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October 12, 2015

Jason Hammel

Chicago, Illinois - Pregame

Q. Jason, when you made the decision to come back here this past offseason, did you imagine that you would be able to be in this position right now this fast, or did you think it might be another year coming?
JASON HAMMEL: I honestly felt really good about the opportunity. When I got traded last year, obviously I didn't want to go, but I saw some things in place that were really pointing towards a positive sign, and I didn't really think it was that far fetched for us to contend. I don't think any of the guys in the clubhouse did, either.

Not honestly surprised to be where we're at right now.

Q. Obviously the magnitude of tomorrow's game could be huge; do you think about what could be on the line tomorrow?
JASON HAMMEL: Referring to pressure, I feel like pressure is what you make of it. Honestly, yeah, it could be a big game, but I've done this a few times now in the postseason and I understand that it's just another ballgame. Have to approach it that way, and I know the guys in the clubhouse will be, too. I've been preparing for this game since my last outing in Cincinnati, so I've had a little bit of time to think about it, and honestly, I'll be ready to go.

Q. Jason, can you describe what it's like to be a player in this kind of atmosphere, in this city, and how different is it now than it was say last year when you were here, just the vibe in the city?
JASON HAMMEL: From last year to this year, it's night and day. Obviously you feel a good vibe around town, lots of blue walking around, and you know, I just think the pride that this city already has with its sports teams has been -- I mean, it's glowing now. The whole city is talking about obviously the Cubs. We're very excited to put a product on the field and make it a competitive product, and they've been searching for that for a while. It's an honor to wear the stripes. That's why I wanted to come back. I had a blast last year for the three months that I was here, and like I said earlier, there was a lot of good things happening, and who wouldn't want to be a part of a winner?

It's a real pleasure to be in Chicago right now.

Q. When you were struggling a little bit in the second half, you had some frustrations, but then it seemed like there was a moment where you just threw it all out on the window and took a real positive attitude. Is that correct, and was there a moment with Ken Ravizza, you wife or anything where you said I'm going positive from here on out?
JASON HAMMEL: Obviously when you're not going right, it's hard to kind of get out of your own way, but in those moments you kind of have to tease yourself and almost trick yourself into thinking you are really good, even when you're not performing to what you know you can do.

It wasn't like a lightbulb moment or anything like that, but I've been in the game long enough that I know if you beat yourself up, you're going to set yourself further back. You know, I've had success in my career. I go back to the success I've had, go check out some video but not worry about it too much. Just always -- baseball success in sports, anything really, is confidence, and as long as I keep the confidence in myself I'll be fine.

Q. When you were traded to Oakland last year, obviously that deal has helped the Cubs a lot, getting Russell. Did you think about what the A's were giving up to get you and Jeff, and since you've gotten here what have been some of your impressions of Russell?
JASON HAMMEL: You know, it's kind of funny to have that trade happen. Obviously to get Jeff and myself, you're going to give up something in return. That's the way trades work. Obviously they gave up Addison, who has been a mainstay. That's not to say anything about Starlin but he's moved over to second and they've really solidified the middle for us. At that point last year it wasn't where it needed to be. But when Addison came over and stepped right in and took the role and ran with it, and it's a pleasure to watch him go. He's already made some outstanding plays in this series for us, and he's, what, 22, 20 years old, something like that? He's just a pup. You know, it's nice to come over and actually see the guy that I got traded for working behind me.

Q. Your ground ball rate is the lowest of your career this season. Why is that, and if the wind is blowing out tomorrow when you pitch, is that at all a concern?
JASON HAMMEL: I mean, it is the Windy City for a reason. I'm not a superstitious guy at all. I know that most of the time you come out here and check out the wind, see what the flags are doing what you get out there, but I could care less. I'm not going to treat it any differently than another start, whether the wind is blowing in or not. As for the reason for the ground ball rate being low, you know, I've tried to execute as I was doing really well in the first half, was execute the bottom of the zone, quality pitches early in the zone, and getting the guys to get him on the ground. That's why I was getting deep into ballgames, and that's what I've been trying to get back to.

Q. If and when did you stop worrying about footsteps from the manager coming out to get you and just throw your game? I know for a veteran it's probably the most difficult thing to get adjusted to during a season.
JASON HAMMEL: You know, the bottom line that I've been a part of with all these winning teams that I've been a part of is winning. You check your ego at the door. Sometimes, yeah, you feel like you can go further, and Joe and I addressed that a long time ago. It's something that's in the past. I don't really want to comment on it. I mean, it is what it is. We got to this reason because of the 25 guys and a few other guys that have helped us this year, and Joe making decisions when he had to make decisions. It's not my role to say, you know, I can do this. Obviously I feel like I can, but he's the manager for a reason. He's going to make a gut check or a call on what he thinks is going to be the right move, and I commend him for that. Obviously I'm going to disagree sometimes because I'm a competitor, but we've been winning. That's all that matters to me.

Q. Can you kind of talk about the pitching staff's relationship with Bosio and now maybe it's helped you this year?
JASON HAMMEL: Bosio is great. He's very -- he's a very large, lumbering man and can be somewhat intimidating, but he's really a big teddy bear at heart. Obviously he wants all of his guys to succeed, and I think he does a good job figuring out what makes each guy tick. For myself in general, you know, we've had a couple small things. He's a fellow golfer, so we were able to get to the same terms and adjustments through the golf game. It sounds weird, but very similar in that regard.

As for the other guys, you know, he does a good job of allowing you to be yourself, as does Joe with the whole team. That's the thing that we have here is a bunch of people just being themselves. We're not trying to be what everybody else wants us to be, and I think that's why we've had such success. Bos can get on you and sometimes make you feel a little awkward, but I think it's more of a father figure than anything.

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