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October 19, 2016

John Gibbons

Toronto, Ontario - Pregame 5, Canada

Q. Can the crowd be a factor today with what Jose said yesterday about Ryan Merritt shaking in his boots? Can 49,000 screaming fans make it uncomfortable for a kid making his second Big League start?
JOHN GIBBONS: I don't know, but who cares, really? I don't want to get caught up in that, you know.

I'll give you the standard answer. We're just going to go out and play a good ballgame (laughter).

Q. I'm guessing you've looked into Merritt more than the answer you gave us about him yesterday. It seems like his fastball isn't as hard as many. Can you just tell us about how your team handles softer tossing lefties? When I say "the team," basically the team since the trade deadline last year.
JOHN GIBBONS: Yeah, we don't know a whole lot about him. We've seen the video and talked to scouts and things. Looks like a classic left-hander, can keep you off balance, like so many of them out there. But until you actually step in the box and face him to get a good read on him. So we'll see.

We always feel good when a lefty is pitching because we're so right-handed heavy, anyway. We've got some hitters in our lineup that have dominated lefties over their careers. So we'll see. You never know. If he's on, I'm sure he'll be tough, otherwise they wouldn't be pitching him today, but we'll see.

Q. You've been in Toronto for so many years. How do you evaluate Toronto as a baseball city, the evolution over the years since you've been here?
JOHN GIBBONS: To be honest, I really enjoy it. And I think it's a great baseball city. I'm not sure they always have understood me (laughter).

But at one time when this place first opened, I think the first team to ever draw 4 million people. You couldn't get a ticket. There was some pretty good teams back then. That tells you everything you need to know.

We went through some lean years around here, 20-something of them, and got back on track last year, and then they come out in full force, really support us, led the league in attendance this year. That explains everything you need to know right there. You put a good product on the field, they like it, you win some games, they're going to show up.

So it is a good baseball city, but generally that's like all Major League cities. If you've got a good team they're going to show up, if you don't, probably not, because it's not cheap entertainment by any means.

Things are going well for us in this city. Really, it's more than that, it's a country, really. And ride that while you can.

Q. It's been a particularly warm month of October. And the roof's been closed the last two nights and it's going to be closed again today. It's particularly warm for us in the press box, and some players have said it's warm down on the field. Anybody in the locker room say, Crack that thing open a little bit, and get some air in there or is it not a factor?
JOHN GIBBONS: Talk to Phyllis about that.

PHYLLIS MERHIGE: It's a Major League decision.

Q. What are they saying about it?
PHYLLIS MERHIGE: It's going to be closed. It's been closed for two games. They'll leave it closed for the third game. I think generally it's felt even conditions for everybody.

JOHN GIBBONS: Put more deodorant on there.

PHYLLIS MERHIGE: I won't say they don't care what's going on in the press box, but...

Q. Josh apparently spoke to the team before, kind of a players-only meeting it sounded like. Do you think that helps? What impact do you think that has on your team when Josh gets in front of them?
JOHN GIBBONS: I wasn't aware of that. I don't know if it was a full-blown meeting. I was saying earlier in there that Josh -- he can hold court. He does that a lot, anyway. It worked yesterday, so maybe there's something to it. I've seen in the past too where it doesn't really have much effect.

Josh, he's an inspirational guy. He likes to inspire guys. So we'll see. But the key is, you get a guy that does that and goes out and has a big day. So that's always important for those meetings, too. So far so good.

Q. Russell Martin is struggling at the plate, at-bats in the Postseason. But how do you evaluate his role with the starting pitchers who do very well in the postseason?
JOHN GIBBONS: Since Russell got here last year, he took over the pitching staff. One thing you can say about him, I don't know the exact numbers, but I think was it 9 out of 11 years he's been to the playoffs. Key to teams getting to the Postseason is pitching. It always has been. It's tough to slug your way strictly just hitting your way to the playoffs, so you've got to have some pitching. That tells you everything there, too, you need to know about what kind of a catcher he is.

He's always had the ability to get the most out of what he has. We've got a number of young pitchers on this staff that he's taken over from day one and really gotten the most out of them. Some of these guys are going to get even better, I think. He's had a huge impact on that.

As far as his hitting, especially this time of year, catchers, they're beat up. He catches a lot of games. He's not that young, young kid any more. That takes its toll. His hands are always hurting, their legs, things like that. That has a huge effect on the catching position.

One thing I do know, he's always had that knack of doing something big, maybe it could be as simple as a walk, get on base at a key time. He was the guy at the plate in that final at-bat against Texas, when we won that. Great at-bat against Bush. And one thing led to another. So I've seen him do that many, many times. And something to be said for that. Not everybody can do that. I don't get caught up in all that all the time. I mean, that's part of it. It's really part of that position, if you want to know the truth.

Q. They've had a little bit of bad luck with their starting pitching, Kluber coming back on three days rest. You stuck with the guys who went out with the rotation. With everybody coming back on normal rest, do you figure it's going to pay off for you now, it's going to be an advantage for you guys from now on?
JOHN GIBBONS: We'll see. We don't have much room left, that's for sure. Naturally we like the way it sets up for us. But we can't lose another ballgame. But it was important yesterday, we scored some runs. We hadn't been able to do that all series until yesterday. That's big. It's big for any team.

Our pitching has been good enough with a few runs here and there, it might be a different scenario right now. Hopefully the bats come to life and the next few days we stay alive. Our pitching is in good shape, hopefully we get to use them.

Q. Joe Maddon likes to put a saying, quite often a famous quote on the chalkboard of the clubhouse before games. If you were to do that today what would it say?
JOHN GIBBONS: We let Bautista do that. (Laughter.)

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