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October 14, 2019

AJ Hinch

New York, New York - Workout Day

Q. This is about Gerrit Cole. The start he had against the Rangers was sort of the end of kind of a mixed bag first 10, 11 starts. Do you think that kind of motivated him to get better and how did it?
AJ HINCH: Well, I don't think he needs a lot of motivation to get better. I think he shows up pretty motivated every day.

I think with Gerrit he's always in pursuit of perfection when it comes to his prep, to his execution, to his overall game planning and stuff like that. So for me, I think he was searching for answers at that point on what part of that was a little bit off or why were they having a little bit more success.

But motivation is never a problem for him.

Q. We know what Correa did with the home run. All the at-bats last night, hitting the ball to all fields with the exit velocity. Is that sort of what you need to see that he's getting in one of those hot streaks that you always talk about?
AJ HINCH: It helps us win. I think just him being himself and finding a way to contribute is really important for our team. We don't really ask anybody to do anything more. I mean, he's really good. He needs to be himself, and when he can and he gets a chance to do some damage, then great. When he draws a walk, great. When he puts up a tough at-bat and they happen to get the better of him, so be it, we get to the next at-bat.

I think it's a good sign. He's a tremendous player. He kind of makes his presence known in all facets of the game when he's right. And I think that's a key part of our team that we need in order for us to be complete.

Q. What have you thought about Kyle Tucker's first two games here and how do you think right field may shake out during the three games here?
AJ HINCH: You know, Kyle has had a mixed bag of some success. I like the swing off Tanaka, I thought he had some pretty good at-bats. I thought he had some good at-bats at the end of the ALDS. Obviously we all saw last night it was a tough at-bat.

Again, he's still growing and maturing and learning. This is a really big stage for him; he can handle it.

How right field maps out, honestly, if I'm going to ask our players to worry about one game, I'm going to worry about one game. Reddick is going to play right, as I said at the beginning of the series, in Game 3. How it goes after that will be announced at the appropriate time.

Q. You had a big win here for the organization in 2015 in the Wild Card game. In '17 lost three games in the ALCS. How would you describe playing here? Obviously you're in every stadium, but it is a unique environment here, especially in October. And any good memories from '17 or was that a rough three-game series for you guys?
AJ HINCH: No, it's incredible to play here. I mean, it's a blast. This is the big stage. This is a big stadium. It's rowdy from the first pitch on. It will bring some adrenaline out of you. This doesn't take a lot of time to get ready for these games because you show up to the ballpark, there's a buzz immediately. This is a real atmosphere. The Yankee uniform is historic, we know that.

But we deserve to be on the field with them. We'll take it to that point, and then we just play the game.

A lot of good memories in this ballpark. Obviously '15 and the Wild Card game was the kick-start of our return to relevance. And this team starting to learn how to win and how to win big games and play our first playoff environments as a group.

So '17, some really hard-fought games. We lost out pretty late in a couple of those games. I remember winning the series, that was the most important thing.

Q. Thinking back to the Spring Training meeting with Gerrit when he first arrived, how much preparation have you and the staff went into the meeting, what was the meeting like and selling to him the ideas on the four seams and the breaking balls? And what was the meeting like and how did it unfold?
AJ HINCH: Well, if we wanted all of you to be in the meeting, we'd invite you.

So I think what's important in that is, first of all, the preparation behind the scenes for what goes into the meetings and the communication with our players is unmatched in my time in the game. We have a lot of people, and if I sat here and named them all, Jeff would probably be mad at me, we don't want to know our brains behind the scenes.

But we sit down and just thoroughly go through it. It's a two-way street. Gerrit had a lot of participation in that as well. The one thing that's important about Gerrit Cole, when you have to sell him, start to use the term "sell him," it's just convince him that it can help him. And if that's the case, he'll apply it. And the same goes for JV. The same goes for Wade Miley. The same goes for Will Harris or Roberto Osuna. Or you name your pitchers we've been able to maximize their production.

Selling them is about providing them as much information as you can in an environment that's a two-way street and applying it on to the field, which is what the player is in charge of.

So that's about as much detail as I'm going to give you about our meetings because it's something that we consider very important to the development of our players.

Q. What were your perceptions of Cole when he was at Pittsburgh before he came to you?
AJ HINCH: I thought he was an ace in the making. I saw him back at UCLA when I was in the scouting department. He was an ace in the making from the very beginning. Just pure stuff and physical presence, and there was an intensity to him from the day that I saw him at UCLA through the Pittsburgh days, and we faced him a couple of different times.

And then when I got close to him here I started to realize what makes him tick and how special he is as a person, and how serious he takes his craft, and how in tune he is with everything that's going on around him.

