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October 3, 2017

Joe Girardi

New York, New York

Q. Joe, why Ellsbury DH and Hicks in center field?
JOE GIRARDI: Yeah, we felt that going into this, we had three players for two spots, and we knew it would be a very tough decision. Look at what Headley has done for us. He's done everything we've asked. Ells has done everything we've asked, as well, and our thought was runs are sometimes very tough to come by in playoff games, and we thought we'd put our fastest and most athletic team and see if we can do some things, and then from a defensive standpoint, they're aggressive, and they like to take the extra base, and you get a bigger arm in center field and that might prohibit them from doing some of that. It gives us more options off the bench because Headley is a switch-hitter, and you have Holliday that could -- if we wanted to who could hit for Ellsbury, so there are a bunch of different reasons.

Q. You were 51-30 at home this year. How important is it to have this game in your building?
JOE GIRARDI: Well, I think you think about your club, it's built for your ballpark, and you'd rather play it at home because you're more comfortable with it. The infielders understand the infield more, the outfielders understand the dimensions of the outfield more. So of course you want to be at home. And hopefully that 51-30 means something today.

Q. Headley has played really well for you the second half of the season. Was it difficult to deliver that news to him and how did he take it?
JOE GIRARDI: Of course it is. You know, one of the things about -- when you have a really good team is sometimes players are going to have to sit, and their roles could be a little bit different from one day to the next. I remember having to deal with it here when I was a player. At times a Tino Martinez would sit and a Cecil Fielder would play first base, and there were different things that happened, Wade Boggs would sit, Charlie Hayes would play first base. It went on and within. But when you have depth, those decisions are going to come up.

You do the best you can. You know, it's difficult telling any player because you know how much they want to be out there, and they love to compete. But as I told Chase, I said, Chase, your at-bat could be the biggest at-bat of the night if you come off the bench, so you have to be prepared.

Q. Where in your eyes is a game like this won?
JOE GIRARDI: Well, I mean, it comes down to, like any other game, execution, execution of pitches when you're on defense, in your defensive plays, and taking good swings, and not missing pitches when you get an opportunity offensively. And they're going to say the same thing. Santana is paid to execute pitches and not give our guys anything to hit. That's where it's won and lost. You know, it's won and lost by the players executing and making the pitches and taking good swings.

Q. There's obviously been a lot of turnover since the last time you were in this game, but is there anything that the players who are on this roster or yourself can take from that game or apply to this game for an advantage?
JOE GIRARDI: I mean, I don't think there's a lot. There's a lot of different faces. I think what you take from it is you know that it's one game, and I think that's why teams fight so hard to win the division. But in saying that, we still have a great opportunity here. You know, there's 10 teams in our league that would love to be in this position. I saw that runs were tough to come by that night. When we faced Dallas Keuchel it was not easy, so maybe it influenced some of the decisions that we made tonight.

Q. In your opinion for this season to be a success, do you need to win this game and do something in the playoffs?
JOE GIRARDI: Well, I think that's for everyone else to determine. For me when we -- like last year when we didn't advance to the playoffs, it was very difficult for me. When you lose in a playoff game and you don't advance to the next round, it's very difficult for me.

So my opinion might be different than someone else's. I put the uniform on to win the World Series. That's why I put the uniform on, and that's my goal. Some people might look at it different. Have we had some players that have had some great years and done some great things? Absolutely, and the growth has been tremendous in our young players.

But you put all this work in to win, and there's only one team that's going to be happy.

Q. Holliday was such a big part of your team in the first half; what's the difference in him now compared to in the first half?
JOE GIRARDI: Yeah, I mean, he was huge for us in the first half, and I think just part of it was he went on the DL, he was on the DL for quite a while, he came back, and then he struggled, and his at-bats have not been as consistent because of some of the trades that we've made and increasing the amount of players that had the ability to play every day, and it's kind of cost him at-bats.

Q. Baseball often not a game of pregame rah-rah speeches, but given the magnitude of this moment, one and done, do you take this opportunity to address your team, and if so, what would the message be?
JOE GIRARDI: No, you know, I talked to them Sunday night quickly about scheduling and today and what we're fighting for and what our goal is, but trying to treat today like any other game. And I know it's not like any other game, but I don't want to do something that's not ordinary for them, and that's why I did it Sunday night and we moved on.

Q. How about the fairness of coming down to just one game for your whole season?
JOE GIRARDI: Yeah, well, I mean, I've talked about it like I have diff -- and this was before we were ever in this game, so I don't want to feel like you're crying over spilled milk if something happens. But I'm not crazy about it. I'd like to see a three-game series. That's what I've said. And the penalty for being the wild card is there is no day off, so you play Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and then you play Thursday and Friday. Because I think in a situation like that, then it's more of a normal roster, it's more of what is the team made of as opposed to it could be one pitcher sort of thing.

To me, I would rather see a three-game series.

Q. You asked about the difficulty with Headley, but did you contemplate strongly playing Holliday tonight just because a veteran guy, not likely to blink under the lights? I think he has historically good numbers, at least from some point against Santana, and also of all the guys the most likely to maybe pop a home run and change a game kind of guy?
JOE GIRARDI: Well, I mean, it was in consideration. His second half wasn't quite what his first half was. If it was a left-hander, he'd probably be out there tonight. So we went with kind of the matchups. I think you look at the month of September that Ellsbury had, it's hard to ignore that and how important he was to us, and a lot of those numbers are from a distant past. It's not something that's really recent. Ellsbury has a lot of playoff experience, too.

Q. Putting CC and Gray on the roster and not Tanaka, the other starting pitchers, what goes into that?
JOE GIRARDI: You know, we looked at CC, this club somewhat against left-handers, how there's a little bit of difference in them. Sonny Gray, we felt like we could use him if we got in a crazy game for six or seven innings, where Tanaka, you wouldn't have used him that long.

Q. You had a similar situation a couple years ago. This year you are in the same place. What do you see the difference between this thing out of that thing two years ago which you believe you can have better results this time?
JOE GIRARDI: You know, I think this team is much more athletic than the teams in the past that we've had the last three or four years, and you're hoping that athleticism helps in a game like this. I mean, that's part of the reason we made the lineup the way we did, because we feel that we have -- we're a faster team, defensively we're going to cover more ground, and those sort of things.

So that's what you hope, and that's the difference in the two teams.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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