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October 13, 2016

Dusty Baker

Washington, D.C. - Pregame 5

Q. A simple question. I just want to make sure, is everyone available if things go wrong?
DUSTY BAKER: Yeah. Yeah, everyone's available, and we're not anticipating things going wrong but everyone's available.

Q. You've had good production from both Severino and Lobaton so far. What went into the decision to go with Loby today?
DUSTY BAKER: Well, Loby, same thing. He's had some success against Hill, and also, you know, he's caught Scherz quite a few times, and that's what goes into that decision.

Q. What are the emotions that you feel when you wake up this morning, ahead of a decisive Game 5, a winner-take-all situation?
DUSTY BAKER: Well, the emotions I had, tell you the truth, I got up, said my prayers like I always do. Got a cup of coffee. And then packed for Chicago.

Q. What was Stephen able to do yesterday, and what are you thinking about, availability for a potential NLCS?
DUSTY BAKER: Stephen Strasburg? Yeah, we've got a couple Stephens here.

You know, I haven't really thought about it. I mean, it depends on -- we know he's not going to be ready for the next series. You know, he's progressing as well as we'd like. It's never as fast as you'd like. But again, he won't be available for the next series. It would be a miracle if he was.

Q. Were you rooting for this to be a night game, because obviously this could have also been four hours earlier, and are the guys excited to finally have a night game in this series and not deal with the shadows?
DUSTY BAKER: Yeah, the guys are excited. I haven't really talked to them about it too much, but the shadows are a big deal. It's a big deal on both sides.

Yeah, I mean, we're glad to have a night game. I don't think anybody's overjoyed to have to have a night game starting at 8:00, but that's TV; it kind of runs the world. You've got another hour of nervous energy to deal with.

But you know, the guys are poised and ready.

Q. Obviously the Nats ultimately are trying to win their first championship, and you've managed a couple other teams that have gone a long time without a championship. With a city sort of waiting so long like that, how does that affect the players or the team? Did you even notice that?
DUSTY BAKER: Yeah, you notice it. I mean, you know, this is why we're here. We come here to win, not only for the organization and ourselves, but the town. I mean, this is something that lasts, is going to go a long ways in town and is going to last forever when you finally win.

You know, the one thing that I urge the town is to be in a positive mood -- and mood, because I had know I had spoken to some hockey fans, and they were expecting -- I was watching the game with them and they were expecting bad things to happen or expecting them to lose. And I haven't been here long enough to know what the history is here, but all I know is just positive thoughts go a long ways.

And the places where I've been were where people were positive no matter what the score was, no matter what. It was usually a positive outcome. And other places I've been, where they expect negative, they have been a negative outcome.

So I just urge everybody to, you know, they say the mind can move mountains, and they can certainly move a ball. I want everybody to just, you know, think good and happy thoughts.

Q. Justin Turner has accounted for a huge portion of their offense for the first four games. What kind of challenge has he presented and what can you do?
DUSTY BAKER: Well, you know, he's been a big portion of their offense the last few years. You know, when I was covering the playoffs for TBS, he was a major contributor during that. I even, you know, gave out some wine -- I don't know if you guys remember, for the Players of the Game, and I gave him two of them.

He is a guy that's hard to figure out on how to pitch, because, you know, he must be a very smart hitter for us to not really -- for us or anybody else to really get a read on him. Because sometimes he's sitting inside, sometimes he's sitting outside, sometimes he's sitting a breaking ball, other times he's hitting fastball. I mean, he is a professional hitter and that's what professional hitters do. You just have to mix it up on him.

Q. Before you got here, what were your impressions on Jayson Werth, and when he got off to a slow start this season at age 37, were you at all worried he couldn't get it back?
DUSTY BAKER: No, I wasn't worried. You get worried if a guy gains a bunch of weight or if a guy loses desire, which some players do. Or they either get, you know, tired of pain over the course of time. And I didn't get any of those impressions from him.

Mostly, you know, his legs are still good. I've seen some of the greatest players of all time, when their legs go, they go. And so Jayson still has good legs. He eats as nutritious as anybody on the team. I mean, he's gluten-free, everything. Raises his own vegetables and stuff like that. So Jayson Werth, I wasn't real worried about him, because he has a desire to play even after this contract, which I think he can.

So I just hope that, like I told you guys earlier in the year, the guys that are here, it takes an older guy longer to get it. But when they get it, they keep it for a longer period of time.

It's like a young car versus a new car versus an old car. A young car you just start and take off, but the old car, you've got to let it warm up and shoot some carbon out and get warm, right. But when that old car starts purring, then it can go as good as the young car.

