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A.J. Hinch Game 4 pregame interview

MLB.com

Q. We know that the obvious stuff with Brad doing what he did, but the rewards for him going as long as he did, not having to use other people in the bullpen, what are the implications of that going forward?

A.J. HINCH: Well, we have a rested bullpen. Brad took care of that last night, which was nice to see. And I also think obviously anytime you get wins, that brings a nice boost to a clubhouse, especially during a World Series, that you're inching closer to your dream.

Can't say enough good things about what Peacock did last night, but most importantly it's about the game. I think these guys know it's all hands on deck right now. You're trying to get as many wins as you can, on the race to four wins. Peacock certainly played a huge role in win No. 2.

Q. How much were you involved with what happened with Gurriel, and how do you feel about the resolution?

A.J. HINCH: You know, I wasn't really all that involved other than a couple of conversations here and there. This is above all of us in the sport. So I was very aware of what was going on last night when I went home. I knew there was going to be a meeting today with the Commissioner. And I was briefed right after the meeting with whether or not he could be in the lineup. And I think that was the first question was, what was going to happen? The second question was how we were going to deal with it as a team.

So my feeling on the ruling is we owe the respect to the Commissioner's Office at the highest level that he's spoken on behalf of the whole sport. I understand the gravity of this type of things. And I have great remorse that it involved our team. And Yuli has great remorse, and I appreciate that out of him.

It's very personal for me with Dave Roberts and his family heritage and Yu. We had Nori Aoki on this team earlier this season, and we know how diverse our sport is. And so we support everything that's right about this game, and we'll move forward, if everyone will allow us to. And knowing Yuli, knowing what he will do to convince everyone that this incident was not in his heart will be key. And then also how everybody else responds to the cultural diversity that is our sport, will all be governed by the Commissioner's Office. And we'll support and continue to try to educate everyone.

Q. You talk about how the next game is always the only one you're focused on. 11 wins to win the World Series, you're at nine. Do you find it easy to continue to think like that as you draw closer?

A.J. HINCH: Sure. Well, we don't have No. 10 yet, and that would be nice to get tonight. We certainly know what's at stake. And so do the Dodgers. I think this is the best time of all of our lives. I think a lot of us are in this for the first time; we're trying to soak up everything we can.

But it's not hard. When you look across the way and you've got to face the Dodgers again and go through the middle of their lineup again, knowing that they're going to try to make adjustments against your pitching to get the lead, that's -- it's about today's competition. And we have been so disciplined for three years that I've been here at worrying about today. We're not going to all of a sudden change course and get too far ahead of ourselves.

We're well aware of how bizarre this offseason can be, or has been, or this postseason. We also know that the series isn't over. And we went through this in the Championship Series, where it wasn't over when were up 2-0. It wasn't over when we were down 3-2. It wasn't over in Game 7 until the last out. This series will be treated the same.

Q. Can you talk about the confidence you have in Charlie. He's a quiet, unassuming guy. Dallas said, people outside don't realize as we do in the clubhouse, he wants to be the man.

A.J. HINCH: He does. I hope he copies and pastes his Game 7 performance and can go even a little deeper in this game. Again, a quiet guy who doesn't ask for a lot of attention, but takes the ball every fifth day and has stuff that can get through lineups.

And for him, because he's so genuine, and quiet and unassuming, there'd be days where you don't hear him at all, and he's just part of the team, that you can sometimes confuse that quietness with a lack of confidence or a lack of competitiveness, and that's not the case. This guy is confident. He wants the ball. He's competitive. Once he gets on the rubber, I think he feels like he can dictate the game. His first 96-mile-an-hour fastball will prove that.

Our guys have a lot of confidence in him. Being unassuming can be a good thing. He just does his job methodically, prepares himself, and comes out and wants to do well for his teammates. And that resonates with teammates, coaches, et cetera.

Q. He's in here yesterday telling us, he's throwing 88 miles an hour, getting booed off the mound in Pittsburgh. Calls it absurd he's here. Did you recognize when you guys acquired this, that this was a guy that 97 with sink, did you know what you had in addition to being a big-time playoff pitcher?

A.J. HINCH: Sure. I think he's getting playoff tested now and I think he's answered the challenge. I think for us it starts with scouting and development in our front office. They identified him as a target that was going to help us. From the very beginning of us chasing him down, he had a ton of support within our organization. And the more you dug in on him, the more you realized that the weapons were there. There were some health questions coming out of last year. There was how many starters were coming back for us. We had health questions in Keuchel and McCullers starting the year. But when you're their own, you have this confidence, hey, these guys are going to step up and be there for you. When it's a brand-new guy to your family, you've got to check him out a little bit and talk to him and get to see what he's all about.

But from the time that Spring Training started, the presence, he was 95 from the very beginning. I think some of the adjustments that Brent Strom and Craig Bjornson and our analytical department suggested to him, he immediately applied. He's a continuos learner. He's open to change. His pitch usage got better and the results started coming. He started getting some swings and misses, he started getting some funny swings, and that grew and that confidence grew. And the season got into, it where he was stashed away towards the back of the rotation, but performing admirably. And when he came back from his injury, pitched extraordinarily well, to where he's earned these postseason start. And obviously in the postseason he's done very well.

