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October 2, 2017

Paul Molitor

New York, New York

THE MODERATOR: We're going to open this up for questions right away.

Q. Paul, what do you think your chances are -- what do you think your plans are for Miguel Sano in tomorrow's game?
PAUL MOLITOR: I think that was odds on first question. You know, it's been challenging trying to get him prepared in such a short window. I think we're encouraged that he's going to be available tomorrow in some capacity. We're going to see how the workout goes today.

Whether he's going to start or not, I still haven't inked it in yet, but I'm waiting to have him on the bench.

Q. Paul, do you have a hope or a plan with Ervin, how many innings you'd like him to go? Or are you thinking you'd love to see him go nine?
PAUL MOLITOR: Our game is so unpredictable in how it's going to potentially unfold. Obviously, a guy like Ervin, you're optimistic that he can get you at least until the middle innings and in a position to challenge to win the game.

It's not something I really feel I can predict. If he's pitching well and we're looking at fifth, sixth inning and he's still rolling, you're going to probably give him an opportunity to keep going.

Obviously, in a one-game scenario, it might be a little quicker than normal knowing you have fresh arms and we're late in the season, and he's 210 innings into the season.

So you try to prepare as many scenarios as you can, but we're just going to have to see what happens once the game begins.

Q. Paul, your players have been really good at working counts and getting pitch counts up and that sort of thing. Given what the Yankees bullpen is like and everything else involved, is it kind of a different approach with Severino, having faced him just a short time ago, in making him really work for his innings?
PAUL MOLITOR: I think there's always going to be a debate of who has the edge the second time around. It's just very, very high-end ability, combination of velocity and wipeout slider and the change-up. He's not a guy I think you're particularly comfortable getting to two strikes. So I would think our message is going to be about having a plan to be ready to kind of own something.

I don't think that you go up there trying to hit all three of his pitches because that's usually not a good mix. A guy that was comparable for me in his prime was Pedro. I couldn't hit all three pitches. I just had to try to own something.

Different guys will try different things according to their strengths and what they're going to do, but we know he's going to be a handful.

Q. Santana this year has had a lot of great starts. He's also had a handful of starts where he's just gotten beaten up. What do you think the difference has been in those games?
PAUL MOLITOR: I think 32 starts he ended up with, which means he took the ball every time. If you're talking five or less games where things didn't go his way, I think that's a heck of a year. I think those ones that go south on him is where maybe command of maybe his change-up or on a given day he's not getting his fastball where he wants to.

A big part of Ervin's game is being able to command his fastball. I think he makes guys uncomfortable, and he's not afraid to pitch in righties or lefties. For me, the days when he doesn't have the ability to do that is one that's maybe gone a little bit haywire.

But for the most part, that's kind of his bread and butter. I don't think he's going to change.

Q. Paul, certainly most of your guys haven't had any Playoff experience. How much of a factor is that going to be?
PAUL MOLITOR: That's one of the things we're going to have to find out. I think the fact that we were here very recently, familiar with the environment, and you never know exactly. There's something about experience that, I think, plays.

I don't know whose phone that is. Eddie, how long you been doing this? (Laughter.)

They've got some guys, too, in that boat. I think our guys -- I made a comparison. I think somewhere along the way, that may be a little bit of a stretch, but you always hear about college basketball players as freshmen, once they get to March Madness, they're not freshmen anymore. These guys have been through a lot this year, and I think even the guys that maybe even this is their first go-round, they're way better off than they were at the start of the year and what some of these guys endured last year too.

So it's a one-game deal. If inexperience shows up, we can't predict that, but I'm fairly confident that these guys are going to go out there and do some of the things they've been doing. I think we're going to play a good game. A lot of confidence in that group in there, and it's going to be a lot of fun.

Q. You guys have had a really good offense throughout the second half, Sano or not. What has been working for you offensively, and how dangerous can you guys be when you're on?
PAUL MOLITOR: You know, I've heard some of the numbers. I don't pay too much attention to since August 1st or August 15th we've done this, we've done that. I know that, as the season's unfolded, even with the loss of Miguel, we've had tremendous balance. Brian is kind of our igniter. He's had another tremendous season. Joe, there's some arguments about him being our most valuable player.

But the guys that have kind of progressed and really came on at the same time are the younger guys, Polanco and Buck and Escobar stepping in. I think we have six or seven guys with 70 RBIs. We've got at least ten in double-digit homers.

It's been the balance thing. The fact that we can stretch out our lineup the way that we can. There were some real dead spots last year where you just kind of wait until the guys come up who had a chance. It hasn't been that way. I think every inning we go up there, no matter who is starting the inning, who is going to have a chance to drive somebody in, we feel pretty good about our chances.

Q. Paul, you just mentioned that you guys were here not long ago, maybe a week, week and a half ago. Even given that short time span, is there a different feel to it, to this environment?
PAUL MOLITOR: Yeah, it's probably different a couple of ways. One, when we came in here, we were embarking on a ten-game road trip and still unsure of where we were going to end up in terms of attending our goal and extending our season. You break down those games, the first game Ervin pitches well, we lose 2-1. The next game's close until the middle innings, and they stretch it out, and the next game wasn't very competitive.

Just what these guys accomplished over the past couple of weeks since we left here, their ability to bounce back right in the Detroit series and take care of business there and eventually find our way into this particular game.

