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Hinch thankful for path to first World Series

MLB.com @brianmctaggart

LOS ANGELES -- This is the first World Series that Astros manager A.J. Hinch has been a part of as a player, executive or manager -- a career that spans more than 25 years. Prior to Tuesday's Game 1 of the World Series presented by YouTube TV, the only Fall Classic game he attended was as a fan for the 2001 opener between the D-backs and Yankees.

After the Astros clinched the American League pennant on Saturday by beating the Yankees, Hinch said he received around 350 text messages, about 200 of which he has yet to return. He said one of the first people who called him was Josh Byrnes, who was his general manager when he managed the D-backs from 2009-10.

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LOS ANGELES -- This is the first World Series that Astros manager A.J. Hinch has been a part of as a player, executive or manager -- a career that spans more than 25 years. Prior to Tuesday's Game 1 of the World Series presented by YouTube TV, the only Fall Classic game he attended was as a fan for the 2001 opener between the D-backs and Yankees.

After the Astros clinched the American League pennant on Saturday by beating the Yankees, Hinch said he received around 350 text messages, about 200 of which he has yet to return. He said one of the first people who called him was Josh Byrnes, who was his general manager when he managed the D-backs from 2009-10.

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"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," Hinch said. "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."

Hinch said one of the biggest things he learned during his time in San Diego as vice president of professional scouting from 2010-14 under Byrnes, who was the GM of the Padres, is how difficult it is to acquire quality talent.

"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," Hinch said. "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."

We got the beat
When the Astros took batting practice at Dodger Stadium during Monday's workout day, a steady stream of soft rock music blared on the speakers. The Little River Band, Doobie Brothers and Player's "Baby Come Back" certainly aren't what today's players are accustomed to hearing while they take BP.

"It's all gamesmanship and fun," Hinch said. "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."

Tweet from @astros: Little tune-up last night for the big stage tonight. 💪#EarnHistory pic.twitter.com/bLpgHKXHNR

Hinch joked the gamesmanship started when the Astros' scheduled 6:30 p.m. PT workout started 15 minutes late because the Dodgers weren't done with their batting practice.

"To each their own," Hinch said. "We have a few things up our sleeve when they come to Houston."

Tweet from @kengurnick: Dodgers playing soft rock during Astros batting practice. Used same tactic with Cubs, who turned off the music during Dodgers BP at Wrigley.

#PitchersWhoRake
Astros right-hander Justin Verlander, who will start Game 2 on Wednesday, smacked a home run during Monday's batting practice. Still, Hinch said it was an ugly sight seeing his pitchers take BP in preparation for two games in a National League park where there will be no designated hitter.

"I hate when our pitchers have to hit, but that's the rules," Hinch said. "I don't want our guys to get too exposed, but that's the way it is. I think our guys will compete. Dallas [Keuchel] 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."

Video: WS2017 Gm2: Verlander discusses picking up a bat

Keuchel, who broke into the big leagues when the Astros were in the NL in 2012 and has 44 career plate appearances under his belt, is 3-for-35 (.086) in his career. Verlander is 4-for-43 (.093).

"Hitting, it's fun during the regular season," Verlander said. "You kind of get to break up the monotony a little bit. We have fun with it. But the World Series is a different animal. You can change the outcome of the game whether you get a bunt down or whether you can squeak out a hit. I'm not going to try to get a home run. I hope I'm 0-for-0 with four sac bunts. That's the ideal plan. But I guess when you're up there, you just -- if the situation calls for it, you try to do the best you can."

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

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