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World Series Media Day: Hinch interview

October 23, 2017

Q. What has it been like? I mean, it took seven games to get through the ALCS, you get on the plane, come here, it was kind of a whirlwind? What's it been like for you? A.J. HINCH: It is. The schedule is pretty crazy, just because of the emotions.

Q. What has it been like? I mean, it took seven games to get through the ALCS, you get on the plane, come here, it was kind of a whirlwind? What's it been like for you?
A.J. HINCH: It is. The schedule is pretty crazy, just because of the emotions. I don't think any of us allowed ourselves to pack until we knew we needed to pack. Just the superstitious side of all of us. But it was a whirlwind, obviously the celebration after Game 7, just the emotion that goes into it. And obviously we left the next day. Got here last night. And then you're trying to hurry and prep for a team that you rarely see. We'll take it. The fatigue or the uncertainty of the game plans and stuff like that, we'll spend for the next 24 hours. But what a range of emotions and just pure joy and appreciation for being here and kind of general excitement. Your body feels pretty good right now, even though we know what time of the year it is.
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Q. How would you describe what Jose Altuve means to this ballclub?
A.J. HINCH: Well, I don't know any more ways to describe Jose other than he's as close to perfect as you can imagine as a manager. He does everything right. And I've used this before, but he's every bit what's right about our team and our organization and represents so much of what we do. His consistency is second to none in the Big Leagues. It's why I believe he's the MVP of the League. From April to May through June, July, August into September and now we're seeing October, I don't know anybody that's been able to maintain their performance and improve their performance over time than him. So we're hard to beat when he's right, and he's right a lot of days. The hits are real. The defense is real. The presence that he's starting to grow into as a leader, albeit a quiet one is felt by all of us, whether it's players, coaches, organization and the whole City of Houston.
Q. I wanted to ask you, I know you respect the other team. Can you talk about what it's like to have your team go up against Clayton Kershaw?
A.J. HINCH: Look, at this time of year you're not going to face too many guys that aren't pretty good, and it's hard to argue that you're going to face anybody better than Kershaw. He's got every weapon that you would fear. He's got that competitiveness that every ace has. He's got some hardware on his shelf at home. And he's pitching in front of his home crowd. There's a lot of things tilted in his favor. But we're not going to back down. We're not afraid of him. We're not going to concede anything because we've got a pretty good team on our own side. A lot of respect for Dave and Doc and the guys that are across the way, Clayton Kershaw, all the way through their entire roster. They didn't sneak up on anybody this year. There was some crazy performances out of them, but we'll compete with them. We'll do our best.
Q. Could I also ask you, I was down in Houston when all the flooding happened and talked to you at that point. This team, I know you're playing for yourself, but is there part of you that's playing for the people who are the victims, the survivors, and just the whole City of Houston in the sense that they have gone through so much?
Video: WS2017 Gm 1: Hinch on preparing for the Dodgers
A.J. HINCH: Well, I think anytime you're on the national stage you play for your city. I think that goes across the board. I think when something like the hurricane happens, there's an even greater responsibility to represent your city and bring awareness to the things that are needed to rebuild our great city. On top of that we have a lot of players that were affected by a couple of hurricanes after that, in Puerto Rico, the Dominican, Venezuela, just the international component of our team. We played with a heavy heart for a long time because of what's happened to a lot of our families. When we got back from Hurricane Harvey from being relocated, that sense of urgency came from wanting to do so something special for our city. Obviously we had some additions during that time - Justin Verlander came, Cam Maybin came, Correa got healthy. There was a lot of positive momentum back towards our team. But we could feel how important the Astros became to the City of Houston and the residents. And we have great respect for what's going on there. And it's not done yet. The rebuild is not over. The time has passed but the recovery is going to take a lot longer. What does the World Series do to that city? Obviously it gives home hope. It gives appreciation. It gives a smile or two for people going through some hard times. And for that we're happy to be a part of it.
Q. How did you and Dave Roberts become friends? And what were the ties that bound you, the mutual interests, and what's it like now?
A.J. HINCH: Well, we're not friends this week (laughter). We're mortal enemies. But Dave Roberts and I have known each long a long time, dating back to college. We both were in the Pac. He was at UCLA; I was at Stanford. We played in the same era, albeit in different leagues. I did not steal a base in any sort of important game, so he's got that on me. But then we really became close friends in San Diego, when we worked together while he was a coach on the field, I was an assistant GM and sort of a liaison for the coaching staff. I traveled with them and became a little bit more bonded with them. Over the years I've gotten to know him a lot better, our families are friends. We shared a breakfast in July that -- where we both, we kind of rooted each other on that we would meet each other in October and fight out for the World Series. Now we've got to be careful what we wish for; we have to go up against each other's teams. I love the man. He's an excellent example of what leadership should be about. I have a lot of respect for how he connects well with players and how he's leading his team. And I'm really happy and proud that we're in this together.
Q. Where was the breakfast?
A.J. HINCH: At Snooze in San Diego.
Q. Just following that up, it seems ironic that it was just a few years ago where you were assistant GM, interim GM, Dave was bench coast, one-day interim manager, and then both of you went on to bigger and better things ultimately?