The difference is it's October, and it's one game. It's going to be a little bit more electric, I think, tomorrow night than what we even saw a couple of weeks ago. Emotion is a good thing when you play. It's just the guys that can control it the best and go out there and try to trust their ability and the things that they've done to get them here.

Q. Paul, can you talk about how Matt Belisle has kind of evolved this year? And also, why has he earned your trust so much, and how was he embraced this role?
PAUL MOLITOR: It's been quite a story for Mattie coming over here. We brought him in here as a guy that was going to be a part to our bullpen that was probably going to be a bridge to Kintzler. You know, his season was a little bit up and down, particularly the first couple of months. We kind of figured out a little bit it had to do with how fresh he was, and we began to try to find ways to make sure we gave him more time to be prepared each and every time he took the mound.

And when Brandon got traded, I looked at the people we had available, people that wouldn't necessarily succumb to the fact that it's the ninth inning and be able to still throw strikes and throw all four pitches and those types of things. I don't know if he would have predicted when he came over here he'd be closing games into October. It's just how our team has been able to pick each other up.

He's earned my trust, and for the most part, since Kintz went on to Washington, he's taken care of business. His numbers have been tremendous, especially in the second half.

Q. Paul, usually, when teams trade away players at the deadline, that team tends to collapse. The last two months, what made your team come together and play so well?
PAUL MOLITOR: I think that Garcia coming in for a start and departing and Kintz moving around the same time, I think I understand probably as well as anybody that's in that club house that that's the nature of our game. Derek and Thad had the best interest of our club short term and long term in mind. It's just not one of those situations where you can harp on whatever theory you want to come up in terms of why they made those decisions.

I remember a couple times along the way when I played we'd either subtract or do something. I think you learn over time, when people have to make decisions, you look at what your role is kind of forcing those decisions was, rather than pointing your fingers at the people who had to make the decisions.

We tried to share that with the guys. I think some guys were a little more upset than others, but they've responded. Whatever your motivation is, that's fine. But I think the biggest thing is that we understood that that was the direction we took in making those decisions, and for whatever reason, we played some of our best baseball since that time.

Q. Paul, with Buxton's terrific skill set, what kind of difference can he make in a single game? There's so many things he can do.
PAUL MOLITOR: When you have that kind of gift set, it makes your options of how you can impact a game greater. When you can hit it over the fence, when you can steal a base, when you can make a throw, when you can make a catch. He just has a lot of ways to impact the game. He might not get a hit and might be the most important player on the field, and there's not a lot of people who can fill that bill.

For him to withstand some of the ups and downs of his game offensively, coming along and to still play the defense he has, he's still a tremendously high character individual who takes a tremendous amount of pride in being able to separate those kinds of things.

So he's a manager's delight because I know that he's going to be out there and probably have some impact in which way the game goes.

Q. You said a lot of your guys don't have the experience in the postseason, but you've basically been playing Playoff baseball for a month or more. Do you think the experience of getting through this Wild Card mix with all these teams that were in that mix will help these guys treat this game like just a regular game?
PAUL MOLITOR: I think it will help some. We didn't face a lose or go home situation along the way, but we had games that kind of felt like that. You get the must-win questions all the time during the last couple of weeks.

So it helps. It's not the cure-all of going out there and being told to relax and just letting it fly. But I think the message from myself, my coaches, is we're going to treat this as normally as we can. Understand that there's consequence to whatever happens in the final outcome, but we're not going to change much. We're going to go about it kind of as business as usual.

Q. What kind of role do you see tomorrow for Jose Berrios? Do you see him as maybe one of the primary relievers you can go to?
PAUL MOLITOR: Best that you can, you come up with scenarios that might unfold. How accurate they might be, the game will tell you. If Ervin does his job and we get into a situation, you know, middle of the game, I can't see where I probably bring him in in the middle of an inning, but he's an option for me maybe to bridge the game towards the back end guys that I would feel confident bringing in and guys that have been doing it all year.

I'm putting him out there for a reason. He's got stuff to get people out in big situations, and he's young, he's inexperienced. I get all that too. But he stepped up for us all year long. So if it comes up in the right situation, he's definitely an option.

Q. Paul, you spoke before about the way this team bounced back right after that Yankees series. I guess you could make the case this whole season has been a bounce back. How do you explain -- what do you attribute that resilience to?
PAUL MOLITOR: I think that part of developing men and people is that, when they endure adversity or trials, you hope that each time you go through those things that you come out better. I think last year a lot of these guys were a part of it. Not everybody, but it was a tremendous trial.

I think this year a lot of the things that have helped us overcome the hiccups along the way has been player leadership. I'm a big believer in that. We've had some good leaders along the way. We were fortunate enough to have Torii a couple of years ago and Joe and Doz, people like that. But guys like Mattie Belisle, we talked about him, Jimenez, Castro, these guys that have seen the ups and downs and the turns that a season can take over 102 games. I think they've been real stabilizing for our club. And just the understanding that, when you have that many opportunities to play in our game -- I always say one of the greatest things about our game is the 162-game season and one of the hardest things about our game is the 162-game season.

The more that you understand each day's a new opportunity, you're going to be able to stay away from the young droughts, and I think the leaders in that club house understand that, and they've passed it on.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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