home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


October 18, 2019

AJ Hinch

New York, New York - pregame 5

Q. All year you give guys rest on and off to prepare for October. When you're putting the lineup together you have a lot of things to consider; guys are in there every day, you like to group guys, you have pitchers, you have the next day's game. Is it easier or harder to put the lineup together when you're in the playoffs?
AJ HINCH: I don't know if it's easier or harder. It's a little bit different. You see for us, we have the everyday players, and there's a couple of situations like today when I want to play Jake in the outfield, that matches up well with Verlander and with Paxton. And a little bit of read what you see and what you know and how do you want to configure Alvarez or Correa today. When I moved Yuli and switched a few things up.

You probably obsess over it a little bit more in the postseason just because you think that one decision at 2:00 is going to impact the one matchup in the fourth or fifth inning if they go to their bullpen.

But generally rest is not something that's considered this time of year. We've kind of asked our guys to monitor what their physical workload is. Adrenaline usually takes up for any sort of fatigue and stuff like that.

I've yet in my playoff experience as a manager go to a guy in the bullpen and say, Hey, what can you give me today and him say nothing. They all want to pitch.

I love this time of year for a lot of reasons, because we can -- as managers we can really do whatever we want and maneuver your players around, they're all on board because it's all about winning.

Q. Award season is coming up and Yordan is going to get a lot of consideration for Rookie of the Year, if not win it. What has separated him in your mind as a rookie and what are some of the qualities he exemplifies as a player?
AJ HINCH: He's had an incredible year, and I think his ability to come up to a really good team and jump right into the middle of the order for the majority of the season, contribute the way that he did, the power, the run production, being in the middle of this lineup from the get-go as a rookie is exceptional.

His balance that he brings. His reaction to success. His reactions to failure. How he's blended in on a pretty polished veteran-driven team has been nothing short of amazing.

And this was probably the perfect team for him. We have a great culture. We have some countrymen for him to relate to. We have all the information imaginable to put him in a position to be successful.

But I think it's about his preparation and his ability to absorb all of that on the biggest stage in the highest league in the world. If he gets the award, as he should, then he deserves it.

Q. Sometimes we can see very talented teams get a little complacent. Obviously the Astros are an incredibly talented team. How have you been able to keep your foot on the gas over the last three years?
AJ HINCH: You know, we really stay grounded with what our goal is. It's easier said than done sometimes but you really just have to credit the players and our culture and what we're all about, which is just winning today's game.

We haven't gotten too ahead of ourselves. We haven't assumed anything over the last few years. We've won a hundred games three years in a row. We've won our division. We've experienced a lot together as a group. And I think we appreciate the group we have any given year. Every team is different.

Our standards are at the right level. Our mindset's at the right level, and ultimately the production on the field has been at the right level.

Q. When you interviewed here with the Astros, what convinced you about their plan and their direction that made you think it would work?
AJ HINCH: That takes me back a few years but my relationship with Jeff preceded that interview. I'd been a farm director with him so I had history in the game with him. I'd also interviewed a couple years prior to getting the job here in Houston.

So I had a pretty good understanding. I think my job at the time was involved in pro scouting and pro personnel. And if you just looked at the Astros, I saw Altuve play in Double-A in Corpus. I knew Correa from his amateur days. You knew George Springer. There were some famous prospects that were on the rise. So the ingredients were really attractive.

The plan that was in place that both Jim and Jeff shared with me openly on the days that I interviewed was very thorough but also it's a buy-in on how we were going to not only become successful but how we were going to stay successful, and where they saw me as a key ingredient in that.

When a team that has a plan in place and is starting to execute that plan and then they tell you what a big part they thought that you needed to be, it's an easy sell. I wanted to get back in the dugout. I wanted to work with players. I wanted to be a part of an organization that was trending in the right direction and was going to be committed to winning. And it's been a great marriage.

Q. You had an interesting sequence of decisions during the fifth inning yesterday. You've got James throwing the bullpen, you've got Pressly on the mound. If you want to go with the right-handed matchup you could. You stick with Pressly and he gets through that. And obviously you can see his reaction at the end of it. Based on your experience in the postseason, how can one moment bolt a guy back on track?
AJ HINCH: That's the hope with him. He's one of the best relievers in baseball when he's right. And sometimes you forget that if you have a few outings or you have an injury or you have a setback of some sort, and all of a sudden you forget that he's the same dominant reliever that made the All-Star Team, which is next to impossible as a reliever. He's the same wipeout reliever that we traded for. And had an incredibly low hit rate -- no, walk rate, high punch-out rate. The damage is so light against him.

So the trust in him is not hard to have. This guy is elite across the board. When you're making decisions on how to keep encouraging him or how to keep giving him opportunities in the face of the highest-leverage moment of the game, you have to combine what you see with what you know. I understand where his spin is. I understand what his strengths are, and I trust the person and how he's going to respond to the opportunity.

