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October 7, 2018

Alex Cora

New York, New York - Workout Day

Q. What went into the decision to start Nathan, and how do you see using Rick, I guess in the next couple games?
ALEX CORA: He's slated to start Game 4. Obviously, we're all in with this, so never know what can happen in Game 3. Should be Nate 3, Rick 4. Rick pitched that inning on Monday, so we felt like one more day is going to benefit him if we stay away from him. Nate hasn't pitched in a while. He's rested, had a good week, and we're going with him.

Q. Also, how's Moreland doing?
ALEX CORA: He's okay. He's getting treatment, aggressive treatment. We'll know a little bit more after all his rounds of whatever, steam and all that stuff he goes on, and then we'll talk to Brad and go from there.

Q. Just a thought on Nathan making the start, a guy that's pitched here, knows this place, and just what you expect from him in Game 3.
ALEX CORA: Seven innings, two hits, one run. Just his stuff. We know he's going to be throwing hard and he's going to mix it up. He's had success against them. Seems like it's a good matchup. Obviously, in the playoffs, game planning is part of it, and I know they're going to be ready, but we will too. We trust his stuff. He can even get away with mistakes, you know what I mean? Like when you throw 100 and you place it in the right spot, even if they take a good swing, you can get missed hits. So that's a key.

As you know, we've got to try to keep them in the ballpark. When we do that, we have success, and that's what we're going to try to do tomorrow.

Q. Did you happen to see that video of Aaron Judge walking by playing "New York, New York" last night?
ALEX CORA: I heard about it. Petey actually told me about it.

Q. Any reaction?
ALEX CORA: No, no. I don't know. Maybe one of the guys when we played the Marlins earlier, we had Pitbull in our boom box.

I don't know. You've got to ask him if it was something for us, but I doubt it. He's a guy that, when he hits the ball out of the ballpark, he sits down and runs. That's probably just something they do when they win. Probably they did it somewhere else too.

Q. (No microphone.)
ALEX CORA: I've got to talk to him. He's not here today. We'll talk. Obviously, we need outs. Actually, we were just talking about him, me and Dana, a few things that we noticed, actually the last few weeks, that he's not doing the way he did in those 11 outings or whatever it was. Unless we recognize something, we'll talk about it. I know physically he's fine and we know where we're going. So most likely we'll use him in some spot, yeah.

Q. Alex, with the options that you have at some of your infield spots, how much do you consider potentially changing up your lineup versus staying the course?
ALEX CORA: I knew that question was coming. I'll go to experience from the World Series last year. That's something I learned. Be patient. It's such a small series that people get caught up on the whole small sample sizes. I always said that the difference between a .300 hitter in the postseason and a .200 hitter is 2 for 10 and 3 for 10 is one swing.

So we go with the quality at-bats. We know we have to swing the bat better. I think yesterday we were too aggressive outside the zone, and we don't do that often, credit to Tanaka. We'll see. We'll think about it tonight. We'll talk as a staff, and we'll go from there.

Q. On that point, because of the small, short series, is there a sense that momentum swings either way and it's swinging toward the Yankees a little with the next two games at home, or is each game still a self-contained unit?
ALEX CORA: No, it's each day. If that was the case, then last night they would have come out flat and not play the way they did. Good off day today, show up tomorrow, and play the way we always do.

But I think in the playoffs it's day by day. Has to do a lot with the guy on the mound who starts off the game. We've seen it the last two games of the series, David and Happ struggle, and Tanaka and Sale did an outstanding job, and you see the results.

Q. You guys have been in first place I think since July 2. Does the next two days, knowing you need to win at least one of them to get back home, is it adversity? Is it pressure? Is it something, you know, you haven't really had a series where you've needed to win for a while now.
ALEX CORA: Well, coming into the playoffs, we knew we had to win series. I think we did an outstanding job throughout the season just staying in the moment. I think at one point in the season we were two games back. I think it was in Minnesota.

Nothing changes. Like today, regular off day. Some guys showed up. They took some hacks. They got treatment, had a good dinner in New York City, and come tomorrow and play the way we can play.

Q. I just want to clarify with Moreland. Is the decision to make whether he can be on the roster, or do you expect him to be on the team?
ALEX CORA: I expect him to stay on the roster, yeah.

Q. Alex, following up with the things you said before about having learned last year. How much more well equipped are you having been through the World Series last year than you might not have been?
ALEX CORA: I said that without that year coaching, no way I'd feel this comfortable this year. It was such a great learning experience, from Spring Training all the way to L.A. It was constant learning. They're a great organization, and Jeff and Mr. Crane and A.J., they do an outstanding job throughout the season, and I learned a lot from them.

Q. Alex, is Judge becoming the type of threat that you would just as soon stay away from assuming no one's on base?
ALEX CORA: You've got to be careful too. You create traffic to those guys behind him, and you're going to pay the Price. We just have to make better pitches, I think. Yesterday he hit the ball out of the ballpark, but we've seen also --

Q. Not necessarily comparing him to Big Papi, but if the Yankees made maybe one mistake during that era, they always seemed to pitch to him and always got burnt.
ALEX CORA: To whom?

