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October 6, 2016

Jeff Banister

Arlington, Texas - Pregame one

THE MODERATOR: We'll get started with Jeff Banister.

Q. What do you hope to see from Yu Darvish besides throw well tomorrow? Does he need to watch his emotions or prevent from being too ramped up since this is only his second Postseason start?
JEFF BANISTER: I kind of like his emotions. I like when I see a Yu Darvish that's excited. I think that's when we get his best. I'm not -- look, this is a pitcher that, extremely accomplished pitcher. I feel comfortable with where he's at mentally, physically.

So I don't think he needs to watch his emotions. I think he needs -- these are settings that, they're electric. There are going to be emotions and players need to be able to play within their own emotions. Just don't be emotional about it.

Q. The fact that he has opened up emotionally, does that tell you that he's reached a certain comfort level or certain competitive level that you wanted to see from him? Is there something significant about that, that emotional level?
JEFF BANISTER: I think it's significant in the sense that he's allowing himself to be a real teammate. Not to say he wasn't before. Look, this is my first experience with Yu on the mound consistently. And so every experience that I have with him, every time he goes out, is a new one.

However, last year the experience of being around Yu as a person and the ability for him to open up to me as a manager and having different relationship, a manager/pitcher relationship, other than what he's had before. And it's not a knock on anybody else, it's just kind of how I treat it.

I never want to be a guy that all they know is I'm just taking the ball from them and handing it to somebody else. And so there was a conversation that we had last year that, one of our first conversations, and asked him if he liked playing the game.

He said he loved playing the game. I said, well, usually when you love something, there's an outward expression, it's okay. And if you watch our guys, they all play that way. And that's what's fun about our team is it's not traditional. It's not what you see on a nightly basis across the league.

And so for him to be able to do that, I think, is significant. Because it's showing the rest of the world and his teammates that, look, he's always cared. It's just now you see it visibly.

Q. Speaking of emotions and all that comes with it from playing the Blue Jays, did you feel compelled to say anything to the team about any of that or do you let it ride and see where things go?
JEFF BANISTER: That's a great question. I mean, I'll have a conversation collectively with our guys. And it won't be any different than if we would have been playing another team.

Look, we've had hotly contested games and series against just about everybody. And this one definitely has history based on how the season ended last year and the carry-over in the two different series this year.

I don't need to -- I mean, I don't think I need to explain anything to anybody. The one thing I would challenge our guys to do is to embrace whatever comes down every inning and to be focused on every single pitch, every situation. Clear mind. Clear eyed. Allow themselves to play relaxed with that youthful joy that they've been playing with all year long.

You get caught up into the distractions from the outside, that means you're not focused. There's a greater mission than being an emotional baseball player.

I think that mission has been played out on the field all year long with a group of guys who have been focused, determined and just waiting for this opportunity.

I said it yesterday. I think that the sport gives us some great opportunities to accomplish wonderful things and feel some things that can be completely challenging. On both sides of those, there's opportunity to reveal character in who we really are and what we're about.

I just can't to wait to watch our guys play.

Q. Just what you saw from Choo the last weekend and these couple of days of workouts that made you feel like he was ready for this?
JEFF BANISTER: Physically, I felt that he was ready. The way he ran around the field. We challenged him with three straight games, with nine innings and last game was eight. Took him out in the ninth. Responded well.

I think the swing, the rhythm and timing were good. He had a couple of hits. Was challenged in one at-bat against a left-hander. The on-base is there. And on top of that I've got a fresh memory of a guy that performed very well for us last year in this type of situation. And I said it before, about our guys and one guy in particular in Gomez. And sometimes you've got to trust in the person.

And I trust in what I know about Choo. And that's not to say that we don't trust Mazara because we do. Maz has been a solid player for us all year long. And I'm sure that Maz is going to do something for us in a game that's going to impress us and make us happy that he's in the game.


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