On getting standing ovation when he came to bat in sixth
“It’s nice to be appreciated. Smart fans, knowing that this is it. I was just glad to get in there. I’ve been working on some stuff the last couple of days, and it’s nice to get a nice result out of it. I think A.J. for coming right at me [laughter]. I’m proud of A.J. He’s a good guy and he’s done it right for a long time. Well-deserved for him coming off the field, as well.”
On winning 94 games
“That’s a lot of games. You win 94 games, a lot of teams win the division with that. I certainly think we played well enough to win the division this year, but Washington just played a little bit better. We’ve got to get over this one-game playoff thing to give ourselves a legitimate shot at what we were all shooting for out of spring training.”
On this September compared to last
“Like I said last year at the end of the year, I think we’ll look back on that September as a learning experience more than anything else. And you saw no better example than the way we played this September.”
On getting a pinch-hit single in his last plate appearance, after getting a pinch single for his first career hit
“Good to go out the same way I came in. Obviously the storybook would be to hit the ball in the river. I don’t try to do that as much as I used to. I’m happy with the slap singles to right…. Yeah, you only have one first at-bat and one last at-bat.”
Does it make it any tougher to retire after the success team and you’ve had?
“No. My body’s done. I’m shot. I’m happy that I get to go out on my own terms. I’m happy that I didn’t have to hear I should have retired two or three years ago. That all makes me proud, makes me glad that I came back. But being with this group of guys is the main reason why I did come back. I’m happy for them and happy we have an opportunity to play some more baseball.”
On Sheets’ final inning
“I thought that was awesome. He came off the field and he was like, ‘I’m done. I blew it out for one inning.’ He can say he made it back. That right there was the Ben Sheets that we all hated facing back in the day. All the young guys were saying, is that how he was for nine innings? And we were like, yep, that was it. You could see, when he’s throwing 94-95 and he’s got the yacker [curveball], he’s basically untouchable.”
On the eight-pitcher, four-hit shutout
“Yeah, maybe the Rockies do have something.” [Rockies began limiting starters to 4-5 innings this season.] But you’d need a 35-man roster to do that kind of stuff.
“We got some things accomplished today and we got the win, so that’s good. We got some at-bats from guys. Sheetsy coming in and blowing 95, 96 [mph]. Maybe we should put him in the bullpen instead of starting him. But that’s good. Good for him and good for the team to get the win. Like I said, we got some at-bats, got some bench guys in there, got our bullpen the work we wanted them to get. It’s nice to see O’Flaherty go out there and give you one inning. He felt great coming out. That was good. A lot of good stuff.”
On Chipper getting a hit in his last regular-season plate appearance
“Do even doubt that was going to happen? That’s what he’s been doing. It was nice for Pittsburgh fans to give him a hell of an ovation. But he’s so appreciated around the league that nothing like that surprises you anymore.”
On Sheets, did he just go in and kind of blow it all out in the first inning?
“That’s what he did. Roger said it took him like two minutes to warm up. He said, let’s go, I’m ready go to. And he comes in [after first inning] and he goes, ‘Ok, that’s all I’ve got, boys. That’s all I’ve got. No more.’
“It was a nice ending to a successful season. Now we’ve got another season ahead of us. Let’s keep playing.”
It was almost as if Sheets knew how many bullets he had left and wasn’t going to waste them…
“He wasn’t going to waste them warming up, yeah. He said let’s go, that’s all I’ve got. It’s been a pleasure and a great experience having him around for 3-1/2, four months, since the All-Star break. Great teammate, and guys love him.”
On Delgado striking out side in his one inning
“Yeah, it was nice to see him pitch there, and also Teheran. It’s been such a long season, I saw Teheran come in and I saw he’s got a 7 ERA. I turned to Roger and said, ‘Roger, why does he have a 7 ERA, he hasn’t pitched for us in the big leagues?’ He said, ‘Oh, yeah, he pitched back against the Phillies.’ I didn’t even know he had pitched here one time before. I couldn’t even remember.
“It was nice to see those two guys pitch and to get some bullpen guys some work, get ‘em lined up.”
Any chance Sheets, if he feels good after this, could pitch in the postseason out of the ‘pen?
“You know what, if the World Series goes [the distance], and the last game is Nov. 2, he could go like every 30 days…. No, I’m just kidding. No, no. Our bullpen is pretty much set, and we wouldn’t want to do that to him.”
If someone told you in spring training that you’d get 94 wins this season and go to postseason, would you have taken that?
“Absolutely. Ninety-four wins you’ll take anytime. Again, I’m so proud of the club. Our goal is always to win the division. That didn’t happen because Washington had a heckuva year and they have a hell of a ballclub. But we’re in the postseason. That’s what we want. We want to get in and see how far we can play.”
“He drove in a run. I think he’s driven in runs in four out of five or five out of seven games. It was nice to see that.”
On hitting 94-96 mph on the radar gun
“Yeah, I just threw my ball like I have my whole career.”
Feel good to have one last chance to let it fly?
“It felt great.”
On one of his former coaches being here
“One of my Legion-ball guys who gave me a true opportunity to pitch in the summer league, when I sent out the text last night he made sure to get here. So that was kind of cool.”
Come full circle, Braves gave you opportunity to pitch for a contender
“Half a summer. They gave me an opportunity to pitch for a great team that’s going to go to the playoffs, and hopefully do something special. And to be a part of it in any capacity, it was fun.”
On reaction of teammates in the dugout after he came off field in first
“I guess it was good. I had a good time, and they were very respectful and seemed to be happy. That was nice.”
Did you let it fly for an inning, almost like you knew how much you had left in your arm?
“I’ve got a lot left in my arm. That wasn’t the question for me. I knew I was going to do well. I knew my velocity was going to be up. I’ve been feeling really good. I’ve gotten a lot stronger over the last month. To say I was shocked by the stuff – no, I wasn’t, to tell you the truth. One inning’s a lot different than six.”
Fredi said it only took couple of innings for you to get warmed up
“When you’re healthy, it’s not that hard to get loose. Like I said, I’ve felt strong. I thank those guys for giving me a last start. I went out with a good one. I wish I had gotten an opportunity to come out of the bullpen in this last month. In my mind, I thought that one inning would look like that, you know, and I thought that could be good and I thought maybe somebody would like that. It’s Oct. 3 and I come out for an inning and it looked pretty good.”
Does it make you think maybe you should try to pitch again for someone in that role?
“I’m good, dude. You don’t get to pick when you walk away sometimes. And to have an opportunity to go away with that one? For me, that’s pretty good, man. It’s nice to to know that I can still do this.”
Did you think you could still get it up to 96 like you did on that last pitch?
“I’m not going to lie to you – yeah, I did. I mean, it wasn’t a shock. I know when the ball’s coming out of my hand good. I had gotten stronger and been feeling good. I know the ball was going to come out [well]. I didn’t know what the results were going to be; it’s been quite a while. Just repeat my delivery. To answer your question, yeah, I knew I was going to throw the crap out of the ball.”
Maybe a bullpen role instead of retirement?
“Man, I’ve never thrown an inning out of the bullpen in my life. I think if I had been in their plans, it wouldn’t have been Oct. 3. I’m fine with the decision. I’m just glad they gave me an opportunity to be a part of it throughout the regular season. I had a blast. To end it like this is icing on the cake.”