Oct. 4 A.J. Hinch workout day interview

October 4th, 2017

Q.Do you have any roster clarity you can tell us on any decisions that have been made and if not when will you set the roster?

A.J. HINCH: So we're going to set the roster tomorrow. The conversations are ongoing. We have sort of slowly gone through this process. Six guys yesterday I announced yesterday they weren't going to be on its roster. We have a couple more today, James Hoyt and Michael Feliz will stay with us and workout, but they're not going to be on the playoff roster.

So slowly but surely I'm getting through the conversations with the players. I'm being very diligent with making sure we have everything covered before we fine line things, but we still haven't decided between 14 and 13 position players. We haven't decided entirely on the roles of some of the starters and I haven't had conversations with every veteran guy that's still in the clubhouse.

So we don't have to set it until tomorrow, so we won't. And obviously today will be a big day of conversations for me.

Q. Are there any starters or guys who started for you during the season who you expect to have in the bullpen tomorrow?

A.J. HINCH: No, I think there's going to be at least one or two guys in the bullpen, maybe three. And to be honest with you, we have only named Game 1 and Game 2 for a reason. I can see all hands on deck being the philosophy going into Game 1 and 2.

So they're all available, so what we choose to do or not do we'll have set before the game and as to who will have their spikes on, who will be down in the bullpen, who is conceivably available. But right now we're really just concerned about Game 1 and obviously Game 2 before the day off. So I could see a number of starters being down there and being available.

Q. You talked yesterday about the Verlander the way he's fit in and the way he carries himself, how does your team's faith in him change the way you approach this series and the way they go into Game 1 of this series?

A.J. HINCH: I don't think it changes anything, because if I didn't hand it to him, I was going to hand it to Keuchel, and this team's pretty confident with Keuchel on the mound, specifically in this ballpark. So it doesn't change a lot. I think what he's added to our team is very obvious. There's a presence to him, there's a teammate component to him, there's a professional excellence to him in every facet that you would ask out of a teammate, out of a guy in the clubhouse, and then ultimately performance on the field, which is why we acquired him.

So what he's done in his short time here is establish himself as very much a part of what we're doing but not entirely what we're doing. I think there are a number of stories on our team that are worth sharing and worth talking about and the guys should get all the get all the attention that they can. Verlander being at the top of that coming over at the right time, performing at an elite level. And then obviously coming in with the credentials of the playoff experience, I think our guys feel like we're going to win when he pitches.

Q. What factors are you going to weigh in deciding what to do with McCullers and do you think he can be kind of like be a super weapon like Andrew?

A.J. HINCH: That's called like the "Andrew Miller role." I've heard it like a hundred times in the last month.

Q. But on he's never pitched in relief?

A.J. HINCH: No. Lance is a very talented pitcher and he has weapons. And the league knows it, our team knows it, and Lance knows it. So I think he could very much pitch in a variety of roles and start, including starting.

So I love the assent of all of the thoughts that these guys can all be in this Andrew Miller role, who he made it famous and it carried him all the way to the World Series. And we saw last night with the Wild Card Game, how crazy it can get when guys are pitching in these moments, and it's going to take somebody to step up and be super human to get to the World Series.

It happens for every team that gets there. So who is our guy going to be, is it going to be Lance, does it become Devenski Musgrove, Peacock, Morton, I have no idea. I don't care who it is. I care that somebody steps up and outperforms expectations in a role that they're not used to. Lance has every bit the weapon to get as many outs as he can. He's pitched in a playoff game before. Where we deem that the most important and what outs we think are going to be the most important is going to be discussed over the next couple days -- or next day, communicated to him and then I'll put him in there.

Q. What do you think about the turn around that Peacock has made this year and what has he meant to your team?

A.J. HINCH: Yeah, he's quietly one of the unsung heroes because first off he doesn't speak a ton, he doesn't talk a lot, his presence is he blends in to what we're doing. But anything we ask him to do he stepped up and did. Not only did he do it, he did it well. And I think our team rallied around that excellent performance and really believes in him.