A.J. HINCH: Yeah, no, it's a unique story. I think we both have unique backgrounds. And we find ourselves in the center stage of the World Series. It shows you that anything's possible, and none of us can really be so good at being experts that we're going to predict anything. I think Dave, as a coach first, was really good at connecting players and connecting with players and finding the competitive advantage. He has the will to win. Probably gets maybe wrongfully accused of being too nice of a guy to everybody. He's got an inner burn to compete. I love that when we were together and I'm sure I'll see it firsthand this week.
Q. And then you have to throw in the fact that Dave is also a lymphoma survivor, too?
A.J. HINCH: It's an incredible journey to get to this place, no matter what. Obviously his is a special rise to the top on one of the best teams in baseball. Like I said, I've got great respect for him. More so on how he goes about it, not necessarily what he's doing.
Q. Experience and veteran leadership are usually unquantifiable qualities. After you saw and heard what Beltran and McCann said in the clubhouse after the Game 5 loss. Is there a greater appreciation of those players to you as a manager and to the team?
A.J. HINCH: Well, I think my first thought was thank God we signed them. We needed that at the very moment. You ask your players to step up and be what you need, whether that's on the field and you need a big hit, whether it's behind the scenes and you need some key words. And that takes time. It's earned. And both Beltran and McCann, along with Reddick, along with Verlander, Keuchel is becoming a leader, Altuve is becoming a leader, Luke Gregerson is a leader in the bullpen. There are guys in our team that our team resonates with and listen immediately when the storm around them was telling everybody to panic, they were the ones that stepped up and said, hey, the series wasn't over after two. It wasn't over after 5. It's a seven-game series. Let's go home and take care of business, and not get into that pout mode that sometimes happens when you get beat up. We went to New York, and there were some pretty low moments in that series, because we felt like we were in command of it and it was starting to slip away. When your veterans step up, gather control of the clubhouse again, that's the definition of leadership.
Q. In your viewpoint both as a manager and a former catcher, in these postseason games with all the tension, all the trips to the mound, how would the game change if there's prohibitions put in on trips to the mound?
A.J. HINCH: Yeah, I think you'd start to see some of the most sophisticated signs known to man. You can't express enough how important it is to give no competitive advantage to the hitter when it come to your signs, to what pitch the guy is throwing. All of that is out of paranoia that you don't want the hitter to know what's coming. Tack on the fact that at this time of the year every single pitch matters. We preach this as managers all the time, everything matters during the season, every pitch matters, every play matters. You feel it differently in October baseball. And I assume tomorrow night I'll feel it even more so in the World Series baseball. If every pitch matters to that extent, you can't risk the opponent having some sort of competitive advantage of knowing what's coming. If that changed, I think you'd have to see maybe the first baseman go over all the time and change the signs, or maybe the third baseman. I don't know how much they're going to change the trips to the mound. But it comes from a good place. I know it can be a little bit time consuming and it can be a little bit difficult because of the moments. But to be honest with you, I don't want Bellinger or Turner or Puig to know what's coming.
Q. Do you have any update on Marisnick, possibility he might play? Are there any roster changes?
A.J. HINCH: Yeah, we're going to go over the roster. We had a meeting last night. We had a meeting this afternoon. I'm going to go around the field and talk to our players individually. I'll spend most of the batting practice doing that, and communicate directly. I have talked to Jake; he's not going to be on the roster. He'll be an injury fill-in, if needed. Right now there's not enough time to get him ready, enough for us to feel comfortable, especially in a National League game. His thumb is healed, he's throwing, he's feeling good. He hasn't hit enough to be an option off the bench in a National League-style game. And if needed, we're going to have to play four of those.
Q. Your bullpen use the first two rounds, do you anticipate more of that with some of the starters playing big roles or do you --
A.J. HINCH: That depends on how good they are and how the matchups we feel are the best way to get to 27 outs. I think to get through a regular season, you need a little more defined and a little bit more traditional role of how the bullpen plays out, and you spread out your guys and use a bunch of different guys. It's amazing what you're willing to do in the postseason. And I think that's why you see these unique roles, the Andrew Miller-type roles or McCullers or how I've used Peacock. You're willing to do a lot more in a small, short series. Speaking of no tomorrow, there's no more games after this series. So I'll do whatever I have to do to get the outs. Our hope is that our bullpen can get off to a better start and we'll be able to get the outs. But to be honest with you, I don't have a preference. As long as we get the outs.
Q. Do you know who will start beyond games 1 and 2?
A.J. HINCH: I do: Obviously Morton is going to start one of those. It's very likely that McCullers starts the other. I need to gather and get the order done and see how Game 1 and 2 goes.
Q. Obviously no DH those two games, how do you think that will affect you guys?
A.J. HINCH: I think it gives us a stronger bench, because I have a couple of good hitters on the bench, in case I need them to pinch-hit. It's a small disadvantage because of our -- you take one of your primary guys that you're paying to be the DH, and now neither they are going to come off the bench. Neither Beltran nor Gattis, the primary DH's we've had, will start tomorrow. Those are two pretty good bats that come off the bench. But as much as I've tried to get the Dodgers to play with the DH, they said no.