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October 8, 2017

AJ Hinch

Boston, Massachusetts - pregame 3

THE MODERATOR: Take questions, please.

Q. The dynamic of the lineup today with Reddick moving up against the right-hander, is that just a pretty standard move at this point?
A.J. HINCH: Yeah, it's the way we have gone for most of the season. So having Reddick in between the righties is key, Bregman down in the six hole, he's been productive from there really the whole season. So the batting order shifts a little bit, right-handed, left-handed. We faced two lefties to start this series which made it seem a little more consistent than normal, but I love having Reddick in between Springer and Altuve with a right-handed starter. And then obviously it impacts the left-handed relievers coming in. It sounds like they have three today.

Q. You never have concerns at home. How many available inclement games have you had this season?
A.J. HINCH: We had one here last week, it was raining. We haven't had too many delays. Obviously we have a roof in Seattle, roof at home. Maybe every team should have a roof. But we'll be fine. Obviously we'll pay attention to it. It sounds like the forecast is going to open up a little bit and be fine for game time. It does hurt the pregame activity on the field, but that's okay. Day game, Sundays, we normally don't hit anyway. We'll be fine.

Q. Have you noticed just an everyday business like approach with this team? Even after going up 2-0, just seemed like they were as loose as they could be yesterday. Is that a product of just the way you've kind of guided them all season through having the best record in the league?
A.J. HINCH: Our personality is one of our best traits and the consistency in that is the same. It was that way when we were winning early in the season and there was a lot of love for us and we jumped out to the best record in baseball. It was that way when we scuffled a little bit through a couple stretches getting swept in a couple cities. These guys, they're temperament is exceptional. I think our guys take pride in that we come to the ballpark every day ready to play. There's an enthusiasm that comes with our clubhouse and whether young, old, in the middle. It's a tribute to the culture that's been built here with the chemistry that the players have formed. It's pretty special. Most teams that win say that, most teams that are in this position say that, we're living it.

Q. Outside of what you just said, what is the most under-appreciated aspect of your club? What do you do better than a lot of people don't realize?
A.J. HINCH: I think from adept standpoint, we're rolling out a pretty good player in a lot of different spots and they're not all big names and they're not all big paycheck guys. These are guys that we utilize their strengths hopefully as well as anybody in the league. And today's starting pitcher, Brad Peacock, is a good example of that. Brad Peacock has not been a household name, but you look at his numbers, his performance, his pitching attributes, his pitches that he can execute, and his performance has been really exceptional. So I think the depth of our roster, having one through nine have really productive seasons, having some guys step up, the matchups that we do. I just think we have a chance to throw a really good player at you every situation possible, young, old, and, like I said, in the middle. So what we do better obviously can be evaluated over the course of the whole season, but we're pretty good at what we do because of the players we have and the system that we have in place to try to maximize our strengths.

Q. A few days ago, Joe Musgrove told us he wasn't going to get a starter, he had to find a way to help. What do you think about the way he is doing what he is doing now?
A.J. HINCH: Again, I think that's part of the beauty of this team, is they will do anything. They really will, and a lot of people will say that. Obviously Joe was at a crossroads of the year where we had a lot of starters coming back. We were going healthy. He was scuffling a little bit, had a bad game or two. That willingness to try to figure it out is very key in maximizing their strength and maximizing their performance. So what it turned into is now a leverage reliever who I have complete confidence if the game is on the line with him in the game. Doesn't mean he's not a starter long-term. I think the value of having him be able to do both over the next few years is going to be key. But that spike in performance in the bullpen from him starts with the mentality of I've got to figure out what I can do to be better and to be a part of this. Because if you're too stubborn in your one ways, and you just continue to battle failure, then this league will adjust to you and you'll find your way out. But Joe did the opposite and stayed humble, stayed hungry, and has turned into one of our elite refers.

Q. We talk a lot about the players being relaxed and being business like. What's this moment like for you right now?
A.J. HINCH: I'm a nervous wreck. Can't you tell? We're in Game 3 of the division series. No, I'm good. I love this time of year. I'm so proud of being the manager here and leading this group of men and I'm having fun. I think that we do all this work to get to these moments, good or bad. I obviously still remember the agony of 2015, of the disappointment of 2016, and now the joys of 2017 for these moments. If you don't keep perspective and you don't enjoy these moments, then why do we sit up here? Like why do we do the work we do if we don't enjoy it? So I'm having a great time. Obviously we have a good team, it's always fun to have a good team. But I'm pretty fortunate to have the players on board, the coaching staff that's pretty tirelessly working towards a big goal. There's no complaints outs of me.

