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Notes: Astros GM Click facing former team

@brianmctaggart
October 10, 2020

When the Rays secured the final out of the American League Division Series on Friday night to eliminate the Yankees, James Click’s phone started buzzing. And buzzing. And buzzing. That’s what happens when you’re in baseball and you’re set to face your former team in the AL Championship Series.

When the Rays secured the final out of the American League Division Series on Friday night to eliminate the Yankees, James Click’s phone started buzzing. And buzzing. And buzzing. That’s what happens when you’re in baseball and you’re set to face your former team in the AL Championship Series.

“It was a big night for that organization and team, and I’m happy for them,” he said.

Game Date Result Highlights
Gm 1 Oct. 11 TB 2, HOU 1 Watch
Gm 2 Oct. 12 TB 4, HOU 2 Watch
Gm 3 Oct. 13 TB 5, HOU 2 Watch
Gm 4 Oct. 14 HOU 4, TB 3 Watch
Gm 5 Oct. 15 HOU 4, TB 3 Watch
Gm 6 Oct. 16 HOU 7, TB 4 Watch
Gm 7 Oct. 17 TB 4, HOU 2 Watch

Click, who was hired as the Astros’ general manager in February after 14 years in the Rays' organization, spent a few minutes congratulating his former colleagues before drawing a line. Click turned his focus to beating the Rays, who had the best record in the AL and are one of the smartest organizations in baseball.

“On a scale from one to weird, it’s going to be weird,” Click said. “It’s something that all of us in this industry, or are lucky enough to be in this industry long enough, are going to face at some point. It’s not just me. There’s a lot of people who have a history with the Astros. … There’s a lot of people who contribute to this team. My focus right now is putting the Astros in the best position right now to beat them.”

Click joined the Rays in 2006 as the club’s coordinator of baseball operations, and he worked his way up with the franchise. He was the Rays’ vice president of baseball operations when the Astros hired him to replace Jeff Luhnow and oversee all aspects of the team’s baseball ops. He knows Tampa Bay’s roster and personnel inside and out, but the Astros didn’t play them this year.

“They are constantly improving, they are constantly adapting to the roster they have,” Click said. “The things I know about those players and [manager Kevin] Cash and his tendencies may come into play, and I hope I can add a little bit and anticipate a little what they may do. But at the same time, that’s one of the impressive things about their roster is they continue to adapt, they continue to find new, talented players, and even if you anticipate what they can do, we still have to go out there and beat them. We feel pretty good about the roster we have. We’re the reigning AL champs and plan to go out there and prove we can win this thing again.”

ALCS a Rays-Astros rematch -- kind of

Astros to add another arm
Manager Dusty Baker said the Astros will likely add a 14th pitcher to their roster for the ALCS, given that they could possibly play seven games in seven days. Houston added pitcher Luis Garcia and dropped infielder Jack Mayfield prior to the ALDS, giving them 13 pitchers. The ALCS roster will be unveiled prior to Sunday’s Game 1.

Among the candidates who could be added from the Astros' playoff pool are Cionel Pérez, who would give them another lefty option against the Rays’ stable of left-handed hitters. Earlier this year, the Rays fielded an all left-handed-hitting starting lineup for the first time in Major League history. The Astros currently have two lefties in their bullpen: Blake Taylor and Brooks Raley.

Another option could be right-hander Chase De Jong, who can provide some length and has an intriguing slider.

Having to go down to 14 position players won’t be too challenging for the Astros, who don’t use platoons and have used the same nine players in the starting lineup for five of six games in the playoffs this year. Catcher Garrett Stubbs, infielder Abraham Toro and outfielder Chas McCormick didn’t play in the ALDS.

Valdez, McCullers to start Gms 1, 2 for Astros

Sticking with Gurriel
Baker said Saturday he has no plans to bench veteran first baseman Yuli Gurriel, who slumped badly toward the end of the regular season and is 2-for-23 in the playoffs. Gurriel finished the regular season in a 4-for-42 rut that dropped his average from .265 to .232.

“You’ve got to stick with the guys that helped get you here,” Baker said.

One option for Baker would have been to start Aledmys Díaz at first base, especially against a left-hander like Blake Snell in Game 1. Díaz made one start in the ALDS and socked a homer in Game 3. Baker said Díaz will get some at-bats, but not at the expense of Gurriel.

“Yuli’s my first baseman,” he said. “You’re not going to find [your stroke] on the bench. You’ll find it playing. I’m not a guy who’s a fair-weather coach.”

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter.