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October 6, 2021

Kevin Kiermaier

St. Petersburg, Florida, USA

Tropicana Field

Tampa Bay Rays

Workout Day Press Conference

Q. Kevin, you were on the field in 2019, and you had home field advantage. What are you expecting, and how big of a help would that be if it's a loud and raucous crowd the next couple of nights?

KEVIN KIERMAIER: It's going to be huge. You feel the crowd. You feel, you know, when you're at home, it feels like you have just that extra boost. You feed off the crowd. It's an amazing feeling. Then when you're on the road, you feel it against you. In the game that I think about the most that is when we played the Wild Card game versus Oakland, and they had 50,000 people there, and we knew we would have to get a lead early. I'm not going to try to get off track or anything, but it's huge. It's huge. It plays a huge advantage any time you're at home.

So for us to have the first two games at home is going to be huge for us, and, you know, this place was electric back in 2019. I think it's going to be just that and then some tomorrow, and we're all going to be very excited about it.

Q. The three days off you got in addition to having home games, you got three days before the ALDS. Have you used it to help your body, and how do you think it will help the group in the series?

KEVIN KIERMAIER: It's definitely nice to be off your feet and just kind of get that mental break before things get crazy here starting tomorrow. You know, at the same time, though, we're creatures of habit, and we like seeing pitching every day. So not seeing it for four days, you know, will be a little adjustment, but at the same time four days off is a great thing, and allows us to recharge our batteries and everything. And, you know, standing in on some bullpens today to see some live pitching even though we're not swinging, just to help your eyesight and recognize pitches. Little things like that will help a lot, and I know a lot of us will be doing that today as well. All our pitchers get their work in.

Any time you can get rest like that, it's so beneficial, and we'll be all ready to go tomorrow and adrenaline will kick in, and we're going to feel amazing out there. Feeding off the crowd, and I'm looking forward to it.

Q. K.K., just curious, did you watch the Wild-Card game last night, and how do you feel about drawing the Red Sox, a division rival you competed well against all year?

KEVIN KIERMAIER: I watched with my wife Marisa, and, you know, they deserve to be here. They're a really good team, and, you know, we beat them. They have beaten us throughout the year. I think it's going to be a great matchup. It's going to be a great series, and whoever can win three games the quickest will be the team that prevails, obviously.

Got nothing but respect for the players over there. They're a heck of a team, and it's going to be fun. I'm looking forward to it, and I think I'm speaking for everyone on our team.

So this is what you play for, and we've had some great matchups throughout this year, so I think it's -- we're going to do that, and then some, throughout this whole series, so may the best team win.

Q. When you reflect back on your past postseason experience, in what way is this roster and this team unique from the standpoint of its depth?

KEVIN KIERMAIER: You know what, we are -- we have some guys with some experience. I still feel like the majority of our roster is -- they're guys on league minimum, but, man, we breed them differently over here, I promise you that. I mean, you got guys like Wander Franco and our starters, depending who we run out, they were all doing rookie dress-up in Houston to New York last week, but these guys -- you know, we got guys who can play, and like you said, we have depth.

I've said it throughout this whole year, we do not have a set line-up. Some guys play more than others, but, you know, man, one through 26, doesn't matter who we put in there. We've had guys that have just produced throughout this whole year. We never relied on one person. There's a new hero any given -- any given day, and I think that is just what makes us so fun and dangerous because you just never know what's going to happen any given day with us, and that's a beauty of our team and our roster. We just live vicariously through each other and compliment each other very well, and, you know, our record will speak for that, and we plan on doing the same here in the playoffs as well.

Q. Kevin, you mentioned the young group but how important has been the presence of Nelson Cruz, for example, on this roster, on the field and inside the clubhouse?

KEVIN KIERMAIER: Were you talking about Wander or Nelson? Sorry, it's tough to hear.

