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Oct. 19 A.J. Hinch ALCS off-day interview

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Q. Some of the players talked about a change of scenery helping. What do you expect the mindset of the guys going into tomorrow? Do you think they'll be able to put that behind them easily and go forward?
 

A.J. HINCH: Those games are behind us, so there's no real reason to look back now. They're in the books. All we really need to focus on is the game at hand. Our guys are good at that. I think we have to deal with a lot this time of year, obviously, and as the Series and the emotion goes along. We've said from the beginning it's a seven-game series.

So I guess we really meant it based on how it's turned out. We want it to be a seven-game series to get us to the next level.

Q. Josh said after that he thought a lot of players, himself included, were trying to do too much, trying to carry the team. How do you change that mentality?

 

Q. Some of the players talked about a change of scenery helping. What do you expect the mindset of the guys going into tomorrow? Do you think they'll be able to put that behind them easily and go forward?
 

A.J. HINCH: Those games are behind us, so there's no real reason to look back now. They're in the books. All we really need to focus on is the game at hand. Our guys are good at that. I think we have to deal with a lot this time of year, obviously, and as the Series and the emotion goes along. We've said from the beginning it's a seven-game series.

So I guess we really meant it based on how it's turned out. We want it to be a seven-game series to get us to the next level.

Q. Josh said after that he thought a lot of players, himself included, were trying to do too much, trying to carry the team. How do you change that mentality?

 

A.J. HINCH: Not do it I think would be the best way.

It's hard. These guys care so much. We've put a lot of energy and effort into the year, and you feel like it's right there for you to take it. And when the guy in front of you is struggling you want to be the guy. If you struggle the guy behind you wants to help. If you look at our lineup, the Yankees have done a good job of neutralizing our lineup. They were trying to pick up not their own baggage, maybe the guy in front of them, maybe the guy in back of them, too.

It's the toughest three-game stretch we've had. But it's a three-game stretch that can end tomorrow. We've got an incredible offense. We've got an incredible opportunity. We're going to play in front of our home crowd. We feel good about it. We need to win one game to get to the next game. And we feel good about it.

I understand the stresses involved around elimination games. We've been in it before. But it's also a great opportunity to flip some of the emotion at home in front of our crowd and get things started in our direction.

Q. You've got Verlander probably to pitch, expressly to pitch games like this. What does a great pitcher, Hall of Fame type guy, what kind of impact does he have on the mood of a team?

 

A.J. HINCH: Well, there's a media belief when you have a Justin Verlander go. It starts the day. When we wake up tomorrow morning we know we have an incredible opportunity to win. Justin Verlander is on the mound. It doesn't matter, Game 1, Game 6, a game on a Tuesday in July, August, September. So that's a good feeling.

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He raises the bar. Guys are going to want to do extra. We're going to have to fight that emotion, like we talked about earlier. But his presence will immediately make everybody sit up straight, stand up a little bit more, have a little bit more energy because of the presence that he brings. It's hard to measure. It's hard to fake. You either have it or you don't. Verlander has it.

Q. How do you get the play discipline back? Altuve has been there all year, Correa, the key guys, the veterans, basically 1 through 9 swinging basically outside the zone?

 

A.J. HINCH: Yeah, swing less would help. You've got to get good pitches to hit, and swing at those pitches. But if it was that simple I think we would have corrected it right about the third inning of Game 3.

We're obviously going to have a game plan going against a pitcher. If we can stay disciplined in that game plan all the better. But the pitcher has to adapt to us, as well.

Yesterday is a good example. He pitched us differently in Game 5 than he did in Game 1. He did expand the strike zone. We chased it a little bit.

But for us it's trying to find the pitch to hit and that's about it. If he doesn't give it to you the game will tell you to take a little bit more. Easier said than done. If this offense is as good as it's been for this season, we are one good stretch from getting back to where we need to be.

Q. Verlander is good on a random Tuesday in June, but something about him and how much he's been in the playoffs, does that help you, in not just the physical thing, but the mindset of having been to the playoffs, do you think that helps a lot?

 

A.J. HINCH: Sure, I think it helps to some extent. How much is going to be based by performance. I think all of us know we have to step up and perform in our job to make that story line a reality.

Coming to the ballpark we feel great. In the first inning we're going to feel great. And then performance is obviously going to increase that belief system that we have.

So certainly not all on him. Just like it's not all on Altuve or not all on Correa or Reddick or George or some of the other guys that haven't necessarily broken out this series.

But this is a random three-game stretch. It doesn't have to define the rest of our year. It just defined the series while in New York. We can set a new trend for us beginning tomorrow.