Q. In regard to Kershaw, how tough is it for a player to kind of shake a narrative, right or wrong, about him once that's been developed? And how impressed were you to see the way he commanded Game 1?

A.J. HINCH: I think in our game you can get pegged a lot of things. And just in terms of an immediate tag on what you've done recently. And you hope over time, whether it's good or bad, you can either strengthen it or reverse it, if things aren't going well for you. And I think in a lot of ways you're judged in this game quickly. No more easing into the Big Leagues as a young player. You don't contribute right away, you're overhyped or you're not a prospect and you need to go down to the Minor Leagues. Trust me, you lose a couple games as a first-time manager, that doesn't go very well either until you win.

So guys like Kershaw who have excelled every single step of the way, are going to beat it over time. I think everybody believes in that. You believe that player has the capabilities of doing it. When they do it, I don't love that it was done against us, if this is now when you're going to rip that tag off. But I appreciate the journey that those guys had to take. Sometimes the narrative doesn't fit the fact.

Q. Looking forward to tomorrow, what is the difficulty for a guy like Dallas, who relies obviously on a lot of movement to face the same team twice in five days?

A.J. HINCH: I don't think it's a problem if he can execute pitches. Again, you can put Kershaw in this, Verlander in this, McCullers fits in this category, the elite pitchers in the league, when they execute, you can see it over and over and still not hit it, if you're on the offensive side.

So it comes down to execution and being able to adjust. Obviously how he pitches the middle of the order, you know, may or may not change how his execution is going to be No. 1. Dallas, like a lot of great pitchers will stay with his strengths until the other team proves otherwise. And his strengths can only be valued as strengths if he executes. If he is misfiring on where he's trying to throw the ball and they're getting hits, they're not really hitting his strengths, they're hitting his mistakes.

The key will be to harness the energy that comes with this building. He loves pitching at this place. He's had success at this place. And it's the stage of the World Series. I think that's a bigger issue than a guy like Keuchel facing the same team.

Q. If you get another four or five quality innings out of him like you did in Game 7, is your plan to go to the pen and go to maybe to another starter like McHugh or --

Q. We know that the obvious stuff with Brad doing what he did, but the rewards for him going as long as he did, not having to use other people in the bullpen, what are the implications of that going forward?

A.J. HINCH: Well, we have a rested bullpen. Brad took care of that last night, which was nice to see. And I also think obviously anytime you get wins, that brings a nice boost to a clubhouse, especially during a World Series, that you're inching closer to your dream.

Can't say enough good things about what Peacock did last night, but most importantly it's about the game. I think these guys know it's all hands on deck right now. You're trying to get as many wins as you can, on the race to four wins. Peacock certainly played a huge role in win No. 2.

Q. How much were you involved with what happened with Gurriel, and how do you feel about the resolution?

A.J. HINCH: You know, I wasn't really all that involved other than a couple of conversations here and there. This is above all of us in the sport. So I was very aware of what was going on last night when I went home. I knew there was going to be a meeting today with the Commissioner. And I was briefed right after the meeting with whether or not he could be in the lineup. And I think that was the first question was, what was going to happen? The second question was how we were going to deal with it as a team.

So my feeling on the ruling is we owe the respect to the Commissioner's Office at the highest level that he's spoken on behalf of the whole sport. I understand the gravity of this type of things. And I have great remorse that it involved our team. And Yuli has great remorse, and I appreciate that out of him.

It's very personal for me with Dave Roberts and his family heritage and Yu. We had Nori Aoki on this team earlier this season, and we know how diverse our sport is. And so we support everything that's right about this game, and we'll move forward, if everyone will allow us to. And knowing Yuli, knowing what he will do to convince everyone that this incident was not in his heart will be key. And then also how everybody else responds to the cultural diversity that is our sport, will all be governed by the Commissioner's Office. And we'll support and continue to try to educate everyone.

Q. You talk about how the next game is always the only one you're focused on. 11 wins to win the World Series, you're at nine. Do you find it easy to continue to think like that as you draw closer?

A.J. HINCH: Sure. Well, we don't have No. 10 yet, and that would be nice to get tonight. We certainly know what's at stake. And so do the Dodgers. I think this is the best time of all of our lives. I think a lot of us are in this for the first time; we're trying to soak up everything we can.

But it's not hard. When you look across the way and you've got to face the Dodgers again and go through the middle of their lineup again, knowing that they're going to try to make adjustments against your pitching to get the lead, that's -- it's about today's competition. And we have been so disciplined for three years that I've been here at worrying about today. We're not going to all of a sudden change course and get too far ahead of ourselves.

We're well aware of how bizarre this offseason can be, or has been, or this postseason. We also know that the series isn't over. And we went through this in the Championship Series, where it wasn't over when were up 2-0. It wasn't over when we were down 3-2. It wasn't over in Game 7 until the last out. This series will be treated the same.