Q. Obviously Trea Turner had a great regular season, but what have you seen in the post-season and how much does it help him going forward?
DUSTY BAKER: Well, I think it's going to help him tremendously, not only this year, but in ensuing years. Once you've been there and you know that you can do it there, that adds to your confidence. I mean, and he's come a long ways from a few Minor League games to starting in center field and batting leadoff in a game of this magnitude.

The thing about Trea, he's a quick learner. I've said this before; and usually you don't have to tell him the same thing over more than once in a short period of time. These are the kind of guys that are easy to coach. The guys that have some knowledge on their own but also have the ability to learn and then to apply it on command in a short period of time. You know, he's one of those guys.

Q. The other day, you used Reynaldo Lopez --
DUSTY BAKER: I knew you was going to ask me about him (laughter).

Q. You've seen a couple of innings. I know you're very high on him and you talk as a possibility for this series, you had a chance for him to start. What did you see the other day on him and does that make him a possibility for the next series?
DUSTY BAKER: Yeah, it certainly does. I think it makes it easier the next series, you know, for him to start than it would have been the first series. That's why we had programmed him for the bullpen later in the year, you know, for what happened in L.A.

We think he has the endurance. It was a tough decision to go with Joe over Lopez. But we felt we did the right thing; that Joe had been groomed only as a starter, and Lopez had been as a starter and then gone back to the bullpen in the last month of the season.

Yeah, there's a distinct possibility. But you know, you've got to get there first. We can't look too far ahead. You've got to do it tonight.

Q. Back to Jayson Werth for a moment. What, in your first year, have been your observations of his leadership skills as one of the veterans on the team, and has he helped you out, as well, in that capacity?
DUSTY BAKER: Yeah, he's helped me out tremendously, because you know, the leaders on your team, as long as they are taking the players in the right direction with them; I've been on many teams that had leaders, and the leaders, they helped me out in as much as I can go to them or they can go to the players before I get to them.

What they do, what the leaders do, is that they take five, six, seven, eight, ten players, and then that leaves me only half to really manage, you know, a dozen, 15 players or so. That in itself makes my job easier.

Like I said, Jayson and I have many conversations. He generally responds positively to conversations, or even sometimes criticism, which is very mature on his part.

Q. You talked about an extra hour of nervous energy, the moment doesn't need to be built up for what you have tonight. But when you look at your starting pitchers, whether it was layoffs or anticipation, they all seemed to tick up at the beginning of the game, the velocity, and Max can do that, as well. Do you have any concerns about that going into tonight; that you can be too amped up for the moment?
DUSTY BAKER: Yeah, well, you know how I feel about that word, concern. That don't really belong in my vocabulary, really, because concern really doesn't do any good. I mean, the ball is in his hands and in his court.

Yeah, you think about it, but what are you going to do. You can't give him a Valium or something and tell him to chill (laughter). He has to work that nervous energy out of him.

Max is an amped-up kind of guy, but I'd rather have -- I mean, his ampedness, if there is such a word, has worked pretty good for him over the course of his career, and he is a 20-game winner. You know, I'm sure a lot of teams would have liked to have Max pitch this exciting game right here.

We had hoped that he was going to pitch Game No. 1. But, hey, next best thing is him pitching Game No. 5.

Q. How differently do you manage elimination games, as opposed to other games, if differently, at all?
DUSTY BAKER: Well, that's something I was thinking about. You know, just because if Max gets in trouble, you would hate to take him out of the game early, because you've seen Max pitch himself out of trouble where the average guy can't do that. You tend to stick longer with your aces than you would, you know, anybody else on your staff.

I'm sure the Dodgers would rather -- you see how they stuck with Kershaw, even when he was tired and on three days' rest. There's something about being the best. Half of it is psychological, because you think you're the best and you expect to be the best.

And so as far as other guys are concerned, yeah, you manage differently. You just hope you don't have to get there. But Max is an almost complete player. You've seen in the last -- when he was going for number 20. You would ordinarily take a pitcher out with bases loaded, but Max comes through with two bases-loaded hits for four RBIs, and that has to -- you have to take that into consideration, how much fight Max has. Because this guy is going to, he's going to fight you till the sun goes down. And if you think he's going to quit or quit on you, then you've got the wrong guy.

Q. Again, about Max, you were talking about what you see during the game, but when he's on his best, what can you see -- what are you looking to see him from, even moments before first pitch today, like what really stands out to you in this season with his 20 wins when he's been as dominant as you can be that you'll be looking to see?
DUSTY BAKER: That's a good question, because he's the same every day before he pitches. I mean, he's the same. I mean, you don't talk to him, you don't say hello to him. You don't give him high-five. You don't tell him nothing.

Some of the signs earlier is if he has his control of his fastball, then if he really has control of his secondary pitches, his slider and his changeup, then you know Max is -- the other team is in for a long day.

You hope that Max has a short first couple innings and not high-pitch-count innings. That's what you look for.

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