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October 9, 2021

Dusty Baker

Chicago, Illinois, USA

Guaranteed Rate Field

Houston Astros

Workout Day Press Conference

Q. Said yesterday that Tucker is one of the most underrated players in the game, said that before, but do you feel like this playoffs could be his kind of coming out party a little bit and that everyone kind of will get to know more about him?

DUSTY BAKER: We're on TV quite a bit, and so the people that really follow baseball know what he is doing and what he is capable of doing.

For those -- for some of the people that aren't as familiar with baseball, it will be a coming out party, but for the people that know he can play and his improvements that he has made the last couple of years, you know, shouldn't be any surprise.

Q. Dusty, what have you seen from Luis Robert? You had a difficult time getting him out the first two games. What makes him so special as a player?

DUSTY BAKER: Number one, I mean, he can hit. I heard he can hit, but this is the first time I've really seen it ever and in person. You know, he has a great balance at the plate. He can hit that fastball, and he uses the whole field.

He is a very accomplished player. I don't know how old he is, but he far exceeds his age as far as knowing how to hit. When they came in here the first time, you know, they were, you know, a little down because he wasn't in the lineup, but he certainly, you know, is one of the best young hitters I've seen.

Q. Garcia just said that he is going to go out there tomorrow and just throw his game, and he doesn't really expect any sort of limitations. Is that the plan? Are the reins completely off?

DUSTY BAKER: That's the plan. That's always the plan with him. (Indiscernible) but we also know we're going to have to go on the historical past too as well. So we'll keep an eye when we get to that point, but right now we just need Luis to throw strikes and quality strikes.

Q. What about how far he has come this season has given you the confidence to throw him tomorrow?

DUSTY BAKER: The stuff that he has. The repertoire of pitches that he has. And, you know, I've seen very young pitchers come in these situations and have actually more success than young hitters, you know, because I think it's easier to -- as long as you're calm and as long as you're not appalled by the situation or get caught up in the situation, I think it's easier to throw the ball where you want to than it is to hit a ball.

And so I've been in my past I have been fortunate enough to have Fernando Valenzuela come in at a very young age, Bobby Welch at a very young age in the World Series, Orel Hershiser, Alejandro Pena, a lot of younger players that have come in and performed well at a very young age, and, you know, young experience age.

Q. Martin just talked a few minutes ago. From your seat watching him and how he works with the pitchers, specifically a guy like Luis who is going to play tomorrow, how fun is that from your seat to watch Maldonado?

DUSTY BAKER: That's his job, and he does it very, very well. You know, a catcher directs the pitcher. The pitcher gets the credit or discredit, but the catcher, you know, directs him through the ballgame. He is underneath the hitter. He is following the game reports. He sees the hitter's differences in stance. He sees hitters close to the plate or away from the plate to determine what he is looking for.

He is like -- he is not afraid to take charge. That's his job, and as a catcher, you know, he is my field general. You know, I mean, he is my number one man on the field, and you got to have that trust on your field in general because you're not out there on the field. You're peeking at it from the outside.

And so, plus, you know, it slows the running game down. If you give him a chance, you know, to have a good time to play, then you have a good chance of throwing you out, and sometimes they won't even try, which keeps the double play situation in order. But it's very, very important that you try to keep as many double play situations as you can by them not running on you as much.

Q. Dusty, you said yesterday it's standard routine to come in like it's a 0-0 approach, which Carlos said you were saying that you are a wise man for saying something like that. It's a perfect statement. How do you view how your team is approaching that mental state right now going through this?

DUSTY BAKER: It's not like this is their first time being here, which helps a lot. It's a compliment. Hopefully at a certain age you become a little bit wise. I think I should be there by now, but it is -- every game is different. I've come back from 0-2 in my career as a manager or as a player. I've come back and we've also had a 2-0 lead or a 3-1 lead at different points. You try not to let them get off the mat and get closer to you, so you have to stay after it.

