Piniella meets the media at Wrigley

SHARE Piniella meets the media at Wrigley

If you are interested in Cubs manager Lou Piniella’s thoughts on the eve of Game 3 of the National League Division Series against the Arizona Diamondbacks, here is a transcript from his meeting with reporters Friday afternoon at Wrigley Field.

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Lou Piniella.

Q. Will Soto be the starting catcher for the rest of the postseason for you?

LOU PINIELLA: I think tomorrow we’re going to catch Kendall.

Q. Have you heard from the second-guessers club, or will they always be around?

LOU PINIELLA: There’s nothing to make up about. I understand the process. I really do.

I mean, I may have a little fun with it. I thought it was overdone. That’s just my opinion.

Q. I know that everybody has downplayed the pre-onfield incident and the post, but how would you compare from the first two months of the season and the last four months of the season?

LOU PINIELLA: Well, we played much better baseball. We’ve been a team that has been hot and cold, and when we’re hot we play really, really well, and when we don’t, we struggle a little bit.

Now we’re back home, and we’ve got our home crowd behind us, and it’s a good one here at Wrigley. We need to post a win tomorrow.

All we need to do is win one game at a time. We don’t need to win three games tomorrow, just one. We’re going to go out and do the best we can. I know our players will be excited about playing in front of the home crowd here at Wrigley and posting a win.

Q. Do you sense that your team has been too excited, overanxious in the first two games? And if so, how do you get them to relax just a little bit?

LOU PINIELLA: This is the type of team we’ve been all year. You can’t change in the postseason what you’ve done all year. You do the same thing. If it works, it works, and if it doesn’t work, well, it doesn’t work. We’ve had this type of team all year.

We have guys that go up there and swing the bat and they’re aggressive. And like I say, when they’re connecting, well, we put runs up on the board and we win with consistency. And when we don’t it’s a struggle.

So let’s hope that we’re connecting over here starting tomorrow.

Q. Rich Hill has a real tough task ahead of him. Can you tell me the job he’s done? He’s obviously done it in front of big crowds before here at Wrigley.

LOU PINIELLA: All our pitchers have pitched well, and Rich, the last few ballgames that he’s thrown, he’s thrown exceedingly well. I told him the other day in Cincinnati when he pitched that that’s as good as he can throw the ball.

There was no pressure. We had clinched. He went out there and relaxed and just threw the ball. And I told him, You should learn from that experience. If he throws the ball that way here tomorrow, he’ll have a lot of success.

Q. There’s a stat we saw that only three teams in history have come back in 0-2, one of them being your ’95 Mariners. Can you talk about that season and how you can relate that to this in any way?

LOU PINIELLA: Well, the Yankees beat us in New York the first two ballgames, and we beat New York three times in Seattle, including the last game being I think ten innings. It can be done.

But again, you can’t look past tomorrow’s game. Tomorrow’s game is the one you need to win. It would be nice to win three games in one day, but it’s not going to happen. So let’s go out tomorrow and play a good baseball game. Win in front of the home crowd and start putting a little pressure on this Arizona club hopefully.

Q. Livan Hernandez has always been a big game pitcher. Can you give us the book on him in general?

LOU PINIELLA: Listen, their pitching has done really well against us. We haven’t seen Livan this year. But he knows how to pitch. He pitches to both sides of the plate. He’s got a really nice curveball, changes speeds. He’ll be a challenge for us.

But this Arizona team has pitched this well all year.

Q. Is this season a success for the Cubs no matter what happens this postseason?

LOU PINIELLA: You all will judge that more than anything else.

Q. You personally.

LOU PINIELLA: Me personally? Look, this team finished last in the division last year, the most losses in the National League, and here we are in the postseason in one year. If that’s not a success, well, I really don’t know what it is.

We probably have the biggest win differential in the National League. So looking at it from that perspective, yes. Looking at it from the perspective that we’d like to go on in the postseason, well, probably not.

But you look at where you came from, and these guys have played hard all year. I told them the other day, and I mean it, I’m proud of them. They’ve endured. We started off poorly and started to play better, and it was a long, long, tiring process, believe me. I think we all learned a lot from it.