Q. Can you talk about the confidence you have in Charlie. He's a quiet, unassuming guy. Dallas said, people outside don't realize as we do in the clubhouse, he wants to be the man.

A.J. HINCH: He does. I hope he copies and pastes his Game 7 performance and can go even a little deeper in this game. Again, a quiet guy who doesn't ask for a lot of attention, but takes the ball every fifth day and has stuff that can get through lineups.

And for him, because he's so genuine, and quiet and unassuming, there'd be days where you don't hear him at all, and he's just part of the team, that you can sometimes confuse that quietness with a lack of confidence or a lack of competitiveness, and that's not the case. This guy is confident. He wants the ball. He's competitive. Once he gets on the rubber, I think he feels like he can dictate the game. His first 96-mile-an-hour fastball will prove that.

Our guys have a lot of confidence in him. Being unassuming can be a good thing. He just does his job methodically, prepares himself, and comes out and wants to do well for his teammates. And that resonates with teammates, coaches, et cetera.

Q. He's in here yesterday telling us, he's throwing 88 miles an hour, getting booed off the mound in Pittsburgh. Calls it absurd he's here. Did you recognize when you guys acquired this, that this was a guy that 97 with sink, did you know what you had in addition to being a big-time playoff pitcher?

A.J. HINCH: Sure. I think he's getting playoff tested now and I think he's answered the challenge. I think for us it starts with scouting and development in our front office. They identified him as a target that was going to help us. From the very beginning of us chasing him down, he had a ton of support within our organization. And the more you dug in on him, the more you realized that the weapons were there. There were some health questions coming out of last year. There was how many starters were coming back for us. We had health questions in Keuchel and McCullers starting the year. But when you're their own, you have this confidence, hey, these guys are going to step up and be there for you. When it's a brand-new guy to your family, you've got to check him out a little bit and talk to him and get to see what he's all about.

But from the time that Spring Training started, the presence, he was 95 from the very beginning. I think some of the adjustments that Brent Strom and Craig Bjornson and our analytical department suggested to him, he immediately applied. He's a continuos learner. He's open to change. His pitch usage got better and the results started coming. He started getting some swings and misses, he started getting some funny swings, and that grew and that confidence grew. And the season got into, it where he was stashed away towards the back of the rotation, but performing admirably. And when he came back from his injury, pitched extraordinarily well, to where he's earned these postseason start. And obviously in the postseason he's done very well.

Q. In regard to Kershaw, how tough is it for a player to kind of shake a narrative, right or wrong, about him once that's been developed? And how impressed were you to see the way he commanded Game 1?

A.J. HINCH: I think in our game you can get pegged a lot of things. And just in terms of an immediate tag on what you've done recently. And you hope over time, whether it's good or bad, you can either strengthen it or reverse it, if things aren't going well for you. And I think in a lot of ways you're judged in this game quickly. No more easing into the Big Leagues as a young player. You don't contribute right away, you're overhyped or you're not a prospect and you need to go down to the Minor Leagues. Trust me, you lose a couple games as a first-time manager, that doesn't go very well either until you win.

So guys like Kershaw who have excelled every single step of the way, are going to beat it over time. I think everybody believes in that. You believe that player has the capabilities of doing it. When they do it, I don't love that it was done against us, if this is now when you're going to rip that tag off. But I appreciate the journey that those guys had to take. Sometimes the narrative doesn't fit the fact.

Q. Looking forward to tomorrow, what is the difficulty for a guy like Dallas, who relies obviously on a lot of movement to face the same team twice in five days?

A.J. HINCH: I don't think it's a problem if he can execute pitches. Again, you can put Kershaw in this, Verlander in this, McCullers fits in this category, the elite pitchers in the league, when they execute, you can see it over and over and still not hit it, if you're on the offensive side.

So it comes down to execution and being able to adjust. Obviously how he pitches the middle of the order, you know, may or may not change how his execution is going to be No. 1. Dallas, like a lot of great pitchers will stay with his strengths until the other team proves otherwise. And his strengths can only be valued as strengths if he executes. If he is misfiring on where he's trying to throw the ball and they're getting hits, they're not really hitting his strengths, they're hitting his mistakes.

The key will be to harness the energy that comes with this building. He loves pitching at this place. He's had success at this place. And it's the stage of the World Series. I think that's a bigger issue than a guy like Keuchel facing the same team.

Q. If you get another four or five quality innings out of him like you did in Game 7, is your plan to go to the pen and go to maybe to another starter like McHugh or --

 

A.J. HINCH: We'll see. I have a plan mapped out that I'd like to do, but I don't know how the game is going to be. I don't know what hitters are going to be up. I don't know how Charlie is going. I don't have a scripted way of getting our 27 outs. We have some strengths that we feel we can exploit some matchups that we want. If we don't and Charlie is pitching well, he's going deeper in the game.

I like making some decisions early in the game, but I like letting the game play out and letting the flow of the game dictate the sense of urgency that I need to make moves.

For me I go into the game hoping Charlie gets 27 outs. If he doesn't, then we have some matchups that we like and we'll go with what we think is best.