Phil Garner pregame interview
Manager gives credit to players for team's success
Any lineup changes tonight?
PHIL GARNER: No. Same lineup.
Any message to the guys knowing what could happen tonight, is it just a routine day when you walk in the clubhouse?
GARNER: Routine day. I gave my last speech for the last time, for the third last time a few weeks ago and they wouldn't even show up if I declared a team meeting today so I'm not going to bother.
No fourth last time?
GARNER: No fourth last time, no.
Can you compare your emotions to '86 when you were playing the Mets?
GARNER: Well, we felt pretty good. We felt in '86 that if we could have won that last game and go with (Mike) Scott the next day, we had a good chance. So highly charged, excitable, and I'm excited and just looking forward to another good game.
How much of your success is great managerial instinct, as opposed to maybe just being fortunate or lucky at times with all of your moves?
GARNER: That question is how much of the success is great managerial instincts? All of it. (Laughter.)
Do you feel in a sense, too, that you're making the right moves but some of it is just fortunate and good luck?
GARNER: It's the players. We have some interchangeable parts. A few years ago when I first started managing, we were managing against Cito Gaston in Toronto, and they were on their way to winning three World Series. You know, I didn't feel like people gave Cito his just because Cito was smart enough to know not to do anything. He had great players on the field. He didn't have, he had very much inexperience on the bench but he let them play. He didn't get in their way and the proof is in the pudding. They won.
Yesterday Morgan said after the game that if you had taken the pulse of the guys on the field there in the ninth inning, it probably wouldn't have been out of hand because they are so used to those kind of games. Are you buying that, or at least part of it?
GARNER: Well, probably so, but I'll tell you, mine was a lot faster than theirs, and that's a good thing.
Clearly when I walked to the mound when we had the first and third situation and nobody out, I could look at all of the players and when you're there and you can see, you don't see anybody standing there like a deer in the headlights. They all knew what we wanted to do. I said exactly what I wanted to do and you could tell that it registered with everybody. I felt comfortable at that time even though it's not a good situation. I felt comfortable if we do what we want to do we'll figure out a way here, and they did. They did a fantastic job.
How much have you spoken with Willy over last few days and initially how afraid were you that you might lose him? What kind of personality is he?
GARNER: I have not spoken to him beyond the first day that I told him that I was changing the lineup. I did not feel like I would lose him. Willy has been a kid that has done everything we've asked them him to do. He's disappointed. I'm sure he would tell you right now in all honesty that he's disappointed and probably mad at me and I wouldn't have it any other way. I would be mad at somebody, too.
But I had no second qualms about putting him in the situation last night with the game on the line, and wouldn't at any other time, either, and may change the lineup back again in two days, who knows if it's necessary.
Willy will be prepared. We will not lose him. He's a big part of this ballclub and one of the big reasons that we're here.
You talked about how players will come up for and your players will play. How much of your playing style comes into your management now and since you played the game, you played the game a certain way; how much does that affect how you've managed these days and how you deal with these kids and these players?
GARNER: Well, I hope I've learned some things over the years and hopefully do some things a little bit differently.
I learned the game from Chuck Tanner, basically but you learn a piece of it basically from everybody that you play for. I would hope that my managerial style is a great deal like Chuck. You've heard me mention him as a mentor. I think I learned something from Bob Lillis, from Roger Craig, from Tommy Lasorda, anybody you've ever played under, you've probably learned some things. Some of the things over the past, I would say they stuck in my head and I said would I do things that way. Some of the things, I would say I don't want to do things that way.
In terms of the way I played, I was aggressive, foolish at times, maybe the same way as a manager sometimes. But it doesn't matter, it really doesn't matter. It's what goes on on the field at any given moment, the players have the ball in their hands. If I can stay out of their way most of the time they are going to get the job done.
If you had not used Willy as a pinch runner in that situation, the seventh, were you still planning to use him in centerfield in the eighth?
I don't know if you recall, but Oct. 17 is a pretty good day for you historically in winning big games, 26 years ago, Game 7 of the Pirates win.
GARNER: No, I didn't know that. But go ahead, tell me. Tell me about that it. (Laughter.) Please, now that you've brought it up.
We won Game 7, I know that. That was Oct. 17? I didn't realize that, no. Goody, goody.
Yeah, thanks. Thanks for bringing that up, I appreciate that. (Laughing).
By the way, I didn't win the game. Willie Stargell won it with a home run in Game 7, but I was there and it was a lot of fun.
Houston got their franchise on Oct. 17?
GARNER: I did hear that, Houston got their franchise on Oct. 17, 44 years ago.
Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.