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October 8, 2016

John Gibbons

Toronto, Ontario - Workout Day, Canada

THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone, we'll get started with John Gibbons.

Q. First, just any update on Devon Travis and Francisco Liriano?
JOHN GIBBONS: Travis had an MRI this morning. No structural damage or anything like that. Inflammation, it will be a day-to-day type of thing. Liriano was getting, when he got in today they were going to do the concussion test, see where he's at.

I don't have the result yet. So that's kind of -- that's day-by-day, too.

Q. Any chance DL for Devon?
JOHN GIBBONS: I wouldn't think so. I haven't sat down with trainers or Ross with Mark or anything yet. We'll see. I wouldn't expect that.

Q. Just talk about coming home 2-0. I'm sure you feel really confident, but remember last year it was a reverse situation Rangers winning 2-0 as well. So just talk about coming home to that?
JOHN GIBBONS: This thing is far from over. We need to keep playing great baseball. I said yesterday down in Texas they had the best record in the American League for a reason. You don't luck into that. So we've got to come out and play good baseball. They have as much and more talent than most teams in all of baseball. So they'll be ready to go. So we've got to be ready to go.

Q. What do you expect from the home crowd here, and also given what's happened with the beer toss in that Wild Card game, any word of warning for bad behavior from the crowd?
JOHN GIBBONS: Nobody likes to see that. There's no place for that. So hopefully that stops. It needs to stop. The crowds, well, this is one of the more loud raucous crowds I've seen in baseball. Especially too if the roofs closed. I don't know if it will be opened or closed, but that always adds something to it.

But they've gotten behind us, really. You look at our attendance this year. I think we led the American League, I believe. And they're into it. It's an enthusiastic, loud crowd, and they enjoy it. And we have some players they identify with so they really push those guys.

So there's definitely a noticeable difference when we play home as opposed to some other places, that's for sure.

Q. What did you see in Aaron's Postseason performance last year that you hope he can apply to tomorrow night?
JOHN GIBBONS: Well, he was coming out of the bullpen. It was a different approach for him. It was one, two innings -- he might have thrown a couple of innings, I think. He was really just going in there, letting it rip for two innings or however long he was in there. Different approach for him.

This year, though, he did start the season last year as a starter and he started to get on a nice little roll before he had the lat injury. But he had run into troubles with his command. He'd walk too many guys, and that's what got him in trouble. And might just take one hit, can turn a game.

But you can start to see that changing as he went on. Then, of course, he had the injury. Then we brought him back really out of necessity. We needed him in the bullpen and the thinking was that way we'd get him back quicker. Otherwise we leave him down there, come back as a starter. It was going to take more time, and I think that was in July, if I'm not mistaken. We needed him back one way or the other. We couldn't afford to leave him down there another few weeks for this team's sake.

But this year, coming into Spring Training, he was competing for that last starter job. We knew what he had but we wanted to see it. He had a tremendous spring. He won the job. And really the big turnaround he's got great command now. For a guy that throws that hard and has so much movement on his pitches, it's really been like night and day for him.

I mean, he'll lose some batters, he'll walk some guys occasionally. But you'll see him, too, fall behind. In the past he might walk a guy four straight. Now he might fall behind 2-0 and he'll make a good pitch, and the next thing you know he's getting a guy out. I think that's the biggest change.

His curveball is coming around on any given night when it's on. He's really, really tough. But there's some nights it deserts him a little bit, too. Of course he also developed a changeup. He doesn't use it a lot, but it's been a pretty good pitch for him. He's rounding in shape as a complete pitcher, and when that day comes where his curveball can be a go-to pitch and his changeups, he feels better throwing that more often, no telling how good he can be really.

Q. Do you manage -- you've been in both situations, do you manage differently 2-0 versus 0-2? You don't want to take your foot off the gas, but how do you manage differently when it's 2-0?
JOHN GIBBONS: I mean, we'll go out tomorrow night, really just try to win the game. We do have to be conscious, Osuna came in the other day. It was a long outing for him. He was coming off that shoulder issue. And even to go back to the final weekend of the season, he threw two innings on a Saturday night in Boston, came back the next day. Two big, big wins for us and he pitched an inning the next day, then with one day off and he comes in.

That Wild Card game, that type of thing, he ended up coming out after an inning plus. That's definitely on our mind. I don't think it's something you can do with him every time he goes out there anymore. I don't think that would be smart for his sake, really. But we'll do everything we can to win tomorrow night. Hopefully we're in that position late and he's needed.

But it's kind of tough to answer that. And we were on the flip side of that last year. So a three-game win streak in baseball is nothing. All teams that get to the playoffs they did that plenty of times. We feel good that Sanchez is pitching, we really do. But like I said they've got a real good team.

