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October 15, 2021

Dusty Baker

Houston, Texas, USA

Minute Maid Park

Houston Astros

Pregame 1 Press Conference

Q. Is Jake Meyers limited in any way, or can you play him like you normally would?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, I'm going to try to play him like I normally would. He is getting better every day, which makes it easier for us and easier for him. I would usually play McCormick when Framber pitches anyway, so this has worked out perfectly so I can give him another day to get even better.

Q. The team was waiting on a diagnosis for McCullers yesterday. What was the diagnosis that led to the point where he can't pitch in this LCS?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, the diagnosis was he had an injured muscle in his forearm, and he is not able to throw a ball right now. There was nothing structural, knock on wood because he had just come off Tommy John two or three years ago. So it's not anything structural. What's the word? Structural? Is that correct? You guys are the experts on the words.

That's good news. That's great news. I hope he heals soon. We don't know if he is going to be available for the World Series or not, so we just have to see.

Q. Following up on that, how is he emotionally? How is he handling this news?

DUSTY BAKER: I mean, he seems pretty cool. I'm sure it's killing him on the inside, but externally he seems fine. He is a big boy, and he is also a team player where he will pass his knowledge on to the younger players and to some of the guys that haven't been here on how to handle this situation. Because he has been in here many times, and so he is not a coach yet, but he is coaching.

Q. Obviously, I know you just have to deal with it, but how big of a blow is it to lose someone of his caliber at this point in the postseason?

DUSTY BAKER: Yeah, it's a big blow. Sometimes you wonder, I've gotten some big blows in my career at the same point in time. You wonder why, but, hey, somebody else has to pick it up. You're not going to get any sympathy or pity from anybody, so we just got to find a way. But to say it's not a big blow, it certainly is.

Q. Verlander has obviously barely thrown for this team. Greinke is in the bullpen now, and you lose Lance, but you have a ton of other arms that you've used the entire season. It's obviously not ideal, but have you been dealing with things like this for the last season, two seasons that maybe allows to you prepare for this a little more?

DUSTY BAKER: Yeah. We just got to hit more and then score and keep on scoring; run the bases better, play better defense. I mean, we've done all those things great, but in times like this you even have to do it greater, if that is a possibility and you really don't have any choice. And I think it's going to help some of the young guys that are going to be picking up some of the slack that were here last year that had no Major League experience. Our whole bullpen last year were kids, and so I think that will help them a lot.

Q. You added Odoirizzi to the roster. Was that with an eye possibly on Game 4? Do you have any idea who would start that game now?

DUSTY BAKER: That's a possibility. I told Odo last time -- he was disappointed because he wasn't on the roster, but I said, hey, you know, we got the next series. Didn't have any idea that this would happen, but that's how it's been for us all year. We had one guy, he was injured, and then next thing you know we get a guy back and then we lose a guy and then get another guy back and lose a guy, and we just got to keep on trucking.

Q. In that regard, Dusty, I would like your thoughts on the war of attrition that is getting through the season and getting this deep into the playoffs. The Red Sox have had their issues. You've had your issues. How important is it to just be healthy and keep the troops marching?

DUSTY BAKER: That is very important. But, you know, I was thinking about it this morning. We've all been through -- this has been a heck of a year and a hard year for a number of people, a number of people in the game and out of the game. All around the world. Here we are.

I was just thinking the greatest sporting events I've been to -- almost all of them, Super Bowls, I mean, you name them. But here the greatest events I've been in was the Final Fours in basketball, so I was thinking, here we are. We're in the Final Four right now. To be one of the Final Four out of the 30, we got to feel very fortunate, but we got a couple more steps to take.

Q. Dusty, a couple of your biggest bats, Alvarez and Tucker, have never faced Chris Sale. Neither has McCormick, I guess. In that situation, does a pitcher have an advantage, or does a hitter have an advantage, and is that any different in the playoffs than it would be in the regular season?

DUSTY BAKER: No, it's not any different from the regular season. I mean, most of the time the pitchers have the advantage if you have never faced them. You can watch video. You can watch this and that, but you still don't know if you can pick his ball up, and you don't notice a late movement or if he is throwing across himself. You can't pick it up.

But Chris Sale is tough. He has been tough for years, but I got a couple lefties that hit lefties pretty good too, so we'll see.

Q. What can you tell us about the growth of your now top three pitchers that you have seen from last year to this point in time, and what sort of mentalities do they bring to the mound for you?

DUSTY BAKER: I mean, number one, they bring a toughness. They're very relaxed. And I mean, Urquidy, he pitched in the World Series a couple of years ago as a kid. Framber was our number one pitcher during the playoffs last year. Luis Garcia, he was down with the COVID team, and here he is pitching today. He was down with COVID relief.

Sometimes you're forced to grow up sooner than you want to, and they've made some tremendous strides in growing up and being a professional.

Q. Just a follow-up on Brian's question. You guys have been through so much. How would you describe what it is about this group that allows them to simply forge on? Is it professionalism? Is it character? Is it experience? What is it about this group?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, I think the fact that most of the nucleus of this group got beat up pretty bad for a few years. When you lose 100 games, you don't want that feeling anymore. And then when you start winning games, then you yearn for more winning. This team is hungry for winning, and they believe that they can win. And whoever comes to this team or whoever comes up from the Minor League, that's the first thing they say, that this team is very positive and poised about winning.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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