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October 10, 2015

AJ Hinch

Houston, Texas - Workout Day

Q. You guys are obviously very good at home and you were asked a lot about your road record and no one could really come up with an answer. But your home record, is there any tangible reason why you played so well here action, you think?
A.J. HINCH: I don't know. We played very well at home and it does feel good to be here. We had to earn our right to play another game at home. I sat in this room a couple weeks ago and when you think about what's happened for our club to be able to come back and play a home playoff game after a series in Seattle, fly down to Arizona, have a day off, play a series there, some must wins, fly to New York. Play a game. Fly to Kansas City play a game.

Nothing's probably felt better than putting this white uniform on and knowing that tomorrow we're going to have a lot of fans in our corner to watch us play at home. Now we have done a lot of right things at home this year, including ride some really good baseball. We obviously have power, we have speed, all the things that we talked about as our club and it plays in any park, but for whatever reason we have been very, very comfortable playing here and obviously this time of year we want that to continue.

Q. For people who weren't privileged to see it, can you describe what it's like to see a guy go 15-0 with a 1.46 ERA at home?
A.J. HINCH: Yeah, I'm trying to remember when the runs were that he gave up. I felt like he always had shut outs going at home. But to put together 15 wins in that type of performance, obviously from Dallas' perspective, it's putting up a ton of innings at the right time in front of his home crowd. But I don't know if he likes the mound, if he likes the top of the first to how comfortable he is in this ballpark. This is a pretty offensive ballpark, so it's even more impressive, given the dimensions and how the ball can play in this park. So, I don't know, it's hard to put into words because it's taken a long time. It takes a lot of good defense, it takes some good hitting, 15 wins on a season is remarkable. There aren't that many guys in the league that get 15 wins. He got them all at home. And then talked on a few road wins. So, I do know that going into tomorrow I like that record. I like that it's in his favor and how comfortable he is. Like that there's going to be a lot of guys or a lot of people in the stands that are anxiously a waiting for him to get on the mound. There's a ton of confidence in this city and in this clubhouse when he's pitching at home.

Q. You mentioned being excited to come home, but and you guys really said all the rights things and sounded pretty good after the game, but how did you fight the potential of thinking there was a real lost opportunity there?
A.J. HINCH: Well I don't think we fought it. I think there was a lost opportunity. We had the lead in game two and we walk away with a loss. So I think that like anything, we address things straightforward. The reality is when the game ended and they had won the game, the series was tied 1-1. Now 24 hours you feel a little bit better and 24 hours from now it doesn't really matter, we got to go play another game. So I think our mentality is very strong. Walking away from Kansas City with a win is obviously nice, we were in position to win two. Neither of those matter when you get on the field tomorrow at 3 o'clock and we're playing another game. So, I think the mentality of this team has always been deal with whatever we have to deal with at the end of the game and as soon as we turn the page we move on. We had a flight home slept in our own beds, wake up for a work out at home. There will be a ton of energy in the ballpark tomorrow. The stuff that's in the rear view mirror is in the past. We can't really change really anything that went on in the game that went our way and the game that didn't go our way. That's the mentality of this team, it's the way we're going to be. This team across the way is pretty good. We know that. I think we have established that we're pretty good too. So we have a three game series where two of them are at home and we have arguably our three best starting pitchers on the mound during that series, you win 2-3 you move on.

Q. We got a pin hit in the ninth yesterday but is Jed still dealing with the quad and if not is it just more of riding Luis's hot hand defensively?
A.J. HINCH: Jed's available and Jed's fine. He's dealing with a few nicks and bruises and issues. I don't think he's a hundred percent. Not sure a lot of guys in the clubhouse are a hundred percent at this point, but and really in either clubhouse. But I am having to make a decision every day on what the best matchup is, what the best situation is. Luis has been playing very well and having been around our team we know how streaky he can be in a good way when he gets going -- and he plays really good defense too. I think some of those plays at third base in Kansas City were remarkable. So I have had to ride the hot hand, I think everybody in the clubhouse knows that some of the things that how we balanced out playing time for 162 may not apply in a playoff push. But Jed's going to come up big in a big at-bat at some point. He still may get a start. I told him yesterday that it doesn't mean that he's never going to start another game, he very well may start tomorrow or Monday here at home or maybe it's Game 5 or maybe it's the next series if we advance. But our guys are all ready and their roles have shifted just a little bit and certainly the momentum of how guys are playing plays into that.

