Q. In today's game a lot is asked of a manager - beyond what's happening at the Major League level, understanding the entire system, top to bottom. How did your experience as a pr scouting director, as a farm director, all that play into your success here today?A.J. HINCH: You
Q. In today's game a lot is asked of a manager - beyond what's happening at the Major League level, understanding the entire system, top to bottom. How did your experience as a pr scouting director, as a farm director, all that play into your success here today?
A.J. HINCH: You know, I appreciate that question because I've seen a lot in the game. I've been in a lot of jobs. And really the goal was always to have a full understanding of how the organization operates, to have a full appreciation for the work of scouts, the work of coaches, the journey that a player takes from the draft all the way to the Big Leagues. And so I think more than anything I have an appreciation of what it takes to get here.
And I know part of their story. I know when players struggle, when players have success, when an organization has success, I guess there's just a culture way, to build off of that as an organization. So I feel like I've seen it all. I've been like in every job. But to be able to tie it all together at this level and have appreciation for the people that helped us get here that go unnamed often, it's part of my story, part of my journey.
Q. When you guys took the field at Dodger Stadium, the music you took it to. Did you ever own a copy of Player's Baby Come Back at any time in your life? And what was up your sleeve? You said you had something up your sleeve.
A.J. HINCH: No, to answer your first question, no, I've never. I have an array of music on my phone, that's not one of them.
And really that was more said in jest than there was going to be some sort of conspiracy against the Dodgers. I heard they had a quiet workout last night with no music, which I did not set up, but I fully approve of. So it's our building, it will be our music.
Q. J. J. Watt throwing out the first pitch tonight, what do you think about that?
A.J. HINCH: Better throw a strike. I love J.J. He's such a pillar of our community, and part of the city in so many ways. And really defines kind of the fabric of this city. And what he's done through his hurricane efforts, recovery efforts, is nothing short of extraordinary.
He's been through our clubhouse before. He's friends with a lot of the guys on our team. He's welcome in our clubhouse anytime he wants to, because of who he is and how he goes about it. I would expect a lot of loud cheers tonight. I would expect him to get one of the biggest ones.
Q. Just talked to Lance about the conversation you had with him before Game 7. And he was so amped up he had to sit in his driveway. What were you trying to tap into? He talked about how meaningful that was.
A.J. HINCH: To set up the story, he was disappointed he wasn't going to start Game 7. I called him on my drive home and wanted him to change his mindset, because we needed him to be good the next day. And I told him he didn't want to start the game, he wanted to finish the game. More than anything I wanted him to go to sleep with a clear mind and with a clear goal of what tomorrow was -- I didn't want him to carry the burden of the disappointment with him, because that wasn't going to help him be at his best.
I'm big in communicating with our players. I try to tell them everything that I know about how I'm going to use them or what their situation is. No bigger stage than before Game 7 at that point. He needed to know going to bed, listen, I have a role tomorrow, and my role is going to be pretty big. I told him, "You're going to be the pitcher that's going to get the final out while the team celebrates to go to World Series, and that's going to last forever, but you better be good. You've got to earn that. When I put you in the game I don't want to take you out of the game."
A little motivation, a little bit of I'm just giving him a clear picture of what the day was going to be like. And it played out perfectly and he delivered.
Q. You only used Verlander for 79 pitches. Could you possibly have a secret weapon for the next couple of days?
A.J. HINCH: No.
Q. Does that give you any flexibility?
A.J. HINCH: He's going to start Game 6.
Q. There's no thought of using him?
A.J. HINCH: I have not thought about him. Last time I used him as a reliever I got yelled at (laughter).
Q. How would you describe your relationship with your players? I know a manager has to walk a strange line between disciplinarian, friend, confidant, how do you approach that?
A.J. HINCH: First off, I'm their manager. I think what I want is a respectful relationship, and like any human interaction, some of them are going to be close, some are going to be a little more distant. Some guys need attention, some guys don't. I want attention from some guys, I don't from others. But I want it to be a consistent relationship that they can trust. And for me they know my No. 1 job is to get the most out of them. My No. 1 job is to do everything I can in the best interests of this team. Sometimes I've got to deliver bad news; sometimes I deliver good news. Sometimes I encourage; sometimes I can be pretty critical on what they need to do to get better, but I'll always be me. And I'll always be consistent and I'll always have their back. And that's the relationship I expect. It's the relationship we have.
