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October 10, 2017

Dusty Baker

Chicago, Illinois - pregame 4

Q. Obviously a little shuffling of the lineup today. What do you like about Werth at second and Harper third against Arrieta?
DUSTY BAKER: Well, this is our most successful lineup that we had, but I was kind of waiting on Harp to get some more reps, get some more ABs, and to get a little sharper; and that's why.

We had faced left-handers the first couple games, and so I shuffled and went back to our original. First time we've had that lineup in months since Harp got hurt. Feels pretty good.

Q. Given the weather, if the game is rained out, will you stick with Tanner for tomorrow or will you go with Strasburg?
DUSTY BAKER: We're not sure. So we don't know the weather, it's not raining yet, but they talk like it's going to really rain. So you know, we'll see.

Q. Sometimes teams are facing elimination, might feel the need to try to do something different. Why is it important for you -- why is continuity important for to you stick with what you guys have done all year?
DUSTY BAKER: Well, continuity is important, period. We never had a real long winning streak, but we played winning baseball.

You know, this is the lineup that I like. This is the lineup that I, you know, have a lot of confidence in. I mean, I've got confidence in all our team, but you've got to come up with the lineup. So guys that have had more at-bats, had more reps, the law of averages are on some of our guys's side. You know, I believe in law of averages. I feel very good about our chances today.

Q. Back to Strasburg. Would you talk about it with him? What would the process be like and would the guy who is starting tomorrow know when he left the field tonight?
DUSTY BAKER: Yeah, that's a good question. The process would start between Mike Maddux and myself, and then we talk to Strasburg if we were serious about doing it. You have to, you know, change guys' bullpens around, because guys, especially at this time of year, you know, our guys are routine. They have their own routine.

And you know, as of right now, you know, Tanner is pitching today, and so we'll make that determination if and only when the game is called.

Q. Did Strasburg throw a bullpen yesterday or would he wait till today to throw in advance of a potential Thursday start?
DUSTY BAKER: Well, he was walking out as I was walking out, so I'm not sure if he was going out to do a bullpen or not or throw or run. Like I said, he was walking out as I was walking in here, just moments ago.

Q. How tough is the manager's job now compared to 20 years ago when you started? And being second-guessed for something that actually worked out, where a pitcher made a great pitch and was a catchable ball, how tough is that to swallow when in reality, what you did worked out?
DUSTY BAKER: Well, that's another good question. The reality of it is, is that the only judge of -- it's only correct if it works. But that's not how it really is.

And so you know, you can't control the outcome; all you can do is try to put people in a position to succeed. As far as the scrutiny and as far as social media and this and that, everything, I don't -- I don't read it. The best thing that I told -- I have to really stress that to my mom and my wife, you know, because they read everything and I don't read anything.

I learned that a long time ago as a player when I was traded from the Braves to the Dodgers, and it was a big trade and I was the focal point of the trade from the Braves to the Dodgers. I hit like -- I hurt my knee playing basketball. I hit .244 that season. I think I hit 3 or 4 home runs, ended up on the bench, and I was booed every day.

I mean, once I stopped playing, and then I was like -- you know, I wouldn't come out of the dugout; I would run to home plate so I wouldn't have to hear the boos because it's a long walk from the dugout to home plate in Dodger Stadium. Then they broke some lamps out at my house; they scratched my car, and people were very disgruntled over the fact that they even traded for me.

You know, I would go to the grocery store, like, oh, yeah, you're that guy we traded for. So what happened was, I had an operation, worked out that winter, and I hit 30 home runs the next year; we went to the World Series, end up making the All-Dodger team, and so then I learned not to let anybody control my self-esteem or my opinion of myself. Because I went from being the scorn of the town to being one of the heros of the town.

And so I just want to remain in between and not have anybody control, you know, my self-esteem. And so therefore, you know, it doesn't matter to me; people can say what they want to say and think and write what they want to write, because I know what I'm about, and I have supreme confidence in myself.

It is tough. But hey, the only thing -- I've always learned, the only thing you have to satisfy is God, family, and yourself, and those are three entities that you can't fool. Because you know if you did the right thing, it might not have turned out right. You know, I'm sorry that my kids are grown now because it was easier when they were young and you just go home, "That's all right, Dad." You struck out three or four times, "Dad, you're still the greatest." You know what I mean?

Now it's a little different (laughing). My son has suggestions, my wife has suggestions. My son repeated something to me today that, man, I mean, for a teenager, to listen to your parents and quote you verbatim, I think I've done a pretty good job at home (smiling). And he texts me, of course, and he said, "Dad, this is already written. All you've got to do is believe it."

"I'm like, man, that sounds kind of like me."

Yeah, life's still good.

Q. Both you and Max had mentioned that he might be available in relief in Game 5. How did he come out of it yesterday? Did you think that that would still be a possibility?
DUSTY BAKER: Yeah, that's a possibility. I think that more came out of Max's mouth than mine, you know what I mean. Max has a loud voice and we listen to it. He came into my office today and, you know, he put up (raising one finger) "I'm ready" and I'm like, okay.

Because we've got to protect Max. Our game plan last night was to have Max throw a hundred pitches. We were saying, we would be lucky if we got to a hundred pitches if he didn't feel his leg again or whatever. We had to be true to our word, even though, you know, it was a very, very, very tough decision. But that's the decision that we made.

Q. This series to this point, it seems like low-scoring games, except for the one inning in Game 2.
DUSTY BAKER: That's right.

Q. Did you know coming in, these are two good pitching staffs, and it was going to be tough for hitters on both sides?
DUSTY BAKER: Yeah, I mean, I knew, yeah, they are two good pitching staffs. Also, you know, on the hitter's side of things, we've both had four or five days off, which is enough to lose your timing for awhile.

So I had no clue, especially when you come here. I mean, the wind and the weather conditions really control a lot of what happens in the ballgame. So no, I really didn't think that, especially over the course of time; I was a little bit worried the first couple days because you don't know how my team would respond not seeing live pitching.

You know, the longer we play, I just feel the better our team will get back to what we do best, scoring runs.

Q. Just what are you seeing in Trea's at-bats and do you sense he's pressing at this point?
DUSTY BAKER: Well, probably. You know, I had a long talk with Trea this morning. Anybody that's been in the playoffs, especially a number of times, have had a tough playoff. I remember Orlando Cepeda, he was an MVP and he had an extremely tough playoff. I remember Dave Winfield had an extremely tough World Series.

So it's not the first time that a guy has had a tough playoff. I had a tough playoff. I got in a fight the day before the World Series and hurt my hand, and I couldn't swing. But Lasorda told me that they needed me on the field, and I needed to be on the field. I remember that like it was yesterday, and we won the World Series; and I had to eat it and couldn't tell anybody.

And then my dad, you know, I had to call him. That was the toughest call I had to make, and he goes -- and I thought my name was "Hard Head" until I was about 15 years old. (Laughter).

So he says, "Hard Head, I told you about doing all that fighting."

I said, "But dad, you know it wasn't my fault." You know how fathers are; it's always your fault. It's all good.

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