“This is a long, grinding day. It’s the first day of live BP, and it’s just another added layer of what we’ve got to get to. Like I said yesterday, it’s a hard day for everyone because of its length, and the amount of work and the amount of effort these guys are giving. So we got through it. Everybody felt good. I felt like there was a lot of things that we accomplished. We saw a lot of good arms on the mound, we got a chance to run through some team fundamentals, individual fundamentals and overall, it was a very good day.”
Bumgarner threw earlier - what was going on with that? He had kinda thrown his thoughts at (pitching coaches) Matt Herges and Mike Fetters about what he wanted to do. And we’re going to adhere to some of the things that he has done in the past. He’s going to throw a live BP, just wanted to throw one more time on the mound, and then get out and throw one live, and be ready to go... It has just been his routine to throw one time live to hitters instead of two, and I think our cycle will get a couple of times through for most of the guys.”
Ketel seemed to attract most of the fans today. How is he handling that move to being “the face of the franchise”? I think he is learning that, every step of the way. He’s the right guy, had a tremendous year last year, was in the top 5 of NL MVP voting and he’s a good kid. He’s the right guy that we’re all focused on for the right reasons. I think he embraces that, and I think he wants to get his work done. You could see there was a big following for him, and I could tell where he was - that’s where the crowds were. But he’s earned that, and we’re proud of him for that.
What does he have to do to take the next step? I don’t think he has to take that next step. I think he has to maintain what he has done, and continue to grow and learn. Maybe get more experience and continue to be himself, do the exact same things that he has done. I know that experience and conversations with veteran players will maybe help him gain a little bit of an edge. Not necessarily cutting corners, but work more efficiently in the right areas and I think he is fine-tuning that right now.
Is it fair to expect him to hit .329 again? It was something I think he worked hard for. But I don’t think it’s going to be the outlier, I think he’s going to be very consistent. I know that was a very, very complete year, especially with what we asked him to do defensively, being maybe a little bit of a distraction. But I feel like he is going to be an exceptional player here for a long time.
Will not having to move back and forth from 2B to CF help him? Can you talk about the comfort level playing with Nick all the time? I think that’s something I’m looking forward to watching. I know that Ketel is not primarily a second-basement, he’s going to find himself in center field from time to time. But watching those two guys in ‘18 develop the rapport that they did, and play as good as they did, is something we all got spoiled by. We asked a lot of him last year, and primarily playing one position is going to help anybody. There’s familiarity there and we all know what that means. Given that, and knowing what they did in ‘18, we can expect some very special things in 2020. They’re both exceptional fielders.
What does that do to the energy when the crowds come out? Today was a little bit different from the way I remember “first days”. There was a lot of fan support here. I don’t know exactly how many, but it was pretty full and I know the players appreciate that and you feel that support, you feel that energy. We know what we have to do to gain the fans and have them come out: we’ve got to win baseball games. We’ve done a lot of that over the past three years, and we’re going to continue to do that. With that being said, the ones that did come out, we certainly appreciate.
Do you feel like the time between first full workouts and live BP to your first game is tighter than usual? Yeah, it’s definitely rushed. It’s something I think we had gotten used to over the past couple of years. It’s not necessarily how I would map it out, I’d like to take our time and get a couple of BPs off the coaches on the field with players, interact with one another before you step into the batter’s box and hit that live BP. But it’s condensed: I think our first game is on the 22nd. We got to get our pitchers ready. I think they hitters know they’re going to be sacrificed for the pitchers’ sake of being ready for that first game.
Is that part of the challenge, to slow these guys down? That was my message early on to the pitchers, kinda pump the brakes and just work into your comfort level. Don’t ask your body to do too much. Stay on line and do the things that you’re supposed to do, in the order that you’re supposed to do them. And that’s hard for a young pitcher. They want to get in there and fire all their bullets. We try to control the environment as much as we possibly can, but still, it doesn’t happen. I was watching some really good arms today throw some really aggressive fastballs. I like it, but sometimes you’ve got to pump the brakes a little bit.
What was your message to the team this morning? I tried to outline what my expectations were. I talked a little bit about our culture, what our beliefs were, and I defined a few things that were very, very important to me. We have some concepts that we rely on here, and we’re built on a lot of trust and communication and togetherness, and we form a strong bond inside of that clubhouse. So I wanted to make sure we were all aligned with those thoughts, and I centered the majority of what I said around that.
For the spring games, will it be starters get four inning and two at-bats, or are you trying to get some players a little longer? I like to get them on and off the field, just so they can feel what it’s like to get back on their spikes and get their co-ordinates. I’m not going to let them play more than four innings for the first or second time they get on the field. But I’m going to put that menu together by talking to some of these guys. Some want to play a little bit more, albeit getting into that “pull back” mentality to be careful, knowing that we’ve got five more weeks to be ready to go. It’s not going to be a perfect answer that I can give you, but early on we’re going to make sure they’re under control and off the field sooner rather than later.
Are you going to be extra careful with Luke Weaver? I don’t think so. I think he has come out the other end and he’s healthy and ready to go. The bullpens that I’ve watched have been very good and I think he’s going to be treated just like everyone else.
Any injury updates? Starling Marte had a little bit of a migraine yesterday. So he wasn’t able to take his physical and he’s doing that today. He felt much better today, and because he wasn’t able to do the physical, we had really to limit his activity on the field.
You have a lot of local guys on the roster. What do you think it means to these players to play in front of their home-town fans, and for the fans to see these guys? I think for the youth in Arizona, it shows that anything is possible. When you dream about something special, you can accomplish what several players have already done. I think it’s awesome, I think it’s a lot of fun in knowing that there are so many local ties here. There’s nothing better than getting a group together that’s representing the valley in some way, and talking about what it took to get here. Hopefully, there are a lot of good lessons.
You got an extended look at Josh Rojas last year once he got called up. What steps are you looking for him to take to fill that utility role? Last year was a crash-course in playing the outfield for him, when he’s a natural infielder. So instinctually, I want to see what he looks like as an infielder. I only knew him as an outfielder, so I’m at Base Camp One with him right now, just watching, paying attention to the footwork, how the arm works, how the hands work. And I know that he seems very, very comfortable. But we’ve got to make sure that he has got everything locked down in several positions, including the outfield, and then we’ll evaluate him and determine what the best situation is for this ballclub.
With Jake Lamb apparently at third, is the outfield a more likely place for Rojas to get at-bats? It’s also two left-handed at-bats on the corners as well. I haven’t walked through it. That’s probably the starting point that we’ve talked about, but I haven’t walked through it any further than that with anybody. I just think we want to take the best possible team over to Chase to start the season. There might be some duplication with some left-handed bats, I know that. I know he can handle the bat, but I want to see the consistency of the at-bats, and the consistency of him picking up a baseball on the infield before I make any more decisions.
With lefties on the corners in the outfield, does Tim Locastro have a leg-up as the fourth outfielder? I haven’t made any decisions in that area, and out of fairness to everyone in camp, I want to make sure they know they’re here to compete. I haven’t sat down with the position players. I love Tim Locastro. There are so many things to compliment him on. He is a perfect fourth outfield candidate, but I know he wants to be a starter. So we’re going to encourage him to be the best version of himself. and walk through some of the plans for him. Without going too much further about he and Josh, and who may win the job, I think it’s a little too premature. They both may win the job, I don’t know that answer yet. But I want to be fair with them, because I’ve got to sit down with them in the next 72 hours and outline their plan.