Q. Dusty, how would you assess the state of your bullpen right now? And then as a kind of follow-up, where are you at with Kendall Graveman? He has gotten out of innings the last two times, and he maybe hasn't been as smooth in the process. Where are you with him right now?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, I mean, I'm at the same place. I mean, it's a matter of one hit that has gotten them in trouble in one situation. They've also, you know, hit some low exit speed pitches off of him, which are still hits, but, you know, if you make those kind of pitches more than not, you know, it would be an out.

And so, yeah, I'm very confident in Kendall. We'll have to see how he is after his 30-pitch inning yesterday. We'll see.

And the state of my bullpen is in some pretty good shape, and so at this point in time everybody's bullpen is kind of, you know, a little weathered. You know, a lot of it depends on it really helps if your starting pitcher can take you as deep as you can into the game.

Q. You mentioned being up 2-0 in the best of five before and not being able to close it out. What can you draw from that to maybe help you and just the mentality maybe compared --

DUSTY BAKER: I don't know. I don't think back upon that too much. You know, mainly that's past water. If you get in that situation again, which you try not to, and sometimes not a whole bunch you can do about it.

Sometimes it depends if they get a key hit or if they get a great pitch against you. That's no reflection on you or your team sometimes. Sometimes you get beat. And so, like I said, I've had -- I've been on both sides. You know? I've been down. I've been up. I've been up and down. So right now I'm thinking up.

Q. Dusty, there's some rhetoric going around today that the White Sox didn't lose the game yesterday. The manager lost the game. Where do you stand on responsibility for players to get the job done as opposed to managers having to stand up and kind of protect them against the moment?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, I don't pay much attention to rhetoric anymore. You know, number two, I've gotten blamed myself sometimes, and even though, you know, some of it you might earn, and some of it was out of your control. You know?

But you have to stand together as a unit and not pass any judgment or pass any blame because there's enough to go around, you know. Sometimes you lose if you got the hit or made the play, or whatever it is, and, you know, that was kind of the same thing that was going around with Reteria last year.

There's not -- like I said, I don't listen to it really, and I don't read it. I tell my wife not to send it to me or my relatives or anybody. So people can have whatever opinions they want. Just don't bring it to me.

Q. Dusty, talking to some of the guys during BP, it's clear the mission is to win the World Series, but they also touched on how nice it is this year to be able to have the families along to enjoy this experience, especially a day like today. A new workout with an evening free.


Q. Do you see them appreciating that be to able to kind of share this experience?

DUSTY BAKER: Yeah, big time. I mean, because, you know, my daughter remembered the series, and she's 42 now, and my son is 22, and he is coming in next Wednesday and, you know, he has been attending every playoff World Series game that there is.

I mean, he misses not being here. He misses not being part of this. I mean, sometimes -- most of the time it's -- it accentuates the situation having your family around because the kids -- I mean, they're going to love you no matter what. You know, they're going to tell you, That's okay, Dad. My daughter used to tell me sometimes, Yeah, that's okay, Dad. You struck out three times. You'll get them.

You know, there's -- I mean, the positiveness of children and kids is -- you know, you can't quantify that because as you get into adulthood, you carry some negative events with you, and these kids don't really have any negative events or not nearly as many as you.

I remember going to a Little League game, and the dad was late to the game. I'm sitting there by the fence, and the dad says to his son playing in right field. He goes, Dad, how is it going? He says, Son, how is it going? He says, It's going good, Dad. It will be all right as soon as we get up to bat, and it's 17-0. You know, only children feel like that, and they can -- they give us energy.

Q. Dusty, I know you played the outfield here one of the times in the regular season. Do you feel comfortable playing out there if you need to in this series --

DUSTY BAKER: It's the same situation. It just depends, who is pitching for us, who is pitching for them. This is a big outfield. Yordan has played very well out there, and he has worked at it.

He has exerted maximum effort to get good at what he does playing out there, and, you know, he is helping to solidify his future as an outfielder, and as a bat and a DH, he has played well.

And that's indicative of that play. Like I told him, the play he made yesterday off the wall and got (indiscernible) and the guy didn't score, that was -- that was a heck of a play.

THE MODERATOR: Thanks. See you tomorrow.

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