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October 14, 2016

John Gibbons

Cleveland, Ohio - Pregame one

Q. Can you just talk about the thought process behind the two subs you've made to your roster for the ALCS?
JOHN GIBBONS: Well, we added Ryan Goins, Travis is good to go. We think he'll be fine. But if something flares up on him early, there's no guarantees you can sub him out. We didn't think we could be left with really no extra infielder, because that guy would be Russ Martin. That would be his job. He could do it, but it wouldn't be ideal.

We kept Pompey on, in case we get in a situation. You get to crunch time when you have to score a run, maybe score from first base, what have you, we've got a few guys we need to run for, so he may end up scoring a big run for us on maybe just a double in the gap or something, two outs. It did cost Smoak. Really wasn't a whole lot of at-bats if you look at our lineup. Not a whole lot of pinch-hitting we do, anyway. But we really needed to cover ourselves with the middle infield.

Q. We've seen in this postseason, I think the relief pitchers have been a little more successful than starters in this postseason so far. Why do you think relievers, at least so far, have dominated the way they have in these games?
JOHN GIBBONS: Well, I know what's happening out there, you look back -- it's turning the baseball world upside down the way bullpens have been used lately.

I don't know if you don't do it, I don't know what's going to happen. Some of your top pitchers in the game are your late-inning guys. And they get rewarded for it, make big, big money. And teams we've found -- they haven't found, it's always been the case, but you can close out a game the last couple of innings, I mean that's good winning teams, that's what they do. If you struggle in the pen or it's a little iffy you end up costing a lot of games.

Naturally the teams are looking for the big arms. Is this answering your question? Strikeouts are used late in the game, so generally that's your big, big arms that can dominate when contact's your enemy. But really, it's been on full display, you back look in all playoff games, National League, American League, really in these first couple of rounds. It's a nice luxury to have, if you've got that guy, especially if you've got two or three of them, you know.

Q. I was going to say do you as a manager enjoy that freedom to -- you've managed Osuna aggressively a little bit, I know he had that shoulder thing, but you push him a little bit. Do you enjoy that freedom to say, These are the big outs, I'm going to use these guys the way I want to?
JOHN GIBBONS: Yes, but you also still have to be careful with that somewhat, too. It's late in the season. These guys, they've all -- your late-inning guys, to get here there's a lot of save situations, those guys get worked a lot. So they're tired, fatigued. We had to deal with Osuna, it turned out to be nothing, we don't think. But it can be alarming. So you've got to be careful pushing them beyond their limits. You may end up losing. You may end up losing them, and that would be a shame.

But there is certain points in the game you might need them a little bit earlier. But if you're a team that has the luxury of a couple of guys you can do that with, it'd make it a heck of a lot easier to go to somebody earlier than you normally would. But this time of year is so much different.

But really, the key to winning anything I think this time of year, you have to have more than one guy. You have to have two or three guys down there that can get some outs late in the game, maybe not the ninth inning, but the second half of the game. Or you probably have zero chance, anyway.

Q. How would you describe Toronto as a baseball town from when you first got there to now?
JOHN GIBBONS: You know, it's on fire right now. I mean, we saw that last year. But when I first arrived, my first year on the job there was 2002, and our teams weren't very good. And the attendance was down. But I probably wouldn't have paid money to see a team that wasn't very good, either, honestly. I couldn't blame them for that.

But I'd always heard the stories of back in the heyday when they won the back-to-back World Series and when the new stadium opened up, there wasn't a better baseball town out there. I think it was the first team to draw 4 million people, I believe. And that tells you everything you need to know.

But they always said to us along the way, I mean, we really never got to that point for a while anyway, you put a legitimate team out there that's competing at the end, they'll show up. That's what happened last year at the end of the season. And then, of course, they came out all year long. I think this year we led the league in attendance. They're definitely doing their part, that's for sure.

It's an exciting place. It's a loud place. Like I said, the people are on fire and it's a good place for home-field, that's for sure.

Q. What were your expectations of J.A. Happ this spring, and what has allowed him to pitch so well this year?
JOHN GIBBONS: We had Happ -- we ended up trading him, of course, for Michael Saunders the year before. We'd always liked Happ. I didn't expect him to win 20 games, to be honest with you. He did make some minor adjustments this last month, I'm not sure what year that was, that offseason we traded him. He dropped his arm angle. He used to be right over the top and it affected his control. He was either up or down in the zone, never got ground balls. Got a lot of strikeouts, but got a lot of foul balls, too. It made him work pretty good.

And five innings, he could have easily been over a hundred pitches. But then he made some adjustments and really became a control guy. But now he elevates when he wants to. Used to be that's just the way he came out, because he was so right over the top. His breaking ball is more consistent. He doesn't necessarily throw a lot of them. But he can do that more often now. And he gets grounds balls, which was unheard of for him. We did see him out in Seattle last year, we came through town before he ended up in Pittsburgh. Something happened when he went over to Pittsburgh, he just refined some things and we got him back. We always liked him. And of course, we signed him to that three-year deal. He's been huge.

He's always been -- he's always been a great competitor. He's very durable. A very focused guy. And I think he's -- we've got a lot of guys on our team that are late bloomers in their career, Bautista, Eddie, Donaldson, there's a bunch of them, and I think he just fits in that mold. He's come together in the later stage of his career. I figure he'll be good for a number of years to come. It really couldn't happen to a better guy.

Q. Just the flip side of the bullpen thing, when you're facing a guy like Miller in the sixth inning and you know that you have a chance to run up his pitch count. You've seen him throw 35, 40 pitches in a game. Is there more of an impetus for the lineup to work counts in those situations or does the approach change for the hitters when you know you might have a chance to take this guy out of tomorrow's game?
JOHN GIBBONS: That would be ideal, but Andrew has been a closer, in New York he was a setup guy. Generally those guys like that, your late-game guys, if they get ahead of you you're in trouble. If they get one or two strikes on you, now they can go to their put-away pitch, and you basically have no chance.

So sometimes the best approach is attack them early. They may give you something to hit when they're trying to get ahead or they're looking for a strike. So it's kind of a Catch-22. Yeah, you want to work their counts. We've had some pretty good battles, talking about Andrew Miller, so we've seen him. But he's still as tough as anybody out there. When he gets ahead of you he can make it look pretty easy. I don't know if that answers that. So maybe don't let him get ahead of you, I don't know.

Q. You've talked about using Stroman out of the bullpen potentially tonight. Is he a guy in the pen for you or is he someone that you would only use if it gets dire?
JOHN GIBBONS: Well, it wouldn't hurt him to come in and throw an inning tonight. I don't know the scenario, but he'd still be available with that third game with the game tomorrow and then an off day. It wouldn't hurt him a bit. If it went an extra inning and it's the crucial part of the game and he's your best option, let's say, and he had to throw a few innings, that would eliminate that, I would think.

We'll see. We'll see what the game dictates. We're playing the game with a pitcher short until Liriano comes back tomorrow. See how the game plays out a little bit. One inning wouldn't hurt him. It might actually do him some good.

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