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October 17, 2019

AJ Hinch

New York, New York - pregame 4

Q. What do you think of the allegations you guys were doing whistles to gain some kind of advantage?
AJ HINCH: Man, I'm glad you asked that question, and I thought it would come up today. And we talked about this the other day. And in reality it's a joke. But Major League Baseball does a lot to ensure the fairness of the game. There's people everywhere. If you go through the dugouts and the clubhouses and the hallways, there's like so many people around that are doing this.

And then when I get contacted about some questions about whistling, it made me laugh because it's ridiculous. And had I known that it would take something like that to set off the Yankees or any other team, we would have practiced it in Spring Training. And we would have got -- it apparently works, even when it doesn't happen.

So to me, I understand the gamesmanship. I understand kind of creating a narrative for yourself or wondering how things are going.

Now, the game in question, you know, we got three hits and no runs. And so nobody heard it. You guys have audio, video, people in places and nothing -- and there's no evidence of anything.

So to the Yankees, there's no -- nothing bad going on. Pitch tipping is a little bit of a different story. If you don't want us to know the pitch is coming, don't do something that demonstrates what pitch you're going to pitch or what you're going to throw. But they're doing the same thing.

Every hitter wants to know what's coming by virtue of what a pitcher is doing or not doing.

The problem I have is when other people take shots at us outside this competition. When you guys ask me this question, my face, my name is by my quotes, my opinions, my reaction is all for you guys to Tweet out and put on the broadcast. But we have people that are unnamed, or you guys have sources that are giving you information. I suggest they put their name by it if they're so passionate about it to comment about my team or my players.

There's nothing going on other than the competition on the field. The fact that I had to field the question before a really, really cool game at Yankee Stadium is unfortunate. But we can put it to rest. That will be the last question I answer about pitch tipping or pitch stealing.

Q. There are 15 pitchers who threw 200 innings this season, 5 are still in the playoffs. Only one is with his original team, Strasburg. Do you think the success you've had, success the Nationals have had, is going to lead to teams trying to develop starting pitching that can go 200 innings as opposed to trying to acquire it as a free agent on the trade market?
AJ HINCH: Any time you can do it within your own organization it's good. But that doesn't mean that it's the only way to do it.

In a perfect world the pitchers you draft and develop are in your system from the very beginning, are your horses. It's not always the way it works out.

So I think teams are trying to do that anyway. It's just the fact that the Nats have been able to hold on Strasburg, that's a credit to them and their system. But there's so much activity that goes on in players' careers, in the movement in the industry nowadays, that doesn't always work out that way.

I think teams have been trying to do that for a long time. And some teams are better than others. But when you get to building your team and you've got to go outside your organization to get the guys that help you win the World Series, then that's what you're willing to do.

Q. Whenever the Yankees talk about the series, they always talk about having to beat either Justin or Gerrit in the series. What does it mean to a team to have that kind of wall, to have them at the front of the rotation?
AJ HINCH: We've had a strong rotation the entire season. We've got more guys than JV and Cole. But it's led to this hundred-plus win team and where we're at, and the series lead in the ALCS. But having those two horses is a huge competitive advantage for us going into any series or any game or anything of that nature.

There's other ways to win the series for us. We don't have to just rely on those two. Tonight is a good example where Zack can go out and throw very well. He's got a back of the baseball card that's pretty impressive as well and can make it really difficult on them if we can continue to separate ourselves in this series.

There's a ton of confidence when all of our guys are starting the game, but clearly when we have Greinke and Verlander and Cole, it's one of the best trios in baseball.

Q. Two disparate questions for you. Back to Greinke; what's it been like having him around and what relationship have you been able to develop with him?
AJ HINCH: It's been great to have Greinke, when he got to Houston right after the deadline we immediately embraced him and kind of introduced him to what we do and how we game plan.

It's funny, the first game that he had was against the Rockies, so he was right back into the NL West. And I was really worried about him having to pitch against a team that had so much familiarity with him. I was hoping when we got him part of the advantages that a lot of teams in the American League hadn't seen a ton of him in recent years. And so I apologized to him that, man, your first start is going to have to be against the Rockies. No, he said, it's okay, I'll get to see if you know what you guys are talking about. He was quizzing us as much as we were quizzing him. So that relationship developed over game planning against the Rockies.