Q. To Big Papi.
ALEX CORA: Oh, to David. Yeah, but one thing for sure, like Gary yesterday, he's a dangerous hitter regardless of the numbers. The numbers don't matter now. It's just the quality at-bats, and you see it. You've got Giancarlo, and from top to bottom, they're tough. You've got to be careful, obviously.

One thing for sure, like I said, there's red and Blue, and when you pitch to blue and there's no damage, you might give up a single, but when you go to strength and we misfire, the ball is going to go out of the ballpark. So regardless of the situation, if we're pitching around him or even with nobody on and we have the lead, we still have to be careful.

Q. Of the three, does Judge concern you the most? Judge, Sanchez, and Giancarlo?
ALEX CORA: They all concern me. I believe that Gary, he's a good hitter. I saw him last year in the playoffs. He's a tough out. Yesterday he put some good swings on it and hit the ball out of the ballpark. They're all good. They're all good. You make a mistake on them -- the thing is it's not going to be a single. They hit the ball out of the ballpark. So they're all good.

Q. (No microphone.)
ALEX CORA: Not in the fifth, two runs. Where we were in the lineup, Jack is swinging the bat well, Mookie's coming up, and you had those two lefties in the bull pen. You got Pearce, and we felt that probably we could use somebody else for Betances probably later on or Robinson, and I didn't feel that burning pinch hitter in the fifth made sense for us. We're a bloop and a blast from tying the game.

Q. (No microphone.)
ALEX CORA: We were thinking about it. We were thinking about the numbers too. There were a few numbers for Betances that didn't make sense. You still have to wait for the right spot for him. Just leading off an inning down four, it doesn't make sense for us, and we've got our spots we feel we can use him.

Q. Your front three guys have obviously worked with Sandy primarily this season a lot. Do you think it's more likely that Christian will get a start with Nathan?
ALEX CORA: We'll talk about it tonight. We'll see. We got to score runs too, and that's something that we've been talking for a while. It's not on Sandy only. Everybody has to get going. We'll talk about it today and make a decision.

Q. And just with Price, for clarity's sake, would he be available tomorrow, or is it more likely for Game 4?
ALEX CORA: No, we'll talk to him. Actually, call him tonight, see how he feels. If it's tomorrow, it's tomorrow. If it's Game 4, it's Game 4.

Q. Alex, you spoke about the importance of staying contained within the strike zone. How difficult is it to do that when Sevy starts pitching backwards leading on that slider?
ALEX CORA: It's very difficult. He's a good pitcher. You saw it against the A's. He was a different pitcher after the first inning, and he started using his slider and change-up a little more. We see him a lot. He knows us. We know him. He has some quality starts, not others, I guess.

He's good, man. His velocity is up a little bit again. His change-up is playing better lately. He's a tough one, and we've just got to be ready. Stay in the zone. Look for a pitch up into the zone, and do damage with it.

Q. Alex, just a thought on last night and David Price. There was such high expectations, and you know Boston for him going in, just where you're at as a team, the disappointment that he had and others have had. Randy Johnson was 2-7 his first nine and then took off. Just kind of the hype up with David to be one of those aces and he fell short, and just kind of where you're at with the team as far as the city and expectations coming into Game 3 and the rest of the series.
ALEX CORA: I don't know about the city. I know about the clubhouse. He's the first one to admit he's disappointed. One thing I love is the fact that he came out to the dugout. Regardless of the result, he was there for his teammates. I didn't get caught up in the whole thing. I know we need him to win a World Series. He needs to pitch better, and he knows it. But at the same time, I was managing the game, and I look up, it's the sixth inning, and it's 3-1. Regardless of how we got the outs, we were in the spot to win the game.

I know he'll be better. I know he's going to contribute. Whenever we call his name, he has to be ready for it and perform.

Q. With E-Rod last night, was that acceptable when he didn't cover first?
ALEX CORA: I just talked to him and told him just be accountable, that's it. I guess he told you guys he slipped or something like that. I'm like, Man, if you don't break right away, just be accountable, that's all we ask. And he's like, Yeah, my fault. I just didn't break. That's it. Hey, I get it. Next time just bust your ass to first base. That's all you've got to do.

The thing is I look at the play, and it's not guaranteed he's going to be out, but we probably have a chance. And where we're at right now at this stage, we can't take plays off. We didn't do that the whole season. It just happened yesterday. But I talked to him, and we're in the same page. Hopefully, the next ground ball to first, he goes to first, and we get him.

Q. When you're putting this lineup together, would you say you're prioritizing defense over offense?
ALEX CORA: The fact yesterday, we talk about defense at first base, but also at the same time with Tanaka the splits weren't that -- actually, righties are better than lefties against him. It was one of those that we felt that we were good with that lineup yesterday. Tomorrow is Severino. We'll take a look at the numbers, and we'll go from there.

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