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October 30, 2021

Dusty Baker

Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Truist Park

Houston Astros

Pregame 4 Press Conference

Q. I think it was about a week ago when Greinke threw that simulated game at Minute Maid. I think he went 50 or 50-plus pitches. Would that be the maximum for him tonight, or can he even go beyond that?

DUSTY BAKER: We don't know. It depends how he's performing, depends how he looks. We'd like him to go that plus, but you can't take him past his threshold of endurance. So we'll see. We got our fingers crossed that he's sharp tonight.

Q. Understanding that there's going to be a lot of moving parts in that spot in the order, I'm just wondering your decision-making, hitting Greinke eighth ahead of Maldonado.

DUSTY BAKER: Well, that's something that we've done for a while in the National League. I actually got it from Tony La Russa, and it makes sense. He handles the bat. Also, we can get one guy on each inning and he goes at least two innings and his spot will come up, so I don't have to burn a pinch hitter.

Also, as the game goes on, and I might have to pinch-hit in that spot, if Maldy was there and I had to pinch-hit for him and the pitcher like I did last night, you burn two guys or more. So if you can just kind of use one guy in that spot, then hopefully he comes through, and then I can leave Maldy in the game without having to run through my bench.

I know you were asking me last night how come I didn't hit McCormick for Castro in that situation, and, you know, he'd have been my last player. If somebody gets hurt, I'm out of players. And if I had to pinch-hit, we tie the game up, I wouldn't have had any more pinch-hitters, and I would have had to use a pitcher or whoever the reliever is.

So that's what you have to really be aware of in the National League, especially if you play an extra-inning game. Now you're really up the creek. So you have to keep something in reserve just in case.

Q. Dusty, obviously your hitters aren't preparing for the Braves' ace or anything like that, but having said that, go back to when you were hitting, is this a tough game to prepare for as a hitter? Would it have been when you were hitting, just knowing there's going to be all sorts of different relievers in there?

DUSTY BAKER: Yeah, because as soon as you get one guy figured out, here comes another one. It would be in our best interests to try to jump on this first guy and then let them worry about who they're bringing in later.

They do pose a problem that very few teams have, is that the amount of left-handers that they have that they can bring in on our big left-handers. So it would behoove, hopefully, our right-hand hitters, have good nights that are hitting behind them or in front of them, and if they have big nights, that plan works in our favor.

Q. In your two years with Correa, what have you learned about him that you didn't know attitude-wise and ballplayer-wise?

DUSTY BAKER: I didn't know how smart he was. He's a very, very intelligent person and ballplayer. He's very dedicated. He's not the oldest, but he's -- you know, has tremendous leadership qualities. He's ahead of the game in most areas of the game that day, the previous day, and the ensuing days.

I mean, this guy, his attitude is always the same. You can't tell when he's up or when he's down, he's going good or he's going poorly. He's a guy that these guys gravitate towards and look up to.

Q. Back in your playing days or even your early manager days, I would think you would have found it hard to believe someone would make their first Major League start in a World Series game.


Q. The things that have happened in the game, the analytics, the changes that say moves like that are correct, as a fan, do you think taking away from starting pitching detracts from the marketing and attractiveness of the game?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, I think so. I grew up watching Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale and Juan Marichal and all the greats. You looked forward to pitching matchups.

It was always Juan Marichal and Sandy Koufax. It was Gaylord Perry and Drysdale.

I remember as a kid, my dad used to say "Spahn and Sain and pray for rain," and you'd look forward to pitching matchups. There's nothing better than an old-fashioned pitching matchup.

I think it's just gravitating back towards that way because fan appeal, because I think it speeds up the game. The more you want to speed the game up, then we don't have all the pitching changes. Also, the fact that a lot of the relievers are coming up hurt, and you got to replace them with somebody.

Personally, if a guy's dealing, let him keep dealing. I'm not really -- some guys can't pitch the third time around, but some other guys that they can. There's quite a few of them that can, but we don't give them a chance to. Like last night, I had to take him out, that was the time to take him out. I'm kind of a fan of both, but it starts with starting pitching.

Q. Just your take after years of being the manager of the National League and now in the American League, on the universal DH for next year. I know in these games here, you would have had an extra batter you wouldn't have to worry about manipulating the lineup, where are you going to have Greinke hitting or whoever. Are you in favor of universal DH after seeing it last year and being in the American League?

DUSTY BAKER: No, I'm in favor of leaving it the way it is. Let the DH stand in the American League, and in the National League play the National League style of ball because they're both interesting in its own fact.

But I remember when the DH first came in the league, the DH was basically for a lot of older players, Rico Carty, Orlando Cepeda, guys that could hit. But either your knees were bad, or whatever it is, and you couldn't play a position.

Because most guys that end up in their careers, they can still hit. I think they can hit till they die. The only thing is it's hard to play defense, and it's hard for them to run. These are the two things that leave first. The reason why I'm not for the DH in both leagues is because DH is kind of hurting some of the kids that are coming up that don't want to play a position that just want to DH at 12 or 13 or 14, and you go to a Little League game or you go to a Little League practice, and after they hit, they're ready to go home.

There's more to the game than just hitting if you're going to be a ballplayer.

Q. In your managerial career, what do you tend to learn about starters when they face the same opponent in back-to-back outings, whether it's in the postseason or regular season?

DUSTY BAKER: The starters or stutterers?

Q. Starters, sorry.

DUSTY BAKER: Because I was a stutterer. I thought you were making fun of me (laughter).

Q. No offense, man.

DUSTY BAKER: That's okay. I took speech impediment class for two years, and my friend would wait for me after class, and he'd like, "What-what-what did you learn?" And I'd go right back to stuttering again.

What did I learn about?

Q. I guess Framber, just the way he's done this a few times now facing the same opponent --

DUSTY BAKER: Right. I mean, you're going to have to face the same opponent throughout your careers. The thing that I don't think we should lose sight of is Framber has only been in the Big Leagues a year and a half. He just mentioned about your first start in a World Series or whatever, how many guys a year and a half in the Big Leagues are pitching in the World Series?

I'd like to think that -- I mean, he's young experience-wise. So with youth, you're going to get some inconsistency of performance. With youth, you're going to get, if you're going good, boom, the world's on fire. If you're going poorly, then it's kind of a downer, and you're still learning how to deal with the downs of this game. It's easy to accept the good times, but it's a learning experience to accept the downers.

Q. Being back in Atlanta, I know it's the World Series and things are going a hundred miles a minute, but have you taken some time to really sit back and think how you are inspiring the next generation as an African American manager yourself and just knowing what this city means with Hank Aaron in the backdrop and his impact as well?

DUSTY BAKER: Part of that, I don't think about my impact on young people. Now, they tell me how impactful I am, and I do have a sense of responsibility to young people, but it's hard to see yourself as somebody that -- you know, like when I was a kid, there was Jackie Robinson, like Floyd Patterson, Archie Moore when I was a kid, Wilt Chamberlain and Elgin Baylor. These guys were my heroes.

Then now to think that maybe it's hard to accept sometimes that you might be in that class, you know what I mean? I don't really think about, but I do feel a tremendous sense of responsibility, especially when I go around town here, I feel the love of people that's known me since I was 18, 19 years old in this town. Or when I take the car through the tunnel or something, the same people are here, and I watched you. They call me No. 12. You can tell that they've been following you for a while.

It's just I feel very grateful and thankful to be in that position and to have the life that I've had to affect people.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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