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October 8, 2016

Jeff Banister

Toronto, Ontario - Workout Day, Canada

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Jeff Banister.

Q. This would seem appropriate, I think at some point in time this year you had some T-shirts or a phrase and a saying, "win the day." And I'm wondering if you can give me a little bit of clearer understanding of what the essence of that means and how that T-shirt came about?
JEFF BANISTER: Yeah, well, it's not my saying. I can't take credit for it. It's more of a mindset for us as a team and a group of players.

And we talk about, if you take the sum of the parts of the things that you do in the course of a day, from the beginning -- how you get up, how you approach the ballpark, when you get to the ballpark, how you prepare yourself -- you start winning the day, as you get out of bed, and that's your sole purpose, whether that's how you take batting practice, your pregame, your preparation in the video room. And then as the game starts it's about becoming very singular in your focus and it's about winning the pitch, the at-bat, the play.

If you win enough of them, you have great opportunity of winning a baseball game. And I just believe that when you can dial down your focus in that way, your preparation, it allows you to really focus in on the task and not let the outside noise enter in and become a distraction.

Q. When you were going through the playoffs you had to make a decision between Derek Holland and Colby Lewis. You thoroughly studied all of the facts and made a decision grounded on facts. It didn't work out; it's human. Did you at any point in the last 12 months say, maybe I should have started Colby or even just looked at it again?
JEFF BANISTER: That's a fair question. I believe that in everything that we do, if we kind of reassess, reevaluate all of our decisions, it's in an effort to be better. I would be cautious in saying that that's the reason why Colby's starting, that's not. I think Colby's earned the opportunity to start based on if you look at the complete body of work this year, the ability to come back, be healthy, build himself back up.

So, however the question is pertaining to last year, look, there are a lot of decisions in this seat that I sit in that it's a learning process. Do we make different decisions? Obviously given a second opportunity. So, yeah.

Q. How do you manage differently when you're down 0-2 and looking at the end?
JEFF BANISTER: Well, I think you know that it's a must-win situation. That there are some decisions that have to be made quicker, whether it's on the pitching side, and you know that somebody, they may not just have it, they may not have it. You need to make a quicker decision.

It's a situation where all-hands-on-deck type of deal. And there's nobody not available to us. But, look, there will be no panic. There will be no reactionary type situation. It will be I think well-thought-out, decision-making process however the game unfolds to us. And I think about it this way: What a different scenario sitting here this time than last year.

Maybe I should call John and ask him how he felt (laughter), get his advice. I say that, because the roles are reversed. I know he believes in his club. I believe in our club.

And we have to play well. We need to manage well from the starting rotation. I felt like yesterday that our hitters gained some rhythm within the game yesterday. I felt like our bullpen was sharp. So it's about the guys that toe the rubber being able to give us an opportunity to score some runs and comes down to handling the baseball, and our hitters, when they have opportunities driving in runs.

Q. Obviously everybody wants to score first, but how imperative, given what's happened in the first two days, is there a sense of urgency to get off to an early lead tomorrow?
JEFF BANISTER: I think it's more important who scores the most last. It would be nice to score and get out to a lead. That's not how we've played all year long. There have been times that we've done that and there have been times when we've had to play from behind. So I think we're well-versed at both. And the bottom line is at the end of the game, do we have more on the board than they do?

Q. Is there a common thread to the approach that the Toronto hitters are taking against your starters, or is it a case of just not good command?
JEFF BANISTER: Oh, I believe they're on the fastball. I think they're looking for it. It's something that -- it's not new to them this year. It's something that they did last year.

Look, we've made some mistakes. We've had some unexecuted pitches, and they've capitalized. And talked about it that at this time of year these situations, unexecuted pitches, it's such a razor-thin margin. The focus is heightened. And they've capitalized.

One of the things we have not been able to do from the starting spot is to be able to use our secondary stuff. And when we're behind in the count -- and we've used it, we just haven't thrown it for strikes and to keep their hitters off balance and we've made some mistakes. And, look, they've not missed the mistakes.

Q. To go back to the offense for just a second. Have you seen anything from your guys that indicates early on they've been overaggressive or a little bit, for lack of a better term, a little bit jumpy to try to get something started?
JEFF BANISTER: I haven't seen that Evan. Look, we had 13 hits yesterday. We drove in, what, three runs. I think it's just a situation that the first day obviously a guy that we've been challenged with before with a changeup and the ability to throw the fastball where he wants to, it's not something that we haven't seen -- whether it's the high fastball, the changeup, breaking ball down to try to keep our guys off balance. And we've seen it presented us challenges throughout the year.

What we need to be able to do is make an adjustment and stay stubborn with it. And I haven't seen what you would call a panicked approach, no.

Look, we had a situation, we were one ball put in play for a base hit yesterday from tying the game up, and we had the lineup right where we wanted to. We brought in a pinch-hitter in Chirinos who gave us an incredible at-bat and drew a walk. Mitch Moreland, we knew we were going to get the left-hander, put together a tremendous at-bat against Liriano. Gomez, no, I don't think there's been any panicked approach there at all.

Q. How would you characterize the mood of your team on the flight here and here today in the clubhouse?
JEFF BANISTER: They've been great. There's no panic in this club. They know that they still gotta play baseball. And that they were on the flipside of this last year. It comes down to playing good baseball. There has not been -- I don't think that they would ever change their attitude or their type of resilience.

They're a great mix of veteran and young players on this team and playoff-versed players that understand, and it comes down to just playing solid baseball.

Q. Going back to yesterday, how scary was the Liriano thing, and how glad are you to learn that he's relatively okay, considering what could have been?
JEFF BANISTER: Listen, anytime that you see that happen on a baseball field, it sends your heart right into your throat, if it's anybody. It doesn't matter who it is.

A little bit different situation for me. I have a pretty good relationship with him. I had him over in Pittsburgh. A tremendous human being. And, I mean, from my vantage point, I could see it quickly where it hit him. He didn't go down. I'm still, when I saw Encarnacion calling the training staff and coaches out, it's extremely scary. And then made a phone call afterwards to Gibby and asked him, and he kind of let me know what had happened when they sent him upstairs.

So, again, prayers for him at that point. You don't want to see that happen to any player. And, I mean, it's one of those things that, look, at any point in time in the year, but even now, razor-thin situation of being tragic in my opinion.

Q. Has MLB indicated if the roof will be opened or closed tomorrow, and do you have a preference either way. I know it's the same for both teams, but do you have a preference?
JEFF BANISTER: I'm just glad we're playing the game of baseball tomorrow. And I have not received any information at this time. So open or closed.


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