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October 2, 2017

Joe Girardi

Joe Espada

New York, New York

THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everybody. This will be the last time Joe Girardi wears a T-shirt this season. Postseason regulations, we have to follow them. So this will be it. It's a big one. Before Joe starts, I just want to thank him, for those of you who have covered us all year, you know he's worn a shirt every home game from April until now, and it matters, and it matters to Joe, and we appreciate the time he's taken to do it.

JOE GIRARDI: Joe Espada has joined me today because he is from Puerto Rico, and I want you to hear the human side of it instead of donate and all that.

Almost two weeks ago, Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico and just left catastrophic damage. Millions of people are still without electricity and running water. Jorge Posada and his wife, Laura, have spearheaded fund-raising and have raised over $400,000 through YouCaring.com -- capital Y-o-u, capital C-a-r-i-n-g. And they have also taken dozens of other donations and collected items. Today Jorge and his family, Bernie Williams, and Pudge Rodriguez are flying down to Puerto Rico to distribute those items.

Carlos Beltran, who is also from Puerto Rico, and his wife, Jessica, donated $1 million to the relief fund through their foundation, have raised nearly almost $400,000 more through their fund, and it is called crowdrise.com, c-r-o-w-d-r-i-s-e dot com. And if you go to the homepage and you type in Carlos Beltran, it will come up where you can donate.

Puerto Rico has been devastated, and I don't want people to think that they have everything back. That's why I have Joe here, who has not been able to speak to his parents directly for two weeks. It's all yours.

JOE ESPADA: Thanks, Joe. [Speaking Spanish.]

It's been a tough two weeks. You're trying to focus and trying to concentrate on getting to the postseason, but when your heart and your soul is with your family in Puerto Rico, it makes it tough.

But I wanted to thank Joe, the Yankees, the first responders, all the people that have done all they can for Puerto Rico [speaking Spanish].

JOE GIRARDI: Just talking about it a little more, he was telling me stories about he's always looking online to see what's going on, and people are cheering -- when you think about this -- when the electricity comes on, and famous chefs have flown down to cook for people that don't have food. So I applaud our country, these players, and everyone who is helping with this relief.

THE MODERATOR: Joe Espada, I have a question. Have you been able to communicate in any form with your family?

JOE ESPADA: The only time I had like a probably ten-second message that my mom was able to leave on my voicemail a couple days ago. She drove like 25 minutes so she could have signal. So she left a quick message for me. My brother was working, and so she left him a message also.

My sister is flying to Puerto Rico, thank God, and she's going to get them out of there for a couple of weeks until things get back to normal in Puerto Rico, which is going to be a while. They're in good health, which is important.

The people of Puerto Rico, we're strong, and it's been tough, but I hope that they get power soon because they're big Yankees fans, and they want to turn their TV on and cheer for the Yankees. Hopefully, that happens soon.

THE MODERATOR: Does anybody have any questions for Joe Espada before we let him go?

Q. (No microphone)?
JOE ESPADA: Dallas. Hopefully, they get a chance to come here for hopefully the whole series.

Q. (No microphone)?

THE MODERATOR: Joe Espada, thank you very much. We have Joe Girardi here. Who has questions?

Q. Joe, we asked you a lot yesterday about your potential roster composition for tomorrow. Have you made decisions on that?
JOE GIRARDI: We have made some decisions. We have not been able to talk to all the players yet. I know we have to have it in by 10:00, and that's when we will release it. I won't tell you everything that we're doing, just in case we have more discussion about it and things change, but it looks like we will take 10 pitchers and 15 position players.

Q. Severino, this bullpen, a hot Judge, as you go into the postseason, do you feel like this is as good as it's been for you, in terms of having a lineup, having a team ready to go to battle, so to speak?
JOE GIRARDI: Yes. I think we've played some of our best baseball in the month of September. There's no doubt about it. We've pitched well. We've swung the bats well. We've run the bases well. Our defense has been good.

To me, I feel good about going in. It's a one-game Playoff. It really is going to come down to execution of pitches and defense and putting a good swing on a baseball.

So there's two teams that are going to fight like heck tomorrow, and one of us is not going to move on, but I really like the way we've been playing.

Q. Joe, what have you seen out of Luis Severino in moments of anxiety and how he's responded?
JOE GIRARDI: I think he's responded pretty well. You know, I think there was a stretch where he was matched up against Sale, Kluber, and then Sale again, and I thought he responded really well and pitched really good games. To me, those are moments of anxiety. I think the month of September, there are moments of anxiety, and I think he's pitched well down the stretch.

