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October 15, 2019

Aaron Boone

New York, New York - pregame 3

Q. No Giancarlo in the starting lineup. What is his status? How did you decide on Hicks?
AARON BOONE: Kind of was leaning that way last night and then this morning kind of settled on it. So I kind of called G in right when he got here, and just said we're going to stay away today. He's going to get outside and move around a little bit more today. Feel like he would be a hitter off the bench option today. And then we'll kind of see where we are again moving forward kind of day-by-day here.

Do feel like he's better, and we'll see how some of his work is today.

Q. I know it's day-to-day with him but are you optimistic that he could play the outfield again this postseason?
AARON BOONE: Yeah, I'm optimistic. But, again, we'll have to see. It's at least a little bit of an unknown and something that we're kind of working through day-by-day and trying to make good medical evaluations, strength, see how he's doing out there, try and have real frank conversations with G, as well. And then hopefully make the best decision.

Q. So what do you expect from Hicks?
AARON BOONE: Couple homers, walk -- no. Feel like physically he's in a good spot and he's doing well and moving well, feels good. Obviously a really good player for us.

The big question mark is, he hasn't played in a couple of months so that's the challenge. Feel good about the fact that he got in there in Game 2, felt like he had a really good at-bat, very Aaron Hicks-like at-bat, where he's taking pitches with ease. Hit the ball hard.

Feel like Aaron likes this stage. The more important it is, usually he's better off for that.

So my expectation, he's hitting at the bottom of the order for us tonight, expect him to go out and play a good center field and hopefully give -- the good thing about Aaron is usually whether he's going well or not, usually he's a tough at-bat and like that at the bottom of our order.

Q. Obviously you guys have leaned on the bullpen heavily during the playoffs. What's your level of concern that the longer the series wears on the Houston hitters might become more familiar with what they're seeing from your relievers?
AARON BOONE: Well, we know Houston has a really good offense so they're a challenge. But we also have a lot of confidence in our guys and know that if they're out there in positions to be successful, if they execute, have a ton of confidence in them, no matter how deep this series goes.

Know it's a tough matchup but a ton of confidence in our guys.

Q. Last night did you watch the game with your dad? What's that like exchanging information with him?
AARON BOONE: I did watch it with him, quite a bit of it. It was reserved. Man, I can't have too good of a conversation with him right now.

No, so we -- it was one of my son's birthdays, so we had dinner and cake and sat around and watched the game a little bit. We didn't talk a lot about it but just Strasburg was obviously on top of things last night. It was kind of quiet.

Q. In that Washington series obviously they're getting a lot from their starters and Houston tends to do that, too. You of course take a different approach. What makes your approach work for you compared to the way some other teams have been handling it in terms of getting more from your bullpen, less from your starters?
AARON BOONE: Well, I think it's one of the strengths of our club is the depth of our bullpen. And we probably rely on the 12, 13 pitchers that we have more so than most teams that tend to be a little more top heavy. We're going to lean on most all our guys.

That said, we also have starters, Seve included, going today that are capable of going and matching other teams' elite pitchers.

I would just say, feel like our depth of staff is one of our strengths.

Q. Over your two years here when you've had a struggling talented player during the regular season, you've seen the big picture and stuck with it almost always to the positive. I wonder how you weigh that if someone is struggling this time of year when the season is so short? I'm thinking maybe Encarnacion is suddenly not hitting and Ottavino has had some problems, guys I'm sure you would stick with if it was May or June.
AARON BOONE: First with Edwin, I don't really see that. I look at -- he got pitched tough for two games. But as far as Edwin goes, his ability to change a game and throw up a tough at-bat, my confidence hasn't wavered at all.

This time of year you're going to face obviously great pitchers that so much is poured into every single pitch that you're going to have a hiccup here and there along the way. That's part of it. But my confidence hasn't wavered at all.

As for Otta, if we're going to go deep in this, he's going to play a big role in that. There's some spots in this lineup where he's going to have to get big outs, and have the confidence that he has all the weapons to do that. And even looking back at Game 2, he made a first-pitch-of-the-inning mistake that didn't get hit for a hit, it left the ballpark. You look at his body of work right after that, it was a tough part of the lineup that he got strikeouts, weak contact, and did his job.

So feel like he's still going to play a huge role in us getting deep into this.

Q. The forecast being what it is for tomorrow, do you spend time preparing for a rainout or is that something that you just wait until it happens in terms of pitching and other things that might be affected?
AARON BOONE: Not dinner plans?

A little bit. Obviously if that were to happen, that changes some things moving forward as far as our rotation potentially moving guys up. But I don't think it changes much about today. We're going to see where our relievers are, what we feel like we have available with them going into a game like today. And we're going to go and pour everything in we can to winning a ball game, knowing that obviously tomorrow doesn't look good.

But if it did look good, I don't think it necessarily changes the approach.

Q. With all the manipulation you've had to do with the team this year because of all the injuries plus what you just spoke about with how you've dealt with the pitching staff, what's your reaction when your name comes up as Manager of the Year in the American League?
AARON BOONE: I mean, we're like entrenched in the Houston Astros and the ALCS right now. That's flattering and all but that's more a product of what our team's done and what our organization's done. But I'm kind of consumed with this and hopefully going out and getting one today.

Q. Your team is back home for the next three games. Obviously your team has flourished here on the regular season. How much does it benefit them to be back on their home turf for the next three?
AARON BOONE: We love playing here. Our guys are comfortable here, obviously, are confident here. I'd say we're confident wherever we play, though. We always like coming home here knowing that we feel like we have the home-field advantage certainly playing here. We know our fans are going to be special and hopefully allow us to have even a little bit more of an advantage with the energy that they bring.

So I think our guys are excited to get home and play in such a big-time matchup in the Bronx in Yankee Stadium, baby. It doesn't beat that.

Q. Obviously two elite pitchers going today. Are runs going to be at even more of a premium given the start time and the weird shadows that can pop up?
AARON BOONE: Yeah, it makes it potentially more of a challenge, no question. So you combine obviously a couple great pitchers and that time of day.

But still, you know, all of a sudden you get a couple of guys out there and somebody takes advantage of a mistake and just when you think you've got a game pictured in your mind, it can get altered a little bit, especially when you're talking about two really good offenses, as well.

But it certainly presents a challenge.

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