Q. You touched a little on this, but what specifically does Rich need to do to make sure that he’s just pitching a game and not affected by everything, and what can you and Larry and the catchers do to help him do that?

LOU PINIELLA: The first thing is remember, you said it right, it’s only a game. It’s not life or death. It’s a game. It’s a game where you take your skills out there and you match them up against your opponent. You relax, you have confidence in yourself, and you go out and pitch and you go out and have fun. That’s what it’s really about.

And if you can do that — and if Rich can do that, believe me, control his emotions, not fight himself, he’s as capable as any of going out and really pitching a good ballgame here at Wrigley, and we’re expecting one, frankly.

Q. This Arizona team, despite losing some key players like Hudson or whatever, they’ve beaten you six of eight, they have the most wins in the National League, and a lot of people say, Who are these guys? What has really impressed you the most about them from what you’ve seen?

LOU PINIELLA: Well, they pitch well. It starts with that. Also, they’re a very athletic team. They go from first to third as well as any team in baseball. They caught a few balls in the gaps in the outfield that when they were hit I thought were extra bases.

So their speed and their pitching coincides pretty well, and then they’ve got some homerun hitting capabilities, and they’ve shown it in this postseason. They’re a good baseball team. We knew that going in, believe me.

Q. How would you describe what was going on those first two months from what you saw?

LOU PINIELLA: Look, we left Spring Training thinking that we were going to have a good baseball team, and things just didn’t work quite the way we thought they would so we had to start making some changes on the fly.

It took a while, and finally I guess the last week in May or so, the first part of June, we started to play much better as a team.

But yeah — you know, you don’t lose as many games as this team did, and just because you make some changes means that everything is going to work out well immediately. You’ve got to let the process take care of itself. We had to tinker with it.

But look, these guys from the first of June on have played really, really good baseball. Like I said, we’ve been a little bit of a streaky team, a little hot, a little cold, and we need to get hot again starting Saturday.

Q. What have you learned about your big three hitters when they’re not hitting? Is it that they’re pressing? You’ve talked about it before, it comes in bunches.

LOU PINIELLA: It’s probably trying to overdo, you know, trying to overdo, trying to do too much. You know, in postseason you take what the opponent gives you. They don’t give you pitches to swing out of the yard to, then you’ve got to go the other way or you’ve got to go up the middle.

As you get into postseason, the teams get fewer and fewer and the pitching gets better and better. You know, so don’t try to overdo. That would be my message. They pitch away, hit the ball to right centerfield.

Look, I know it’s easier said than done because I’ve been in postseason many, many times myself as a hitter. But basically that’s the approach that you have to take.

You know, you need to crystallize the strike zone, know the strike zone a little better. These pitches will entice you. They’ll expand the zone on you if they can. But that’s why these teams are here, because they have those capabilities.

But to the big hitters, you know, you don’t need to hit three homeruns in one at-bat. Not try to overdo, that’s the biggest thing that I can think of because — remember, these teams have been really, really scouted now for a while, so these opponents almost know your team as well as you do.

Q. Since we’re down to a numbers game, does your pitcher tomorrow have anything to do with the strategy depending on where you are in the game, ahead or behind?

LOU PINIELLA: Well, Rich, this is his seventh day. He’s really pitched well with big rest. We’ll let him pitch. As long as he’s pitching well, we’ll let him go. We’ve got a good bullpen that we can go to.

But Rich is really rested, and I’ve got all the confidence in the world in this young man. As long as he’s pitching well, we’ll let him pitch.

The Latest
The two were outside about 4:20 a.m. in the 1300 block of South Throop Street when someone fired shots.
Officers responding to a shots fired call about 10 p.m. found the two in the 3800 block of West Ohio Street.
Officers responding to a person shot report found the man lying on a porch with multiple gunshot wounds.
One man, 34, was found in the 300 block of East Huron Street and died at a hospital. Another man later showed up at the hospital with a gunshot wound to the leg.
The shooting happened about 1 a.m. in the 4800 block of West Iowa Street.