Q. How is Carlos Gomez doing today?
A.J. HINCH: He was the first player here, which is not unusual. Big smile on his face. He came in to get his treatment. He's going to move around a little bit. I've got to determine whether or not to start him. I mean, it's very likely you could see him in the starting lineup if things progress again. We have had a number of days since he played in New York, he had a couple of pinch run opportunities, but tomorrow very well could be the next time we see him swing the bat.

Q. Understanding that the team's approach every game is the same no matter what the game is. Is there a significance to tomorrow being that it is your best pitcher on the mound and whoever loses it's down to one more loss and they're out?
A.J. HINCH: I mean, don't you want to win every game? I don't care who is pitching, I don't care what time of year it is, I mean I don't -- I really don't -- I don't have to put any more emphasis on tomorrow's game because it's 1-1 in a Divisional Series. I get to compete every day that I put this uniform on to try to win and I get it, trust me. Of course it's important. Of course the team that walks out of this building tomorrow night is going to feel a little better than the team that walks out that doesn't win. That's no secret. But there's really no pressure on us, we have got a really good pitcher going and a really good ballpark that we play well in, with a really good team. As we have seen the first two games, you got to play the whole game to figure it out. We'll compete, we'll compete hard, we'll bounce around, we'll have a good time and we want to win. We want to win tomorrow. Like we do every day.

Q. I know you you've had some playoff games on the road already but what does it mean to bring a playoff game back to this city for the first time in 10 years, especially considering what these fans have been through the past few years?
A.J. HINCH: Couples things, one I think our fans deserve it. They're hungry for it. They have waited a lot of time to celebrate an Astros playoff team. And I didn't want this celebration to be only about the 2005 team. We had that celebration during the summer and that felt pretty good and as I told Phil Garner that day I want to celebrate a 2015 playoff team. And so did he. So I think to be able to bring a playoff team home in front of these fans who have endured a number of years in between playoff teams, it feels great. It else feels great for our players. When we started out in Spring Training there weren't a lot of people that were pegging us as being here and in early October and playing playoff games. That's no fault of the experts. I mean, this has been a great run for our club and we have earned it. We did believe that we had a good team when we broke Spring Training and as we preached to them, you got to play 162 to find out where you fit in. And we fit in pretty nicely and we're bringing a good team back to a playoff game and in a building that we have a lot of confidence in. I'm not sure I could draw it up any better, maybe being 2-0 would have been a little bit better, but we have a chance to continue this on but all that matters leading up to this point is tomorrow's game.

Q. In the first game afterwards the Royals were definitely frustrated by the fact that they had hit balls right at you all day long and your positioning has been such a great benefit for you. In Game 2 it didn't quite work out that way. On days like that, what's in the back of your head, you know it works, but Escobar's lazy fly ball was basically a triple and Morales' hit was a routine grounder, that type of thing.
A.J. HINCH: I would argue that it did work out a couple other times. It was just -- the big plays, obviously, I understand how it looks like the shift doesn't work or where the defensive positioning doesn't works. But the reality is it did work on a few other outs that we haven't talked about. And I think that's the point of this shift. You can't live with the good and not accept some of the misfortune that leads your way. Obviously where we were positioned didn't matter when Hosmer had a one arm swing on a two strike pitch and loops the ball over the infield where the runner's going, where if it loops a little shallower or deeper we have a double play and we're probably talking about a different outcome. That's baseball. That's not really about shifting or not shifting. Escobar's ball, that happens. We want the benefit of the soft line drive in front of the right fielder that he hits a lot. To take that, you got to risk a little bit. When you're Carlos Gomez and you're off the base and you got a guy that throws 95 on the mound and a really good catcher, you got to risk something if you're going to try to get to the next base.

So we live with that. We embrace it. It's who we are. We have taken a lot of ground balls and line drives up the middle. We were in New York, Carlos Correa fields a ball up the middle that would have broke the game open or Springer fields A-Rod's ball down the right field line, that's good defensive shifting. And so, we're going to take the good and the bad and what comes with that. And we're going to do it again tomorrow of the. And we're going to be in the right position. I really believe that. Otherwise we wouldn't put the guys there.

