation where we knew we’d like to get here, we knew we were going to get here, but we had to make sure that everything was taken care of first to get us here safely.

Q. How much of your offensive struggles are attributable to really good pitching performances on the other side, is in Jon Lester‘s starts?

MIKE MATHENY: I don’t think you ever take that completely out of the equation. But we also, whenever we talk about this, we’re quick to point out the number about of times we’ve faced very, very good pitching and have been able to put together considerable offense. We know there’s going to be those days where you’re going to have to scratch and claw, you’re going to have to play great defense, and you’re going to have to have great pitching match up with great pitching. But other days we have the offense, we have the belief in our offense, so we can go out and score runs off anybody.

So we haven’t seen it as much in this particular series, but we know it’s there. And I think that’s part of the philosophy we have in our minds. We’re going to keep pushing, because we know we can get it.

Q. When it comes to matching up with Ortiz. Is it statistically driven? Is it gut driven? There’s so much analysis in the game how to pitch to him, when to pitch to it him, what is it based on, numbers or gut?

MIKE MATHENY: Both. We take everything we can into consideration, and the way the game’s playing out, exactly where we are and we are going to be careful. That’s all there is to it. We talked about it. We haven’t made it any big secret, and sometimes when we’re doing that, it doesn’t even work out how we’re playing it.

It’s a situation where you have a hitter that we know and everybody sees, he’s swinging the bat very well, and we’ve just got to stay ahead. And we’ve got to stay ahead with the game and stay with our plans, and adjust those plans as we go. And we’re going to use all the information we can get our hands on.

Q. I wondered if what you see from Matt Carpenter at the end of a season where he’s really been asked to do more than ever in his professional career, as far as second base and also lead‑off. And if you think this October is an example of how he’s graduated to prominence, to a guy that another team kind of game plans to shut down?

MIKE MATHENY: Possibly. I would it if I was playing against us. He’s a force. He’s a guy that goes out and sets a great tone. But I think people started doing that a long time ago. They picked up that this guy isn’t a fluke, that he really is somebody that’s going to take a good, consistent approach, and you’re going to have to figure out a way specifically to get him out and keep him off the bases.

But how he’s grown, it’s hard to even put into good words is how he’s developed as a player, especially as a second baseman, seeing how we didn’t know what we were going to get. Now he’s an All‑Star second baseman who’s on a World Series team here and we trust him in the field.

His at‑bats, I think he’s a guy that takes very mature at‑bats, compared to a guy that you see here only in his second real season in the Big Leagues. He’s doing everything right. He goes about it the right way. And I think the biggest development and where he’s taken his largest strides are probably in the clubhouse, and how you see leadership skill set that’s coming out and guys are trusting him and leaning on him at times.

Q. Please let us in on your lineup tonight.

MIKE MATHENY: The lineup will be Matt Carpenter first, Carlos Beltran, Matt Holliday, Allen Craig, then it will be Yadi and Matt Adams, David Freese, Jon Jay and Daniel Descalso.

Q. In the ALDS Joe Maddon used his entire pitching staff in an elimination game. If either of your starters is not looking sharp very early tonight or tomorrow, will you be willing to start using matchups and use everybody?
MIKE MATHENY: We’ll have all hands on deck, for the most part. Adam Wainwright would not be available. But everybody else would be.

Q. If you don’t need him tonight, would Joe Kelly pitch Game 7? Assuming Adam would lobby to work on two days’ rest, would you be willing to use him at any point in Game 7?

MIKE MATHENY: Right now we’re not going to make that statement and we’re just going to worry about tonight.