He and I have endless conversations just about the game, about players, about sequences, about things he observes in the game, things I observe in the game. The baseball mind is what I didn't know when he was an amateur, I didn't know when he was at Pittsburgh, but I've learned to really appreciate and why he's been able to take a step-by-step process.

People want to talk about that he's arrived or that he came out and developed into an ace. But there's a lot that goes into that prior. The ingredients are still one of the most important parts, which he had. He had flashes of it a lot in Pittsburgh, a couple of unbelievable years. And then we've been able to take a more mature version of him and work with him and get him to be one of the best pitchers in baseball. It's been incredible to see.

Q. What's your plans for Wednesday in your pitching? And I have a backup question once you answer that.
AJ HINCH: Well, the initial answer is, let's call it a bullpen day. That's the cool thing to say nowadays. It's a bullpen day.

Q. Do you have an opener yet?
AJ HINCH: We'll see. I want to see how tomorrow's game goes first. Last night I didn't expect to use all that pitching until we got into extra innings.

In a perfect world there's going to be a number about of guys, maybe Urquidy starts, maybe he comes in the middle of the game. And we go with somebody with a little bit more experience. But we haven't made that decision. We don't even know if we're going to play that day. There's been a lot of talk about the weather. We'll see what that brings.

Q. And how does having a bullpen day work out when it's coming past three elite pitchers going in order the way you guys have it lined up?
AJ HINCH: Well, bullpen days are effective. I mean, that's been kind of proven as baseball has evolved throughout this season, last season, a couple of teams made a really -- made really impressive transitions as you can do that and you can optimize your pitching that way.

It's also scary and dangerous as a manager. You feel -- there's a lot of pressure. You're asking a lot of guys to be really good that day. And when the game changes or the game gets long or something unforeseen happens, a move gets made on the other side, it gets a little bit more difficult to manage perfectly in that game.

I've said this before, playoff games are kind of all hands on deck, minus maybe yesterday's starting pitcher nowadays. When you have that, you have that mentality, our guys know tomorrow everybody is going to be expected to be available to win tomorrow's game.

Game 4, if that happens to turn into a bullpen day or if that happens into an Urquidy start, we can make that determination after we have more information about what happens tomorrow.

Q. I'm not sure you addressed this last night, but do you have any update on the gentleman that was struck in the dugout by Brantley's foul ball? And how emotional was that scene for your entire club?
AJ HINCH: You know, our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family. That was scary in our own dugout.

I don't have any further information that I can share other than I know that our players were all affected by it. Michael Brantley and I ended up on the field together due to the emotional reaction of just a really scary situation.

From my perspective where I was, I was on the other side of the dugout, I could hear it. I could see it. I saw the reaction of the players, like everybody else did. I immediately turned to Brantley to see how he was doing, and he was walking a really long way trying to collect himself. And that's when I went out of the dugout to go talk to him and just support him.

That wasn't a baseball time there, there wasn't strategy. It wasn't anything about the game. It was about a human being, caring about human beings, and the moment we all needed to take a break from the game until the gentleman was attended to.

Q. It's reported Espada was interviewing for the Cubs job. You've been through this the last few years. How do you go about letting your bench coach sort of pursue his further endeavors while keeping focused?
AJ HINCH: If they're going to announce it, I can admit it. I guess that's the first part. It's fine that it's out when the teams are involved and everybody is aware.

I'm honored and proud of how many of our guys on our staff the last couple of years have gotten opportunities to interview or even gotten bigger and better jobs at other places. We went through this -- we've gone through this every year. We had it two years ago with Alex Cora and going through his interview processes all around the League. Last season Joe interviewed a number about of places. This season there's a number of openings as everybody knows.

We're very respectful of what the task at hand and what we're trying to do. We also want to make sure that any of our people are given the opportunities for these special circumstances and these jobs that are rare and they're hard to get at the appropriate time, both in their interview process and that accommodates our schedule, and when we feel like we could fit it in for him.

So he's a really good baseball man. He's smart. He's got leadership qualities. Any team that wants to consider him is heading down the right path with him. He's incredible for us. If we lose him, it's because it's another leadership opportunity; if not, then he'll be right by my side.

Q. You mentioned the weather on Wednesday. How does that affect how you might use your bullpen tomorrow night or is it more about what you might do on the other side?
AJ HINCH: It won't change a thing. I'll use the pen to win, that's the bottom line. These aren't Game 7s by number on the tickets that the fans will have. But they're Game 7s in our mentality. You want to win every game.

I'm not saving a thing and I'm not assuming rain. If you start doing that in this stadium, the Yankee gods will come and get you and part ways, and it won't rain, and I'd regret it. But I'd also regret not using somebody if we have a chance to win. Everybody is going to be ready.

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