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The ties that bind: Connections run deep in WS

Managers Hinch and Roberts worked together in San Diego
October 23, 2017

LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers outfielder Enrique Hernandez (aka Kiké) has a real affinity for the Astros. The Puerto Rico native was selected by Houston in the sixth round of the 2009 Draft and played his formative years in that organization.Hernandez was traded to Miami in 2014 and then to Dodgers

LOS ANGELES -- Dodgers outfielder Enrique Hernandez (aka Kiké) has a real affinity for the Astros. The Puerto Rico native was selected by Houston in the sixth round of the 2009 Draft and played his formative years in that organization.
Hernandez was traded to Miami in 2014 and then to Dodgers later that year, but the relationship doesn't end there. When Hurricane Maria recently devastated his home island, Astros owner Jim Crane sent two planes to evacuate families of players.
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Hernandez had his mother, father, fiancée and her family airlifted out of harm's way on one of those flights.
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"There's a lot of love for that organization, and that's never going to change," Hernandez said Monday. "But I'm a Dodger now and we have to take care of business this week."
The Astros meet the Dodgers in Game 1 of the World Series presented by YouTube TV on Tuesday at Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers haven't won it all since 1988, and the Astros are still seeking their first championship in their 55 years of existence.
Hernandez is one of a number of players and coaches in the World Series who has a connection to the other team. Here's a deeper look at a few of those stories:
He hit three homers in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series presented by Camping World as the Dodgers vanquished the Cubs to win their first pennant since 1988. The Dodgers use Hernandez as a spot outfielder and right-handed bat, flipping him in and out of the lineup based on matchups. Hernandez was traded by the Astros after playing only 24 games for the big league club in 2014, but not before hitting his first big league home run -- the only one he would hit for Houston -- at Minute Maid Park on July 2, 2014, against Christopher Young of the Mariners. It was a magical moment because Hernandez's family was in the stands.

"I remember my first professional game vividly like it was yesterday," Hernandez said. "I remember the last game with the Astros, both in the big leagues and the Minor Leagues. I remember everything. I'll always be very appreciative of that organization. They gave me a chance to sign my first professional contract and mature enough that I became a big leaguer at 22. They're the first team I got to the big leagues with. I got to fulfill my dreams."
On July 31, 2014, Hernandez was sent to the Marlins with right-hander Jarred Cosart in a trade that saw outfielder Jake Marisnick (among others) heading to Houston, and then that winter Hernandez was shipped to the Dodgers along with catcher Austin Barnes in the blockbuster that sent Dee Gordon to Miami. Speaking of Marisnick and Barnes …
The friends played for Riverside Poly High School in California and then took different paths. Marisnick was picked in the third round of the 2009 Draft by the Blue Jays, reaching the Majors with the Marlins in 2013. Barnes played his college ball at Arizona State and was selected by the Marlins in the ninth round of the 2011 Draft.

"We played high school ball together, travel ball together, we played everything together coming up," Marisnick said of Barnes. "He's a competitor, man. He's not the biggest of guys. He's just a gamer. He likes to go out and play. He's going to do what it takes to go out and win a game. Watch out for him. That's what I'm trying to tell these guys."
Marisnick's recovering from surgery to repair a fractured right thumb and won't be on the World Series roster, Astros manager A.J. Hinch said Monday. Barnes, a converted infielder, has replaced Yasmani Grandal as the Dodgers' starting catcher.
Dallas Keuchel and John Forsythe
Forsythe was a top college third baseman when Keuchel joined the University of Arkansas Razorbacks in 2007. Even then, Forsythe said, he could see the elements of the pitcher who would become one of the most prolific left-handers in Major League Baseball.
"He wasn't this," Forsythe said about the Keuchel he knew from his Arkansas days. "But each year he got better and better. His work ethic has always been there. And he's improved and improved. When he got to the big leagues, all the guys were very happy for him."

Keuchel was a seventh-round pick by the Astros in the 2009 Draft. The Dodgers obtained Forsythe -- originally the 46th overall pick of the Padres in 2008 -- this past offseason in a trade with the Rays.
"We had a working relationship at Arkansas. And coming in he had already established himself as one of the best third basemen in college baseball," Keuchel said. "I respected him immediately. I was just trying to make a name for myself and be respected by him. And he's a guy that just brings a smile to my face because I know how hard he works. I know how hard he's worked to get here and be the player he is."
Dave Roberts-A.J. Hinch
From 2011-14, Hinch, the manager of the Astros, was an assistant general manager for the Padres who served as a liaison with the coaching staff. At the same time, Roberts, the Dodgers manager, was the first-base coach and later bench coach for the Padres. The two became close. Both were effusive when speaking about the other on Monday.
"I love the man," said Hinch. "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."

Their paths first crossed during their college days when both were in the Pac-10: Roberts at UCLA and Hinch at Stanford, though the bond didn't really take hold until they overlapped in San Diego.
"To be managing against A.J. now, in this situation, it's really surreal," said Roberts. "I think after we advanced [to the World Series], he reached out to me. And then after they advanced, I reached out to him. And from that point on it's been radio silence."

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter.