Not without Joe Blanton, the Aces of the Phillies staff will have a press conference in Clearwater, FL. Scheduled to begin at 1:30. Post your comments below.
Q: What’s going through your mind?
Lee: Just preparing for the season, excited to be back. Honored to be a part of it.
Q: Joe, is there any part of you that is surprised to still be here?
Blanton: I got here through a trade so I take it as it is what it is and try to not pay attention and get ready for the season. I am glad to be back here and didn’t put too much thought into it.
Q: When you watch each other pitch, is there anything you’d like to have from one another?
Halladay: I wish I threw left handed…. It’s fun to watch all of them. We all do something different. Everybody up here works quick, it’s fun to watch.
Q: Why are you sitting here instead of with the Yankees?
Lee: I felt like this was the best chance to win a world championship. I played here in the past and enjoyed myself here.
Q: Cole, what are your expectations and confidence level?
Hamels: Every year we’ve gotten a lot smarter and made big acquisitions. Shows the organization wants to win. We love to play the game and we are very aggressive. If we stay healthy we’re gonna take care of our business and make it to the post-season and then it’s anybody’s game.
Q: How much do you want to be the best out of this group? How much will it drive you?
Lee: I could care less what the guy ahead of me did, I want to do the best I can regardless. Of course I hope everybody throws a shutout every night, but I’m going to go try and do the same thing no matter what. I don’t compete against these guys, I compete against the other team.
Q: Given where you were a couple of years ago, do you ever want to pinch yourself?
Halladay: Yeah, definitely. A big part for me is not just having a great staff but having a great chance to make the playoffs and win a world series. That’s what every player wants. I remember five or so years ago I used to want to go to Oakland and pitch with them guys. I’m definitely excited. This is why you come to places like this, to be around the best players and get to the post-season and win the world series.
Q: What’s the best rotation that you guys can remember? Who would you like to be compared to?
Lee: We haven’t thrown a pitch as a group yet so it’s a little early to say we’re the best rotation in the history of the game. Obviously, there’s potential. The best I can remember is the Braves with Maddux, Smoltz, Avery. The Braves were always on TBS and I could watch a lot of games.
Q: Where were you when Cliff resigned? You talked about retiring after this season?
Oswalt: I didn’t find out until the next day, someone texted me and told me we signed Cliff. I’m gonna play this year and see how it goes and see where my body is at. I’ll go from there. I’d like to stay, I love Philly.
Q: What’s it like dealing with this group away from the park?
Halladay: We’ve spent about two and a half hours so far.
Hamels: Oh yeah, we’re really tight.
Halladay: That’s what surprised me most last year. Everybody did get along really well. I think thats a big reason that this team is really good. Not just the staff, but the whole team. During the season there are a lot of games so there’s not much going out to dinner and things like that. You bond on the field.
Hamels: We all have kinda the same values and that makes it a lot easier for us to relate. We hang out a lot in the outfield during BP and that gives us a good chance to get to know everybody. The organization sensed that and I think that’s why they put us together.
Q: Would anything less than a WS win be a disappointment?
Lee: Obviously thats the ultimate goal. We gotta get there. Once we’re in the post-season, yeah, you gotta win the last game. It’s hard to say its disappointing to not get a ring right now but thats what every team should be playing for. That’s what it’s all about. I probably expect more out of myself than anybody expects of me. There’s a lot of things we gotta take care of between now and then to make sure it happens. I know everybody expects this and that, but it’s February. There’s a lot of work for us to do today to prepare for tomorrow. If we’re healthy and take care of business, we’re gonna give ourselves a pretty good chance. Saying we’re gonna win the WS now is for you guys to say, not us. Nothing is going to be given to us just because we have a good rotation, offense and the right people. We need to focus on today.
Q: What did you learn from the rotation in Houston? Can you still learn today?
Oswalt: I learned preparation from Clemens and Pettitte. That was the best thing I picked up from them. I come here and these guys are doing the same thing. I get here and I see Doc and Cole in the video room picking up on things they’re going to do. As a pitcher, you pick up anything you can to try and get the odds on your side any time. You can always grow. I picked up a couple of things even last year from Doc mechanics wise. Anytime you go out you can watch and learn.
Q: Now you’re a #5, what kind of advantages does that give you against other #5s?
Blanton: I’m facing the other lineup, not the other pitcher. Hopefully the other team falls asleep thinking they dont have to face one of these four guys.
Q: Nobody talked about the Phillies, but did you have the Phillies as the team you were gonna wind up with the whole time?
Lee: This is where I’m at so I think that says enough. I coulda got more money but that wasn’t what it was all about. It was about what team gave me a chance to win more over the life of my contract and I think this was it. Texas was a great team and that was a great option too. The Yankees with their history, that’s a good option. There were three good options. I looked at each team and I felt like this was the best option to win multiple rings. The fans had a lot to do with it, the stadiums packed, there’s a lot of hype every game. It’s a great feeling playing here.
