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October 30, 2019

AJ Hinch

Houston, Texas - pregame 7

Q. In terms of your pitching for tonight, have Gerrit Cole or anyone in particular come up to you today and said, Hey, I want the ball in this game?
AJ HINCH: You know, we'll have these conversations all day. It's an exciting time. Our pitching will be mapped out a little bit, but honestly, we're just going to go with whatever we feel during the game.

Gerrit is going to run through his pregame normal -- he would throw a bullpen today in a normal setting. It's anything but normal today. He'll go through his normal prep. We'll talk and have an assessment on kind of where he's at and where he fits into any sort of strategy we have to win the World Series.

But outside of JV, I think I'm expecting everybody to be likely available. And we'll see if we need the whole group.

Q. Just in terms of mood in the clubhouse, you went through a Game 7 two years ago. You're home now. Most of the guys have experience, some guys don't. What's it like in there today?
AJ HINCH: It's pretty upbeat. Happy to be here in the sense that we're home. We get Game 7 of the World Series in front of our fans. They were playing all sorts of different kind of music in there, there was a bunch of banter, yelling going on. So it's very much the same personality that we've had for seven months, eight months that we've been doing this together.

We quickly get over things like a loss yesterday or all the drama that came with the end of yesterday's game. Our boys will show up ready.

Q. Would you like to see the base running rule altered, changed? It caused a lot of talk around it.
AJ HINCH: I know there is a lot of talk around it. And I understand the dilemma that everybody is in. Like anything, the whole basis of the replay system or when you start changing rules, is to try to get it right. And it's hard. We get so many different looks at it nowadays in video and replay and high definition. The umpires are making a call right at the moment. And when they're not reviewable -- I don't know if he would change his mind if he had it to do over again.

But anything that's gray area is tough to get on board with. We want this black-and-white decision-making process. Whether that's about the computerized strike zone or whether it's about rules or whether it's about the base running, I can see where it's at.

That one I wish common sense prevails. Because I actually side with Turner on this one, that I didn't think that he was getting in the way of anything. It was an errant throw.

The process of trying to get it right I think we can always sharpen.

Q. You know that MLB has worked to try to get younger fans with We Play Loud and Let the Kids Play and Alex himself is part of the campaign.
AJ HINCH: The voice of.

Q. How do you draw that line with him and Soto last night?
AJ HINCH: You know, I think we should always encourage players to show personality and be as open with the fans and drive the sport and be -- so many good stories in these clubhouses, so many good people and players to celebrate, to a point then it crosses a line where it was probably unnecessary to go that far.

I don't want to go too far the other way where we all of a sudden we're not allowing sort of any of the celebrations or any of the bat flips or any of the high exuberant celebrations in dugouts, the handshakes, the hugs, the dancing in the dugouts. All that stuff is fun for the younger generation of fans that we're trying to get interested in the sport.

When it gets to the competition on the field, I fear a little bit of the it goes too far. I think Alex's reaction in the dugout into the tunnel when I talked to him to postgame, probably taking too much of the blame on some of yesterday is exactly who Alex Bregman is. And I'm actually okay with Soto thinking that it was funny. I think that's part of these personalities that you have to individualize within our sport if you want to celebrate the youthfulness that comes with it.

Being respectful to the game, being respectful to your opponent, not crossing that line is something that we always need to preach to our players. But I want our fans to know our players and the personalities that come with it within the realm of sportsmanship.

Q. You've seen Rendon now for six games. He hasn't been clicking on all of them. What's your impression after a close-up look?
AJ HINCH: I wish he wouldn't have clicked for any of them, to be honest. That would have made my life a little bit better.

He's such a good player. When I say that, a lot of it is talking about his production. Like his swing is nearly flawless. His zone control is tremendous. His defense has been lights out. But how much fun does he look like he has playing? His heartbeat is so slow and so fun. I watch him, the banter he has with Davey or the banter he has with his teammates. That to me is when life is slow and the game is slow. And he's really soaking up the moment.

I think because of his obscurity a little bit behind the scenes, he's not on these We Play Loud games or these things. He's under the radar. And yet he's one of the most impressive superstars in our game. And I think on this national stage we've gotten to see it.

But I hope he goes 0-4 today. And then I hope he gets a great contract in the offseason (laughter).

Q. When you won Game 7 at Dodger Stadium, it was Springer and Bregman, everybody jumping right on board right away. And you guys have a good quick-strike offense, so do they. But what are you going to look for in that first inning, and how important is that for you guys to just assert yourselves right away?
AJ HINCH: I'd like a scoreless top of the first. That's what I would like. We have not been very good at keeping them scoreless for this series.

Mostly I just want our guys to be comfortable in the moment. Obviously the team that gets out ahead is going to feel that jolt and that momentum. We got to feel it within a few minutes of the game starting in 2017, and in an elimination game on both sides.

The number thing to control, if you can, is the range of emotions of falling behind to getting ahead. You've got to fight both of those emotions and just get to the finish line, 27 outs are going to take a lot. You can script it out all you want.

But I want our guys just to play a balanced game from the very beginning, whether we fall behind or whether we get ahead. We just kind of come at you every inning. That approach is what I'm looking for. Not so much the first inning or not so much getting too caught up into what happens early in the game.

We should have learned, a lot of that clubhouse should have learned in '17 that the game is going to change on you a lot. I can script out the pitching all I want, and it's going to go absolutely the opposite of what I expect. The same goes for the offense. You can assume Max Scherzer is going to come out breathing fire. And then what happens if we put up three, four, five runs in the first inning? My, how that would change things.

So just play the game.

Q. I assume you don't wish you were on the road tonight.
AJ HINCH: No, I'm happy to be home.

Q. Will you enjoy tonight, will it be fun or is it just going to be stressful as hell?
AJ HINCH: It will be a blast. I think that helps me with experience. But I also -- I just want it so badly for our players. I want the hard work to be rewarded. I want the season to have a happy ending. I want the World Series championship for the city. That's what I'll enjoy.

But the process of getting through the 27 outs is going to be awesome. I've got 25 of the best players kind of at my disposal to try to use the best I can. And I'm going to watch these guys like you are and I'll read the game and make decisions and things like that.

There are so many parts during this series that I would have begged for a seven-game series. And then all of a sudden I wanted to avoid the seven-game series. Now I have the seven-game series. I'm not going to not enjoy it. This is one of the best jobs in baseball. And I'm in the seventh game of the World Series. I'll be fine.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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