Giants skipper Alou on expectations, experience and BarryPosted: Tuesday March 25, 2003 1:11 AM
Updated: Tuesday March 25, 2003 3:20 AM
Felipe Alou has been around baseball all his life. His brothers played pro ball with him. His son plays for the Chicago Cubs. Now, finally, after more than nine years as manager of the struggling Montreal Expos (with whom he won the National League Manager of the Year award in 1994), the soon-to-be 68-year-old Alou has a team with a chance: the NL champion San Francisco Giants. SI.com's John Donovan talked with Alou in his office at Scottsdale Stadium recently for this edition of 10 Questions.
Q: Is it harder to manage a good team like the Giants, even with all the expectations following a World Series trip, or to manage a not-so-good team with low expectations like the Expos?
A: This is much easier. I'd rather have a good team. I'd rather have a team where the majority of guys know what it takes to get to the Series. It's not an easy task. But I'd rather be here.
Q: What about the expectations on you, taking over for a highly successful Dusty Baker?
A: I had high expectations for me, as a player and as a minor league manager and manger now. I don't care about other people's expectations. I've always been a manager that has always had confidence. A lot. I mean, I've had all kinds of stuff. I don't want to get into it all. But if I tell you all the names I was called over the course of a lifetime ... I wouldn't be here now. I have expectations for me. Whatever people expect of me or think of me ... I've put that behind me.
Q: What do you see as the single biggest question facing the Giants this spring?
A: I believe how to get Neifi Perez enough game time. He's a giant of a player. He's proven it before, he's proving it in this camp and, unfortunately, I don't have the room for a talent like that. I say this because I don't want anybody to get hurt or hit a bad slump so Neifi Perez could become a regular. It's really a tough situation. There are a lot of challenges. But I hate to have talent like that sitting on the bench.
Q: Do you know everybody's first name here in camp?
A: Yeah. I know every first name. And last name.
Q: That's not always an easy thing in a new organization, is it?
A: Usually the young guys are the ones, you know? But I have spent a tremendous amount of time working with the young guys. I can say right now that at least the guys who are here, who were at this camp, I know them by their first and last name and by their faces. I have dealt with crowds with the Expos. Trying to find players from that group. I feel good here with the situation. Over there, you're looking for players. Over here, we're looking for faces and names. Because, really, we're not looking for that many guys.
Q: Have you had a chance to talk to Baker about the Giants?
A: No. We don't talk about it. We talk about ourselves and life and friendship. We don't even talk about Moises Alou, my son. That's private. He's with the team over there and I'm with this team here. We respect each other a lot. And we have to compete when the season starts. This profession kind of forces you to choose.
Q: Is there a Giants player who you have come to know that has surprised you a little bit?
A: I didn't know that Barry Bonds was such a good hitter. [Smiles] I knew he was a tremendous hitter, but I found out some of the reasons -- not all -- that make him one of the greatest hitters that probably ever played.
Q: Like ...?
A: The way this guy prepares himself, the way he studies hitting, opposing pitchers, the way he takes batting practice. These are the kind of stuff ... I knew the guy was a great hitter. I knew that. I kind of neglected, being with another team, the fact that this guy works so hard. He studies so deeply and so intensely the game. And he's so quick. He's so quick. It's amazing, his hands.
Q: How many times this spring has your age been brought up?
Q: So what's your answer when someone asks if a man your age is up to the challenge?
A: I knew they were going to bring it up. They never brought it up before. When I was managing 'A' ball at age 40 and age 50 they never brought it up. Nobody ever said 'How come they have this guy managing 'A' ball for 10 years?' Nobody brought it up, the age. Thank God they're bringing it up now. There was a time there was the race and the nationality and the language. And now it's the age. They keep bringing up the age because, thank God, I don't believe there's anything else they can bring up.