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October 11, 2017

Dusty Baker

Chicago, Illinois - pregame 4

Q. Mike said Stras came in and talked to you and though he could pitch. What was that conversation like and how did he seem to you?
DUSTY BAKER: Well, he seemed, you know, more focused than normal. He just said, "I'm feeling a whole lot better," and, "I want the ball." That was kind of the gist of the conversation.

Q. Similar with Max the other day, what do you think you can get out of it and do you think you can treat it like a normal start?
DUSTY BAKER: Yeah, we'll treat it like a normal start till we see any signs of, you know, fatigue. I think there's a good chance that -- you know, I think the cold weather helps, I think, because he's prone to warm weather sometimes, and he sweats a whole bunch. He's probably sweated a lot the last few days trying to get whatever is in him out of him.

You know, he feels a whole lot better and we'll just treat it like a normal start. He seems very determined.

Q. How did you tell Tanner what was going to happen today, and how did he react to the news?
DUSTY BAKER: Well, you know, we can't tell you everything, but he was ready to pitch. I'm sure he was disappointed. You know, he didn't really say a whole bunch. We just told him, hey, man, he might be available today. We'll probably not try to use him today because we have a lot of other available arms and a good chance, you know, he'll pitch sometime in Game 5. We haven't decided whether we'll start him or somebody else. Depends on how the day goes today.

Q. Did you have any concerns that maybe Strasburg was pressured into making a start?
DUSTY BAKER: No, I didn't. We didn't put that pressure on him, and I don't think that he would succumb to the pressure from the public or the media or anybody. You know, he's a grown man. He made that decision on his own and he wanted to pitch, and he was very adamant about he wanted to pitch and how much better he was feeling.

So no, he wasn't pressured at all by -- that I know of.

Q. When you walked out of here last night, did you think it was a realistic possibility that he would pitch today?
DUSTY BAKER: Not really. You know, because I didn't -- I was planning on Tanner pitching. But you know, things can -- the thing about baseball is that you have to -- things are subject to change and it was a -- maybe the rain helped him and helped us, like I hoped that it would. I said my prayers and said, hey, man, let the rain try to help us.

I know I talked to some Hawaiian buddies of mine and they were saying, hey, sometimes, that's a blessing from the sky. They call it manna. I believe in that.

Q. You said a second ago that you didn't believe Stephen would succumb to outside pressure, anything he heard in the media or whatever. Is there any pressure you're aware of from any coaches or teammates?
DUSTY BAKER: Nooo. I know he didn't get any from the coaches. I'd be very, very, very surprised if he got any from his teammates or any kind of peer pressure. No, this was a decision made by him, and then our guys came together and we decided that's what we're going to do.

Q. Okay. And just real quick, Mike had talked before you came in about Stephen having IVs and having to get antibiotics. Why was he throwing bullpens in that condition?
DUSTY BAKER: Well, hey, man, sometimes you go to work feeling less than 100. You know, these guys are professionals. They want to pitch, so...

I can't tell you the amount of times I went out there with a fever or feeling less than whatever, you know. But we weren't going to try to force him to go out there feeling less than that.

So I mean, it's just kind of the life of a pro. You're going to try to make the call until you can't make the call.

Q. You've managed in elimination games before. What is the challenge for a manager in these type of games, and if you're going to use another starting pitcher, how cognizant do you have to be of getting him 30 pitches in and getting him out there so you know he can be successful?
DUSTY BAKER: Well, that's a very good question. And the numbers are different per person. Some people, it might be 30; some guys go out there and throw 50 to 100 pitches, but you don't have that much time. You've got to know your personnel.

One thing, our bullpen's fresh. Both sides are fresh. So you've got to give a guy more time and then you can use somebody in between until you get that guy fully loose. Because you hate to send him out there unless he's fully loose, especially in a game like this. You know, the game's going to dictate what we do.

Q. You said he was under the weather. What specifically was the illness and what specifically were the symptoms that he was showing?
DUSTY BAKER: Well, Mike told you what the -- didn't he already tell you what the conditions were? You know, under the weather was kind of broad. And under the weather was a statement that I didn't feel the need to have to tell everybody what the exact problem was or how sick he was.

And plus, I'm not a doctor; but I do know what chills feel like. I know what flu-like symptoms feel like. And I didn't feel the need to go into exactly what the conditions were. I thought under the weather covered it pretty good.

Q. From your understanding, is Max still available today and for how long?
DUSTY BAKER: Yeah, I mean, not very long. I mean, for sure. But I mean, Max is -- like you said, all hands on deck. Max is available today, and he'll probably be available tomorrow. And hopefully we don't have the need to have to use him because Max is one of the guys you've got to give quite a bit of time to get loose.

You know, for most starters, starters have a ritual. They usually throw long and they come in short and they sit down. So you don't have that much time. But like I said, we've got a full bullpen. But Max did tell me yesterday, he goes, "Hey, man, I can give you some." And that's fine with me. And again, I hope we don't have to use him.

Q. Can you reflect a little bit on the mental challenge that Strasburg faces with knowing that -- not 100 percent physically, this could be a legacy game?
DUSTY BAKER: Well, you know, I'd say he's a good 95 -- again, I'm not a doctor. He's 90-plus percent well.

At this point in time, he knows what's at stake. And also at this point, how many guys are 100 percent? Like I said, if you're 100 percent at this point in time of the year, there's a good chance you haven't played very much or you came in later in the year hurt.

So he just told us he's going to give us what he has. Generally that's pretty good.

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