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October 3, 2019

Aaron Boone

New York, New York - Workout Day

THE MODERATOR: We'll start off with questions for Aaron.

AARON BOONE: Let me start with a couple of announcements. First, CC will not be on our roster for the Division Series. Our starters tomorrow will be James Paxton, Masahiro will go in Game 2 with Sevy in Game 3.

Q. Why did you decide James Paxton was your best option to go in Game 1, and how difficult was the decision between those three pitchers?
AARON BOONE: Difficult decision. Frankly, I went back and forth on it daily, sometimes a few times over the course of a day, and really what it came down to, the reason that was, is because I feel like all those guys are in a good place. I throw J.A. Happ in that mix, too, who I feel like is throwing the ball as well as he has at any point in the season.

So felt like it was a good decision, and then just trying to hopefully maximize those guys as best we can. So frankly, I would have been comfortable going a lot of different ways with those guys, but I feel like James is the guy to get us off on the right foot.

Q. Aaron, with CC, is that a matter of his knee just not being quite right, or is it a strategic --
AARON BOONE: No. It's actually more shoulder not bouncing back. Just wasn't bouncing back as well as we would have hoped in Texas. He ended up getting a cortisone shot, was able to go out and throw in a sim game Tuesday and, frankly, threw the ball pretty well, but just not quite where it needs to be, to be in the kind of role we're going to ask him to be in where he's potentially getting up on the spot and then maybe having to get up later in the game. Just probably not real comfortable with that.

He'll continue to work and try and get himself as ready as he can to be an option moving forward, but felt like this was the best thing for him and for us.

Q. Your main reliever has wound up getting a fair amount of rest the last few weeks. How much of that was by design? How much of that was kind of organic because of where the games were and where the teams were, and how beneficial do you think that could be?
AARON BOONE: I think we played it pretty straight, frankly. Always mindful of their usage, striking that balance between trying to keep him sharp but keeping him fresh and rested. Frankly, that didn't really change much at all down the stretch. Obviously, the last game where we were down a bunch, we wanted to make sure those guys threw because most of them hadn't the first two games.

But keeping them as sharp as possible was something we were certainly trying to do.

Q. In terms of the rest of the roster, you said last night you were hoping to finalize those decisions. Have those decisions been finalized?
AARON BOONE: Yeah, pretty much, but we'll keep it -- I know you guys would love to have it, but we don't have to give that out until tomorrow morning. So we'll take advantage of that on some level.

Q. Can you give an indication whether you went with 12 or 13 pitchers?
AARON BOONE: It will be like Christmas morning tomorrow. You'll wake up, and you've got something waiting for you under the tree.

Q. How about a lineup? Is that in our stocking?
AARON BOONE: That will be a bonus gift for you around the corner.

Q. What's your plan for Happ at this point?
AARON BOONE: So J.A. will be an option for us right away. Again, feel like there's potential role for him in these first couple of games, but then after that over there, he'll fall into the mix as a possible starter for us. Could use him as a bulk guy. We'll try and have him prepared for a lot of different roles, but he'll certainly, in some way, shape, or form, be in play the first two games.

Q. And how does not having CC impact the rest of the pitching staff? That was a multi-inning guy you thought you were going to have.
AARON BOONE: Yeah, although frankly, that was potentially one of the roles we saw for CC, but it was more a couple lanes, even potentially a couple of short lanes, where a lefty hitter, switch hitter, those kind of things. I kind of envisioned him in some shorter roles. Obviously, we won't have him for this series, but I wasn't looking at him so much as a bulk guy because I thought there were a couple of matchups that we liked that we thought he would be good in.

Q. In formulating roster and lineup, how heavily do you weigh September slumps?
AARON BOONE: I mean, I would say everything matters and everything factors into trying to put what we think is the best people and the best positions to succeed. I don't really know how to answer that. It all matters, and we're trying to make evaluations and judgments about what gives us the best chance to win Game 1 against the Twins and beyond that.

So I'd say, to some degree, it all factors in, but it's not, this happened so he plays. We're trying to -- we're trying to predict a little bit and make evaluations.

Q. You mentioned you saw CC as more of a matchup guy, and I know his splits against lefties have still been very good this year. Do you see him -- rather, do you see anyone else filling that kind of role of like a lefty on lefty sort of matchup person?
AARON BOONE: Sure, I mean, other guys are going to have to step up into that role. So we'll have, hopefully, some options there. We also have -- a lot of our right-handed pitchers you would even classify as reverse-split right-handed pitchers, so more adept at getting left-handed hitters out.

So we'll have people to fill those roles and expect them to fill them well.

Q. I know every game, every pitcher in every situation is different, but you've been pretty adamant about saying you're going to be aggressive in going to your bullpen. Can you be a little more specific about what kind of leash you're going to give to your starters?
AARON BOONE: Not really. We'll have a good idea going into the game of certain matchups we like, certain lanes we like for particular pitchers. But then you're still watching and evaluating what's going on. Starting out with Pax, reality is, if he's throwing the ball well, he's probably our best option for a good chunk of the game.

Especially coming into that first game where you have four days off, where you have a very well-rested bullpen and hopefully guys that you can extend even more, if we like a better matchup, we won't hesitate to go to it.

Q. Minnesota is one of those teams that gave you some trouble in the second half because of the way they match up offensively -- a lot of lefties, switch hitters. Cleveland is kind of the same way. How does that impact what you're trying to do? Trying to get lanes into your lane, as you say, when they can disrupt that?
AARON BOONE: That's where having the option of having both handed guys down there matters, taking advantage of our guys that get the other hand out well or even better. It makes it a little bit more of a challenge, but we feel like with most of our guys, and especially our high-leverage guys, they're pretty adept at whatever hand you throw at them. If we're throwing the ball well, they're equipped to handle that.

Q. Masahiro in his career, and especially this year, I think was better at home than on the road. Is that why you slated him for Game 2, or are there other reasons why?
AARON BOONE: No. Actually, it had nothing to do with my decision. Considered Masa for 1, considered Sevy. They were all, in my mind, considerations, and that didn't really play in. I've heard about Masa and the splits and everything. Most of our guys have been better at home. I think a lot of Masa's numbers this year, if you dig a little deeper, two games kind of skewed that quite a bit. You look at some of the underlying things, he's not much of a different pitcher either place.

The bottom line is, if he's throwing the ball the way he's capable of and on top of his game, we feel like he's a good matchup anywhere.

Q. How is Judge's shoulder, and do you expect that to be a factor?
AARON BOONE: He's good. I don't expect it to be a factor.

Q. So just the time off was enough for him?
AARON BOONE: Yeah, and even the last weekend got him back out in right field, felt like he was doing fine and responded well. So, yeah, look at him as totally good to go.

Q. Do we expect Encarnacion or another?
AARON BOONE: We do. Yesterday went well with Edwin, so want to see how he is coming in today, but my expectation is, yes, he will be on the roster.

Q. Aaron, you didn't have Stanton and Judge in the lineup together very often this year. How different of a look do you think it gives your lineup when the two of them are both in there?
AARON BOONE: I'm excited about, in my mind, what we're going to run out there tomorrow night. The length that it has. You guys know, in talking to me, how important I place and just making it difficult on the opposing pitcher. You do that sometimes in numbers. Even when a pitcher makes it through the lineup a time or two, as long as we're routinely making it difficult, I feel like eventually that serves us well, and with Giancarlo and the guys we think we're getting back here for Game 1, I feel like our lineup has that ability to be long and to be able to wear you down just with the at-bat quality. So that's something I'm looking forward to seeing.

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