Orioles manager Buck Showalter and Game 1 starting pitcher Chris Tillman were brought into the interview area - it’s not actually a room - before today’s workout at Camden Yards. The clubhouse opened to the media for an hour, but it will be closed prior to the Division Series games, per Major League Baseball rules.
Here’s a portion of the transcripts from today’s interviews, starting with Showalter:
On whether the intensity is picking up
“I don’t feel like it’s picking up. I mean, I’ve got to tell you, two of the good days are some of the first couple days of spring training and the workout days in the playoffs where the cup is half full. You’re looking at everything and it’s a comfortableness of certain accomplishment. Now, you move on to another stage.
”Our guys, the intensity level has been there. There were certain things that we needed to accomplish as a team the last 10 days and why it always didn’t show up in the W column. There were some things that we were able to benefit from, but it all gets thrown out the window. Detroit is rested, we’re rested, we had off-days and everybody is ready to do what they do.
”There is a fine line between anxiety and anticipation and I don’t care how many times you’ve been to the postseason, there’s still a certain newness about it, because there are really four seasons that you play. You play spring training and it’s completely different, regular season is completely different. September baseball with the roster, that’s a whole different gig, and the postseason is different.
“It’s a challenge as a manager always trying to prepare them for everything that might be coming at them, and the only way you can do that is from experience.”
What it means that Orioles pitching has a lower ERA, but Tigers have three Cy Young winners
“Probably nothing, maybe from their standpoint, because of the track record and things you have to do. Those things come from longevity and being a proven commodity over a long period of time, which their starters and a lot of the players are able to do.
”I think we all know what it looks like on paper. There’s a lot of things that look a certain way on paper for us that we were able to overcome, so thank goodness it’s not played by, you know, in fantasy league. I know where we hope our fantasy takes us.
“I’ve said many times during the year, you grind like heck for seven, eight, nine months, whatever it is, to have a chance to roll the dice in October. And the cool thing is only one team is going to be happy once it’s all said and done. That’s what separates these guys and the coaches is they’re willing to be put in that cooker. That’s what separates them.
“I tell them all the time, what do you bring that we can’t get off every street corner to be sure your teammates can count on you to bring that? There is a real trust involved, me and them, them and me, me and the coaching staff, because there are too many things going and you have to delegate around and you have to trust people. And that trust continues starting tomorrow.”
On challenges at third base and who may start
“Well, we were trying to do a lot of things there at the end to make a good evaluation, not just for the playoffs, but from a future standpoint. Whether it be Christian Walker, Jimmy Paredes, whether it be a lot of guys, familiarizing ourselves with Alejandro (De Aza) and some guys that haven’t been here all year.
“I feel confident in the people that will be playing and they’ve got a good track record. I don’t think anybody is trying to be as good as Manny (Machado). Manny had a historical year defensively, but we’ve been able to present ourselves well over there and I feel confident that we will continue to do that.”
On not knowing the starting time for Friday’s Game 2
“I look at it like this: There are a lot of people at home right now that aren’t concerned at all about the start time. I’m OK with that. We have had, as you all know, experience with starting at strange times. We’ve played at 11 a.m., and if anything, that’s prepared us. And during the baseball season, sleep is overrated.
“Adrenaline is an amazing thing. When the season is over, all of us talk about you go home for about four or five days and your body just rebels on you and let’s us know how much you have played the season on adrenaline. But it’s part of the challenge.
“We’ll know tonight. And I’ll bet you guys watch the game and we know it’s 12:07 or 3:07, but it beats knowing what time the tee time is.”
On whether he may rely more on speed and basestealing in this series
“Potentially. We all know the pedigree and the background of the pitchers we’re going to be facing here, including Joe Nathan, a lot of their guys. There is nothing more precious in our games than outs. So, there are different parts of it.
“You take your strengths and their strengths and take whatever weakness you perceive they may have. The last team standing is going to have weaknesses at the end of the season and the first team to get eliminated is going to have strengths. It can be cruel from that standpoint, but, you know, you try to put your players in a position that best suits their abilities, if the opposition cooperates. A lot of time they don’t.
“That’s what’s beautiful about this time of year. A lot of times, something that should happen on paper doesn’t happen and that’s what’s great about this game. I’m going to stay out of the way and let our guys play and not become prisoners to what you or they have done all year.
”I tell the guys all the time, I want you to go for it. I don’t want you to go back to the hotel and say, ‘Geez, I wish I had trusted my instincts, I should have been a little more aggressive with this, or I felt this changeup and I didn’t throw it.’ Go for it.
”That’s got to come from your teammates and your coaching staff. You’ve got to know who you are. We try to talk a lot about who are we and who we’re not, OK? But you never underestimate. It’s like my little sister says all the time, ‘Every once in a while a little spontaneity is OK, Buck.’ So, I try to keep that in mind.”
On trying to treat this start like the others
“I’ve always been under the impression you have to prepare for every game the same. You can’t ask more of yourself and can’t ask less. As a ballclub, we’ve been doing a good job of that all year. I think it’s important for us to, you know, stay the same and not try and do too much.”
On going from his early struggles to Game 1 starter this year
“It has been a journey, to say the least. I had a couple of rough years early on and kind of turned things around come 2012. I think that goes to show where the organization is at, not just personally, but all the way throughout.
