10/21/05 6:20 PM ET
Phil Garner off-day interview
By / MLB.com
PHIL GARNER: I do have an idea of what I want to do with the lineup, I'm not going to announce it today, I'll announce it tomorrow. And I am excited to no end, I can tell you, that Bagwell is with us now. He could have taken the rest of the year just to rehab, which is probably a lot of the advice that he had received. He decided that he was going to push it a little bit, try to come back this year, just in case. And it didn't look like we were going to be able to get here when he made that decision, but it turns out it's a pretty good decision. We'll be able to utilize Baggy and I'm happy for him.
Ozzie Guillen was talking about some of the battles the Brewers had, there were some fisticuffs, some of which you were involved in. Have you mellowed a bit?
PHIL GARNER: I don't know that I've mellowed but I'm a little older and a lot smarter, and I hurt a lot more when I try to engage in those kind of activities. And I'm sure that we won't be doing any of that. We have had some good battles here, as you well know, Tom. These were the big bullies on the block when we were up in Milwaukee and we were the guys that never got any attention. We were doing everything we could to try to spur our ballclub. And it was a lot of fun. We had some really good battles. I enjoy those kind of rivalries. It was a little bit lopsided, but nonetheless, it still got the blood flowing a little bit. But I don't think you're going to see me running on the field with the idea of getting into a fight.
Phil, is it kind of fitting that Roger, who is a Texas guy is starting Game 1 of the Astros first World Series game like this?
PHIL GARNER: Well, we had a couple of thoughts along those lines, Rocket and Andy both Texas guys. The first time a Texas team has been in the World Series, the first time obviously for the Astros, and our ability to advance this far. I think it's sort of a neat story that Rocket is going to be the guy to take the ball on the first game, not only does he deserve it, but I think it's a good story, too.
What the White Sox did in the ALCS was nothing short of dominant. Can you talk about how daunting that might be for your club, knowing they had four guys throw complete game shutouts?
PHIL GARNER: One of the things is we don't know the White Sox that well. I'm sure a few of our guys got a chance to see a couple of games. And it doesn't get any easier, that's certainly true. But facing our old nemesis, the Braves, that's not very easy, and certainly our newer nemesis, the Cardinals, that wasn't easy. It was pretty daunting, too, they ran a pretty good pitching staff against us for starters.
So I don't think our ballclub will be intimidated, certainly not intimidated, certainly not in awe of anybody. We have many kids, there's no question, but we've been through some pressure together, we've done some things well together. So I would say that we'll be prepared. We'll be confident. They're going to get us out a lot of times. I'm going to be upset that we didn't get the fly ball to get the runner in from third, which I always am. But nonetheless we'll be prepared and I feel very comfortable our guys will give a good performance.
Phil, given how nuts the last 36 hours must have been, why not just come here after your win and use yesterday to settle in and kind of ease into this?
PHIL GARNER: Well, I wanted to go home. I wanted to see what was going on in Houston. Our players generally are homebound guys. You take a look at you guys have had a chance to meet them, and I think you'll all find that every one of them are sort of home guys. And I thought it was important to be able to go back home, if only for a day. We had a big pep rally this morning when we left Houston. And that's exciting. Everybody on this ballclub has said how much the fans mean to us, and how much this means to the city to host a World Series. I think it's important they're a part of it. It was a day to go home and relax. A good day for all our players, and the staff included, to get home and enjoy themselves at home. We're here today. And we have time to work out. This will be fine for us.
What are your memories of Ozzie as a player and did you foresee him becoming a manager?
PHIL GARNER: Well, later I could foresee that he was going to become a manager, because a lot of people talked about it. My memories of him as a player is he never stopped talking and I guess he still doesn't now. But he had fun playing the game. That was one of the things you noticed. And he always had that red thing around his leg somewhere, the things I remember, somewhere on his sock. He had a red band or something like that. But one of the things that you really appreciate about Ozzie is that you want to see guys that look like they're having fun. And I know there's a lot of times we've said that we went through an era where it looked it was somewhat in vogue to I'm a Major League player, I don't show emotion. And Ozzie wore it on his sleeve. And he wore it quite well. So it was fun to watch him play.
After you took over in mid season last year and after the ballclub got off to a rough start this year, were there any common themes you tried to impart to help get the thing rolling in the right direction?
PHIL GARNER: Well, there's been several things along the way. When I took over we were in we were in a little bit of a fog. We were having a difficult time with our offense, which on paper looked like it should have been a very good offense. But what I could see was that we weren't having competitive at bats. So the first thing that we I shouldn't get it chronologically correct it wasn't the first thing. The first thing we did was get our bullpen straightened out and then get our offense clicking. We had a couple of team meetings and I thought the players helped in this issue. We involved everybody.
It was the first time really in my career that I had a well seasoned, veteran ballclub. Instead of having meetings and saying, "this is what we have to do," we had meetings saying, "what do you think we should do?" We involved the players. We left the meetings with a plan and instituted the plan, and it worked out.
Aside from getting the bullpen straightened out, beginning last year our offense got competitive, we started having competitive at bats. And this year we had a little different situation because we were struggling all together. We weren't playing well at all early in the season. And I think we had a particularly rotten game in Milwaukee up the road here a little bit. And I think everybody decided that was going to be the end of that.