To be honest with you, the players have to buy into what I'm saying in order for it to work. And I've been proud of the relationships I've built. They're not all perfect. They're not going to be perfect, but they're going to be real.
Q. How is your job different here with the analytics you have than in Arizona, what are the changes?
A.J. HINCH: Well, analytics, they've been in the game for a long time. They're more at the forefront now than ever before. So I think just -- they're more visible, there's more of them. They're more accepted. There's more expectations about how to utilize all the information.
I think our game's evolved to the point to where everyone has to choose to what extent they apply them. We all have them. 30 teams have really smart people that are working behind the scenes to provide that kind of information. How you use them is going to be the competitive advantage. If we think we have different ways to maximize performance, we're going to use it.
How is that different from Arizona? There's been a lot. I expect it to be different next year than this year. I think if it's growing at that kind of rate where we feel we can utilize information better, and imagine how far it's come from 2009.
So I think I'm proud that we're in an analytical-run organization. Because we need to have the most up-to-the-minute, up-to-date information as possible to help us win. How we apply it is what I'm most proud of it. We combine that with the human element, the human touch, the players' interaction, their feedback, the coaches that we have, and have a system in place that we hope is going to maximize their performance.
Q. Lance mentioned after Game 4, I believe it was in New York, when he hadn't been healthy, especially near the end of the year and there was a lot of mystery, you make the postseason roster and how he would be used in the postseason, going from being a reliever in the Division Series to a big-time starter and reliever, to giving him the ball in Game 3. How proud are you of him to get healthy and be a big contributor in the postseason?
A.J. HINCH: He came up -- back further, he came up as a huge prospect in 2015, made a big playoff start. And to handle every challenge we've ever given him. The one challenge he's had is being consistently healthy. You can't control that. And I think for him trying to push through some of the things this season, and while continuing to try to make his mark and be there for his teammates and take the ball every five days is a maturity that I've seen out of him that I've been very proud of.
The ability to step up in big moments I think is in his DNA. That's who he is. It's the moment that he loves. It's the adrenaline rush that comes with big moments is something that he thrives on. For that I'm proud of him. But obviously that's just how he's wired, how he's built.
This season means so much to so many people. And there are so many story lines that can go one way or the other. But the Lance McCullers All-Star in the first half, hit a couple of bumps in the road in the second half, to now being a very reliable, very important key cog in us trying to win a World Series is one of them.
Q. Just what you said towards the end of the analytics question about the human touch, that becomes the manager's job, right? Because the front office doesn't have that type of interaction?
A.J. HINCH: They're people, too.
Q. But that becomes the manager's job?
A.J. HINCH: It is my job. My job is to tie it all together and make it work. Obviously we all have a role in this but, again, what I've witnessed in this organization from behind the scenes is how much passion the front office has in what they believe in and what they're doing. And we're combining that to have one message, one synergy that goes from front office to the manager, the coaching staff, to the players. And it's all driven out of the desire to succeed. It's all driven out of the will to win. And how that's applied is, we come at this game at different ways. There's been 30 managers every year, there's 30 different stories on how we got there, who we are, what our background is. The same goes for front office.
We're people. They're people. And they're loving this run of success that we've had, because they're seeing it applied on the field in a great way.
Q. It seemed like your offense woke up there towards the end of Game 2. You guys seemed to seize the momentum of this series. Does some of that spill over into that game or is each game its own entity?
A.J. HINCH: Each game is its own entity. I'd love for it to say it's going to spill over, and it might. We've gone on some incredible offensive explosions this season. We have the best offense team in the league for a reason. I think it can be that way. But it depends on how Darvish is pitching. It depends on how their bullpen comes in, do they execute pitches, and how disciplined can we stay.
Then we go out on the field there's going to be a cool pregame, and get to run out on the field and introductions again. We are going to go back in the dugout and get ready to compete. I don't think there's a lot of guys thinking about the back end of Game 2. Game 2 is in the rearview mirror. We have to worry about today. We've got our hands full.