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October 11, 2018

Craig Counsell

Milwaukee, Wisconsin - Workout Day

Q. Craig, your Milwaukee roots obviously are very important to you. You've always talked about that from the time I've known you, forever. How does it feel to be representing your hometown of your favorite team as a kid in this situation?
CRAIG COUNSELL: It's a thrill. Look, I think my idea after I retired was to be a part of this organization in any way I could, to help baseball in Milwaukee and in Wisconsin. I didn't set out with a plan to become the manager or do anything else. I wanted to help. We've gotten to this day or this point, and so it's pretty cool, for sure.

But I do feel like baseball in Wisconsin and Milwaukee is part of my responsibility, and the best reason to celebrate this for me is how you see it makes everybody feel and how we've been able to take our fans on a journey here this month, and hopefully find some new fans that are enjoying baseball.

Q. Craig, the Dodgers seem to value versatility positions and different batters that face left-handed pitcher or right-handed pitcher. What is the challenge in facing that when you have so many more hitters to prepare for and also once you switch pitchers and potentially new lineup comes in?
CRAIG COUNSELL: Yeah, it's not -- really, after playing a month of September baseball, there's only five players on the bench, it feels like nothing, to be honest with you. So I think when you get to the postseason, the teams have good benches. There's good hitters on the bench. That's part of a post-season game.

And matchups are a part of today's game. The managers are trying to get matchups. And so you gotta manage the game. Now, both sides are not going to get matchups in every single case and not going to get every matchup they want. And ultimately this boils down to the players competing against each other, which is how it should be decided is the players competing against each other. So they've got left-handed hitters and right-handed hitters and we offer the same thing, I think. So it's challenging for both sides to navigate through that.

Q. Craig, kind of spinning off the first answer, you talked about the responsibility that you have to Brewers baseball. I remember a video, preseason video, at the beginning of last year where you talked about that. It felt like we know we're in a rebuild, but we're all in this together, it's our responsibility, it's my responsibility. Are you surprised, then, that you're in this seat in the National League championship series so soon after making a video like that?
CRAIG COUNSELL: Look, I think we've -- and David has said this the same way. You don't put a time line on it. You do your job, you try to make a good decision. We've tried to stack good decisions on top of each other. David's done a phenomenal job at adding a whole bunch of really good players to this thing. We've gone out and competed and tried to win a lot of baseball games and done a pretty good job of it. So we've got ourselves in this position.

So, you know, I mean I don't know. There was no time table. You just take it as it goes, and we got ourselves into a really good spot. The team -- I really believe that we matured greatly as a team kind of after the trade deadline and you start to see things that were -- that made you think of October and the possibilities of October. And then we've gotten on a pretty good run and find ourselves in this spot. And we feel like that we can compete against anybody.

Q. Craig, how did you decide on Gio for Game 1?
CRAIG COUNSELL: Yeah. So with Gio we just -- we like the matchup. We like the matchup against their lineup. And you know, we talked about -- look, it's no secret that we're going to use our pitching a little differently than traditionally, than the traditionalists would like. And so for us the first matchup that we liked was Gio on the mound. We're asking Gio to go out there and get a bunch of outs. How many, you know, we'll just see how it goes.

We know we've got a lot of guys, the depth of our staff is what is the most meaningful thing for me when we kind of figure out how we do this. And we like the depth of our staff, and we think Gio is the perfect option to start us out.

Q. Craig, I'm wondering how you balanced getting guys rest the last couple of days but also maintaining focus, and you guys have won, I believe it's 11 in a row, which normally would be getting a lot more attention. I'm wondering how beneficial having these breaks in terms of maybe taking the pressure off with that?
CRAIG COUNSELL: Yeah. I mean, you know, I think the rest has been good. It's always good for pitchers at this time of the year to have a little extra time to recover. I think, you know, you're going into a series where the traditional rules of kind of usage go out the door a little bit, and you're going to push guys. So coming into this -- you know, both teams are coming into this series in a place where they're as well rested as they can be.

We've had workouts the last couple of days. We've had guys face live pitching to try to keep guys going. The winning streak is not -- it's not really, I don't think, something completely on everybody's mind because it's been so broken up. I mean, you're worried about winning series at this point. That's the carrot for everything. So the win streaks are not as critical. Maybe in the regular season, this would be valued probably a little bit more. At this point of the year, it's win a series and however you do that.

Q. Craig, after Gonzalez going, Miley next, and then Jhoulys, did you just want to get another lefty in there right away, and Jhoulys, it pushes him back with even more time between starts? Could you just talk about that alignment?
CRAIG COUNSELL: Yeah, I mean look, I will tell you Jhoulys is available in Game 1. I mean, he's available in Game 1. And I wouldn't -- that's how we'll treat him in Game 1. So yeah, I mean, we like the two lefties going first. And then at this point I think the Game 3 starter is penciled in. It's likely to be Jhoulys, but he's also -- he's available to pitch tomorrow, for sure.

