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July 16, 2018
THE MODERATOR: I would like to officially welcome all of you here to Washington, D.C. for the Midsummer Classic. Back here in Washington, D.C. for the first time since 1969. Man had just walked on the moon when the last All-Star Game was here in Washington.
It's the first time that the All-Star Game will be hosted by the Nationals, as well as the organization. So it's a big moment in time for that franchise, and the All-Star Game is a marking point in time in baseball and in baseball history. The last time the All-Star Game was here, Willy McCovey was the MVP. The game was rained out, pushed back to the next afternoon, Danny McLain went back home for a dentist visit and flew back himself, came back in, and he was supposed to be the starter. Pitched in the fourth inning, didn't make it in time.
The first All-Star Game in D.C. was Lefty Gomez and Dizzy Dean and Lou Gehrig hit a home run. Some day we'll be talking about you gentlemen here. Back in 2018, these guys started, these guys managed and these guys played.
Congratulations to A.J. Hinch and Dave Roberts for their first-ever managerial assignment for the All-Star Game. It's a great accomplishment and an honor and congratulations to the both of you.
We have our starters. You'll see that we have our managers. We'll have the starting lineups announced as well, and we'll start things off with the manager of the American League, A.J. Hinch.
A.J. HINCH: Thanks for coming. What a big day for our teams that are here for our league, and certainly I'm very proud to announce that Chris Sale will be our starting pitcher for the American League.
Some tough choices around the league. There are a number of guys that I considered but, honestly, the proof is in the numbers and the most consistent starter in the American League. You like wins, you like games, you like consecutive six-inning outings, just pure dominance, you like a punch. We've seen a few of those. He's truly a special pitcher in this league and truly someone who deserves this honor.
He will be starting his third consecutive All-Star Game, which I think is the first time since maybe 1935. A little research for you. But proud to hand you the ball, Chris, and for you to be the American League starting pitcher.
CHRIS SALE: Obviously I appreciate it. It's a big honor and I know this doesn't happen very often and in a long time, so I appreciate it. I'm going to try to have some fun with it, too. That's why we're all here, so we want to rip and rip and try to get some wins.
THE MODERATOR: You're the third All-Star to start three straight games, only Lefty Gomez, Hall of Famer, Robin Roberts for the Phillies, Hall of Famer. You are the third, so congratulations to you.
With that, Dave Roberts, manager of the National League.
DAVE ROBERTS: Thank you guys all for being here. Speaking for myself and the coaches, the staff and the National League clubhouse, we're very honored to be here. It's a special moment to be a part of this Midsummer Classic where all eyes are on the Major League All-Stars and just appreciate what these guys do on the field and in our nation's capital. So for me, speaking for A.J., first All-Star experience, it's an honor to be here and going to enjoy it and compete and have fun tomorrow evening.
I'm honored to announce Max Scherzer as the National League starting pitcher. This is the third time he's going to be making an All-Star start, and it's well deserved. It's his city. It's his ballpark. My opinion, one of the top pitchers in baseball, and I've got a guy on my staff.
But you know, to give the ball to Max, it's an honor for me to watch him do his thing, and as A.J. said, there's a lot of great candidates. Jacob deGrom has had a great first half, but for me, I think that I've always tried to make things bigger than me and the club, and I think that Max, for the game of baseball, for our country, he's the right guy to take the baseball.
MAX SCHERZER: When Dave told me that I was -- that he was going to give me the nod, so many emotions when you know that you're pitching in your home park. This is such an honor for the All-Star Game to be here.
In previous experiences of being in the All-Star Games, you know, seeing the hometown players and how the fans get behind the hometown players, it's always been a special moment just watching that from afar and being on the other side.
So I can only imagine what it's going to be like to have the Nats fans here supporting all of us, Bryce and Doolittle, as well. It's just an honor to be able to have that recognition and go out there and start this thing again, because this is just a dream come true.
THE MODERATOR: This is the first time since 1940 that pitchers have squared off against each other for two straight seasons. And that was Red Ruffing, Hall of Famer, for the Yankees and Paul Derringer for the Cincinnati Red in their championship year. So it hasn't happened in a long time, so congratulations to you both.
A.J., why don't we have your starting lineup.
A.J. HINCH: Sure. Dave, Max, listen up.
We're going to lead the game off with Mookie Betts from the Boston Red Sox, batting second will be Jose Altuve from the Houston Astros; playing third will be Mike Trout from the Angels; batting fourth will be J.D. Martinez, DH from Boston; batting fifth will be Jose Ramirez, third base Cleveland Indians; sixth will be Aaron Judge from the Yankees in left field; seventh will be Manny Machado from Baltimore playing shortstop; batting eighth will be Jose Abreu from the White Sox playing first base; and ninth will be our catcher from Kansas City Salvador Perez.
DAVE ROBERTS: Listen up, Chris.