Q. The Sunday game in Texas, back in May, where the other stuff happened, Sanchez had a big lead that day, couldn't hold it. He went on a tear after that. Did something happen in that game that you and your staff addressed with him that he was able to make an adjustment and help him take off and pitch as well as he did after that game?
JOHN GIBBONS: I'm not sure -- you're right, though. He really got on a role. I got ejected early in that game, so I saw a little bit of it, but I wasn't sitting right there on top of it. But I think he wore down a little bit. That Texas heat can get you. I'm not sure how hot it was that day. I don't care how good of shape you're in. I remember early when I got ejected there were some issues with the strike zone, right? And so I don't know necessarily if something in that game set him off. I think he was just starting to really come into his own. And you look at what he's done this year. When we started the season, okay, we didn't have a dead-set number what his innings were going to be. But we kind of had an idea.

And the thought was from watching him last year, and like I said, he walked a lot of guys last year. You're thinking five or six innings, that's kind of what you expect out of him. You figure he's going to throw a lot of pitches but then he became a different guy, and seven, eight innings was nothing to him. Every time he was going out there he was doing that.

So the innings started building, that kind of thing. Really I don't think anybody -- I sure didn't anyway, but I don't think anybody on our team or that knew him expected him to come on so fast. Probably thought it would take a little bit more time. But he's a very focused kid and really it's all coming together for him nicely.

Q. Because of what Josh Donaldson did last year, I think sometimes we take him for granted this year. But can you describe what he brings from a competitiveness standpoint and just his overall durability?
JOHN GIBBONS: As far as durability, he's banged up now like most guys are, no doubt. But he's always one guy that's always answered the bell. He's played many games here the past couple of years where a lot of times a lot of guys might not have played. That's just the way that he thinks.

But I do think he spoiled us a little bit around here. You look back last year, there was probably a couple of stretches but they weren't long where he struggled like you're supposed to. Really the whole year was basically I mean he was doing his thing for six months.

So, yeah, it does spoil you a little bit. And this year he's been so good as well. And he's hit those spots. But sometimes I think people expect somebody's going to do it every time they go up there. That's just not the case.

But we acquired him last year, he helped set the tone really for the team, the beginning of Spring Training, the mindset, that kind of thing. He's a different character. He's a different bird, that's for sure. But he shows up to play, you know, good/bad, whether he's feeling good or not, he shows up to play and usually is pretty good.

Q. Given the talk going midseason that Aaron would ultimately end up in the bullpen and that was something that as much as a couple of months ago seemed like a possibility, when did you know or when did you think that him starting in a playoff game was a possibility?
JOHN GIBBONS: To be honest, here he is. Better make sure I give you the politically correct answer.

I think we were all set that he was going to eventually end up in the bullpen. That was the plan in Spring Training. And to be honest, the last two years I saw how good he was down there, and that's a luxury for a manager and a coach, for sure. And he would look awful good down there right at the moment, too, to tell you the truth, but that's not happening. Not happening Sanch.

But as the season developed and the topic started to come up when he was starting to chew up some innings, like I said, he was going seven, eight innings just about every time he went out there. And then the baseball world caught on to it and were analyzing the hell out of it. And we were back and forth on what the right thing to do was. And, of course, his input was very important to us. It wasn't the final say but it was important to us. And then when it got to the point where he was just so good, we all thought it was going to be crazy to take him out of that role. He was thriving, that was his future anyway.

And he's always believed he's a starter. He filled that bullpen role for us out of necessity. He could go either way. He's going to be very good. As time went on we were getting around that trade deadline, we started thinking, hey, we can make this work, leaving him as a starter, but you can't just let him run the season without giving him a break.

And eventually right around the trade deadline, it went right down to the wire, of course we went and picked up Liriano. One of the reasons for that, too, was we thought he could go in the rotation, Sanch, you could end up in the pen. But we thought it would be crazy to take him out of the role. He's been so good, one of the best pitchers in baseball doing it. And at that point he had thrown so many innings anyway it might be more riskier to start put him in the pen and get him up and down all that stuff. That might cause more harm to him than what we're doing.

So we came to an agreement and to be honest, hopefully he'll tell you, too, but he even suggested, hey, listen, if I stay here, there's a time you want to send me down to the Minor Leagues, I'll be willing to go down there, and come back, catch his breath, whatever. But he might be the only guy that will ever tell you that. That got your attention too.

Eventually we said let's keep him in here, he's doing so well. We set a program together. He ended up going to the Minor Leagues for ten days. And then he had a stretch where we're going to send him another ten days, two or three starts after, maybe it was, and that's what we did. He did get a little blister at the time. The timing was probably right. And he's been back.

So he'll pitch tomorrow night. That's a week off since he last threw Sunday in Boston. So it's really worked out perfectly, to be honest with you. Who knows what the rest of the season holds. It wasn't easy, but we're in a good spot right now.


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