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October 21, 2022

Dusty Baker

New York, New York, USA

Yankee Stadium

Houston Astros

Workout Day Press Conference

THE MODERATOR: We'll get started with Dusty Baker.

Q. Can you tell us who your Game 3 starter is and why you came to that decision?

DUSTY BAKER: Game 3 starter is Javier, and the reason we came to that decision, a couple of reasons, number one, Lance had a mishap, and so we had to give him an extra day. He's our Game 4 starter. And he threw today in the bullpen. Plus Javier threw well up there. But it was a combination -- in New York, it was a combination of Lance. He'll explain to you kind of what happened. And so I'm just glad that we have him for Game 4.

Q. A lot has been made about Altuve, but Trey Mancini and Aledmys Díaz are a combined 1-21. Is there a point and is this it where you consider going to David Hensley as DH?

DUSTY BAKER: Yeah, there's a point. We ain't there yet. The DH the next couple days against guys that he has seen is going to be Mancini, and then we'll see. If Mancini doesn't show much improvement, then maybe we'll go -- I mean, there's a pecking order here. I love David Hensley. I'm one of the guys that helped put him on the team.

But as a manager, I don't fall out of love or fall in love that quickly. It sounds like you fell in love pretty quick. You know what I mean? So me, I'm more patient. I go on track record, and then if that don't work, then we'll try something else. And we are winning, so...

Q. With Javier, how stretched out is he? He hasn't pitched in a while, hasn't started in a while, so how deep do you think he can go?

DUSTY BAKER: I don't know. I mean, he's pretty stretched out. A lot of guys haven't pitched because they haven't had the need to call on 'em to pitch yet. So he threw today. He's been throwing as much as he could to not be taxed in case we needed to call upon him. So how stretched out he is, I don't know. A lot of that depends on performance.

Q. Is it kind of strange when you're in a playoff series and Games 3 and 4 is when they have their two best starters going? Does that make it more important to get the first two?

DUSTY BAKER: I don't know. I mean, you can't duck anybody. You're going to have to face everybody. So where we are right now, if we do get the first two, then that means we come home victorious.

Q. I mean, was it more important to get the last two games?

DUSTY BAKER: No. No. Not because -- I'm sorry, I misunderstood your question.

No, it was important for us to get these games at home because we have one of the best home records, and they have one of the best home records in the American League, and so we're both tough at home. We were just a little bit better than they on the road.

So, yeah, I mean, we know we got our work cut out for us. Anytime you're facing Cole, number one, and nasty Nestor, I guess that's his name, Nestor, I mean, he was on the All Star team, him and Cole. So anytime you're facing those guys you got to be, you got to bring your A game.

Q. You said Lance would fill us in on -- can you tell us when this mishap, as you categorize it, happened?

DUSTY BAKER: He'll tell you. He'll be here in a few minutes.

Q. How long did you think or did you think about, hey, it's going to be the Yankees and us down the road? Did you think about that late in the season, that this matchup was coming and now that it has come to fruition and you're going to the Big Apple in this series?

DUSTY BAKER: Yeah, well, you think about it. I thought about it when they had a 15-game lead on us for the best record in the American League. I'm serious. And Reggie Jackson reminded me of that and so did Jim Crane. So I didn't, you never know what's going to come down to what. Nobody thought that Cleveland was going to be in a Game 5 against the Yankees, nobody thought that the Dodgers were going to lose, or nobody thought the Mets were going to lose. Everybody thought it was going to be -- I'm sure the gamblers are having a fit because everybody thought it was going to be the Dodgers and Mets at this point, and probably us and the Yankees.

I've had a lot of battles with the Yankees since I was a player. So this is just, you know, the Yankees have been the best or near the best for a long time. So looking forward to it, really.

Q. With no more days off in this series, have you mapped anything out beyond Game 4 in terms of you've got Justin and Framber available on normal rest, but it would leave a Game 7 void, potentially?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, yeah, but that's too far down the pike. I mean, we're worried about Game 3 and 4 first, and then 5, 6, and 7. So I know that's your job to look into the future. We got an idea, but you got to live in the present, and our thing is winning Game 3. We win Game 3, then hopefully Game 4, and then you know it's going to be a fight, especially in New York.