Q. Looking ahead momentarily how is this season and some of the adversity Lance has faced prepared him for Game 4 and getting the start?
A.J. HINCH: Lance is ready for Game 4. I think the a lot of people will point to the age at 22, newly minted 22, he's a young one, but at this juncture of the season and what he's endured throughout the year, the big games he's pitched in, the number of innings he's piled, I mean he's not a rookie any more. It's going to be his first playoff start and he's going to have to channel some energy, he'll do it in front of some rowdy fans that are this his corner, but for us, he's answered every challenge that we have given him. He's probably going to be just as nervous as he was in his Major League debut. I remember that being a pretty good outcome. He closed out a complete game against Baltimore in this building with a lot on the line against Chris Davis who ended up with a lot of homers. That ended well.

So I have a lot of trust and faith that his stuff is as good as anybody we have and he'll be able to execute that, provided that he can control the little animal inside of him. And I really believe that the way that this series has gone, the way that this season has gone, he represents a lot of what's right about what we're doing because he's young, he's energetic, he's going to be competitive and he'll be ready.

Q. What's your relationship like with Jim crane and what have you learned from your short time of knowing him about him?
A.J. HINCH: My relationship's great with Jim. He's been involved, he was involved in the interview process, he has been in and out of our clubhouse throughout the year checking in with us. What I've learned about him is he loves to win. And he expects to win. He made that known in the interview process a couple years ago when I interviewed. He reiterated it this time when I interviewed and got the job. And he's very consistent. He'll push his people and obviously I work hand in hand with Jeff trying to deliver the product that he's paying for. And his group's paying for.

So I think his consistency, his will to win, his patience, but not so much patience that he doesn't care when things are going bad. They have been very notable this year. You know he's got a lot of pride in the Astros, he's really done a lot behind the seasons that a lot of people may not know about that I've learned about over the course of the year in reshaping this organization and in his eyes. So, to deliver a playoff team to someone who I know loves to win as much as he does, who has put a lot of time and energy into reestablishing the Astros brand that's a pretty good feeling.

Q. You talked about all kind of stuff about Carlos Correa. The other day he told us that he drilled one off his right knee back to back games. First time it was some swelling his toughness and playing through it and that he said he down played it and. Any concerns there?
A.J. HINCH: No, I don't have a lot of concerns. The day off is going to help everybody. Physically and mentally. I think that when I went out to talk to him, when he was laying on the ground, which is never a good feeling as a manager. I was like, just get up Carlos, I want you to get up, make sure everything's okay. And as I go out to talk to him you know what he was mad about? He was mad about the homer that was just foul down the right field line. He had no -- we didn't even talk about his right knee. We all knew what happened, we all knew it hurt, he's limping around and he's complaining about the foul pole not being close enough to him for him to wrap a little home run around it. That's where his mindset was.

So, he's going to be fine and the adrenaline's going to kick in. I'm glad that we avoided anything bigger and certainly don't want him to make a habit of fouling balls off his right knee or left knee or left foot the or right foot. But he'll be out there at shortstop tomorrow.

Q. Ned said he came up old school, Bobby Cox, not a lot of emotion shown and you're associated with new school. But he's learned to let the Royals be themselves for the music, you talked about that stuff. When does it go too far in the game, whether it's a bat flip or emotion, I mean, where is that fine line?
A.J. HINCH: Yeah, it is a fine line and I like, I guess I like getting associated with new school. I have a few old school roots in me. So I would like to be referred to as a blend, if any of you want to use that. But I think that the respect for the game, the respect for your opponent is very important for me. I never read a book that's told people how they have to play. I realize how things used to be, I realize how things are going, we're in an entertainment business, there's certainly a fine line. You never want to disrespect the game or disrespect your opponent.

But you got to live it up a little bit. You got to enjoy it a little bit. Otherwise this game will really beat you down with the amount of fill failure that's there. So whether it's a pitcher -- guys do it differently. I think sometimes we always associate it with bat flips and what the hitter does. I've seen some pitchers do a little thing with some flair in my days. So I think that as long as it's channeled towards competing, channeled towards celebrating your own as opposed to mocking your opponent or disrespecting your opponent, then let's have an entertaining sport. I want our guys to pretend like they have been there before, but I also want them to smile on the field. This little tough guy act sometimes gets a little bit old. So show a little personality, live it up a little bit, respect your teammates, get around the bases, I get the bat flip stuff, we're pretty good at it. Be careful though, because you don't want to cross that line. Obviously, some of the celebration in the dugout that go on, that's on your territory and it's more about celebrating your own than it is about disrespecting somebody different.

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