Q. Nelson.

KEVIN KIERMAIER: Nelson, I'll say this, when we were playing in Cleveland, we got him, and we heard the rumor that we were landing him, we were all ecstatic, and we had no idea what he was like. We've heard great things about him, and then right when we got him that day, we knew we were in for a treat with what -- he hit a homer that game, first game with the Rays, and then, you know, then we figured out who he was in the clubhouse and on the bus rides, planes, everything. He is here to help people and drop knowledge on us from all his experience in the Big Leagues and that guy does nothing but help teams win.

With what he can do on the field, like you said, but off the field as well and how he helps a lot of our young guys, especially the Latin players, and how he can connect with them. Guys like Wander, Randy, Patino, all these guys that are so valuable to our team, and that goes such a long way throughout the course of the season. We only had him for the second half, but we are so lucky and blessed to have him, and, man, he has been -- he has been so valuable to us.

Q. Kevin, to see Meadows surpass 100 RBI in his career what have you seen in his development as a run producer?

KEVIN KIERMAIER: I always say in our post-game celebrations, death, taxes, and Austin Meadows with runners in scoring position. You can count on him. He just came up throughout -- from April to the last game this season, he makes you pay when runners are in scoring position, and he just has that knack for the big moment, and I just feel like he focuses a lot more when he feels like he needs to drive guys in.

So if he wants to have that mindset, more times than not I think we'll all be happy, and just going to help us win, but he is such a good player. Has a beautiful swing. You know, he works his butt off, and we love having him out there, but, you know, he was just so valuable for us throughout the whole season, obviously, but it's incredible how many go-ahead RBIs he had throughout the course of the season. Our record wouldn't even be close to what it would be without him.

He is huge to our lineup, and, you know, we're going to need him the most now moving forward, and once again, he is just one of the many guys on our team that give us so many different options to be dangerous in many ways, and what he can do up there in that batter's box is special.

Q. Kevin, this group has always used young players, but this is the first time they're using rookies in games one and two of the playoffs. Can you speak to your confidence for both Shane McClanahan and Shane Baz to start the fist two games?

KEVIN KIERMAIER: I'm very confident in them. These guys have electric arms. They might be classified as rookies, but it seems like they've been around longer, even a guy like Baz who doesn't even have two weeks in the Big Leagues.

Once again, I don't know how we get guys like Shane through trades. I don't know how we land some of these guys. Shout out to you Erik Neander for being a genius. Guys like McClanahan, these guys are throwing 100 miles an hour any given pitch with nasty breaking stuff, and they've had hitters off balance. Shane throughout the course of the season, Baz these last two weeks looks dominant as can be, and, you know, they deserve to be in there.

So we have all the confidence in the world when they go out there and just try to play great defense behind them and tell them to attack like always. You know, make these hitters put the ball in play, and go out there and just let your pitches do what they do. But I always say, too, I have the best seat in the house playing center field and watching what these guys do, and I'm very happy that I'm wearing the same jersey as them. I don't want to try hitting them, and I'm going to go and try to make plays for them as much as I can.

Q. Just going back to the Red Sox, what were some of the specific challenges you see? You had that big comeback win on Labor Day. Who do you think are the most specific challenges for you guys?

KEVIN KIERMAIER: You got to shut down that offense away from top to bottom. They are dangerous in many, many ways, and, you know, they don't have a weak spot. They truly don't. Our pitchers are definitely have their work cut out for them. On the flip side, too, they got a ton of quality arms over there. Some guys who can, you know, just go up and down the batting line-up and get out after out.

You know, you got to play the best to keep moving along the way, and this is a great test for us, and, you know, as for them as well, but they're about as well-rounded as you can be with pitching, defense, and their batting and just what they're capable of. Great bullpen as well. It's going to be no easy task for us, but this is what the playoffs are all about, and you just see what your teammates are about in these big moments. And once again, I have all the confidence in the world in our guys, and, you know, if we play with good confidence and execute at a high level, we'll be just fine, but it's a lot easier said than done, and once again, may the best team win.

MODERATOR: Thanks, Kevin.


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