As I've said before, it's kind of a match made in analytical heaven. He's a brilliant guy with a real good feel for pitching. And we know what we're doing with Strommy and Josh Miller and our analytical department. Hopefully this is something that we get a lot of innings out of him and a lot of wins out of him.

Q. I did a column about this a couple of weeks ago. You guys went a whole with season without an intentional walk. Do you think that's a tactic that's going away in baseball, because it's diminishing all over the place?
AJ HINCH: Yeah, I think it's diminishing a little bit, but I think it's all circumstantial. There's always a time when it's important to do that. It's not a bad play. I've tried to stay away from the bad ones where it doesn't make a lot of sense or it doesn't give you a better chance to win and it's just a move to make a move because we've been taught in this game over the years that when there's an open base and you have a chance for a double play that you should intentionally walk that guy and in reality it's not always a good play.

I'm also in the American League, so we don't have as many National League games as everybody else. I'd be curious to know if the DH is ever put all around baseball, if we see it diminished even more, because you don't have the built-in eight hole hitter to the pitcher scenario that comes up in the National League.

It's a play that I'm going to use again. And I think there's always a place for it. I might even do it tonight. Hopefully I don't have to but you guys will have something to write for the next time I do it because I'm sure I'll get asked about it if I ever do it again.

Q. What's the level of concern for the safety of some of your outfielders playing here and have you or the organization addressed this or mentioned this to Major League Baseball perhaps?
AJ HINCH: I went out on the field the other day I wanted the umpires to know that it was becoming a dangerous situation. Our guys have reported both in the bullpen and in the outfield, you could see the stuff thrown on the field. There's no place for that. Both teams will agree. And it's really hard to stop fans from doing that. But it's also very dangerous. MLB is aware. We're aware.

I will pull the team off the field if we get in that situation again where bottles are being thrown and balls are being thrown and it becomes unruly. There's other ways to support your home team, and this place does as good a job as anybody to trying to police that while also trying to create an environment that's all pro Yankees. It would be a very ugly scene for baseball, a very ugly seen for the Yankees, if one of our guys was hit by something from the upper deck. Something tragic could happen and nobody wants that.

Q. You've been very vocal about your trust in Yordan Alvarez and you've said he's going to play a big part. How difficult is it for a manager to balance that faith in that player and that confidence between every at-bat with a player that's struggling maybe a little bit in the ALCS and having that faith moving forward?
AJ HINCH: No, I don't think it's that hard when you know the talent that's there, the work that's being put in and the near misses. I know we can look at the results of the at-bats and often give our opinion based on how that at-bat went, based on what happened, whether he chases a last hit and punches out or maybe guesses wrong and ends up taking a strike that he normally would swing at or puts a ball in play where a guy's throwing 99 miles an hour and happens to get in on him little bit.

So for me I've always asked my players to maintain that balance. I maintain that balance. I've got a history of sticking with our guys that I trust and believe in. I have moved him down in the order and put Yuli behind Bregman because they're dancing around Bregman a little bit. Maybe that gives Yuli a chance for some of these line drives start to fall.

But I trust him. He's one swing away from changing the scoreboard. That's very impactful, especially in October. The more he gets challenged the more that I believe he's going to be a pivotal player in helping us to win another game.

Q. Greinke is pitching right here at Yankee Stadium. When he took the field did you think there was no way that a trade would be made because he started that game?
AJ HINCH: Well, we didn't take the field. We were in Cleveland and we were playing a night game. It was a day game here. There was a lot of rain and so once I saw Zack get on the mound and start the game, I was in my office in Cleveland and I immediately was a little frustrated. I was pissed that means the trade -- there's no way they're pitching him and then going to trade him. My history in the game it doesn't happen very often. It's happened a couple of times. For the most part those talks are quieted once that player plays in that game because there's a chance of injury. There's a chance for something to happen.

So I knew we were talking to him and talking about him. I immediately just kind of watched the game, and the rain delay came and there was just a lot going on. Jeff was in contact with me. And then right as the deadline was approaching is when Jeff contacted me and said that we got Greinke. I went through a range of emotions, pretty excited that he was in consideration for us to pretty depressed that he was starting at Yankee Stadium, and I'm watching it in front of my eyes. It shouldn't be real, he should be an Astro, to quite surprised that we were able to pull it off at the very end with the way the day went.

So it was a unique day to say the least.

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