Q. Craig, you were on obviously that Diamondbacks team that won the World Series with a much different way of doing it, two historically great pitchers, ride them as long as you can. Has baseball, do you think, maybe permanently gotten away from that, or is it just a matter of using your best guys, whoever they are, like in your case it was relievers. Back then it was Johnson and Schilling?
CRAIG COUNSELL: That's what it is. You're using your team's talents the best way you can to win games. And so for that team, that was the best way to do it. For this team, we have to think about things differently because of the talents of some of the players on our team. And so that's all we're trying to do.

I'm not trying to -- we're not trying to eliminate the need for great starting pitching. I mean, Randy Johnson would be probably first in my draft list. If you could pick a player for me to take in the series, I'd say him in a heartbeat, you know. It would be nice to have him. Our team's different, you know, and so we're going to try to -- and we're trying to figure out what's the best way for us to put together a tough 27 outs and make it tough on them and get those outs as fast as we can. And so we're considering a different way to put that puzzle together.

Q. Yelich has hit everybody, but he hit a couple second half home runs off Clayton Kershaw. Do you think it's -- even for him can be an immediate confidence boost when you get to a guy like him? Would it have been a confidence boost for you if you had gotten to Kershaw?
CRAIG COUNSELL: Yeah, I mean, I think when you're facing guys like that, I don't think you think you ever have them figured out. I think you're always trying to -- you know they're going to make adjustments. You know they're going to make pitches. And so, look, it's two great players going up against each other. It's the cat-and-mouse game. Is the success I had in the past, is he going to do the same thing, is he going to do something different? You know, every player is very well aware of the history against the pitcher on the mound or the hitter in the box. They're aware of it. They've scouted it. They've looked at it.

But the great thing about our game is like it's what's next? What are you going to do based off that last matchup? What are you going to do off my success against you or your success against me? And I think that's the cool part about watching Kershaw versus Yelich is to see what happens next.

Q. You've used the shift more than just about anyone else in the National League. How much of a role does the positional flexibility you have with your many infielders here play and how do you approach that in the postseason?
CRAIG COUNSELL: Yeah, I mean, I think we've kind of made the decision to be very aggressive, and Carlos Subero does a very nice job with positioning our guys and with help from a bunch of guys upstairs. If anything, I think I feel like the way we've decided to position guys allows us to be a little more creative about where we play guys, too. Because I think, you know, just if you put three guys on the same side of the field, you know, you don't -- you still feel like you're getting to more balls without necessarily having to have a ton of range.

And so that's part of -- and if you feel like if you're confident in where you're putting guys that they are going to make plays for you. So we believe in this, what we're doing. We trust it. Sometimes it's hard to trust, I think for everybody. When you look, it's sometimes hard, and it does cause you some anxiety. But it's a system that's worked for us, and we're going to live by it, because we feel like it's worked for us.

Q. What has Gio showed you in the last month since he's gotten here that makes you believe that he is the right person to start Game 1 of the NLCS?
CRAIG COUNSELL: Yes. When Gio got here, he ended up having about 10 or 11 days off, actually the same as kind of going into this start. I think getting him a little break was a very positive thing for him. We haven't -- I'll tell you, we haven't made massive tweaks, changes to Gio. It's been very small tweaks. And I think he just got into a spot where it's simply a fresh start and simply a place where, you know, any player that's traded, you know, there's a little more juice there.

You gotta prove yourself, even though you're an established Major Leaguer. There's just a little added juice. And I think in Gio's case, the trick is do you use that in the right way? And Gio has used it in the right way, and he's put together five really good -- a really good month of September for us, pitched some really solid baseball games for us and pitched to the point where we believe in him in Game 1.

Q. Craig, given the discussion of the Dodgers platoon situation, how much of an advantage do you think it could be that you could roll out Miley and Gonzalez as a left-hander one time through the lineup and then switch right to a right-hander and force them to commit?
CRAIG COUNSELL: Well, I think -- look, I think that's what happens generally as the course of the game goes on. Their right-handed hitters are perfectly capable of hitting against right-handed pitching. I think, like you said, managers are going to try to capture matchups, and that's why these guys are playing, and a lot of these guys are playing. But we've still gotta get outs and we gotta make pitches and our guys gotta make pitches.

You know, we'll have right-handers, and obviously Josh is a big weapon for us that makes the other guys think. He's tough on everybody, but I think he's really tough on left-handed hitters as he's shown. So we have some choices there, and that's part of the reason we feel like we've had some success.

Q. Craig, are you in a spot yet where you can tell us how you'll align your infield tomorrow and if not, just more generally with other lefties, do you anticipate guys like Perez or Schoop being pretty involved in some starting lineups in the series?
CRAIG COUNSELL: Yeah, we'll have some different lineups this series. I don't think we'll see one lineup. You'll see a bunch of different lineups. Look, it's our right-handed hitters with three pretty solid left-handed starters. Obviously the series for our right-handed hitters is, if you're playing the platoon matchups, it's a good chance for them to do some damage.

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