Q. What was your sense of Carlos and Brian and them talking to the guys, what kind of impact that might have?

 

A.J. HINCH: Well, it doesn't surprise me, because that's who they are. That's who they've been since the beginning of Spring Training. Any sort of meeting that we have or get-together we've had, they either originated it or participated in it in some capacity.

Those are the two most tested guys, along with Verlander and Reddick, the four guys that have the most playoff experience. So I applaud them for taking the opportunity to tell everybody to take a collective breath and get on the plane and have a different mindset to get home and get to this off-day before we get to Game 6.

It's a seven-game series, everybody needs to be reminded of that. It wasn't over after two and not over after five.

Q. Talked to Larry Dierker, played here, managed. He said the biggest advice he would give is more Hawaiian shirts.

 

A.J. HINCH: I'll break one out for you tomorrow.

Q. Is that what needs to be done?

 

A.J. HINCH: Hawaiian shirts?

Q. Just take a breath.

 

A.J. HINCH: No, absolutely. We've got to play the games. And I think, again, we rush to conclusions nowadays in so many areas of our lives, certainly in sports, no more so than in sports.

We do need to take a breath and play the games. We've got nine or more innings tomorrow to win a game to get to the next game. There's not much more to really deal with other than get to the game tomorrow. We're all excited to play. We feel like we have every bit of opportunity. The game needs to be played whether we were up 3-2 or they were up 3-2. And we want to win it. Certainly there's more pressure that comes with us as the game goes along.

But if you're carrying that baggage into the batter's box, do you think we're going to hit better? If we carry that baggage on the mound, do you think Verlander's going to pitch better? I mean, it is time more so to go the other way, maybe lighten the mood a little bit and see where that takes us.

Q. And a lot of people are saying coming home, things are going to change. But home field, can do just so much for you.

 

A.J. HINCH: We earned that home field. We had 101 wins for a reason. We don't automatically flush those down the toilet because we lost a couple of games in New York.

We want our crowd to be loud. We want to take the lead that makes the crowd louder. There will be a big moment, whether it's Altuve or Correa or Springer, comes up with a big hit and this place will explode. And that's why we're going to play at home because we earned it.

Q. How do you balance the faith that you have in your guys to just the desire to get something going? Specifically, are you at least mulling any changes?

 

A.J. HINCH: I'll take any suggestions. We're playing our best guys. I think our best guys are going to be there for us.

So I think, again, I know it's boring to say and it's a cliche, this one-game-at-a-time mentality since the first day I had this job to the last day that I have that job is going to be the way that it is.

For our guys to make changes, we took batting practice off yesterday, we exploded with runs, it didn't work. Take a day off today and collect ourselves. I may take a different route to the ballpark, I may wear different Under Armour gear underneath my uniform. But at the end of the day it's the same players that produce, the same players that play tomorrow.

Q. There's a report that just a little while ago that said Alex Correa was going to be named manager of the Red Sox after the ALCS. Anything you can say about that?

 

A.J. HINCH: No, I don't have any information. I know Alex has interviewed for every job in this country, and maybe elsewhere, as far as I know. We'll find out in due time.

Q. Joe Girardi, speaking earlier, said when you're on a roll you don't want a day off.

 

A.J. HINCH: I feel horrible for him.

Q. The other end of that, they lost three in a row.

 

A.J. HINCH: No, I think the script between Game 2 and 3 should play perfectly between Game 5 and 6. We got our day off when we were rolling pretty good. Maybe we'll return the favors to them, giving them a nice little break. They can enjoy some of Houston's finest restaurants tonight, come tomorrow, and hopefully we've switched the momentum.

Q. Do you have any idea how you would handle McCullers potentially in Game 6, if there is a 7, leave him open for being available in the 7 or use him if necessary, if you had the situation in Game 6?

 

A.J. HINCH: Lance won't pitch in Game 6.

Q. Do you have any idea who your Game 7 starter is?

 

A.J. HINCH: No, Game 6 is what we're here for. I understand it, but Game 6 is what our full attention needs to be on. I do have an idea, but I'm not going to tell you.

Q. I was curious, there was a couple of guys throwing bullpens and playing catch. Looked like Morton and McCullers were doing some PFP's. Do you have any insight of what was going on there?

 

A.J. HINCH: Not really. The guys can come up and work out, and pitchers always want to come up and throw. I think a couple of hitters took a couple of swings in the cage. It's a very, very individual day today. Whatever makes them feel prepared for tomorrow.

I think when stuff like that happens, that's that fun, upbeat energy that comes with October baseball. They want to do something. They want to feel more prepared than they were yesterday. But that wasn't anything scheduled or any response to anything.

Q. This might not be relevant until later, Marisnick was playing catch.

 

A.J. HINCH: He's playing a little catch and running the bases in hopes that Game 6 and 7 go our way, and then we have a dilemma moving into next week. Better, but no update.