And I love how emotional -- this is not an emotional guy. He's not someone who shows that on a routine basis. And so I'm proud of how he's been able to get through the surgery. Very limited workload to get into the playoffs. Have a couple of bumps in the road in the playoffs and yet step on the big stage and get some big punch-outs.

Truthfully, my plan was for him to get Hicks out first. Hicks was the better matchup for him out of any of those three, and I wanted to give him a chance to come in and spin the breaking ball. Hicks puts up a good at-bat. And even though he walked him, I've got to watch the game to see how that happened, not just that he walked him. Or not just that he just misfired on a back door breaking ball to walk him. He was throwing pretty good stuff up there, which led him to get the opportunities moving forward against Torres, who has tormented our team and ultimately Encarnacion.

But the best part of that inning was the fact that he changed his game plan to Encarnacion and stayed hard, and we powered through. We had a finish fastball that we don't normally see out of the Astros all the time. And that comes with the game calling with Chirinos and Press being able to execute flawlessly at the highest part of the game.

Q. Stanton's presence certainly changes the dynamic in that New York lineup. Will that change the way you then navigate through the Yankee lineup?
AJ HINCH: We'll have to see how he's moving, how he's swinging. I don't think they put him in the cleanup spot if they think he can swing. I don't anticipate he's going to be able to move all that well necessarily on the running on the bases and stuff like that. Thanks to all you guys who put the video out there of his early work yesterday; I got a chance to see it. I think he's a threat from the minute he walks into the batter's box, whether he's got fully healthy legs or not.

So we will go case-by-case. I don't think you can focus too much on Stanton because LeMahieu and Judge and Torres are key guys to get out in front of him. I know he hit the homer the other day with the one leg or whatever hurting.

So I think we'll game plan around it. We understand what options they have. But they put him in the middle of the order because he can change the game with one swing. So we'll have to make sure we make our pitches to him.

Q. Understanding that it's the players who come through, do you take any satisfaction from the chess game of it and the moves that you and your staff make when they do pan out and beat yourself up when they don't?
AJ HINCH: Well, of course. I will always credit the players and always take the blame. It's my job. But I absolutely relish in the chess match that goes on as a manager. You try to put your players in the best position to be successful.

There is another element to managing when you look across the way and he's managing his team and you have to react and respond and see the moves that he has or moves he makes or doesn't make. And he's doing the same with me.

That's the manager's job is to put your guys in a position to be successful. When they do, I take great pride for the players. And if I ever put them in a tough spot and they don't come through, I certainly stay up at night thinking about what I could have done differently to help them.

Our job is to bring the most and best out of the players. This is a game about players. And my impact or my decision making that puts them in that position is something I take very seriously.

Q. Considering it is about trying to win tonight and ending the series, what are your thoughts on who would start Game 6 and would Cole be available?
AJ HINCH: You know, Game 6 is tomorrow. And I've said this for the first four games and leading into Game 5, that we have a single mindset of a single game. That's all we're really worried about.

I have a plan that we'll discuss tomorrow if we have a game tomorrow. And we have everybody available in the bullpen tonight including guys that have started before for us, James or Peacock or Urquidy. Those are all certainly options.

But if I'm going to preach the first four games to talk about today's game, then I should honor my own request for the players, and just worry about trying to win tonight with JV on the mound.

Q. What do you remember about catching CC in Spring Training?
AJ HINCH: Well, CC is such a big man and big personality of a big man. And his stuff was really good. I caught him at a really young age when he was in the mid to upper 90s. Stuff you didn't see very much out of a starting pitcher.

He was very polished as a young player, emotionally and in the clubhouse, and very engaging personality. But the stuff was real. I had faced him as a hitter before I caught him. And it was amazing to have somebody that big, that physical, that athletic back in the day be able to do so much on the mound -- and a lot was done to him as a young player, 19, 20 years old when he first got into the big leagues.

He was fun to catch. Big target. He's a big man out there. And the stuff was so elite across the board that you had a lot of weapons to go to. And it's been fun. I love when these guys stay in the game this long and adapt and evolve and change to stay in the game and still be effective. And I saw his press conference earlier, if he wanted to stay as a left-handed reliever, teams would line up to let him keep pitching.

Q. You know the ethos of the catcher with the position. Chirinos got whacked twice good yesterday. Any conversation with him and just checking with you, how are you doing today?
AJ HINCH: Yeah, it's a thankless job back there when you get beat up. I said to him on the field, he's been taking these body blows all year, he might as well take them for another couple of weeks. That's the key is to come back tomorrow night.

He was concerned, just because nobody likes to get hit, our whole dugout was concerned, but the guy who wanted to make sure he was ready the most is Justin Verlander. He's caught every pitch this season that JV has thrown so he'll be in there and be ready.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

ASAP sports

tech 129
About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297