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October 26, 2017

AJ Hinch

Houston, Texas - Workout Day

Q. TMZ Sports says that you were involved an altercation in a Pasadena hotel. I wonder if you could take us through your side of it?
A.J. HINCH: I have a brief comment on it: First off, there was no altercation. And it's a shame that I'm asked -- not from you, I know you're doing your job, but it's a shame I get asked about some nonsense and fabrications and non-stories, and I have to respond to it on a national stage.

To reiterate there was no altercation, and that's as far as I'm going to go. It's ridiculous.

Q. It says you snapped and were cursing and were yelling in the middle of the bar, so that's not true?
A.J. HINCH: Like I said, fabrications really suck, and I'm not going to address it any of them.

Q. Two parts: One, your players are all talking about how much they want the roof closed, how important is that to you? Part two, how do you look at how the momentum has switched now, if you will, coming home with the series tied?
A.J. HINCH: I don't know they had the momentum. I just thought they had a one-game lead. We want the roof closed because we don't want to get rained on. That's tomorrow. It's quite an environment, when we play under the roof, our fans get going. It was one of the loudest stadiums the last series; I expect it to be the same. It is a great environment at home. I think that's what makes people feel good.

We're coming off one of the most epic baseball games in any of our careers, probably for you guys, too. So that feels good. It will feel good right up to first pitch and then it will be a new game. So I think our guys are ready.

Q. Baseball is longest-running American sport, second longest running is second-guessing a manager. Do you feel redemption on sticking with your guns and going with your guys?
A.J. HINCH: It's how we win. And players have to decide the games on the field. My job is to put them in a position to be successful. It's fun when players step up. And again, oftentimes in this job I've learned, I have to be the calmest heartbeat in the room. I have to be the clearest thinker, I have to be the voice of reason. And in those instances you have to believe in players. There's a reason why got here. The players you're talking about, which I assume are guys like Springer, Giles, Devenski, that all played pivotal roles.

And I did say Giles did play a pivotal role, not in giving up the run but in the outs he did get. That's part of my job that I feel good about. Regardless of the outcome. And obviously we want to win. We want to put them in a position to be successful. When they feel that success, they feel pretty good about it.

Q. You mentioned Giles, with the way he's sort of scuffled in the playoffs, how do you approach him going forward in this series?
A.J. HINCH: You know, I mean, obviously I think what the playoffs show across the board, from the beginning of the postseason all the way through the World Series, roles are softly defined.

But I think Ken Giles is going to get another save in this series. I think he's going to get some really big outs. I think when the crowd is standing in this ballpark over the next couple of games, if we can have the lead and he's the right matchup, he's going to get the last out. He's done it awfully well this year.

And again, I reiterate to you guys, just because somebody has a bad day at work, does not mean that they need to be condemned and sent away. These guys are good players on a national stage and they are competing against the best team in the National League, and for that I'm going to keep putting him in and trusting him.

Q. Alex Bregman, he was drafted with a larger picture in mind for the organization. What does it mean for you to have him be this much a contributor this quick?
A.J. HINCH: No doubt. It is, we expect so much out of players nowadays days. From the minute they get drafted, they're getting attention. There's all sorts of events that we can get them on the national stage and get them known. And when they get to the Big Leagues, the one thing we don't really allow is that learning curve. And his learning curve was very short, it was about 30 at-bats last year and has taken off ever sense. To watch him come back with higher expectations on a really good team, and playing a pivotal rival when Correa goes down, when Altuve missed a day, when he needed to be the center part of our offense when we scuffled in the middle of the year, it's pretty rewarding, more so for him than anybody.

I love the way he plays, his makeup, what he brings in the clubhouse, his competitiveness, and he plays with great emotion. And we welcome that.

Q. You guys just finished with the Yankees and Joe Girardi, and they said that Joe will not return. Your thoughts on that. I believe you and Joe had a nice exchange.
A.J. HINCH: We did. I appreciated Joe coming by the office and sticking his head in and saying hello, and giving me some words of encouragement. He's been through this much more than I have in terms of being in the World Series, player, manager, coach, all of the above. He's a real class act.