So we started gradually playing better. We had a couple of guys get hot. But along the way players have been involved in I think our veterans have shown great leadership, their involvement in trying to come up with solutions have been big. I think we're here because our veterans showed great leadership, in the sense they didn't know when to give up. But we had good ideas along the way on what we were going to do. And in addition we had young players that didn't know any better, they just kept playing hard.
Can you go through what your thought process is on selecting the DH, because you've got a right hander going tomorrow, obviously you could use Lamb, you could go get Bagwell back in there; what's your thinking on it?
PHIL GARNER: Well, I'm going to consider it all, hopefully. I don't think there's going to be anything I might not consider. But certainly baggy is going to get a great deal of consideration there. As you well know, I like to have Mike Lamb in the lineup. I think he's the guy that can bring clutch hits for us. I think he can give us good at bats. I also like the idea of having Bagwell in there, too.
But as I say, we'll announce that tomorrow, but there will be a lot of that grinding going on to consider what it's going to be.
As a manager, would you be concerned if your bullpen had a two to almost two and a half week layoff?
PHIL GARNER: Well, my personal preference is to try to keep my bullpen going. Quite often you guys know me a little bit, and it's even in games when we get to a certain point I try to get them in. The World Series is different. And it's different in the sense that it's the tail end of the season. This may even work in their favor. They get a week to ten days to recharge a little bit. Nobody's, I don't think, going to be rusty, and that would be the idea you would have at this point in time. But I don't know that there's any advantages or does advantages to anybody.
I've long felt that I like the momentum that we tend to have, because we've been playing difficult games right on up. We get a couple of days off, but we're still in our battle mode. I don't know that that's an advantage. I just like it that our team is having that. I can tell you right now the White Sox will come out fighting just as hard as they always do. I don't see it as a disadvantage or an advantage, one way or another.
Your club literally had an obituary written for it this year. I was wondering if there was any part of you that welcomed that?
PHIL GARNER: As you know, I feel a little bit more comfortable in the underdog world. I don't know how I feel in the dead role too much (laughter) but there is a certain amount of satisfaction in having proven people wrong. I don't mean that in a malicious way by any sense of the imagination, but truth of the matter is, we did look dead. We didn't look like we were going to go anywhere. And you can't fault anybody for writing what looks like to be the truth. But to your credit, to our team's credit we didn't let that bother us, we stepped up and answered the challenge.
Roger has had a couple of issues physically lately. Where is he physically going into tomorrow night's game? Is it fair to expect him to be the same pitcher he was six weeks ago, six months ago, even three weeks ago?
PHIL GARNER: You said Roger, right? Roger is fine. He's fine. He's ready and able to go. As a matter of fact, you saw him in the last game in the Division Series and he had his spikes on somewhere in the 5th inning, he was ready to pitch in that ballgame. And if it had taken 10 innings or 20, he would have pitched 10 or 20, that wouldn't surprise me at all. If this series had gone any farther, I guarantee Rocket would have been able to pitch the Championship series, League Championship, he'd have been ready to pitch again. The man is truly amazing and he'll be ready to go tomorrow night.
Could you maybe talk a little about your view in the historical aspect of this match up between two franchises, which have been yearning to be here, first time ever for the Astros, first time in nearly a half Century for the White Sox?
PHIL GARNER: Well, I think there's something to be said for organizations that get here often. And you build a certain amount of mystique in an organization when you keep coming. The Cardinals have been here the second most time, the Yankees the first most times to the World Series. So that sort of builds a certain mystique for you. And certainly in our case, since I was a player traded to Houston, I've made my home in Houston, my children have gone to school, grown up, and two of my children live in Houston in Texas and my wife was a large part in helping with building the stadium. So we're very much a part of the fabric of the local community in Texas. So for us this is extremely special. It just gives you a really good, warm feeling when, number one, we've had some fans 1986 was a tough, tough loss against the Mets and I played in that ballgame. We thought we were getting over the hump then and we didn't. So here we are 20 years later still trying to get over the hump and when we finally did it and we've had some suffering fans for 44 years. And our fan base has grown during that time. So it's extremely gratifying to be able to bring the World Series games to Houston now, from our standpoint, and I'm sure for the White Sox folks, too, they've worked hard. It's been a long and proud organization, so I'm sure they're proud of what their team has done, too.
The way things have worked out this year coming from 15 below .500 and you pushed all the right buttons during the season in the playoffs and you've got Baggs and you have Andy and Roger, and all these great stories. Do you believe in destiny.
PHIL GARNER: You might ask me that in a few days. I might be able to give you a better answer. I feel good about our ballclub. I look at the White Sox, we've just been going over scouting reports, and they're a good ballclub. Obviously you don't get to the World Series and you don't dispatch the Angels in four games and get rid of Boston sort of handily without being a pretty dog gone good ballclub. We certainly respect them, but when you look at our ballclub, I like our ballclub, too. People are going to find some holes with our club, and we have some.
But one of the beautiful things about it is somehow we found a way to get it done and here we are. I'm very proud of our club. I don't know what's going to happen in the next week, but I'm excited to be here and looking forward to seeing how it plays out.
Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.