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October 5, 2017

Dusty Baker

Washington, D.C. - Workout Day

Q. What's your rotation going to look like this weekend?
DUSTY BAKER: Well, it's going to look like Stras is going the first game, and we still haven't decided on the second or third game. A lot of it depends on our evaluation of Scherzer.

Q. Is Max supposed to go today or what happened yesterday with the bullpen?
DUSTY BAKER: Yeah, he's supposed to throw a pen today, and so you know, a lot of it depends on how he looks and how he feels. And so we'll let you know later.

Q. Did he just not get tested yesterday?
DUSTY BAKER: We didn't want him to test it yesterday. He threw some flat ground, but every day is important. When you have a nagging injury, every day is important for our trainers to evaluate it, put hands on him, and see if he's still sore or if he's feeling great.

Q. Based on all of that, does it affect how you would make up your playoff roster based on that?
DUSTY BAKER: Somewhat, yeah. It certainly does. But like I said, we'll know that after today; we'll have a better idea.

Q. All things being equal, is there motivation on your guys's part to get Max in a Game 2 because of what that would open up later in the series?
DUSTY BAKER: We realize that if he pitched Game 2, he could probably pitch Game 5 if necessary. We realize that, but is that worth, you know, taking a chance, and if you get past the first round and then are you jeopardizing the second round? So you have to kind of weigh both. But you know, the health of Max, I think, is number one.

Q. I assume there's no way you would wait until after Game 1 to name your Game 2 starter?
DUSTY BAKER: Probably not, no. That's not fair to whoever the Game 2 starter is. You know, you've got to get sleep and you've got to eat right and you've got your routine, so no, we wouldn't wait that long.

Q. Obviously at this time of the year, any extra emotion -- you know the question that's coming, any extra emotion going against one of your former teams?
DUSTY BAKER: Yeah, there's always extra emotion. I've got a couple former teams (big smile) in the way, and you get to the World Series, and I got some extra motivation against the Yankees, too. They beat my team when I was a kid, the Dodgers, and they beat me when I was a manager on the Dodgers. Oh, yeah, I've got motivation with a few teams.

Q. You've always been a player's manager, going back to the beginning, but it seems like that's in vogue now everywhere. There's a lot of comparisons between you and Joe as to how you handle players and how important that is. Do you see the similarity, and do you think a lot of people have come around to managing people the way that you did from the very beginning because of different times?
DUSTY BAKER: I don't know. I'd like to think that, you know, there's a right way and a wrong way. I just manage the way that my dad managed me and our family and what I've been through in the Marines and different teams I've been on. I wasn't worried about if you're a player's manager or not. I've never figured out what the opposite of a player's manager is. I mean, what is the opposite of a -- would that be a management's manager or how would that person be other than --

Q. You might have played for a few guys who were just, you know, my way or the highway.
DUSTY BAKER: Yeah, I played for a few guys like that. But you know, that's not part of being -- part of being a manager is not only X's and O's, but you're called a manager because you're managing people. I mean, that's what a manager is.

I don't know how Joe runs it, John, how anybody runs it. I just know, you know, how I run it or what's en vogue. I don't, most of my life, I was told that I was a little strange or a little weird, or why are you wearing those pants or why are you wearing that shirt, and then six, seven, eight months later, people are wearing that same shirt (laughter). And by then, I went on to something else (laughter).

I don't know, just myself, I guess.

Q. In some ways, Postseason games are similar to regular-season games, and in some ways Postseason games are a little different than regular-season games. In your mind, what are the things that a team must do best come Postseason time to put themselves in a position to win games?
DUSTY BAKER: Well, you have to play -- you have to get good pitching. You have to play good defense. You've got to have timely hitting. The same thing that you do, you know, during the season. It's just that everything is more critical. I mean, you could see where Robbie Ray was in a game last night that he wouldn't have ordinarily been this during the season. You see where Robertson was in the game earlier and went two or three innings. You try to be cognizant of tomorrow, but you're more aware of today, especially depending on where you are in the series.

You know, every game is vital. You never -- I watched the game last night, and during the regular season, Greinke on the mound, you might have turned it off. Next thing you know, Greinke is giving up a bunch of runs. I've never seen Greinke like that, but that shows you the need and the desire that people have when you're under pressure, you know, to be eliminated and go home.

That's big. No lead is safe and no deficit is too large.

Q. Do you find yourself savoring these playoff experiences more now than when you started in San Francisco, taking more time to appreciate the moment?
DUSTY BAKER: Yeah, probably so. Because now I have really an appreciation of how hard it is to get there. Like, you know, in the beginning, it's "I'll be here every year" (chuckling). That's what I thought. That's what it felt like.

But then after you miss it a few times, and you're like, hey, man, that was really special. Or like the other day, I was looking at the stats sheet, which I often do, and I saw there were only 12 teams with winning records in baseball. There are 18 teams. So getting here is very difficult, and evidently, having a winning record is very difficult if over half the teams have losing records.