But, yeah, I mean, you can map things out, but the opposition seems to change your mapping. They change your planning. You play an 18-inning game, you can have it mapped out all you want to, and then you got to use people that you had mapped out to use in Game 6 or 7 or whatever.

So, yeah, you got to win tomorrow. You don't have to win tomorrow, but I would like to win tomorrow.

Q. Did Javier's success earlier this season at Yankee Stadium have any bearing on you deciding for him to start tomorrow?

DUSTY BAKER: Some of it. But it changes from time to time, from each time you face 'em. I mean, you can't say, okay, this is going to be same as last time. It just depends on how he approaches them and how they approach him.

Plus not only in Yankee Stadium, I mean, he threw the ball well down the stretch, period. So he's throwing the ball, this year he was a lot better. What was he, 10-8 or 10-9? Come on, man. You got the laptop.


DUSTY BAKER: Damn. I was wrong.

And what did he have, like, 180 strikeouts and 150-something innings or something like that?

THE MODERATOR: 194 and 148.

DUSTY BAKER: Okay. So he pitched a lot better than his 11-9 stated.

Q. We've talked so much about Altuve and obviously he still hasn't gotten a hit, but have you seen more encouraging signs from him at the plate?

DUSTY BAKER: Yes. He hit the ball hard last night. The guy made a miraculous play on it. So, yeah, I just urge the people to just, the fans here, to put him in their prayers and elevate him to the level that he's used to being at.

Q. Is there anything that has made Maldonado unique to any other catcher that you've been around in your career?

DUSTY BAKER: He takes a lot of pride in stopping the opposition and game calling and throwing. I've told people that one of the best catchers that I had prior to this -- I've had some good catchers. I mean, I had Benito Santiago, and that was at the end. He was one of the best of all time. I had an unheralded catcher who got a Golden Glove, Kirt Manwaring, and he reminds me of Kirt Manwaring. He only hit .244, five, six home runs, but we called him the money man because he called a great game. I didn't have to pitch out, no balls got past him, the pitchers felt comfortable throwing breaking ball in the dirt with a runner on third base. These are things that go unnoticed and gives a manager, the team, and the pitcher confidence.

Q. As we get further into the ALCS and into the playoffs, how do you balance feel as a manager, in-game momentum, and then looking at analytics for your pitching matchups throughout the bullpen?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, that's what we do every day. We try to balance everything. There's no real right answer, but a lot of it starts with analytics, and then it goes to who is fresh, who is not, matchups, who is throwing the ball well, who has thrown on consecutive days. All this goes into the thought process of making your decision, and then you still don't know if your decision's right unless the guy gets the guy out and does his job.

And then your decision could have been right, but the guy on the other side had something to say about the outcome because they get paid too. See a lot of people think that just your side's supposed to win and it don't work out like that. I wish it did.

So, yeah, I mean, I've always used both. I used both when it didn't have a name. Like, back in the day a little bit I used first batter efficiency, I used runners inherited, I used walks per 9, strikeouts per 9, fly balls versus ground balls. Like I said, it didn't have a name, but I used it, or if it wasn't available, I would ask for it.

Q. We have talked about this before, the chemistry among these guys, your players. Can you elaborate that to the fans and let them know as an insider how you see the guys, how they interact to each other, and the importance of being here in the ALCS, the personalities that you have in the clubhouse.

DUSTY BAKER: Yeah, well, I got some personalities. (Laughing.) I mean, they crack me up, they crack each other up, and they're a fun group to be around, but they're very serious about their job. You have to mix some humor and laughter at the workplace, but there's a difference between humor, laughter, and fooling around.

So these guys, they come to work, and they enjoy coming to work, they enjoy being around each other, they enjoy picking each other up. I know a lot of times I've heard in this modern world that chemistry's not important, but chemistry is the most important thing, I think, that can take you through especially the tough times. It's not that important during the good times, but it's very, very, very important during the tough times and every team's going to have some tough times.

So, yeah, this is a great group of guys. The American guys don't complain if salsa music is on or merengue music is on, and the Latin guys don't complain if rap's on, and the White guys don't complain if there's R & B on. I mean, this is a good group of guys.

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