So I think his ability to pitch in a multiple roles was key. But that stretch where he started for us and he continues to start for us, is going to be what the story line is about Brad Peacock. He came in and pitched extraordinarily well out of the rotation when our rotation was thin. When you talk about 101-win team, it seems glorious and it seems easy and it feels like we had this exceptional season. At one point, we had all five starters on the DL and at one point we were really stretching our bullpen a lot because our starters weren't going deep into games. Brad Peacock was the consistent theme in that he won lot of games, he struck out a lot of guys, he pitched in a couple different roles. But that starting group in the middle of the season when Brad Peacock was stabilizing everything is why we were able it right the ship when things started to wobble a little bit.

Q. At this point of the year what does a Carlos Beltran, what is his value to you guys moving forward and also what he's done all year?

A.J. HINCH: Beltran is very key because of his presence and because of the influence he has on our players. The attention to detail that it takes to play in the playoffs, the room temperature gauge is very important in the clubhouse during the most exciting times, and a guy like Beltran will keep things very even keeled, will keep things in perspective.

But we're going to need a big at bat out of him. We can talk all about interacting with his teammates and being a presence and being the 40-something that he is in the clubhouse, I'm also going to find a spot for him and he's going to come up big given that consistency that he's brought in the playoffs throughout his career. So the at bat is what I'm more concerned about.

Our team will be fine emotionally. We'll be fine behind the scenes. We have very, very high standards of what we expect out of ourselves. So Beltran's going to offer that, but he's also going to give a good, especially left-handed, at bat against some tough right-handed pitching across the way. And I expects him to come up big.

Q. Do you have anything further yet on Josh Reddick?

A.J. HINCH: No. I spoke to him, he's going to go through the workout, so I think the key for us is going to be this workout. He worked out yesterday, came out feeling great, no symptoms today up to this point. But having an update on what his role would be, his availability, it's going to come after tonight when he goes through a more rigorous program on the field.

Q. Just what has Alex Cora meant to you, too? You've known him for a long time as a player and a coach and what he brings to the table.

A.J. HINCH: Yeah, so his first year of coaching has gone well given his ability to connect with players and given his baseball intellect. He's very sharp, sees the game in an extraordinarily deep way, has really connected well with players in our clubhouse and spent a lot of time developing relationships and being the bench coach liaison to the clubhouse that I asked him to be.

And I think he's grown and I think that's key because it's not easy to just, no matter how long your career, to jump into a coaching role. Trust me, I know how things can go when you jump right into a job, it's not easy. So for him to be able to learn, to grow, to evolve, become a better coach, continued to learner of the game. Those are characteristics as to why he is a hot name in every opening that's coming up so far this offseason or this postseason and why one day he's going to manage, whether it's now or later.

Q. You guys made obviously a lot of veteran additions in the offseason. Great expectations for this offense, but statistically you guys superseded that. Are you surprised at how well you guys performed offensively from start to finish?

A.J. HINCH: No, not necessarily surprised as much as I am pleased because of the work that went in for some guys to get better, Marwin Gonzalez is the guy we talk about all the time as an example of someone taking everything, working off that information, and utilizing it in the game and becoming a better offensive player.

Watching Bregman grow into a bona fide big league player. Watching Gurriel get more comfortable in this country and at this level all contributed to this performance. We expected it out of Altuve, 200 hits we expected. Unfortunately that's not fair to him, but that's what's expected.

Carlos Correa comes off the DL and got hot at the right time. His numbers are great. George Springer stepped forward. Our hitting coaches Dave Hudgens and Alonzo Powell have done a really, really good job individualizing the offensive game plan for these guys, and the players have done it.

And I think for us having as deep a lineup as we have, had talking Brian McCann that it's cool to hit 8th or 9th was a challenge. Given how he's used to hitting in the middle of the order, he's on board, didn't matter to him.

There's a lot of different things in there that made this offense click. And to do it for six months in and do it relatively consistently, and obviously at the end of the season lead in a lot of different categories, it's part of what makes us a good team.

Q. How do you view the Red Sox, they're strengths and weaknesses? And then talk about Chris Sale.

A.J. HINCH: Well, I'm not going to give you too much on what I think about the Red Sox. We got five games to beat them, so they're a good team. They didn't sneak up on anybody either. We have known since day one that they were going to be a good team, they went out and did it.

