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World Series Game 3: Morton pregame interview

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Q. What do you think is the difference between your effectiveness, why you were effective in Game 7 and less effective in the previous games, what was the difference?

CHARLIE MORTON: I don't know. I mean, I have to check -- the first thing I would do is probably check the quality of contact. I'm not sure it was a ton different. It wasn't like I struck out ten people as opposed to -- whatever, I don't even remember. So I couldn't tell you, to be honest.

I don't think the quality of contact was that much different. And I don't think I was getting more swings and misses. So I'm not sure, really. I think the ball just finds its way to somebody more often than not in the last game.

Q. What does it mean to you to be starting Game 4 here in the World Series? And what do you think about J.J. Watt throwing out the ceremonial first pitch tonight?
CHARLIE MORTON: Oh, I didn't know that. I've only seen him one time in person and he's huge. I know he's really, really good. So I didn't grow up following the Texans a whole lot. I bounced around between Pittsburgh and Philly.

So I try to keep up with the local teams but I haven't been doing a great job of it. But I do know who J. J. Watt is. Obviously he's a superstar, so I'm excited to see him.

And about starting, I'm really excited. Each of these games I've got to throw in it's a privilege, it's an honor. Most people don't get a chance to play in the postseason, let alone in a Championship Series or the World Series. I'm going to try to enjoy it, but at the same time I've got a job to do.

Q. You've faced some great lineups in this postseason, can you give us an idea of the biggest concern of the Dodgers' lineup?
CHARLIE MORTON: Well, I've been watching a little bit from the side. I try to get in and watch a little bit on the TV from the angle, so I can see exactly where pitches are going. It's hard to tell. And it's really hard to tell where guys are at from a small sample size, just watching from the side or on TV. So I was in the video room making my charts out and I crosschecked things or I'll look over things. You can narrow it down. You can pretty much filter anything nowadays, all the data. So that's what I've been doing, since I got to the park today. I'm still not done.

But it really seems like they do really well against mistakes. They do well in the middle of the strike zone. A lot of their guys can get to a fastball. They can get to fastballs that are faster than average. So I think I'll have to make better pitches in the zone. When I do challenge somebody in the zone, it's going to have to be a better pitch. But at the same time I've got to pitch my game.

My concern doesn't really change, per se. Every hitter is unique, every hitter dynamic is in their own way. The way I'm going about it is really not going to change.

Q. What do you think is the difference between your effectiveness, why you were effective in Game 7 and less effective in the previous games, what was the difference?

CHARLIE MORTON: I don't know. I mean, I have to check -- the first thing I would do is probably check the quality of contact. I'm not sure it was a ton different. It wasn't like I struck out ten people as opposed to -- whatever, I don't even remember. So I couldn't tell you, to be honest.

I don't think the quality of contact was that much different. And I don't think I was getting more swings and misses. So I'm not sure, really. I think the ball just finds its way to somebody more often than not in the last game.

Q. What does it mean to you to be starting Game 4 here in the World Series? And what do you think about J.J. Watt throwing out the ceremonial first pitch tonight?
CHARLIE MORTON: Oh, I didn't know that. I've only seen him one time in person and he's huge. I know he's really, really good. So I didn't grow up following the Texans a whole lot. I bounced around between Pittsburgh and Philly.

So I try to keep up with the local teams but I haven't been doing a great job of it. But I do know who J. J. Watt is. Obviously he's a superstar, so I'm excited to see him.

And about starting, I'm really excited. Each of these games I've got to throw in it's a privilege, it's an honor. Most people don't get a chance to play in the postseason, let alone in a Championship Series or the World Series. I'm going to try to enjoy it, but at the same time I've got a job to do.

Q. You've faced some great lineups in this postseason, can you give us an idea of the biggest concern of the Dodgers' lineup?
CHARLIE MORTON: Well, I've been watching a little bit from the side. I try to get in and watch a little bit on the TV from the angle, so I can see exactly where pitches are going. It's hard to tell. And it's really hard to tell where guys are at from a small sample size, just watching from the side or on TV. So I was in the video room making my charts out and I crosschecked things or I'll look over things. You can narrow it down. You can pretty much filter anything nowadays, all the data. So that's what I've been doing, since I got to the park today. I'm still not done.

But it really seems like they do really well against mistakes. They do well in the middle of the strike zone. A lot of their guys can get to a fastball. They can get to fastballs that are faster than average. So I think I'll have to make better pitches in the zone. When I do challenge somebody in the zone, it's going to have to be a better pitch. But at the same time I've got to pitch my game.