We've been really pleased with how he's done, how he's matured as a pitcher, his ability to slow things down, and that will become very important tomorrow.

Q. The Yankees obviously had the reputation for stoicism and whatever. When you look at the energy that the young guys have given you all throughout the season, but especially these last few weeks, what impact do you think that has had on the team?
JOE GIRARDI: I think it has a lot of impact because these are the days when players physically are beat up. They've been grinding it out for a long time. I look at the last six weeks of the season. We were playing teams that were fighting for the Playoffs, fighting to catch us. We were fighting to catch the Red Sox, and guys were going at it hard. We had one scheduled off-day in a sense that it was on or off day over a month period of time. It took a month before we got another one.

I think the energy of the young players really helped, and I think it will continue to help as we move forward.

Q. Joe, you guys have played incredibly well against the Twins for a really long time, for longer than you've been managing here. How do you account for something like that, where a team just seems to dominate another, and what kind of confidence does that give you?
JOE GIRARDI: I don't look back on history because the faces have changed so much. The only guy that is really there since the first time we played them in the playoffs is Joe Mauer, and the only guy for us is probably Gardy and CC. So the faces have changed.

I think we've had good teams, and I think they've had good teams. Some of the games have been really close -- extra innings, late homers to come back in the ninth. So they've been extremely competitive games. For whatever reason, over that time period, we've won more than we've lost, but, again, the faces have changed completely.

Q. Joe, with your bullpen, as good as Severino has pitched, how quickly -- how short a leash will you have in this kind of game, and what did you learn, if anything, from the way managers deployed the relievers last fall?
JOE GIRARDI: I think that's talked about a lot, and I learned that in '96 with Mariano Rivera as a player. That's when I learned it. When you have a dominant bullpen, you go to them early. Sevy's rolling along, you don't necessarily want to pull the plug too early.

Again, I'm going to look at what I've looked at in the past. I'm going to watch the swings and the at-bats. As long as he's continuing to do his thing, I'm not going to pull him too early.

Q. Joe, you said you'd still talk about the roster. What about your lineup? Do you have anything set there?
JOE GIRARDI: Nothing has been set there. We'll continue to talk about that.

Q. Can you talk about your thoughts at DH? Is it a very tough decision?
JOE GIRARDI: There's a lot of things that are going into this. There are some tough decisions. And those are things that we have talked about for the last three or four days. We'll probably have one more discussion. I'll try to inform players who's going to play tomorrow so they're prepared.

Obviously, in a situation like this, when you have a lot of quality players, someone's going to be disappointed, and it's my job and our job to put what we feel is the best chance for a team to win that game and the way we're going to approach it.

It's hard to predict, in a sense, what every hitter is going to do tomorrow. I can't tell you this guy is going 2 for 4, and this guy's going 1 for 4. You can't do that. So you look at all the variables, you make the best decision you can, and you go forward.

Q. (No microphone)?
JOE GIRARDI: Yeah, there's decisions to be made.

Q. How could you see yourself using Dellin Betances late tomorrow?
JOE GIRARDI: In relief.

Q. Would you trust him in late innings?
JOE GIRARDI: Yeah. Someone asked me what's the perfect game plan? There isn't one. I'm going to look at situations and matchup and where I feel each guy is probably best suited to pitch, and that's how we're going to use him.

Q. Sort of related to that, it feels like Chapman and Robertson and Green have been the guys you've been able to really count on lately. Beyond that, how would you assess the guys that you have?
JOE GIRARDI: I still feel really good about them. I do. I'm not going to tell you who they are because then I'm going to tell you who the roster is, but I still feel really good about it.

Q. Joe, you've been a Wild Card manager before. What's the key for a manager in a Wild Card Game? What do you look at this as the most important thing you can do?
JOE GIRARDI: I really think giving the guys an atmosphere that's the same as playing a normal game that's somewhat of a big game during the course of the season. I want our guys loose. I want our guys to have fun. I want our guys energetic. I want them aggressive. To me, it's being the same person that I am every day.

