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A.J. Hinch World Series Game 1 pregame interview

MLB.com

Q. When the playoffs started I asked you about Yuli, and such a long season for him. Now it's three weeks later and he seemed to pass that test with flying colors. Can you talk about how he's held up mentally and physically?

A.J. HINCH: Yuli has been a really key part of what we do. Having to learn a new country, having to learn a new team, a new position, he's been remarkable. He's a funny guy behind the scenes. He's very under control. The moment's never too big. And to be honest with you, of all of our players in the postseason, he's been the calmest and the most like himself during this run.

Q. When the playoffs started I asked you about Yuli, and such a long season for him. Now it's three weeks later and he seemed to pass that test with flying colors. Can you talk about how he's held up mentally and physically?

A.J. HINCH: Yuli has been a really key part of what we do. Having to learn a new country, having to learn a new team, a new position, he's been remarkable. He's a funny guy behind the scenes. He's very under control. The moment's never too big. And to be honest with you, of all of our players in the postseason, he's been the calmest and the most like himself during this run.

So for him on this stage, he's been on some pretty big stages. This is going to be the biggest one for all of these guys. But he's been remarkable in all that he's had to adapt to to be a part of this.

Q. What would it mean for Carlos Beltran to win a World Series? And more important, what would it mean for the other guys in that room?

A.J. HINCH: Everybody is well aware with what Carlos has done in the game and how much he's impacted so many lives. We saw it firsthand even outside of baseball, with what he's done during Hurricane Harvey, and then also during the troubles in Puerto Rico.

There's not a person in our clubhouse, coach, player, executive, that's not rooting for him in particular to finish strong and get a ring. His career, when you look back at it, he's as remarkable as anyone I've ever been around. He's the best player that I ever played with. To me he's a Hall-of-Fame player. He's a Hall-of-Fame person. And our players respect him at a level that I've never seen before. And to be able to be on this stage with him and be his manager, I'm a former teammate, I can't say enough great things about Carlos and how much he deserves this.

:: World Series schedule and coverage ::

Q. How rare is Verlander as a guy in his mid-30s that can hold his velocity and pitch with that kind of power, what do you think it is that allows him to do that?

A.J. HINCH: It is pretty remarkable. I was told when he first got here that he gets stronger, both by him and by other people, throughout the game, and everything speaks to that. And then when you watch it happen at the biggest stage and some of the biggest moments in some of our biggest games, you become a believer. And it is part of his -- in his DNA, he's a finisher mentally, just as much as he is physically. He prepares himself. He studies. Again, that doesn't help him physically finish, but it does give him a mental edge every game that he pitches.

But again at his age, his energy level, he's great. He's certainly got plenty left in the tank to do this for multiple years. And he cares. He cares about getting this ring, as well. And I think for him to choose to come here and be here, it's meant a lot to our team. We understand the magnitude of his performance and the magnitude of his entrance into our clubhouse. The way he's fit in, the way he's been intellectually curious on how to get better, but let's be honest, ultimately the way he's performed has been second to none.

Q. We obviously talked a lot about what the veterans have done for this team, what do they get from being around guys like Correa and Altuve?

A.J. HINCH: The veterans, there's a little youthfulness to them now. They have to adjust to sort of the youthful energy with Springer, Correa, Altuve, Bregman. These guys are high-energy guys.

And the one thing we have is, we don't have veterans that necessarily shove information down the young guys' throats. We have young guys that probably try to extract as much information out of them as anyone. So I love how aligned we are in the clubhouse, the veterans have all the respect, they certainly control the clubhouse mood. The young players control the clubhouse energy. And I think that youthful exuberance they have and the energy you're going to see on the field, while it comes out on the field is also present behind the scenes. And it's hard as an older guy not to be kind of lit up by that and enjoying that in getting into a good position to do their best.

Q. If I'm not mistaken, this is your first World Series game today in any job that you've ever had in professional baseball?

A.J. HINCH: In any job. I was a fan at Game 1, 2001.

Q. So congratulations. We talked about the Padres yesterday. Taking it back even further, when you started and Josh appointed you manager in Arizona, we talked about this a lot over the years, what was the starting point? And is it amazing to you that when you started there, here you are, you know, really not that many years later?

A.J. HINCH: No, it's -- yeah, these press conferences are a little easier than some of the press conferences I had back in the day in Arizona. Mostly it's amazing, one of the first persons that I called after we clinched to come to the World Series was Josh Byrnes. I've had three GMs that I've worked for as a non-player. And Josh Byrnes being the first, and then Jed Hoyer in San Diego and now Jeff Luhnow. Two of them have hired me as their managers. And that will mean the world to me. Because if I didn't have that experience in Arizona, if Josh didn't believe in me in the first place, before his time, before it was cool to have no experience and come into this job, I wouldn't be here today. And Jeff Luhnow had to take another risk on me, because I didn't have the best managerial record in the league when I got hired for this job.

So I'm forever indebted to Josh and Jed and Jeff for their belief. And given the roller-coaster ride that I've had and the different jobs I've had, I feel like I've had every job title in baseball, manager of the World Series-caliber team Houston Astros is my favorite. And many people have helped me get here.

Video: WS2017 Gm 1: Hinch on preparing for the Dodgers

Q. Did you talk to Josh?

A.J. HINCH: I did talk to Josh, yes.

