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AL CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES: YANKEES VS ASTROS


October 22, 2022


Dusty Baker


New York, New York, USA

Yankee Stadium

Houston Astros

Pregame 3 Press Conference


THE MODERATOR: We'll get started with Dusty.

Q. Was Mancini's experience playing here a lot and hitting off the Yankees part of the reason you wanted him in the lineup?

DUSTY BAKER: Yeah, that's part of the reason. And I know, I just hope and feel that he's about to break loose with some big hits for us.

Q. How confident are you that McCullers has gotten through this injury and he'll be capable to go at least five, six innings for you tomorrow?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, I'm confident. I saw him throw yesterday. He's throwing the ball well. It looked like nothing. So it looked like he's hundred percent.

Q. In the two months you've been around him, how do you think Christian Vázquez has handled going from being a starter in Boston to coming here and not playing as much as he did in Boston and kind of sharing time with Maldonado?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, he's done well. It was a period of adjustment definitely. The period of adjustment comes from knowing who you're catching. He came from Boston knowing everybody in the organization, being there for a very long time, to coming here and having to cram to learn. I think Maldy has helped him quite a bit, and they have gotten along very well.

He's on our team. So when you come to our team, we got to give you our secrets to success, and they have done that. And our pitchers and our coaching staff has worked very well with him.

Q. Obviously different bodies of work in play here, but whether it's Altuve or Trey, can you speak to the belief you have in these guys? I know you've talked about laws of averages before, but as the skipper, what is it about belief in guys that have done it before?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, that comes from a background in my past. Belief is key and showing confidence in your players. I know in my past, like I had a bad knee and I fell on my face after a major trade, which I was one of the main guys of the trade back in '76. And then in '77, Lasorda told me that I was, everybody was all over me in L.A. and why was I still playing, but Lasorda said, Hey, man, I believe in Dusty from what he's done in the past, and I've seen him play, and he's my left fielder. And I responded by that belief.

So that's what I've learned, to show belief in your players and confidence in your players, and most of the time I've been rewarded by their excellence and playing well.

Q. Cristian Javier had a breakout season this year. To what do you attribute the big steps he's taken forward this year?

DUSTY BAKER: Just maturity and confidence and learning what he's capable of doing. You would hope that a young player gets better. As long as they stay healthy, as long as they have the mental capacity and strength, they should get better.

And this young man is very mature. He has that quiet confidence. You don't even know he's in the room half the time, but you know that he's very, very alert while he's in that room. I think it really helped him, Garcia, and Framber, especially, the 2020 season when they were all rookies and they got to perform in front of the world. I mean, these guys are just coming out of the Double-A and I don't even think most of 'em played Triple-A.

So that was a major step, and if they handled that step, the more young players handle challenges that are presented to 'em, then the better off they will be in a short period of time.

Q. With Altuve, the fans are going to get on him here. Do you think he's the type who feeds off that?

DUSTY BAKER: No, I don't think anybody feeds off of that. But it's not like this is our first time here. I mean, nobody really is crazy about it. I've been booed, but you learn to shut it out and do the best you can and turn that into focus and concentration.

Q. And he's the type who can turn that down and ignore it?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, have you watched him previously? There's your answer.

Q. As one of the teams that was awarded a bye week, what were your initial thoughts, any trepidation, and how did your team manage to come out as smooth, if not smoother, than the other five?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, I had called Dave Stewart in the earthquake year of '89 when we, I was asking him how did the A's appear more prepared than we were. So he gave me some of the things that they did, some of the things that Tony La Russa and the A's did. I tried to incorporate some of 'em, some of 'em we didn't. And actually, we didn't come out very smooth or very prepared at all because you're in unchartered territory. We had never had that long of a layoff.

But we were saved by Álvarez's home run, which saved the day for us and saved the series for us, and it made us realize, Hey, man, we got work to do. We're going to have a tough series here.

Q. Alex Bregman is having another strong postseason. What do you attribute that to?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, he didn't have a very good October last year. But last year he was hurt on and off most of the season, and I was always told that when you start off hurt or you're hurt during the course of the season, you're playing catchup most of the time. This year I think the fact that he played 150-something games and he was in the lineup every day and healthy and his legs were good. Alex Bregman lives for this. I mean he expects it from himself. He expects it from his teammates. He loves being in this position. He expects us and expects him to win.

Q. Jeremy Peña has been a great story this year since day one taking over the job as a rookie. When did you know that he could make it? He could put together, string together the year he had. And he hasn't seemed to have let this postseason pressure get to him at all. A little bit about what it's been like for you as a skipper watching him develop?

DUSTY BAKER: Well it's been great. But you don't really know. You don't know if guys are going to come in, tear it up or guys are going to come in and fail, until they get in that situation.

Early I tried to spot him some. He probably didn't like it much. But I was trying to get him to this point. Because he had never played this many games in the minor leagues or played this many games. He had been hurt on and off the last couple years. He hurt his hand. I think he hurt his knee.

So the more success you have, the more comfortable that you feel where you are. I don't care who you are. You can say, Hey, I'm going to do this and that, but until you do it you don't know. I remember reading an article by Tommie Agee, when I was in the minor leagues. Tommie Agee said that the hardest part about playing in the big leagues is feeling that you truly belong in the big leagues. And you really don't know until you get here.

Q. What's your take on Texas hiring Bochy, Boch being back and what's your future at this point?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, I mean my future is now. My future is today. I'm not really worried about my future, because I'm just glad to, after having cancer and having a stroke, I'm just glad to be here today and watch the sun come up every day. Hopefully the next 10 to 12 years.

As far as Bochy, I'm glad for Bruce. He's one of my favorite guys. I called him. I didn't get him.

But he's one of the best, finest managers around. I wish he was in the other division. But I'm glad he's back. I'm glad he's back. A great baseball man, baseball mind. One more for the old dudes.

I had a feeling he would be back. He had to take some time off with family. He had some health issues there, you know, to get himself back together. I'm glad to see Bruce back.

Q. So if all things are equal would you prefer to manage again next year?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, again, I don't want to be a distraction to my team. I'll let you know at the end of this year.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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