On big homers and honoring thy mother
Attention turns to the World Series after the dramatic ALCS
Here are some of the notable quotes from around Major League Baseball this week:
"I guess it turned out pretty well. The third baseman was playing shortstop. I figured, with a guy on first and one out, I'd try to create something at that point. It was foul, but it ended up [turning] out pretty good for us."
-- Phladelphia Phillies second baseman Chase Utley, after bunting a ball foul only to follow that up with a two-run home run on Wednesday night in the Phillies' 3-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 1 of the World Series. (MLB.com)
"Actually, I have it and I'd like to keep it. My mother passed away three years ago, and this is in her honor. I promised I would bring her a ball if I ever made it to the World Series."
-- Akinori Iwamura explaining he still has the ball from the final out in Game 7 of the ALCS and why he plans to hold onto it. (St. Petersburg Times)
"Every round, you play better and better teams. You definitely have to be a little more focused. You can't screw up as much. When I did, I left a couple of pitches out there and they were able to capitalize. But with being able to score runs early, it just helps out my game a little bit. It lessens the pressure."
-- Cole Hamels, after working seven innings in the Phillies' 3-2 win over Tampa Bay in Game 1 of the World Series on Wednesday night. (Philadelphia Daily News)
"If he wasn't what he is right now, we would not be taking this step -- or even attempting to. He has transformed himself into a real good Major League Baseball player and a really confident one, where you could put him at a bunch of different positions and feel really good about it."
--Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon explaining why he went with switch-hitter Ben Zobrist as the starting right fielder in Game 1 of the World Series. Maddon says Zobrist has also been one of the team's hottest hitters. (Tampa Tribune)
"I was hoping to see my name in the lineup today and got my wish."
-- Tampa Bay utility player Ben Zobrist commenting on earning the start in right field for Game 1 of the World Series against the Phillies. A shortstop by trade, Zobrist has learned to play several positions but made only his second start in right field Wednesday night. (Tampa Tribune)
"It's depressing. That's what those other guys get paid for. I get paid to pitch. I'm going to just try to step back and enjoy this as much as possible."
-- Brett Myers, discussing the fact that he can only pitch -- not hit -- as the Phillies are in Tampa for Game 2 of the World Series. (MLB.com)
"No matter how happy we are to be in the World Series, we are far from content. Don't get me wrong, we're extremely happy where we're at right now, we're loving it. We're enjoying it. We know we have to keep it going and prepare for the [World Series], but I don't think there's anything wrong with realizing what we've accomplished to this point."
-- Carlos Pena talking about the attitude of the team after winning Game 7 of the ALCS. (MLBlogs.com)
"You definitely hope people take notice of it. I'm talking about [African-American] kids who definitely need to see it. Everybody sees the percentages have gone down, but we need to get out there. Hopefully this is a step in the right direction in terms of getting our young African-American kids to get out there and see that baseball is a great sport."
-- Cliff Floyd on the number of African-American players in this year's World Series. (South Florida Sun-Sentinel)
"I think my first game [in the ALCS], I was right where I needed to be. My location was really good. My fastball command was really good. My changeup was really good that game, and my curveball was pretty good. So I think the first game I was pretty much on my 'A' game, and I think that's what we need to have.
"As far as my second game goes, I don't think I was on with my fastball command as I wanted to be. I was just missing the plate. But sometimes that happens. And I thought I did a pretty good job of getting as deep as I could in the game and giving our team a chance to win."
-- James Shields commenting on the difference between his first and second start in the ALCS against Boston. Shields will take the mound for the Rays in Game 2 of the World Series on Thursday. (St. Petersburg Times)
"I let him know he couldn't sit back and depend on what God gave him. He seemed very receptive. He made the effort to change his work habits."
-- Aaron Rowand, on some advice he gave several years ago to his cousin, Tampa pitcher James Shields. (Chicago Tribune)
"For him to have that confidence in me, and to show everybody in the world he's putting a 23-year-old lefty that's pitched in seven games in his Major League career out there to try and stop a rally for the Red Sox with the bases loaded in the eighth inning -- that's awesome."
--Tampa Bay pitcher David Price commenting on manager Joe Maddon's decision to use Price to get out of a bases-loaded jam in the eighth inning of Game 7 of the ALCS and then leave him in for the ninth inning to earn the save. (St. Petersburg Times)
"On the biggest stage of his life, he came up with one of the biggest games of his life. He's got a chance to be a perennial Cy Young Award type of [pitcher]. The stuff is just off the charts, and his composure has come along great."
-- Tampa Bay pitching coach Jim Hickey on Rays starter Matt Garza, who earned the win in Game 7 of the ALCS against Boston and was named the series MVP. (St. Petersburg Times)
"The guy thought he was going to die. To come back from where he was and get the winning RBI on this stage? It's just unbelievable."
--Tampa Bay trainer Ron Porterfield talking about Rocco Baldelli, who drove in the winning run in Game 7 of the ALCS against Boston. Baldelli has been diagnosed with a rare muscle disease closely related to mitochondrial myopathy, which saps him of his strength and energy. (St. Petersburg Times)
"It was great; I knew it wasn't a dream because my arm was hurting too much."
-- Matt Garza speaking about the fact the Rays were going to World Series. (St. Petersburg Times)
"The one thing that I saw was more slider, and he had some big strikeouts with it, too. That was primarily the difference. I thought I could just see his body language. He was really developing a rhythm out there with what he was doing. That's what I saw as being different. His confidence was beginning to build up as the game progressed."
-- Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon commenting on the pitching performance of left-hander Scott Kazmir during Game 5 of the ALCS against Boston. Kazmir threw six shutout innings and relied more on his slider, a pitch he has not used much this season. (raysbaseball.com)
"He's one of those guys you don't particularly like facing. And he's a good guy, he'd fit right in with the guys [on the Braves]. He's a golfer, a hunter, from the country, just like us. I think Atlanta would be a perfect fit for him."
-- Chipper Jones on the possibility of the club acquiring Padres pitcher Jake Peavy. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
"He deserved it. He worked hard all year and it showed with his numbers at the end of the year. Let's just hope this isn't the only award he gets for how well he did this season."
-- Matt Cain on teammate Tim Lincecum winning the 2008 National League Players Choice Award for Outstanding Pitcher. (San Francisco Chronicle)
"I will try to win the WBC in earnest again."
-- Ichiro Suzuki announcing he will play for his native Japan in the upcoming World Baseball Classic. (Seattle Post-Intelligencer)
"It was a tough situation ... The whole time, all the way through the rehab and making those starts, I was not sure what I really had to get guys out. Coming back, never once did I sit there and say, 'It's back. I feel normal.' I never had things just click."
-- Mark Mulder, who is set to become a free agent, on the frustration he felt trying to get healthy during his time as a member of the Cardinals. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.