Q. When you guys come out to take the field for batting practice last night and they're cueing up this sort of American top-40 soft rock, does it that make you laugh, do you sort of roll your eyes as like high school-level gamesmanship in the World Series?

A.J. HINCH: Yeah, the gamesmanship started with a 6:30 workout that started at 6:45 because they weren't done with their live BP. To each their own. We have a few things up our sleeve when they come to Houston.

It's all gamesmanship and fun. To be honest with you, I didn't notice. My job after ground balls was to go around and tell the guys that didn't make the World Series roster that they didn't make it. I wasn't focused on the music. I was just more trying to break some news to some guys that they weren't going to be on the team and deliver some good news to some guys that were.

They told me about it after the workouts. That tells you how much I noticed.

Q. Just for a little more detail on the Padres, what did you pick up there in those roles that you had when you were with that organization that you apply or you understand now because of that experience?

A.J. HINCH: Well, one thing I learned is I should have traded a lot of prospects to the Astros, because at the time I didn't know I was going to be the Astros' manager. Had I done that, there would be a couple of boys with me.

But my time with the Padres, I interviewed for a couple of jobs as a manager. And I also got to govern the pro scouting department and become the interim GM, along with Fred Uhlman and Josh Stein and Omar Minaya, we had a bunch of people that went through a transition period with the Padres. But I learned kind of the -- first off, I learned what I loved. I learned I didn't love that chaos; I loved being on the field. So that helped me.

I also learned firsthand that there's a lot of different ways that players get here. My career having spanned a lot of different jobs has circled back to it being all about players, and getting the most out of players. And it's not about the moves that are made or not made. It's not about necessarily even about strategies. This is a people business that you have to get the most out of players. In every job I've had, I've tried to focus on that as the most important thing.

So my time in San Diego, having spanned a lot of different roles and a lot of different decision making made me fall in love with players, again.

Q. When the corner was turned in Houston, what was the most important ingredient or moment? When you saw a corner being turned, what did that look like?

A.J. HINCH: It wasn't necessarily being turned, it was when I first got there and started to get to know the players. The first players I talked to, Jose Altuve, Dallas Keuchel, guys that were going to be centerpieces on our team in 2015. What I noticed about it we didn't talk about winning. We talked about getting better. We talked about progress. I heard a lot about the process. I heard a lot about we were going to win the 2017 World Series. There was a lot of talk about anything but the actual winning in 2015. And that culture changed.

When you change the mindset of, yeah, we're going to get better, but the goal is to win today's game. That shifted a little bit of our organization. And I loved the fact that Jose Altuve and Dallas Keuchel, Marwin Gonzalez was here when this team wasn't very good, they embraced the fact that we needed to start talking about winning. And then we needed to go out and do it.

And then we did. We got off to a great start, we ended up winning the Wild Card game, we ended up not winning the Division Series, but the bar had been changed simply by changing the mindset about the Astros being about winning not about growing.

Q. Brian McCann said last night because of Yuli's hair he has a man crush on him. What do you think of it?

A.J. HINCH: I have man crush on Yuli, as well, especially when he hits. But, yeah, Yuli's hair, there's a lot, I think the players -- I think George Springer served some food on the team plane having worn a wig that's like Yuli's hair. There's a race to take his helmet off when he does something good. Our guys appreciate good hair. So do I.

Q. You guys kept your roster the same from the ALCS. The Dodgers changed theirs a little bit. Wondering how much went into your calculus as far as anticipating who would be on their roster and did that surprise you at all?

A.J. HINCH: No, it didn't surprise me. You learn long ago to manage your own team and not manage their team for them. We understand where their strengths, and we feel like there are some areas that we can exploit.

But most of the time when you talk about these changes they're on the border, it's players 24, 25, 26 and 27. How they choose to strategize, we know which players they were debating, and they'll know which players we were debating. Most of the time those players are fitting roles that are unknown at this point. I can't tell you when a certain of their guys are going to play or not play and vice versa.

We didn't change ours, precisely because we feel comfortable with the group that we've had moving forward and some of the guys that were on the borderline for us hadn't done anything for the last couple weeks. You can throw bullpens and live BPs but it's a little different walking out there and facing Justin Turner or facing Puig or facing Bellinger.

I texted I think at some point during this whole process, I texted Doc to make sure Seager was feeling badly, because I wanted him to be off the roster, but now I gotta deal with him. That doesn't surprise me that he's back and they made a few changes.

For us you worry about your own team. You've got to put your team together. This is going to be about our ability to spin some breaking balls for strikes, and put them away when we get ahead of them, and their ability to throw high fastballs against our fastball hitters. We know that going in. We've got seven games to figure it out.

Q. We watched your pitchers taking BP yesterday.

A.J. HINCH: It was an ugly sight, wasn't it? Jirsch Verlander hit a homer.

Q. What do you think about your guys swinging here?

A.J. HINCH: I hate it. I hate when our pitchers have to hit, but that's the rules. I don't wants our guys to get too exposed, but that's the way it is. I think our guys will compete. Dallas is a great athlete. He'll be able to put some bunts down or put the ball in play. There are some people that brag about being the best hitters of our pitching staff. Some are going to get to play. But again, I'd just as soon get back to Houston and use the DH.