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October 7, 2018

AJ Hinch

Cleveland, Ohio - Workout Day

THE MODERATOR: We'll get started with AJ.

Q. I don't know how much you've gotten to talk to him since you got here. How is Jose this morning?
AJ HINCH: I haven't had a chance to talk to him. No news is usually good news where I'm sitting. So I think we're all happy that it's a day off. It's probably a good time for us. But I'm not expecting any problems.

Q. What's been your assessment of Correa, the bats through two games? Even when he's not contributing like you want him to, what are the other ways that he's impacting that you want him still in there trying to work through his offense while he's helping you in other ways?
AJ HINCH: The play made late in the game, he's back on his heels, throws a bullet across the field to get the leadoff batter out. That's as important as any at-bat. I know we put so much pressure on this guy and there's so much attention on what he's doing and not doing. He's a winning player and can help us win.

I think his swing has been good. His results haven't been there. But there's no chance that I'm going to lose faith in that, in an at-bat where he comes up that he can't do something positive.

He can do something every single day. The defense has been excellent. His presence matters on our team. I hope the ball's hit to him every single time.

He can do things that doesn't -- doesn't end up in a box score, whether it's throw from his heels in a bullet, if we ever need a relay throw. The shortstop matters in our defensive alignment.

So, yeah, we'd like to see him swing the bat a little bit better. We'd like to see him get hot right now. He could be a complementary player in terms of the way some of the other guys are doing. His time will come.

But I'm pretty pumped he's in the lineup.

Q. AJ, at one point in the year, Keuchel said 3-8 with an E.R.A. he probably wasn't liking. What do you say that he turned around? Stromy said he incorporated some four-seamers a little bit more, threw the changeup a little bit more. What have you seen from him in total to turn his season around?
AJ HINCH: He got back to being himself. He knows who he is what he does best, attacking the game plan, improvising as the game goes along.

He gets the ball on the ground. He gets soft contact. He just -- he got ultra focused on just getting back to his strengths and being himself.

Yeah, there's a little bit more four-seam in there, a little bit more changeup. He got away from too many predictable cutters and sliders. But he'll do whatever he needs to do to get his outs, and I think as much as he wanted to fix it, whatever -- it was 3-8, whatever it was, it took him a long time to correct that.

But he did all the work. He did all the study. He takes meticulous care of his body. He prepared himself on a start-by-start basis, rather than try to carry a bunch of baggage from the first part of the season into the rest of the season.

So I'm glad we're giving him the ball tomorrow night. I think he matches up pretty well, has always pitched well in this ballpark. He's Dallas Keuchel, and that comes with a lot of weapons.

Q. AJ, you won 57 games on the road, playing on the road. Not much of an issue. Why is this team so comfortable playing on the road, do you think?
AJ HINCH: Because we're good. Not to be cocky about it, but we're a good team. We play well at home too. We had a couple road trips where we were pretty hot. We had an undefeated road trip. So we bunched the wins together quite a bit.

I think when we played certain teams in certain times, I think it's just part of how baseball is. We don't care where we play. Pick a building anywhere in the country, I'll bring this team and feel good about it.

Wearing the gray pants is good. We like hitting first. I don't have an answer as to why. But I'll take this team anywhere.

Q. AJ, over in their locker room, they're saying you guys have played perfect baseball. They have not. They believe the only way they can get back in this thing, they've got to be perfect too. When you hear that, how does it hit you?
AJ HINCH: It doesn't really hit me. We play well, I don't know about perfect. I'm a manager. I don't see things perfect. Our guys have played well. What comes first, whether it's us or them, how we put pressure on them. We played with the lead one of the two games. We've been explosive, we've pitched extremely well. Everybody we've called upon in the bullpen have done their jobs. I don't know if that's perfect. I just know it's good.

We've played well enough to win the games. What they have to do to combat that is, again, out of our control. It's nothing I'm going to really think about. I'm going to roll a lineup out there. We've got another good starting pitcher that's different from the two that they've faced in the first two games, and we're going to try to win a game.

Q. AJ, you talked yesterday about Lance's ability to adjust to the bullpen?
AJ HINCH: Lance? Yeah.

Q. What are the biggest challenges of that just generally, and why do you think he can do it?
AJ HINCH: Generally, the biggest change for a pitcher is just changes in his routine. It's not easy, guys don't get to have a normal warmup, don't get a long toss, don't get the whole day to be about them and their preparation, to work with the trainers, the strength coaches.

Everything from their preparation standpoint changes. Not everybody can adjust their program and be good. And especially at a moment's notice.

You can try to map out how the game's going to play out and I can tell Lance, hey, you might get the sixth, you might get the seventh, you might get the eighth. It happens fast.

I think someone's ability to get up and get into their routine faster adjusts better. He's been able to do that for whatever reason. We've seen it a couple seasons in a row. Maybe it's taught him a little bit of what he needs to get himself ready.

Both he and McHugh have told me, moving to the bullpen in different times, they've learned a little bit of how to get ready for a game. And Lance, you know, has a routine he believes in, has a system to get himself ready, and he's answered the call. It seems like his stuff is there regardless of whether I give him five minutes' notice or five days' notice. He's ready to pitch.

Q. AJ, you alluded to Clevinger being different from their first two starters. What challenges does he present you guys?
AJ HINCH: I was talking about Dallas.

Q. Sorry?
AJ HINCH: You're right about that too. He's a little bit different. You know, both Kluber and Carrasco, you know, really rely heavily on some secondary pitches, and Clevinger does, too, with the big breaking ball, but he's also got that high four-seam fastball he uses a little more up in the zone than the first two guys that we faced.

I know every game has a sense of urgency. I know tomorrow will have even more sense of urgency for him. So how he mixes his pitches, we faced him, what, twice this year. Had a little bit of success against him. More so, I guess, in the second game than the first game.

But he just has a different style, and he handles left-handed hitters a little differently than right-handed hitters, and he pitches with a ton of energy and a ton of emotion, as opposed to maybe a little more stoic first couple starters for them.

I expect him to be at his best. I think he's a tough match-up. That's the reason he's sort of under the radar, because they've got a couple of big boys at the front end. But he's equally as challenging.

Q. Given that you've really only relied on Osuna and Pressly for a large amount in the first two games, are you set up about as well bullpen-wise as you could have been going into the off day?
AJ HINCH: Yeah. We'll have everybody available tomorrow. I'll need to check with both Press and Osuna by tomorrow. It's October, it's the playoffs. It's all hands on deck from virtually every game.

I'd like to get some other guys some action, but that means we need to have some different circumstance, or Dallas can throw the whole game. I don't think I can go in, set up with any preconceived notions.

We're trying to get 27 outs. How we use and who we use, the match-ups we use, the game will dictate more so than me pre-planning it. We've not used some pretty good relievers. We've got some options in some areas that now we have some new looks, or maybe we go back to press and Osuna and close out a win. That's fine too.

Happy Sunday.

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