World Series Game 7: Hinch pregame interview

November 1st, 2017

Q. Dave said that given y'all's relationship he feels like probably brought you closer together.
A.J. HINCH: Sure.

Q. And said that it would tie together even for that much longer of a time. Your thoughts about going against a close friend in such a long series?

A.J. HINCH: This has been a unique experience for both of us, personally, and then obviously for our families. In these interview rooms you usually run into people in the hallway or back at Minute Maid, and I think that we both have run into each other's families; it's very personal. And obviously at the end of the night tonight, one of us is going to celebrate and one of us is going to be pretty upset. But I think the respect that we have for one another, the relationship and the bond that grows being first-time managers in the World Series will never go away.

So like I told you at the beginning of the Series, this is a special experience for me, especially going up against him, and I'll always remember it.

Q. He said he will definitely seek you out afterwards.

A.J. HINCH: Yeah. No, we won't leave the building without seeing one another. That's what friends do.

Q. I asked Dave this, when teams win, there's always sort of a copycat mentality in baseball and other sports. The narrative here, as well, two progressive, analytical organizations got to the World Series. What is that missing, I guess, that narrative? And what would you like to see it include?

A.J. HINCH: Well, I think you've got to continue to include the word "winning", two winning organizations. And you can win in this sport in a lot of different ways. I think too often we chase what the last guy did, you know. We saw what made Chicago and Cleveland successful last year, and so we're compared to how we run our bullpens based on how they did it.

Moving forward, I think there are different ways you can go to win games. So I think -- and they're both right. If you want to -- there's some traditional values that are always going to be in our game. There's progressive growth that can always happen in this game. If you subscribe too much to either, you're probably going to miss a lot of content that can help you win.

But for our two organizations what I've learned about the Dodgers in the eight or nine or ten days that we've been around them is they're a winning franchise. And they're winning in ways that only they can win right now, based on how their team is set up, how their players respond to the information they're provided.

On the flip side of it, as to the Astros, we went our way. And at the end of the night one of us is going to be crowned a world champion, and that doesn't make us right for everybody else to try to copy us. You have to be yourself in this game. I tell it to our players. You've got to run your own team, manage your own team, govern your own players, because we're all chasing that goal of being called a champion.

Q. Did you say or do anything postgame or when you first came in to help your players keep their emotions in check?
A.J. HINCH: I didn't really need to. Our team is as balanced and aware as any team I've ever been around. When the last out was recorded last night, our players in the dugout had a tremendous vibe about them. They've moved onto Game 7 already. We know what's at stake. We know the importance. Nobody hung their head. We're playing in one of the most epic World Series in history. And I think our players have appreciation for that.

We want to win. We're going to do everything we can today to win. But we're not letting the emotional angst get the best of us, from Game 1 all the way through Game 7.

So I didn't need to say anything to them other than encourage them, keep the mood upbeat. The players were already doing that from the last out last night.

Q. Looking at the way the World Series has played out, do you regret the All-Star-World Series tie is no longer, and you didn't have 1, 2, 6, 7 at home? Do you think it would have turned out differently?

A.J. HINCH: I don't know. Again, that's hard to answer in the middle of this. I think home-field would have been great. I really didn't contribute it to the All-Star Game, because that's not the rules we were playing under. I don't know how many more wins they had than us in the regular season. I kind of forgotten about the regular season at this point.

It certainly would have been nice. I think what this postseason has shown me, certainly for us in the Division Series and in the Championship Series, that home-field was pretty important. We played in a couple of Game 7's. Only one true Game 7, but Game 6 for us at our place was like a Game 7 elimination game.

So we need to play under the rules and not get too caught up in how we get to home-field or how we don't get to home-field. Whether we're playing American League rules, National League rules, we're playing Game 7 in the World Series; we'll play by any rules.

Q. Is home-field much more important in the World Series?

A.J. HINCH: It feels like it. I sort of like it when the 48,000 people are yelling for us (laughter).

There is a difference. But it doesn't define the game. We want won a really big game here in Game 2. We can win a really big game in Game 7.

Q. You touched on it earlier about you guys have put together an epic World Series. Win or lose, can you appreciate what you guys have done and the games that you've played in, and how your team has performed?