Q: So it was Phillies all the way?
Lee: I guess, sure. Yeah. Phillies all the way.
Q: Is there any part of you that feels like you get overlooked? Do you feel like you’ll be here all season? For the other guys, is there any part of you that cringes when Joe gets slighted?
Blanton: I’m not big on the attention. I don’t think these guys are either. Nobody wants to stick out and be like I’m the man. Winning is the biggest part. This is a great opportunity, I like where I’m at. Sometimes you can’t really think about it. All I’m trying to do is go out and win another world series with Philadelphia. Everything else is out of my control, it’s out of my hands.
Q: What is your expectations of the rest of the guys on the field?
Lee: I don’t know how to answer that but I’ll try. I’m gonna say I hope they prepare and get ready like they should everything will work out. We’ve gotta great offense, bullpen and staff. We should match up.
Q: So who’s the best hitter?
Lee: I am.
Hamels: I think Joe’s the only one with a HR.
Q: What does it say about you and this team that everybody checks their egos and allows this to work?
Hamels: I think the organization did a really good job of getting players that have really good egos. Being able to add guys that are good. I am young, if I can learn from these guys I feel like I can get better and compete another level. We love this game so much and the ultimate goal is to go to a world series. Joe and I have rings, but we wanna get another one. That’s why we’re all sitting here.
Q: Though you’re the youngest, you’re the longest tenured Phillie. When you got to the new stadium people said they wouldn’t attract pitchers to this park. Now look. Do you marvel in it?
Hamels: I think you have to. If we pitch well this offense is going to win us games. The fans come out to this ballpark and even to different parks. I think I’ve been able to see the transformation. Philadelphia is a great baseball town.
Q: Is there any nickname that you think might stick?
Lee: What are our nicknames anyway? (Four Aces, Fantastic Four, R2C2) They all add up to four, so none of them sound good. You gotta come up with one for five. We don’t get caught up in all of that, really. The bottom line is winning.
Q: Those Braves pitchers would talk about the natural competition. Will you guys feed off of each other?
Hamels: Knowing that every guy can come in and do a great job each night eases the tension. You don’t have to be the man. We’re gonna do the best we possibly can.
Q: Putting the uniform back on today, is there any surprise that you’re back? Who was it that you first heard from in the Phillies organization to start the negotiations?
Lee: No surprise left. More anticipation and excited to be a part of it and get it going. The first person I heard from was Ruben and Scott Profrok. Those guys had a big part of that. I wasn’t really in the process, it was more of my agent. I’m glad they got it done.
Q: Did your love of the cheesesteaks have anything to do with coming back?
Lee: I like the cheesesteaks but that had nothing to do with it.
Q: You got a taste of the post-season. Was it more difficult to accept that you got so close and didn’t win it than not making it at all?
Halladay: It was definitely harder this off-season. A lot of us are at the point where the biggest thing left for us to do is to win it all. That was my only goal last year. Coming up short is definitely hard. Disappointing. Like Cliff said, you have to focus on the job at hand and getting there. That being said, my goal this year is to win a world championship. That’s why I still want to play this game. I wanna be part of a world championship team. It would be tough to get close again and not win it.
Q: Cliff, could you reflect on the rollercoaster nature of last year? How nice is the stability?
Lee: Yeah, I got traded to start the season to Seattle where there were expectations. I started out hurt and that’s never good. I got a few starts and pitched well but the team didn’t perform as expected. Fortunately, I was traded to a team that was in a good position with the Rangers. I got a chance to go back to the world series. It was a great expierience. Looking back, I enjoyed every bit of it. I’m glad I got to go through that and experience the different organizations and play with those great players. Some of the best players in the game. it was a great experience. Without being traded I would have never seen any of that. I got to play in back to back world series with two different teams. Hpoefully I get to be a little more stable and experience some more world series with this team. It’s all about the ring, that’s the ultimate prize. That’s what we’re hungry for and that’s what we want. Every single team in baseball should bethinking that right now. We’re all even.
Q: Cliff, you said that the Phillies were the team you really wanted to go to. How far along in the process was it that Ruben contacted you? Did you ever say to your agent let’s engage the Phillies?
Lee: Obviously for me to be here there was a point where I said let’s talk to the Phillies. It was the first time I was a free agent and I enjoyed it. It was a learning experience. Obviously there was a time that I had to say let’s talk to the phillies. They were late in the process and they kept it hush hush, which I think helped their chances. Nobody knew what was going on until the last second. It wasn’t publicized. I think that’s the way it should be done. Theres way too much out in the media.
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