They offer a lot of challenges. They can shorten the game with their pen. They have a lot of guys in the rotation that pitch well. They got some tough outs. A 90-plus win team is very much what they look like, and they're going to be a tough challenge for us, and it starts with Chris Sale.

So if they wanted to skip Sale in this series, that would have been fine, too. They skipped him last series. They didn't do it. So we'll get our taste of him this series.

But he's elite, premier left-handed pitcher in baseball. When you talk about guys like Kershaw and Keuchel and him and guys that have hardware, he's a tough challenge. And seeing him in Game 1, and depending upon how far the series goes, we're probably going to see him again if the series goes deep. So we got to sort out the game plan against him and try to get him early, because when he settles in and he gets his swing and miss and he gets his little mojo going, he's as tough as anybody in baseball.

Q. Was there anything about the four games at Fenway that you learned about them that you wouldn't have otherwise learned from video or a scouting report?

A.J. HINCH: A little bit just because of the pressure that they were under in that four-game series. Obviously we were in a different set of pressure. We wanted to win to get the best record, we failed by a game. But they were still trying to close out the AL East. So having them have to play their guys a little bit and the first couple games of that series was pretty normal. We were competing. It was a high, intense atmosphere. The fans were going crazy. The atmosphere felt like extra playoff games for all the right reasons.

So I think we learned a little bit about their team. Just more familiar, kind of recent memory familiarity. Strategy wise, David Price is not going to sneak up on us. Craig Kimbrel closing games is not going to sneak up on us. We haven't seen their roster as to what they're going to do. But we knew going in, Bogaerts can hit, Betts can hit, Moreland's got power to hit a homer, Benintendi's obviously an interesting player. That wasn't anything new. Seeing it in action and formalizing a little bit of the game plan is probably the advantage of having the four games. But they get that for us, too. We played our guys the first few days, too.

Q. Two years ago Correa's first playoffs, hits two home runs in Game 4 ends up making an error. He kind of had to wear that for awhile.

A.J. HINCH: I've been wearing it for three years.

Q. How do you think he grew?

A.J. HINCH: I thought I was going to go this whole session without talking about Game 4 of 2015. Correa's grown well. He's so driven to be great, and most of the great ones are. I mean it's how they're built and how they go about it. But I love how he takes it personal when people challenge him about playing shortstop and I love how personal he takes it in being in the middle of the order and wanting to be the most productive hitter on the team.

Now we surrounded him with guys like George Springer and Jose Altuve, so it's hard to say he's going to be the most productive the amount of talent we have. But he's such a mature man for his age and all that's thrown to him. I think one of the qualities about Carlos Correa that people don't know about or don't appreciate enough is just how driven he is.

In Fenway he was talking to me about things he needs to work on this offseason in order to get better for next season. The things that you wouldn't imagine a guy in his early 20s who is having success and feels like he has the sport in the palm of his hand, he's continuing to try to get better. So he's elite. He wants to be great. He rises up at these moments. And if you look back at his big hits in his short career, he's got a lot of walk-offs, he's got a lot of big home runs, some of which were in the 2015 playoffs and there's a lot of in that room that aren't going to be spooked by this room or this magnitude of these games and he's going to be right at the front of that.

Q. How much does that series against Kansas City --

A.J. HINCH: In 2015?

Q. -- how much did that stick with you and how much does it motivate it?

A.J. HINCH: I thought it was over it until today when you guys made me talk about it and now it's back. No, it was a great experience for our young guys and that was the first, our first arrival, that was the first time we were really, in some ways, respected again in the game. We had good players, good talent, and we won games, and we celebrated a couple times, we went to Yankee Stadium and won the wild card game. Those were all great memories for those guys, for guys like Jose who came through the lean years where we were losing and came out of it now feeling like a winner. Carlos Correa's first year, Lance's first year, Dallas's breakout year, those are, that all whole experience all goes with them and I think it made us a little hungrier to get back and get to this point again where you're playing with only a couple teams' names on the scoreboard. There's only a few teams left. You got to be good to be in this position and our players that played in 2015 certainly talk about it, we add some veterans, guys like Reddick, Beltran, McCann who have a lot of playoff experience, Verlander, and you're going to find a team that's expected to be here, that wants to be here, and I think that flourishes here.