Q. (No microphone)?
JOE GIRARDI: Well, I mean, there's something also about having veterans too in situations like this. But I think they've come a long way. You can talk about the veterans tomorrow, the young players tomorrow. The way they play tomorrow is not going to determine their future. It's a step for some young players because they've never been in this game. I feel really good about them and the way they have played all year long, and going up and playing at Fenway, a four-game series in July, they're stressed there, and I thought we handled it pretty well. Playing them here at the end, there was stress there. They handled it pretty well. Down the stretch, there was stress there. They handled it pretty well. So I expect them to handle it tomorrow.

Q. Joe, during last week you were talking about getting Dellin straightened out. Do you feel like you accomplished that? If not, does it make you more hesitant to go to him in a big spot tomorrow?
JOE GIRARDI: I thought 3 of the 4 games he was really good. I went and got him the other day because he gave up a hit and walked a guy in some close pitches in that situation. But I do feel good about Dellin. This is a reliever that struck out 100 batters for the last four years. Has he had a few command issues? Yes, he's had a few command issues at times, but when he gets on a roll, he's extremely dangerous, and we're going to get him on a roll.

Q. With young players, there's a lot to be worried about, young players and inexperienced players, especially in this spot. With Judge, is your concern level for him how he's going to respond? Is it like zero? Could be it any lower for a young player like him, just because of the confidence he's shown in everything that he's done?
JOE GIRARDI: And I think the ups and downs he went through the past couple years has prepared him for this. He struggled last year. He made adjustments. He was hot as could be until the all-star break. Went through some more struggles, came back, and his September might have been his best month.

So, yes, I do feel really good about him. I feel really good about all our young players because they're talented and they've been groomed for this, and they're excited about this.

Q. Sanchez, another young player, his postseason debut, and the fellow catcher, how do you feel he's dealt with the scrutiny in the limelight this year? How curious are you to see how well he'll deal with it this month?
JOE GIRARDI: I was just talk to go Tony Pena, and sometimes we focus on the one ball that he misses, but we don't focus on the ten that he blocked, and those are pretty good odds in a sense. And the things that he's able to control the running game and has great instincts in calling pitches back there. There's a lot of things that he does really, really well.

I think he's grown a lot, and I think he's handled it very well. From the expectations of people expecting him to hit 50 homers this year and our other rookie did it, I don't know if he had 33 and 90 or whatever it is and missed a month of the season. I mean, for a catcher, that's really, really good. So I think he's handled it really well. I think he handles the challenges of getting better really well, and I think he'll handle the challenge tomorrow night really well.

Q. Greg Bird has obviously had a very up-and-down season. Given what he's gone through and where he is now, what do you make of where he is heading into this game?
JOE GIRARDI: I think he's in a really good spot. I think his patience at the plate, the way he's swung the bat, the way he's played defense has been really good. He's been impactful in the month of September, the RBIs, the home runs. So I feel really good about another young player, where he's at.

Q. When you look back to where he was even a month or two ago, would you have foreseen this kind of progress this quickly?
JOE GIRARDI: I mean, we knew this was a talented young player. We saw that in the last two months of 2015. 2015, we saw it in the spring this year. This year, I'm not sure I would have thought he'd be this far along, but, again, really pleased with where he's at.

Q. Joe, I wonder if you could take us into the delicate balancing act of managing this kind of game between urgency of the moment and not wanting to do something too quick in the moment.
JOE GIRARDI: It's a gut feeling. It's a gut feeling, and you try to look at your experiences from the past and what your eyes have told you in the past, what certain numbers tell you in the past, and you do the best you can. The one thing is a manager or pitching coach who's making suggestions, a bench coach who's making suggestions, a third base coach who's sending a runner, they don't have the luxury of waiting to see what happens before making the decision or having a crystal ball.

So, again, you do the best you can with the information that you have at that time, and you live with it.

Q. (No microphone)?
JOE GIRARDI: Maybe even longer than that. Maybe even longer than that. And you had to balance not hurting a player and overusing them and putting them in a slump. But I feel like our guys are pretty rested right now, and they're in a pretty good spot.

Q. You mentioned that most of the guys aren't here that are played the Twins in the postseason in the past and that kind of thing, but you guys have seen Santana a lot. Does it help you've had success against him whereas two years ago you were going into this game against a guy who dominated you every time he faced you?
JOE GIRARDI: I don't know. I can look at the game he pitched. He pitched pretty well here. He's a pitcher that does have a lot of experience, and a lot of the at-bats, you can go back to some of the guys' at-bats, they're 2009. That doesn't tell you a whole lot about 2017, but the fact that we recently saw him, I think the guys have an idea of what he's going to do, but they could say that about Seveny.

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