Javier Baez from the Cubs leading off, Nolan Arenado from the Colorado Rockies at second; Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks, hitting third; Freddy Freeman, Atlanta Braves, hitting fourth; Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers, hitting fifth; Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals, hitting sixth; Nick Markakis Atlanta Braves, hitting seventh; Brandon Crawford, San Francisco Giants, hitting eighth; and Willson Contreras from the Chicago Cubs, hitting ninth.
Q. Congratulations to all of you. We are excited to be here to share your excitement. This question for Max.
You've a very unique -- some say beautiful, some say a little whacky pitching form. We really would like to learn how you develop that form and how it came to be and also -- if you can let us know the secret to being injury-free?
MAX SCHERZER: Maybe to answer both of those questions -- the answer to both. I developed it kind of how I developed it in high school and college and really put the mechanics together that way. And I thought that's possible from the pitching coaches in Jerry Daniels in college to Austin Kirby. How we kind of came together and I was able to throw the ball hard and, obviously, from there continue to add pitches to it. And then just kind of continue to polish the mechanics over the year. Even in the big leagues, changing little things in my arm action and how I deliver the ball, make sure I'm behind it and on top of it.
As long as I'm in those positions, I keep identifying that, I feel like I'm in powerful position and healthy position. So they kind of go hand-in-hand.
Q. Your thoughts on Javier Baez and his season in Chicago that's he had in Chicago?
DAVE ROBERTS: He's a very exciting player, with the bat in the batter's box, he's done a lot of great things. I'm not going to lie, when I see that guy to my left take the mound, I want to give our guys the best chance to have success and I like Javy at the top and I like the energy and hopefully get something started.
Q. A.J., have you decided on the order of how you're going to use your pitchers for the game? And how special is it to be going against your friend, Dave Roberts?
A.J. HINCH: The first part is we're going to get together and have a meeting prior to the workout today. I have a pretty good idea the order in which I'm going, but now that I know there's a little more strategy in this game than I thought --
DAVE ROBERTS: (Laughing).
A.J. HINCH: -- I might mix my order up based on Dave's order.
I want to make sure I get in front of our guys and give them the plan of attack. This type of event, we really can disclose all to the players first and then we'll let you guys know. There are a few guys that I'm going to try to definitely get in there. There are a few guys I need to check in with based on their usage this weekend, so we'll have that meeting today.
Sitting at this table alongside Dave Roberts, we went through this not too long ago in the World Series, and honestly both of us are just here because of the work of our players. And obviously our organizations hire us to lead these men, but without the exceptional performances on the field, and we owe our thanks to the 2017 teams both in L.A. and Houston for being here.
But to share this experience; our families are here. Our closeness is well-documented since we got to be on the national stage last year and certainly proud to sit alongside him today and to sit in the other dugout tomorrow, and to enjoy this experience with a friend.
Q. I know a lot of players come here and there are guys they want to talk to. Blake Snell said the No. 1 thing said he wants to do is wear you out as much as possible. Have you had a chance to talk and what do you think of what he's done and how he's pitched?
CHRIS SALE: Yeah, I saw him, actually, this morning for, I guess, a late breakfast. He said the same thing. I thought it was funny because when you look at the year he's having, I don't think he needs to talk to anybody or ask anybody questions.
I actually thought he had a pretty good chance to start this game, as well. You know, I don't want to give too many secrets. He's in the division, you know, so keep it cool. But I mean, it will be fun. I always love coming here and seeing guys from around the league, obviously bantering back and forth. Some of these guys have taken me deep, and I've punched a couple of them out, so it's fun just communicating and joking around and stuff like that.
Obviously talking with other pitchers and hitters and things like that is another fun aspect of it.
Q. Max, what do you admire about Chris, and Chris, what do you admire about Max?
MAX SCHERZER: I think we said this last year (laughter).
To me, Chris is a complete -- the complete pitcher. A guy who can go out there pitch multiple pitches, attack the strike zone, has the fastball and demeanor and intensity out there to compete with anybody.
He's going to give you everything he's got, whether it means 120 pitches, and honestly, for me, when I get to face him, it brings the best out of me. I love competing against him. He's one of the best in the game, if not the best, and he's so much fun to watch.
CHRIS SALE: It's the same. You guys have watched him pitch for years. His intensity, the fire he brings, he really commands the baseball game when he's the starting pitcher.
I was hoping I was going to be able to face him in the lineup (laughter). He could swing it pretty good, too, so I don't know if that would have been a good idea. Like he said, when you face guys like that, it brings out the best in you and you have to bring out your A Game.
Q. For Dave, if Max gets on base against Chris, will you give him the green light to steal and will you perhaps throw over to first?
DAVE ROBERTS: If Max gets on base against Chris this All-Star Game, he can do whatever he wants because that's going to be quite a feat (laughter).
MAX SCHERZER: How's that going to happen?
DAVE ROBERTS: If he can work that, he can do whatever he wants.
Q. To both A.J. and Dave, it's very difficult to pick a starting pitcher, especially when you have such close races. How do you guys make that decision?
DAVE ROBERTS: Well, I think for me, you look at the performances by both guys, and I think that they are very comparable in the League and clearly ahead of the rest in my opinion.
