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October 17, 2019

Aaron Boone

New York, New York - pregame 4

Q. Hicks has only taken three at-bats in the postseason. Can you talk about a little bit what went into the decision of having him hit today.
AARON BOONE: Well, he started the other day and had an at-bat in Game 2. So I think he's had maybe five or six now.

I just like what I've seen. I feel like it's very Aaron Hicks type of bats, as far as controlling the strike zone and his normal discipline. And just like him up in that spot as a guy that can potentially get on base a bunch and create traffic there at the top of the order. And with having, again, three lefties in there tonight, just trying to keep the proper spacing as far as spacing our lefties and righties.

Q. Stanton was testing out his leg earlier today. What did he tell you? With him not being in the lineup, what does that mean going forward?
AARON BOONE: Today I feel like he was better. And probably for the first time, like, saw some improvement today. Whether he's running at 60 percent or whatever, don't feel like he's ready to be an option in the field for us. I think there's a possibility of that kind of DH role now. So it's a little bit of a decision for me.

He certainly wants to be in there but I thought today overall was encouraging as far as taking a little bit of a step forward, and do feel like he's more of an option now. And again, he's an option off the bench for us certainly as a hitter.

Q. You've been very aggressive with your bullpen so far this postseason. Does the way you manage it change at all knowing that you could potentially be playing four straight games?
AARON BOONE: As I think I've said, we've got to get certainly some innings out of our starters, and feel like we have that capability with Masa and certainly Paxton tomorrow. So hopefully they'll be able to give us some quality innings and set a good tone for us.

That said, we're going to do all we can to win and our bullpen is still going to play a big role in that and feel like all those guys are ready and loaded to go.

Q. You have a number about of guys in your lineup that didn't get to play a lot in September because of injuries. Are you seeing, do you think, in the postseason the challenge for some of those guys of trying to hit against some of the best pitching in baseball when you were not playing?
AARON BOONE: You know what, I feel like -- so you're asking about rust a little bit?

Q. Yeah, timing.
AARON BOONE: I don't feel like that's so much an issue. We've played six games now in the postseason. We've had four really good offensive games and two where with Verlander and Cole starts where we struggled to score runs, although had a fair amount of opportunities. So you know this time of year it's going to be more difficult, especially when you're up against an opponent that can pitch like the Astros.

But I feel like our guys are in a pretty good place and don't feel like rust is playing a huge role in us being held down a little bit the last two games.

Q. A couple of the Astros players mentioned to us, everything they do takes on a different feel when Altuve is producing. Do you notice that in the opposing dugout? And what makes him so tough to deal with in the postseason?
AARON BOONE: I mean, he's kind of an MVP candidate-caliber players, and they have a few of those guys. So their top of the order is a load and you know that you have to make quality pitches if you're going to have a chance to hold them down.

And Jose is one of those guys that can certainly change the game with his bat-to-ball skills but also his power. That's a factor if you make a mistake, as we saw in Game 3. So he's somebody that you've obviously got to pitch carefully to and pitch smartly to and certainly be aware of.

Q. Paxton was in here and he said that looking at video, whatever you guys did, he felt that wasn't tipping pitches in his first outing. What's the process of that and what do you guys look for to see if he was or he wasn't?
AARON BOONE: It's just part of something we do all season long. We're confident that we're buttoned up in a lot of ways and I'm not really -- I really don't think it's much of an issue.

Q. When you say that Giancarlo is an option on the bench. Are there situations that you already have in mind where that would come into play? Obviously to use him in the field, it's a two-person change at that point.
AARON BOONE: Yeah, there's a couple of scenarios where I could envision him playing a role, absolutely, yeah.

Q. This is the first time that you're trailing in a series in the postseason. How do you expect your ball club to respond?
AARON BOONE: Well, we've got a tough group, a focused group, and a group that I feel like all season long whatever we've been going through in the course of the year has been really good at rolling with whatever happened previously and coming in as a new day with that right kind of edge and focus and hunger. That's what I've loved about this team all year, and we get a chance to hopefully answer that again tonight.

Q. I know you've been getting asked the last couple of days a lot about tipping and signals and whatnot, and your response has been it's part of the game, you guys stay on top of it. Are there boundaries to how that kind of information is shared when teams pick up on that kind of thing?
AARON BOONE: Sure, there's boundaries. Yeah. We could have a conversation for days on that. So, yeah, there's boundaries. There's things you're not allowed to do and things that are perfectly within the context of the game. So, yeah.

Q. When you say Stanton may be available going forward in the DH and not the outfield, is it because there's some quick stops and different types of turns in the outfield because you have to run both? Why could he hit and not play outfield?
AARON BOONE: I think outfield is still potentially in play moving forward, not yet. I would not feel great about throwing him out there yet in the outfield, and especially here in a big left field. When we get to Houston, temperature control, obviously a smaller left field, that may change a little bit.

But I think you're talking about a defensive position where you've got to be able to move and make plays whereas offensively you're banking more on the bat and the quality of the at-bat and the ability to kind of hopefully run in a controlled manner and you know what that's going to look like. Whereas in the outfield, you've got to go catch a ball or make a play and you're going to be limited and I think that's a little bit different.

Q. With all the anticipation going into the series, through three games, has it played out as you expected or has anything surprised you from what you've seen so far from either team?
AARON BOONE: I was hoping we'd be up at this point. But, yeah, I think it's been -- we had a really good first game where we took control. Obviously a little bit of a back-and-forth kind of pitcher's battle, extra innings in Game 2 and then they got an early lead and were able to hold on to it in Game 3.

I think we all anticipate this being a tough series that could kind of go either way. So far they've got the upper hand that hopefully we can even things up tonight.

Yeah, I guess so.

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