“We’ve done some big things defensively that helped the pitching staff, helped all of us, really. And for myself, I think, like I’ve always said, it’s a big puzzle and you’re trying to find the pieces to it and put the puzzle together.”
On how Game 1 differs from facing Jon Lester and Justin Verlander in his first two regular season starts
“You know what? I think the only difference is the stakes are higher. I take every game the same way. They’re all important. There’s not one that’s less important than the other. As a player, I think between the lines, that’s where we’re comfortable. So, once the game starts and the bell rings, that’s where we’re comfortable as a team and as a unit. Might have extra feelings before the game, be nervous, but if you’re not nervous, you need to find another job, really.”
On the atmosphere for Game 1
“I think we’ll notice it. Our fans are a big part of what we do here. They’ve been great all year.
”In 2012, it was kind of a shock to me. I didn’t know that existed here in Baltimore. Our fans really came out and showed their true colors. You hear all about them from the ex-players that we have had when Baltimore is going well, and we had Brooksie (Brooks Robinson) in the clubhouse talking to us and saying this is probably the most excited he’s ever seen Baltimore, so we’re looking forward to it and I’m sure we’ll have time to soak it in after. But tomorrow, once the lights comes on, it’s game time.”
On Brooks Robinson’s message to the team earlier today
“His main message to the team was how excited Baltimore is right now. He spent a lot of time here as a player and just being around the team, and his message was that he’s excited to see how excited Baltimore is. And to us, that’s special. He’s been there. He’s been there for a World Series, for playoffs, and he said this is the most fans he’s ever seen walking around the streets wearing their Baltimore Orioles jersey and proud of it.
”That was his main message, and he threw in pieces and tidbits about how to handle the playoff atmosphere and the World Series atmosphere, that he will be watching and he’s excited for us.”
On the responsibility of being the Game 1 starter
“You know, it’s important. The Game 1 is always important, get us going in the right direction. I think you learn something new every day. Something happens every game where you kind of step back and say, ‘Well, I didn’t know that could happen.’ Or hearing Buck in the dugout, he’s always giving us quizzes during the game. ‘What do you think this guy is going to do here?’ Trying to prepare us for situations that may happen down the road.
”Like I said, it’s all a puzzle. You’re trying to put the pieces together. With the leaders that we have in this clubhouse, I think everyone knows what they are and they do a really good job with the younger guys and it’s just fun to be around. Our clubhouse has great, great camaraderie, tight-knit group, and it’s all come together because of them. They do a great job.”
Here’s a little bit from center fielder Adam Jones:
On Nick Markakis having the chance to play in the postseason
“I think it’s going to be big for him. Nine years here, never seen the postseason. His first seven years he didn’t. This is the first one he gets to lace them up for. I’m excited for him. He’s our longest-tenured guy here. I’m excited for him to have some fun in the postseason.”
On whether home-field advantage is important
“Any time you get to play in a home park like ours, it’s an advantage because we’ve got a great fan base and we know how to play in our park. But it plays fair to both teams because it’s not the biggest park in the world. If we have to come back here for a Game 5, I think we have an advantage because our fans will be rooting for us instead of the opponent, but let’s just take care of Game 1.”
On Tigers having three Cy Young Award winners
“They’ve got guys who have done it. They’re experienced, I think, more over us and that helps out. But you’ve still got to go do it. They’ve done it longer, but we do it at the right time and you never know what could happen.”
On guys filling in for missing players
“It’s going to be fun. It’s going to be different. Obviously, we don’t have the team that we started the season with, but we’ve got guys that have been contributing all season, and the season’s not over for us, so why stop the contributions? Guys like (Steve) Pearce, he’s one of our team MVPs because of what he’s done amidst possibly being traded in spring training. He offered us 21 home runs and 50 or 60 RBIs. That’s huge production from a guy we didn’t even think we were getting that from. Caleb Joseph and Nick Hundley filled in. You can’t always fill in completely for (Matt) Wieters, but they’ve solidified and helped out our defense and the offense that they’ve brought. You have to step it up. I think our whole lineup can contribute and we’re not just going to sit there and try to count on one or two people to get the job done.”
On removing the bitter taste from the playoff loss in 2012
“You obviously wanted to win the series. First time for a lot of us in the postseason. Me, personally, I didn’t do too well. A lot of people didn’t do too well. Some people did well. But at the end of it, the team lost. We were that close to advancing and we not necessarily know what it takes, but we have an idea of how to get there.”
On Orioles viewed as underdog
“We don’t care. It’s not our decision on what people’s opinions are. Due process will happen and that will determine the successor.”
On not seeing the Tigers since May
“It’s been a long time. That’s how the schedules run. But it doesn’t matter. As long as you’re here, it doesn’t really matter who you face. You’re going to have to face somebody good and elite, so may as well jump into it.”
On Manny Machado being in the clubhouse
“It’s good seeing the big-eared boy. It’s good seeing him. He’s smiling, in good spirits. It’s good to see him around here.”
On being 1-5 against the Tigers
“It’s 0-0. You can’t take that record into the postseason, so it’s 0-0. First one to three wins.”