Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Riggleman and Olsen talk

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Scott Olsen wasn't happy coming out of last night's game.
NEW YORK -- I know there's been a lot of talk out there about Jim Riggleman's decision to pull Scott Olsen after only 82 pitches last night, with the Nationals leading at the time, 6-1 in the sixth inning.

Olsen clearly was upset about it as he handed Riggleman the ball, and he was still seething in the dugout. It didn't help matters when Brian Bruney and Tyler Clippard blew that lead and allowed six runs in the eighth to deny Olsen the victory, and the left-hander bolted the clubhouse quickly after the game without speaking to reporters.

We had a chance to speak to both Riggleman and Olsen this morning about the whole thing, and the two of them had a brief, closed-door meeting as well (after we spoke to Riggleman but before we spoke to Olsen). The key point to take out of this is that all's fine between the two and there are no hard feelings.

Here's the transcipt from both the manager and the pitcher...

Q: Scott, when he was taken out last night, was pretty frustrated. Have you talked to him at all today?
A: No. When a starter comes out of the game, if they don't think they should come out of the game, I like that. I want them to feel like: 'I want to pitch.' It's his day. He wants to pitch. But there's a lot of thought that goes into why I made that decision. I respect that he wants to continue to pitch, but the decision was thought out. The repercussions of that ... it was 6-1 and it ended up 6-2, and later [in the eighth] it was still 6-2. That's what we wanted. We wanted to be winning 6-2, at least 6-2 if we don't add on, and that's what we got out of that. He wasn't happy about it, but that's going to be the nature of it. You're going to have starting pitchers upset when they come out of games.

Q: Is there a line with starting pitchers, in general, that they have to walk carefully between: Being upset or taking it too far? And if so, do you have any issue with how he handled that last night?
A: No, not really. He sat down and he was fuming. If they're slamming stuff around and staring you down and all that, then I'd take issue with that. I don't show anybody up. I don't want anybody showing me up. I'm not that thin-skinned that I'm going to get too upset about it. But that thing about taking the starter out, I'll tell you ... I know I'm getting long-winded with this here, but sometimes you get asked what's the toughest part of managing. People tend to say it's dealing with the media or it's delegating your time or it's dealing with the egos of players. No, the toughest thing to do in managing is there every single day. And that's when to take the starter out. That decision is there every day. It might 7-0, or it might be 1-0, or it might be 4-3. But that decision is there every day. You hope you get it right 162 times. I feel like I did it right last night. But if I didn't do it right, then that one goes in the negative column. But that one's there every day, and it's what makes managing interesting: Dealing with the pitching staff. A lot of things happen after you take that starter out. When I took him out, things went well for 1 2/3 innings, and then it went bad.

Q: How do you evaluate last night's start? You only gave up two runs but had to pitch out of a lot of tough spots.
A: High-stress pitches the whole game. The leadoff guy was on base, it seemed, like every inning. It was a battle all night. They got a ton of hits. A couple of double plays helped early on in the game, but the control wasn't how it has been the last couple starts. It was a battle the whole time.

Q: I know you weren't real happy coming out of the game. In hindsight, do you understand the reason behind it?
A: I understand it. I understand.

Q: Riggs said he kind of likes that mentality in his starters.
A: Yeah, it's a fine line. But I've talked to him.

Q: That conversation went well?
A: Why wouldn't it?

Q: Were you frustrated coming out of the game?
A: Well, you're frustrated after you get taken out of any game. Other than that, it's fine. It's frustration.

Q: You felt you could have gone longer?
A: You always think you can go longer. Whether you're at 120 pitches or 80 pitches. You never want to get pulled out of a game. But it's going to happen. Not everybody can throw complete games every time like Roy Halladay.


Nats fan in NJ said...

Thanks, Mark. Nicely done getting both perspectives. Interesting how Riggleman faces up that he won't get them all correct. But, it is hard to argue with the fact that it was 6-2 with six outs left. Really like Olsen's doggedness. Think he's a keeper...

A DC Wonk said...

So, why _was_ he pulled after 82 pitches?

Capitol Baseball said...

Love the interview, Mark. Thanks for it. I love the fire in most of our starters this year. They aren't looking for help. They're looking to go the whole game every time, because they truly think they can. It's a new fight this team hasn't seen. Great stuff.

Tegwar said...

Mark, maybe and I could be wrong but when Riggleman said, "But there's a lot of thought that goes into why I made that decision" he might be referring to the decision he is going to have to make in less than a month with Rizzo to possibly get rid of two bullpen arms and that with a 4 run lead he could get a better reading on his bullpen? Its hard to tell with the bullpen who you might keep and if I had to guess the 2 cuts will come from the bullpen with a current starter being sent to the pen when Strasburg comes up. Maybe I'm reading too much into this....

Mark Zuckerman said...

David: Yes, you're reading WAY too much into that.

DC Wonk: Olsen was pulled after 82 pitches because he had been teetering on the brink of disaster for several innings.

Anonymous said...

Great interview, I really enjoyed both perspectives!

Natsochist said...

Great work, Mark - thanks! We all appreciate little bits like this.

Anonymous said...

Olsen seemed a bit sarcastic or am I reading too much into it?

A DC Wonk said...

Aeoliano -- just going by words alone, it didn't seem so much sarcastic as just a guy who's unhappy that he needs to do an interview about it, when what he'd rather do is just let it go already and leave it behind.

Or an _I_ reading too much into it? ;-)

Slidell said...

He certainly sounded sarcastic to me. But, maybe you had to be there.

Doc said...

MarkMeister, like the others I really liked your interviews with Rigs & Olsen. I would think that it takes a bit of chutzpah to do that kind of stuff. I mean both were kind of defensive, none more so than Olsen. Way to go kid!!

Section3MySofa said...

WADR, you can't tell who's defensive or sarcastic or po'd just from reading the text, sometimes. You don't see their expressions or body language, hear their tone of voice, the pauses, any of that. So it's usually wise, if less fun, to read a little less, rather than more, into these transcripts.
That said, yes, I do know where I live, and what about half of us do for a living.

Rachel said...

My guess is Riggleman told him it's fine for Scott to be mad when he gets pulled, but do it in his glove next time so they both don't have to answer these questions.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget, Olsen has a one-year "incentive-laden" contract. I think this goes deeper than just being pulled from this game. I think he's still angry about the way the Nats have handled him this season, beginning with their sending him to Syracuse instead of sending Mock. I think that pulling him early from this game just adds to his anger.

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