CAL ELDRED: I think losing, you know, losing Al, I'm not very happy about it, and I'm sure our team isn't, either, but you know, we've had in the bullpen all year, it seems like we've had an extra right-hander when we've needed it, and I think a guy that stepped up for the team when I was out and maybe when some of the other guys may not have been -- which very few of them struggled at all, but Brad Thompson really stood up. Brad stood out for us, and you know, he's done a great job in that role, but you know, I think we'll miss Al, but I think it's something that all the other right-handers will be able to piece together what we lose by losing Al.
Cal, what are the benefits of having three veteran outfielders like you guys have who have been -- I hate to say it -- have been here before?
ELDRED: Well, it's great having the middle one be pretty fast. You know, the thing is you have veteran outfielders. They have a pretty good idea where to -- how to play guys even though our coaches, you know, Dave McKay and Joe Pettini do a good job of positioning those guys. They get good jumps on the ball. They know how to play the game. They're thinking ahead. It's all those things that add up and make a veteran. That's a big key plus not only defensively, but you know when they're going up there to the plate, you're going to get a quality at-bat every time.
Cal, when you were going through the stuff in April and May, was there ever a time when it was hard to see yourself here pitching in the postseason, coming off what turned out to be a pretty good year on the field? I mean, was that ever any kind of doubt, or did you wonder whether you'd be able to be here?
ELDRED: I would have to say about the first month of it, you know, when you're laying on the couch and you can't get off the couch and you want to -- you can't even lay down, you've got to sit up, really, to breathe, yeah. I -- I had my questions of whether it was going to happen, especially because I know the expectations of this organization and this ball team and the players, and I was a long ways from being in a position to help. But you know, it kind of almost goes back to the question when we lost Al, you know. When I wasn't there, Brad stepped in and did a great job, but it was -- it felt like I was a long way from where we are right now even though it's gotten here in a hurry. I'm very thankful to have the opportunity again.
Cal, last year or coming up on Saturday when you started Game 1, when Carpenter went down as starting against you, what kind of presence was Woody specifically in the last postseason but also through the few years here?
ELDRED: I think what you have with Woody -- I'll probably restate what a lot of people have said, but I think what you have with Woody is you have a quality teammate, a quality man, and a guy who is going to leave everything he has out on the field when it comes time to play the game. You know with all that said, you know that it won't be an easy -- an easy game for us come Saturday.
Cal, I know this is kind of off track, but Mike Martz is a pretty visible guy in the community, what he does. It sounds like he might be dealing with something similar that you had to deal with. Speculation. I know it's all speculative, but when you hear about somebody going through something that sounds like what you went through and somebody has a high stress position like that? I mean, we're all talking about when this guy's going to come back. You would know more than any of us, but how does that sound when you hear somebody might have something like what you had, and they're talking about coming back this weekend?
ELDRED: Well, it was funny because Walt Enoch, our chapel leader here, does the same thing here for the -- for the Rams. We were kind of talking about it, and he said there's some sketchy details that have to be figured out yet, but he knows he's run down, and I know that feeling. You know, you have to pay attention to it. The toughest thing -- one of the first things they told me even into Houston before I was diagnosed with what I had, they said you need to take a couple weeks off and just rest. I'm sure Mike Martz is not hearing that at all. They may be telling him that, but he's not hearing it and he doesn't want to hear it, but yet for his health, you know, I mean, it's -- it's hard to slow down. He's right smack in the middle of everything he wants to accomplish and the team wants to accomplish, so I feel for him right now. I mean, if the Rams fans want to do anything, they can pray for him, because he's going to need a lot of -- a lot of -- a lot of help in this situation. He's going to feel exhausted, and it's a tough thing because in that situation if you don't take care of yourself, it can be a long-term problem.
It wasn't an option for you. You had to -- you had to lay off. There was no ifs, ands or buts about it.
ELDRED: Yeah, but I'm replaceable, you know. He's -- he means a lot to that organization, and you know, it's something that -- he's not a relief pitcher. He's the head man over there. He's calling all the shots, but still, when the bottom line comes, you've got to be concerned about his health and his well-being.
