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Oct. 6 Joe Girardi pregame interview

Q. What was your thinking in putting Ellsbury on the bench?

JOE GIRARDI: It was something I mulled over for probably two days once I realized who we were going to face in this game today, and we looked at so many different things trying to figure out -- because we felt we had to get Chris Young's bat in there against the left-hander, against Keuchel.

And it just came down to Gardy's body of work against lefties versus Ellsbury.

Q. Alex spoke yesterday about the idea of you guys as underdogs. I'm wondering that runs contemporary to the way Yankees handle things on a year-to-year basis, is that how you think of things now or do you think that is a reasonable way of thinking of things?

JOE GIRARDI: I think Alex was probably talking about the way that people view us. If you're a Wild Card team aren't you an underdog, in a sense, is the bottom line? But you have to go out and play the games and those guys are confident in what they do, who they are and their ability to win games. But we didn't win our division. So we didn't have the best record in American League so I think that usually goes, the favorites usually go to those teams.

In any one game, anything can happen.

Q. Was that a tough conversation to have with Jacoby and what was his reaction?

JOE GIRARDI: Yeah, obviously it's tough. You look at Gardy and Ells, and they're both extremely important to our team. They both can create a lot of problems on the base paths, play great defense, steal bases and do a lot of different things.

But one thing I told Ells is that you're going to be in this game. He said I'll be ready, whenever you need me I'll be ready.

He took it upon himself to have the right attitude. I can understand if he's frustrated and upset, but he'll be ready to go.

Q. Could you just discuss your thinking in just filling out your pitching staff for tonight and the nine guys you picked?

JOE GIRARDI: We went with Severino and Nova, not expecting a lot of distance from them, obviously, but you wouldn't get a lot of distance from necessarily a bullpen guy either, and these guys have probably thrown better than the guys, the other guys that we were looking at. You go with Pazos because you feel that you could use maybe another lefty. And if you're in that point where you're using those guys, and you want to mix and match a little bit, you go there.

Obviously the guys we're going to use first are the three guys at the back end and Warren. But if you get in extra innings you've got to have some pitchers.

Q. Speaking of body of work, Didi this year and what do you think about going into the postseason with him at shortstop?

JOE GIRARDI: He's played great and he's gotten better every month. To see the improvement that this young man has made has been remarkable, and I think it just goes to show you the type of person he is and how hard he's worked and what the coaches have put in with him. But I give Didi a lot of credit because he's made himself a player.

Q. Those numbers kind of speak for themselves but Altuve for them, what kind of a pest is he and what problems does he present?

JOE GIRARDI: I mean, he can be a big pest, actually. I mean, he's very good offensively. He's very good defensively. He creates problems on the bases. He can hit balls that are below the zone, above the zone.

He's a really, really good player. I mean, he's an All-Star player. And the big thing is this club, when you start looking at this club, and you get beyond the first three hitters, they hit a lot of home runs but they also strike out too. They're pretty similar to us in a sense.

And you've got to keep those guys off bases, off the base, and it's not easy to do with him, but you've gotta do it if you expect to win.

Q. I know you have to fixate on trying to win a singular game tonight with everything you do. But does the fact that the organization invested in over $150 million in Ellsbury play anything with you to keep him on the bench in a one and done day?

JOE GIRARDI: Obviously I did what I thought was best. The other guy makes substantial amount of money, too. Gardy, in a sense, if you go there.

So, like I said, I looked at things for two days, and I knew that I had to make a decision and this is the decision that I came to. And in the end I'm the one that has to live with it.

Q. I know as an organization you guys never really retreat or step back, but it has been two years without being in the playoffs. Have you reflected at all on that and on sort of what you guys have had to do to get back here?

JOE GIRARDI: Sure. I probably did a lot of that on Thursday after we clinched and thinking about all the things that we had been through as a club and the injuries over the years that we've had and the frustration that we've had, not getting to the postseason and the ups and downs of this season with some of our winning streaks and losing streaks.

So, yeah, I reflected a lot. The one thing I kept coming back to with this club was they were extremely resilient and they seemed to find a way to get it done and that's your thought process tonight, find a way to get it done.

Q. To that point, you documented a lot of this, what went on the last season, two seasons here and what you guys have had to overcome. I think regardless you have to be pleased with the fact that you're in this game tonight, with a chance to move on in the playoffs and do some damage.

JOE GIRARDI: Yeah, of course I'm pleased. You know there's 10 other teams that would like to be in this position that aren't in this position. And we had to fight really hard to get to this spot, and so, yeah, I am pleased. And this club accomplished a lot more than people thought we would.

A lot of people didn't think we would be here but we're here and we've got to go try to win a game.

Q. The last few days when you spent all that time and concern with CC, and you were thinking a lot about that, did it feel any differently today, and the reason I ask is there just more of a pure baseball focus today, or is that still, do you think, weighing on your mind or in your mind and maybe in some of your players as well?

JOE GIRARDI: Well, I think, you know, when you walk into the clubhouse and you don't see him, that's kind of strange, because he's been there and he's been there for a long time. Our thoughts are with him, our prayers are with him and his family.

But I think once the game starts, that's when the focus will kick in. I mean, it's impossible not to think about someone you consider one of your brothers or sons or during a time like this, but we'll get focused on what we have to do and that will take over.

Q. You've spoken about how important Alex is, particularly against a left-handed pitcher. We obviously know the backstory. What can you say about how important he is tonight and how almost improbable it was that he got to this point?

JOE GIRARDI: I think a lot of people coming into the season would have wondered how is he going to do and is he going to be productive enough to be in a position like tonight. And he answered those questions. He obviously was. Played well against left-handers. Was in the middle of our order and earned every spot.

And I think Alex's presence, Alex's experience in playoff games is important to a lot of these guys.

Q. Refsnyder was up earlier in the season got sent back. What's been the difference in him since September and what have you liked that you put him in the lineup in a playoff game?

JOE GIRARDI: I liked the way he swung the bat, the way he's played defense, he's played defense well, and to me the difference is just experience. I mean, we've seen talent there. This is a young man that started as -- was a right fielder in college and made a transition here and we felt that the extra games helped him.

He earned his spot, because we were going with Stephen Drew. If you remember, before Stephen Drew got hurt he was extremely hot. He was on fire in September and then got hurt. And we tried some different people, and then we gave Ref a try and he went out and grabbed hold of that opportunity and is in the lineup tonight.

Q. With Dellin's struggles recently, are you comfortable going two innings with him?

JOE GIRARDI: Absolutely.