My concern doesn't really change, per se. Every hitter is unique, every hitter dynamic is in their own way. The way I'm going about it is really not going to change.

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Q. How would you describe the noise level in here for a playoff game? And how does your home crowd help you guys play so well?
CHARLIE MORTON: In terms of square footage or surface area it's small. The lid is closed. You know, it gets loud. It gets real loud. But for me that's awesome because it feels like the whole city is behind me. It kind of envelops you into that moment. And in a lot of ways you can get lost in a good way. You can kind of let some things go and just compete. So it allows you to be emotional in a good way.

And then also I think it also reminds you of the importance of the moment. It reminds you of the importance of the game. And of what's gone on in the city over the summer.

So there's a lot of emotion and I think that helps a lot. And also it's pretty cool to experience that, it's pretty cool to experience being on the field and having a crowd like that behind you.

Q. Winning Game 7 against the Yankees, did you save anything from that game to get to the World Series?
CHARLIE MORTON: No, I wish I had. And I wish I had saved -- I don't do a very good job and I haven't done a very good job of saving things over my career. But I have a couple corks from the champagne bottles from the celebration. I have a bottle, the T-shirt and the hat we wore.

But, no, I threw a Division Series game in 2013, my brother-in-law, as a gift, he bought me one of the balls that I threw. It was certified or whatever you call it. And when I look back, and I'm sure I'll wish I had, but I haven't. So maybe I'll ask somebody to grab a ball for me or something like that.

Q. For someone who's been a pro baseball player through the ranks, how does pitching in the World Series in your mind change or do anything for the way you'll look back at your career that you wouldn't if you hadn't pitched in the World Series?
CHARLIE MORTON: I think it will change it in exactly how you described it; I'll have pitched in the World Series. And I kind of touched on that in an interview in LA about the experiences, and somebody asked me if they thought the Game 7 that I threw would really change my career. And I think so but not in an extremely -- it wouldn't put my career in a different trajectory. And I don't think pitching in the World Series would necessarily put my career in a different trajectory, good or bad.

It's just, you prepare for a start. You go out there and you make a start. And then whatever happens, happens after. And then you look back and you reflect on it, and good or bad -- I can look back fondly on games that I pitched where I gave up -- I can remember the first time I pitched at Wrigley, and I gave up ten runs in an inning. And I'll look back on that and it's part of a career. It's part of a journey. And the highs and lows are what make it great, not just the highs. If anything, the lows make you appreciate it more. They make you a better person. They make you a better pitcher, a better professional in general.

So this is an opportunity for me to enjoy an experience with these guys. So I'm excited to go out there and do it.

Q. In New York you had your family there, father, mom, sister. I'm assuming you'll have some family here, so how special is it to have family here on occasions like this?
CHARLIE MORTON: Yeah, I think it's one of those things in retrospect you realize how special it is. And in the moment you try to enjoy it, but your focus is your job. There are more people counting on you -- your family isn't really counting on you to do a great job. They're going to love you regardless. The people who love you are going to love you. But I still have a job to do. As a professional, as a teammate, as a baseball player you want to go out there and do well for your team.

So I'll enjoy it, but my focus is the game. I'll have time after the game to hang out and then in weeks, months, years, I can always look back and appreciate that, and appreciate the opportunity.

I guess I wish I was more about the whole experience. But it almost seems like it would consume you, if you let it, because there's so much attention. There's media. There's friends. There's family. There's everything. There's a lot of pressure. You really have to try to control that, harness it, if you can, and go out there and do a job.

Q. What do you think is the most impressive hitter on the Dodgers?
CHARLIE MORTON: For me it's Chase Utley. And that's just because I've pitched against him a good bit and I've seen him play before I was a Big Leaguer. I've pitched against him. And then I've paid attention to what he's done since he left the Phillies.

To me he's a great competitor. I think he's a great hitter. I think he's just a gamer. I think he's a guy that any team would love to have. From what I've heard about him, great teammate. They have a lot of young guys, too. Not quite as established but obviously that team is great, top to bottom, just really balanced. And the people over there from what I've seen, they seem like good people. Their staff is good. Seems like they've got a good clubhouse.

But if I have to pick one guy, I think Utley would probably be the one. I really appreciated Curtis Granderson's career, Andre Ethier, the guys that have been around for a while. And obviously, I mean, top to bottom just a bunch of dangerous bats.