Cal, you mentioned Brad Thompson a couple times here. Has he picked your brain a little bit about the position, and did he spend a lot of time kind of quizzing folks out there on the job? What are some of the things you guys have talked about with him?
ELDRED: You know, I think the biggest thing is just sitting in the bullpen when situations arise, being here for three years. I'm not going to say I know what Tony's going to do or Dunc's going to do, but I have a better idea than I did two years ago. I try to explain to him sometimes when something may not necessarily totally make sense to him or he just is asking why did this happen, so that -- a lot of that has been done. The other thing is, I'd like to explain to him how to use his stuff, but he has better stuff than I do, so he's got that advantage there. But you know, the difference is the experience, and so that's what he's gaining, being able to throw on Tuesday was huge for him. It was huge for Randy. Those are big -- that's a big deal, you know. Some people -- I don't think we weigh that in. That's a big deal to be able to throw. Even for an old guy to get out there and get his feet wet in the postseason, it's a big deal, so a lot of the things that we've talked about in the bullpen are just situations, how to use his stuff, and you know, how to be prepared. I think he and Randy have really done a great job this year keeping themselves physically ready to go. I mean, they're here early, they get their running in, they get their work done, which is something that you don't see, you know, most people don't see and don't realize that those guys are doing that kind of a thing.
So, back to your original point. How long did it take before you could understand Tony and Dunc?
ELDRED: You guys want to know, don't you? I'll give you my phone number down in the bullpen. I'll let you know what they're doing, but no. You know, what they do, and I try to explain this to -- it's one of the things I talked to Brad about is what he -- what Tony and Dunc do. They try to put guys in positions to be successful. When you do that, you're going to be putting guys in a position to help the ballclub. At the end of the year, don't worry about your numbers. At the end of the year, you're going to look pretty good.
Cal, I know this isn't necessarily a time you're looking ahead, but between the physical stuff you went through and the things that have changed in your family and gone on in your family in the last year, how does all of that color or change what you think about what might lie ahead after -- after this year and this offseason?
ELDRED: It's a -- a lot has happened. I mean, my wife and I were talking about it last night. When you flip the calendar back 12 months, our lives have really changed a tremendous amount, so some things may not mean as much to us any more like they did in the past, and some things mean more. So it's -- you know, as far as the future, we know that they couldn't even tell us when we were playing Saturday until just a few minutes ago, and there's an asterisk next to that, so we are trying to right now really enjoy where we're at, and when you get an opportunity to play professional baseball and you get a chance to be in the playoffs and a part of a team with this type of group of guys and the people that run this team, that's pretty special. That's what we're telling ourselves right now, just enjoy where you're at, you know. Work at it as hard as you can, enjoy it, but there is a time of evaluation coming up and hands down, there's no doubt about it. That's probably -- there's probably going to be some tough decisions to make, but yet you kind of leave it at the fact that I'm a father of five kids, the oldest one is 10, and I really enjoy being with them. I'm not the guy that would say you know, hey, I'm going to retire so I can spend time with my kids because I'd like to think I do that already, but there may be some other responsibilities I just need to pay closer attention to.
You said things have changed your values of what's important. Is that one of the elements that has changed, to expose your kids to this time of the year? Has that changed the value of this time of year in a way?
ELDRED: Yeah. I think in Spring Training, my sons and I had a conversation about the fact that hey, you know, it's not every kid has an opportunity to, you know, spend time with Albert Pujols and Scott Rolen and guys like that. They kind of take it for granted that they spend time with Mike Matheny, because we've spent a lot of time together as families, but they just see the opportunity to come into the clubhouse and be a part of shagging during BP and also now they understand that there's only eight teams that are playing right now, and so letting them enjoy that, seeing them come to the game on Tuesday with probably the only six people that had Eldred jerseys on, but you know, they do make an Eldred jersey, but you have to get the number and the name put on the back. But you know, that's something I want them to see that, enjoy that. My girls, they think Dad's going to work, you know. They ask me if I have a day off, you know, so they want Dad to be around, but yeah. That's one of those things, you know. Let them know that what they're being a part of is -- is pretty special. It really is.
Courtesy of FastScripts by ASAP Sports. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.