And I've also said I've watched a lot of turnover in this work. And obviously it brings a lot of appreciation for having one of these jobs, for keeping one of these jobs, for all the work that goes in. I don't think anybody can relate to what a manager does other than one of the other 29 managers or if you've done it before. It's a shame to see so much turnover because of the work, the blood, sweat, tears poured into these job. And I don't think anybody goes through more than what Joe does in New York.

As more guys get opportunities to be a manager and to feel this leadership position, I urge them to enjoy it, because it can be short lived for a lot of reasons.

Q. You went through about as big an emotional swing, both teams, as can possibly happen. You guys went from down here to up here. They went from up here to down there. Do you believe there could be any kind of carryover in a series, or is baseball a game where just everything starts back --
A.J. HINCH: If we lost, I would have said no. Since we won, I'd say absolutely, this will be a big swing. I think every player has to deal with whatever they're going through in their own way. Certainly teams can come and go. You literally are at the momentum of the next game. It's 1-1, it doesn't mean anything is decided. Tomorrow is a huge game. But I'm not sure yesterday wasn't a huge game or Game 1 wasn't a huge game or Game 7 in the CS wasn't a big game.

I don't look too much into it other than continue to preach to our players just focus on today. The series won't be decided tomorrow either way.

Q. A couple of things related to facing Yu Darvish: He's the one guy you have seen a fair bit of. I'm wondering what the challenges are facing him. And then the other thing, I don't know how much you've had a chance to know what he's doing since he's been with the Dodgers, but he has talked about making some tweaks in his game. Just wondering if you noticed that?
A.J. HINCH: We've noticed it through video, we haven't seen him yet. And again, there's more unpredictability around game plans and approaches in the postseason than ever. You can go in and saying, this is how he's thrown you in the past, and he can pitch you completely different. We saw that with Tanaka in New York.

For us, we need to evaluate what our game plan is going to be. It's going to be very simple: We want to get a pitch to hit. He's got 15 pitches you have to deal with, from different angles, and he can reach back and have velocity. Tomorrow is going to be a big start for him, I know he'll be at his best.

But if you can get him in the strike zone, like any pitcher in the Big Leagues, we've done damage to every good pitcher in the strike zone. When we expand, it's tough.

So for us having familiarity will help a little bit, but when you get to Game 3 of the World Series, the competition will be at a unique level. And we'll see how he adjusts or do we adjust.

Q. When you reflect back over these last 24 hours, what sticks out in your mind? Are there one or two moments you come back to?
A.J. HINCH: Well, the breath of air I took at the last out was my favorite. And I just think the swings of emotion, the Marwin Gonzalez home run, which so much happened after the Marwin Gonzalez home run I almost felt like I had to offer you guys a quote on it, because no one is going to ask about it because 15 things happened afterwards on both sides. That was a huge one.

When Kenley Jansen is in the game it's a difficult, tall task. He's established himself as the best closer in the league. He's very, very difficult to get momentum against. We had some pretty good at-bats against him and we're going to see him again in the next few games. But that Marwin Gonzalez home run quickly got kind of pushed to the side because of the Altuve home run, the Correa home run, and all sorts of home runs on their side. The Kiké Hernandez base hit, taking Giles out and putting Devenski in with a runner on second, do you walk him or not. We're going a hundred miles an hour. We don't have time to savor the moment until the last out. After the last out I was as happy as could be.

Q. About McCullers, what is about his makeup that's allowed him to thrive in playoff situations in the last couple years?
A.J. HINCH: He's a confident kid. He believes in his best stuff matched up against the best stuff of the other guy, that he's going to be better. He's a challenge-first type guy. And that doesn't mean he throws a lot of fastballs; we know he throws a lot of breaking balls. His belief in himself is second to none. He's able to keep his emotions in check. His demeanor is very good. He's got just enough cockiness to him that is attractive as a competitor.

And he wants the ball. He wants to finish. If you ask him, "What are you going to do tomorrow?" He's going to say, "I'm going to throw nine scoreless." And he believes is. And he thinks it's my fault if it doesn't happen because I took him out.

And that type of makeup, that type of competitive burn, part of it is innate, and part of it has grown in confidence as he's seen himself successful at this level.

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