Q. To dovetail off of that, yesterday during the workout you were hanging out with the infielders for part of the BP. You seemed to. On a regular basis. Gravitate towards that group?
A.J. HINCH: Working on my Spanish.

Q. Is it because they're that much fun?
A.J. HINCH: No, they are, we have a routine every day where I hit ground balls to the left side, Cora hits ground balls to the right side, and then we sort of convene behind second base. It's just connecting with people. This job, there's a lot of X's and O's that get scrutinized and talked about, and that's a fun part. The baseball game is awesome for a manager and the moving of the pieces and the decisions that are made. The connecting with people is what this job's really about. Good and bad. Guys that have good seasons, guys that have bad seasons, good day, bad days, I want our players to always know I have their back. And it takes time, it takes relationships, it takes kind of a program in place to where they know we're all in the trenches together. So that little time behind second base is valuable for me just to -- if you had had a microphone out there you would be shocked about some of the things we talk about. Some of it being baseball, some of it lately being babies. Altuve's got a young baby, Marwin's wife is due. The other guys are fine now. So it's an important time to connect with your players. During BP is the easiest way to do it.

Q. You had mentioned multiple times about not sitting on Brad Peacock maybe being a starter in the playoffs and people always assuming new guys. Did he use that at all or is he oblivious to that kind of stuff?
A.J. HINCH: He's pretty oblivious. He's not the most emotional player we have. He's pretty even-keeled. I think the internal burn for him is he wants to start. He wants to start, and I think that internal fortitude is what's made him really good. He'll never really show you his emotions. He's pretty quiet and pretty stoic and very willing to do whatever. If I had walked up to him at the end of the season and said, hey, man, we think it's best to use you in the bullpen, he might have had some disappointment, but he would have moved on really quickly. But I think just the obvious performance was something that we just couldn't overlook. I don't think anybody around baseball should overlook it. These strikeouts are real, the temperament is real, his chance to give us or his ability to give us a chance to win today's real. So that's why he's in there.

Q. A lot of times people talk in the postseason about the heightened importance of execution and almost as if there was a different form of execution that you're looking for in the playoffs. From a pitching standpoint what's different about what execution means at this time of year?
A.J. HINCH: I think just the swing of emotion during at-bats that are heightened. I think everybody -- a 1-1 pitch in April against any particular hitter is a big deal. That swing count between 2-1 and 1-2 is a big deal. You factor in the emotion and energy that's in a ballpark in a playoff atmosphere, and the decisions that are made much faster than they are during the season or the difference in 90 feet and the pressure that puts on or what a one-run lead today does to the Boston Red Sox or to the Houston Astros, all of that combined makes for execution being kind of at the forefront of your thought. So when you're misfiring or they're you've given away a free 90 feet or you miss out over the plate and Jose Altuve hits not one, not two, but three home runs, those, that magnitude of the moment is why execution's talked about right now. If you can harness all that and not be distracted by the fear that the playoffs instills in players and instills in the failure that these guys are driven by, then you got a pretty good temperament on your team and that's what we try to tell our players is execute the best you can and I'll make decisions based on what we see, but don't try to do anything more than you've done for the first six months.

Q. Your club is known for making data-driven decisions. How often do your instincts overrule those and does the postseason change that dynamic at all?
A.J. HINCH: Yeah, no, I love that our organization is known as analytically driven and we try to make smart decisions. Whether you believe in analytics or not, you're trying to make smart decisions. But that's not the only thing we are, we're a pretty good blend of instincts and intellect and information and then player feedback. So much encompasses the decisions that I make or that our organization makes via player development or trades or whatever. So it goes a little far sometimes. We do have emotions, we do have people, we do have instincts, and what we try to be better than anybody in the league is the blend that it takes to make smart decisions within the realm of running a team. Whether that's playing time, whether that's in-game decisions, whether that's trade, we're churning at a pretty good rate right now.


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