So whoever had the winning record or whoever is here, needs to savor the whole deal because, I mean, it's a long year and a long race.

Q. Just to clarify, are you choosing between Max and Gio for Game 2, and do you fully expect Max to pitch Game 3 if he doesn't pitch Game 2?
DUSTY BAKER: Man (pausing) both. (Laughter) both, yes. (Laughing). That was pretty good.

Q. You were talking about watching the game last night, and the last two nights there have been two really good pitchers knocked out really fast. What do you or your pitching coach say to pitchers about getting through the first inning, because so often that's the toughest inning.
DUSTY BAKER: Yeah, I don't know what Mike's going to say. I let him say what he's always said. He's good. I don't say anything to the pitchers about that.

Plus, you know, I don't -- that's kind of a negative statement that you put in a person's mind. So I try not to put any negative statements because there's enough; we're bombarded by negatives all day, every day. So that's just like going to the mound and telling the pitcher, "Don't walk this guy." And invariably he'll walk him. So you don't put any negative thoughts in your pitcher's heads.

Q. How disappointed was Stephen Strasburg last year that he could not pitch in the Postseason, and have you talked to him leading up to this start about how excited he is?
DUSTY BAKER: No. One, I mean, he was very disappointed, but he doesn't really show disappointment, or happiness, either way, really. Because I called him in before I got here, and I just said, "Hey, man, you're starting Game 1. You probably figured that."

He had that same look when he left my office as when he came in (laughter). It's the truth, I swear. Anybody that knows him; I was like, man, I thought he was going to be like, yeah, or something -- but just (demonstrating straight face) he was extremely happy. (Laughter).

Q. There's a quiet calmness in the clubhouse, and I know you had a lot to do with Max and decisions to make. Has it started to feel long yet? Do you get the feeling that the guys are ready to go and want to play?
DUSTY BAKER: I don't know, this is a different team. I mean, these guys, they know what's at stake. We don't have a bunch of meetings. That's how you know you have a good team, when you don't have the need for a bunch of meetings. They know how I feel. I've got a good idea how they feel.

You can't wish your life away, you know, because you've got to enjoy today. You start saying, "Hey, man, I wish it was tomorrow or next week." Well, as you get older, man, there's one less day on your life or one less week on your life, so you've got to enjoy today because tomorrow isn't promised to anybody. And you hope that when tomorrow gets here, that you'll still be here.

So these guys are a pretty cool bunch of hard-nosed dudes.

Q. Along those lines, on the resumé, this is the one thing that's eluded you. What would it mean for to you win a World Championship as a manager?
DUSTY BAKER: It would mean that, like I said, there's not much I've missed in life, period. Like I said, missed being big man on college campus because I signed out of high school, and loving grandparents because they died before I was born; and then, I know there's a championship coming. I know it's already written. All you've got to do is believe it and then act it.

The way I look at it -- hey, I always told you, if I win one, I'll win two. That's how I look at it.

Q. Kyle Hendricks goes for them in Game 1. He doesn't have the overpowering fastball, but he's obviously battle-tested early on.
DUSTY BAKER: Well, he's a good pitcher. He's in the Greg Maddux mode: He throws strikes, and tempt-me strikes. He's a good pitcher. We'll just have to see.

Q. I realize injuries and things, but you're going into the most important part of the year -- and you don't know about Max, but does it make you want to kick a puppy or put your hand through a wall or anything?
DUSTY BAKER: No, because I was always taught: You identify the problem; doesn't do any good to kick a puppy (laughter) and I tried putting my hand through the wall, and it didn't do nothing but hurt me.

I'm a man of solutions. You identify the problem and then you try to find a solution. You dwell on the problem, doesn't do you, your health, the situation, anything, any good. I just deal with the solution.

Sometimes I don't have one till I get there, you know.

Q. The Cubs the last week have been saying, we have a different vibe this year, because we know how to do it, meaning winning it all. How much do you think experience plays into it? Can it be a huge X factor or does it not matter at this point?
DUSTY BAKER: No, it matters, because I've been there. I've been on repeats as a player or whatever it is; the feeling that you have, and the feeling of confidence and not the panic or whatever it is.

You know, I mean, that's an advantage to them somewhat that they have been there, but we've been close ourselves. So this is going to be a heck of a Postseason. I mean, you've got some quality teams in both leagues. One of my roommates, Ralph Garr, was telling me how good this couple of teams are in the American League. I'm like, "Hey, I don't want to hear that, because we're good, too."

I don't think I've seen this many 100-win teams in the Postseason, but, again, that goes back to the have and the have-nots, when there's six -- 12 teams and 18 teams, and eight teams under .500, is there parity as it was predicted to be? Doesn't look like it to me.

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