Q. Did you ever get to the bottom whether it was Jason Grilli mucking around with your Wikipedia page?
CHARLIE MORTON: No, and no one contacted me about it. So I'm wondering if it was like a Pirates fan that was mad at me. Because I remember someone telling me that they had my middle name was like Corrine or something like that. I just don't see Jared Hughes changing my middle name, the more that I think about that. I can see him doing something goofy like the Morton Steakhouse thing. I wonder. I do. And I think it was after I left, too.

Q. It now says you eat two pounds of steak before every start.
CHARLIE MORTON: That's not true (laughter).

Does it say that, really? No, I don't do that, either.

Q. Just curious from a player's standpoint, what do you expect from a manager as far as an personal level? Do you expect to have much interaction with him or just professionally? How would you describe that with A.J.?
CHARLIE MORTON: The more you deal with professionals, the more you realize everybody is different. It's kind of like asking to pick your favorite flavor ice cream or something like that. They can all be good in their own way. And A.J. is good in a lot of ways.

I would say that the common thread between good managers is probably instilling confidence and letting your guys be who they are in the clubhouse. And letting the clubhouse sort itself out. And he's done a great job with letting players be players. He doesn't really try to interfere with what's going on in the clubhouse. He's short. He's to the point. He communicates in the same way. I've really appreciated him from the moment I met him.

When I signed with the Astros, when I agreed to sign before I came here, I did a press conference here after I signed in November, and before I even did that he called me and to congratulate me and welcome me, and he invited me to breakfast the next morning. And that was really awesome for me. I didn't expect that. I never really experienced anything like that. It was nice. He's trying to make everybody feel like they're part of the club.

Q. What do you think about this decision to become more of a higher-velocity guy and let it rip, or why did you make that decision? It seemed like you'd become more of a swing-and-miss guy than in Pittsburgh?
CHARLIE MORTON: Yeah, in 2015, so when I came back from -- I had my right hip done after the 2014 season. And in 2015 I came back, and I was pitching pretty well through my first few starts. I think I made five starts that I felt really good, and I made that start in Washington. I gave up like nine runs in two-thirds of an inning or something like that. And that pretty much set my season on a course, volatile, like a roller coaster, good one and bad one. And what I found was that my success really hinged on quality of contact and where the ball went after it was put in play.

And it just seemed like I was at a point in my career where I got tired of that. I got tired of giving things up to fate. And I played catch at the end of that year. I remember just kind of angrily throwing the ball. I think it was one of my last few starts. I just started to throw as hard as I could. And I looked up and I don't know if you remember in Spring Training that year, I was throwing like 88 to 90. No idea where my speed went. My two-seamer was kind of flat. I got hit around. I mean, I'd get traded out of Pittsburgh. I got booed off the field my last start I made there. It was an awful feeling.

I changed my workouts after that season. I tried eating a little bit better, nothing crazy. But I also started messing with my mechanics. I didn't work with anybody. I just listened to my body. And I don't think I made any substantial changes, in terms of my mechanics, but I think I started trusting myself, what my body was telling me, what my arm was telling me, everything, my timing.

And I went to Spring Training with the Phillies last year and I looked up I'm pitching against the Yankees in Spring Training my first start. And I look up and I'm 94 to 96. After coming to Spring Training the previous year, a good five miles an hour slower than that, five, six miles an hour slower. And it was from then on that I started noticing, hey, it's harder to hit 95 miles an hour out of your hands than it is 91, 92, down in the zone. I started pitching kind of all over the place. I started elevating the cutter. I started throwing a curveball a lot more.

And then I hurt my hamstring. And the rest of the year, I'm wondering next year, this is the last year, if I'm even going to have a job. Astros called up and offered me a two-year deal for an absurd amount of money and the rest is history.

But I still had it in there, like I still had it in my arm, but after years of battling some injuries I think that really affected my preparation in the offseason, the way my body felt, the way my body was working.

And then my methodology, I was just trying to be a contact pitcher, just trying to pitch to the bottom of the zone. It just wasn't working.

So I remember at the end of that -- like I described, at the end of 2015 I threw a couple of games where I looked up and I ran the ball up in the in the mid 90s and I knew it was still there. But by then I was just in a bad spot, at the end of 2015, it just wasn't a good place to be.

So I don't know if it was the injury, but something allowed me to reset. Getting traded, that was a part of it. That was a huge -- that was emotional, like professional, huge change for me. It was kind of like a reset. Getting hurt, another reset, rehabbing and then this is like a second chance. When the Astros called after not expecting another job this year, realistically, I thought I was going to have an invite to Big League spring and then have to earn a job in the spring.