A.J. HINCH: I can appreciate it more if we win. I'll appreciate the heck out of it. But I think as time will go by and we'll watch the DVDs that are made of this series and the memories that are built from this series, there will be a great appreciation of where it fits in the context of history of baseball. But right now in the middle of it, we just want to win. There are moments when you can take a step back and smile and see what you're a part of. But for the most part it's focused on what we're doing now.

Q. Obviously Game 7, clearly all your pitchers are available. Have you had a conversation yet today with ? Is there anything he can give you tonight?

A.J. HINCH: We'll see. I did have a conversation with him. He told me after the game last night he was going to do everything in his power to make his body ready, and as everybody is. I think I can go to all our guys today and ask them if they're available they're going to either tell me the truth and say yes or lie and say yes. That's sort of the way Game 7 will make you act.

I don't know what he can give us. I know he's willing to do anything. The game situation is going to have to dictate what we do. There's 50 players that are active tonight, 50 players will be ready to play.

Q. Last night you said a Game 7 was really good for the sport. Are you able to appreciate it from that element what it does for your sport?

A.J. HINCH: No, I do. I think what this series has done with the sport is hopefully have people around the country that just appreciated the emotion that's in our game, the youthfulness that's in our game, the drama that's come with this series. And seeing how our sport can play one of the fastest games in World Series in Game and one of the longest ever in Game, what was that, 5?

So I think that our sport is loved for many reasons. This World Series will be one of them.

Q. What's your sense of how Yuli received his attention last night, particularly in regard to Rich Hill's strategy? How is he taking it? What did you see? How is he feeling about it?

A.J. HINCH: Well, I think Yuli is handling it the best way possible. Unless you've been on the receiving end of the angst that he was under last night, you'll never know. And I'll never know. And it's hard. That was as loud and as long a boo as I've heard in my time in sports.

But I think he's handling it well. Again, he stepped up, had a couple of good at-bats. He's doing the best he can to get past this. I don't think the Dodger fans will let him get past it until -- maybe never. I think people have long memories in situations like this.

He's still sorry. He's still regretful. He's still remorseful. He's still got a penalty to pay. Sports will bring out a lot of emotions. So he'll show up ready to play tonight and, again, we'll try to rectify what happened over time.

Q. At the very last couple years of your playing career when you were still in Triple-A, there was talk, at least here at Dodger Stadium, that they may be interested in you for some sort of front-office position. Did that ever make it to you? Was there an offer, conversation? Did you have to decide if you were going to keep playing or not?

A.J. HINCH: I reached out to a lot of different teams over my playing career trying to figure out what was next. When you don't hit a slider consistently, you're not going to play very long. And there's only so far personality can take you as a back-up catcher (laughter). So that was my first knowledge.

So I went and met a lot of different people around the game. There was never an offer to be a Dodger or come here. I had a lot of different conversations with a ton of people over time. I'm close to a lot of people in the current front office. There's 30 teams, there's relationships throughout the game. And for me to be a part of this in a leadership capacity is really unique, no matter what team you're with.

Q. Lance has pitched better as the postseason has rolled along. What do you expect from him tonight?

A.J. HINCH: Nine scoreless would be perfect. But for us I think Lance will be able to answer the challenge. If he can channel his emotions, which we're all going to have them, and he's somebody that is able to rise to the occasion. We've seen him be really, really good with that breaking ball. His fastball is good. When he's in the strike zone, it feels like his command is there, he's as tough as any one of our guys to hit.

And then it's going to be about getting as many outs as he can. I don't go into the game thinking I've got to take him one time through the order or two times through the order or three or four. I think when a starting pitcher in a National League game can get a couple of at-bats, that's a good sign. That means we're either hitting or he's lasted a little deeper in the game.

But he's stepped up before in huge moments, dating back to his rookie year in 2015 in the playoffs, and through this run of success that he's had. So I expect his best, whatever that is.

Q. You used Charlie and Lance really successfully in Game 7 against the Yankees, what's your chance of flipping it and doing the same thing tonight behind Lance?
A.J. HINCH: We could do that. We went into Game 7 in the ALCS expecting all hands on deck. And I gave similar quotes about how we were going to use everybody, and we used two.

A little harder to do in the National League game, because you need a little extra length out of your starter to do that. But I think it's possible. I think anything is possible. I think that's why you have to go in with an open mind, watch the game, read your players, match up the best way you can without a bona fide script because you don't know how it's going to play out. The players that step up, the hitters that step up, the key situations in games that are going to come up are going to happen organically over time. We'll find out at the end of the night how the script was written.