Then you look at why we're all here, and it's for the fans. And so I think that when you sort of take in everything, the location, the ballpark, this great city -- and for me, the tiebreaker was the ballpark. I think that it's trying to make it bigger than all of us, and I think the game is about the fans, and obviously, his intensity, I'm looking forward to it and Jacob will pitch right behind him.
So those are clearly two great options.
A.J. HINCH: Yeah, the same goes for me. I literally watched all the way until, I don't know, the end of their last starts, and for my coaching staff, we brought them into my office and you set up Player A, Player B, Player C, because like Chris said, Blake Snell is not too far behind and Justin Verlander obviously would have been in there had he not pitched on Sunday.
If you take the names away, it's remarkably similar as to how the years are. Obviously the punch-outs come from him. You can get into some fancy stats if you want, but stuff take a step back, the overall picture, Chris has been consistently dominant over the entire first half.
On top of that, it's just difficult. Now, as I talk to Alex Cora in Boston and Aaron Boone and Kevin Cash and the managers on their teams, what I've been really pleased with is how all of them were very humble in this. None of them made any sort of demands and none of them stood up and said, I only want to start. There's been a tremendous amount of respect from Chris and the other three pitchers and all the was around. Severino's been that way; Snell's been that way. Snell wasn't on the team until recent days, unfortunately, because of the system.
So you really could have gone different ways and then respectful to everybody, but at the end of the day, you've got to pick one, and Severino is going to go second and Snell is probably going to follow him and you try to line it up the best way you can and in the fairest way you can.
Q. How did you decide on your lineup with two right fielders?
A.J. HINCH: Yeah, that's a tricky one. Mookie has won a couple Gold Gloves out in right, and I think that ends up -- or a Gold Glove, not sure one or two. But that ended up being a little bit of a consideration.
Again, I think you throw it out to both managers, and Aaron Judge will do anything you ask, and Mookie will do anything you ask. So you go to the next layer, how do you decide what to do, and I just ended up picking.
Q. How important is it for you to have a guy like Contreras behind the plate, especially because this will be his first All-Star Game?
DAVE ROBERTS: It's exciting. To see his emotion when he got the fan vote and to see how much it meant to him; I love the way he plays with energy, passion. He's knowledgeable of the game and really works well with his pitchers, the pitching coach over there in Chicago.
So to have him as a starter behind the plate, there's a lot of energy in that battery that we're going to have tomorrow night, so that's going to be a lot of fun.
Q. I think putting Goldschmidt as your number three is real interesting. Please explain to everybody why you would make that decision? I think I know why but I'd like to hear it from you.
DAVE ROBERTS: Well, he's a consummate professional. In the batter's box, he's very dangerous. So to have a right-handed bat in the lineup, obviously against Chris Sale sort of increases our chances a little bit.
I just love what he does, and so for me to get him a start, to get him a couple of at-bats at the top of the order, I think it makes sense.
Q. Can you talk about what's happening right now with the Brewers and with Josh Hader?
DAVE ROBERTS: Well, we haven't seen him yet but we'll see him about seven times in the next ten days after the break. I'm excited to see it, but I'm not excited to see it.
He's having a great season and great young player, guy who is -- he's dangerous. Hits the ball out to all parts of the field. He can get a base hit and manipulate the barrel, so I'm excited to see more. Obviously the stacked lineup is pretty impressive.
Q. For Mr. Sale and Mr. Scherzer, how does the intensity of starting pitching in All-Star Game compare to the intensity of pitching in a regular-season game?
MAX SCHERZER: It's not even close. Honestly, it's probably the closest thing you get to the post-season in terms of like the atmosphere and the intensity and everything. A lot of times, I've always looked at pitching in the All-Star Game as a prelude to how you pitch in the post-season, sometimes how you might have to pitch on two days' rest out of the pen, only throw one inning and then you have to go face the best hitters. That's what you do in the All-Star Game.
I've always loved pitching in these events. You can take something from it because you can use it later in the year.
CHRIS SALE: I've always really enjoyed it, too. Obviously the competition is the best. I mean, you look at both of these lineups and up the best hitters on the planet in these lineups. Yeah, you definitely have to have your stuff together and go out there and just compete. I've always loved a packed house. I've loved it, like both managers talked about earlier. These ballparks get pretty lively during these events, too, during the All-Star Game.
It just raises your adrenaline a little bit and just go out there and compete.
Q. With your appreciation of Asian culture, what does it do to have Shin-Shoo Choo as the first Korean position player this game?
DAVE ROBERTS: I can speak to the Asian culture and the worldwide impact; Latin players, Korean players, Chinese players. But as far as to your question about Choo, it's bigger than all of us, and I think that what Major League Baseball has done, not only domestically, but worldwide, we've done a great job in trying to make it not only our nation's sport but a worldwide sport.
So to see him do what he's done this first half at his age and really help that ballclub keep going, I'm excited to see him, and nothing but respect for him.
THE MODERATOR: To that point, 24 foreign-born All-Stars in this All-Star Game, seven different countries represented.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports