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October 27, 2022

Dusty Baker

Houston, Texas, USA

Minute Maid Park

Houston Astros

Workout Day Press Conference

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

Q. Do you know how your rotation will line up after Verlander tomorrow?

DUSTY BAKER: Yeah, we got an idea, but we just got to -- I'll let you know tomorrow.

Q. Do you remember the first time you met Bryce Harper and what that was like managing him and what have you thought of kind of his ascension into what he's become?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, I mean Bryce was, he was pretty easy to manage. He was a young player. I had been told about him from Matt Williams, that I got Matt's graces for me to take over for his job, and I asked him about different players.

I mean, he's a tremendous player. He's been in the spotlight for a long, long time. I happen to like him a lot on the field and off the field. I'm very impressed with his dedication to people and to life. He came to see me when they were here playing in that last series. I had a knock on my door and it was Bryce and we had a great conversation. He comes from a good family, his mom and dad. He's a force to deal with.

We had a couple run-ins, like you always do at some point in time, but he actually thanked me for those times. So, like I said, I got a lot of respect for him.

Q. You mentioned after you guys clinched in New York at Yankee Stadium the spiritual togetherness of the city, Houston, and this team. Through all your years you had never seen a city so close to the players, so close to a team before. Why do you think that is? Obviously part of it is because of what this team went through in '20 and everything that followed that, but could you just expound on that a little, the spiritual togetherness, the connection between the team and the city?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, I mean, you can sort of tell. Like, guys are going to the plate, they're waving to certain fans, certain kids that they have seen for years that are now young men. I watch Maldy, I watch Verlander interact with some of the kids, especially like José. I mean, it rivals anywhere I've been. I mean L.A. was great, but L.A. had a lot of people from all over. We would be playing the Cubs and Kingman would hit three home runs and there would be 20,000 people from Chicago, or we would play the Mets.

But San Francisco was probably closer to this with, most of the people from San Francisco were from there, where this is different, where a lot of people, a lot of people from here are from here, but there are a lot of people that have moved here, moved to Texas, and they have all sort of dropped whatever team they were rooting for and seem to be Astros fans. I mean, you go around the city, go to restaurants and wherever you go, people are excited about us.

Q. I would like to ask you, I know you were asked this every time, but what would it mean to you to manage a World Series champion?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, that's why I'm here. That's why I'm glad that Jim Crane brought me back here, also to a place that -- because most of the places I've been I've had to sort of rebuild the team, but this team was sort of built already, and I had to carry on and try to enhance what we already have here.

I don't know. I'm just ballplayer that's trying to play ball and trying to win. I love to win. I've always said, if I win one, I want to win two, so you got to win one first and then we'll work on number two at that time.

Q. Your relationship, if there is one, with Rob Thomson, have you interacted with him over the years and what do you think about a guy who takes over at a very low point and has brought his team back to this spot?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, I don't really know Rob. He called me to congratulate me when we clinched. But I've heard nothing but good things about him from various people that have known him, especially people out of New York. I just got through talking to -- I don't know which one is older, but the real Robby Thomson played for me in San Francisco, and Robby just, I just got off the phone with Robby.

And so you know, he comes from a good namesake. It hasn't happened very often when you take over in the middle. The last guy that I know personally that did that was Cito Gaston that took over in Toronto that you really hear his name that won two years in a row and one of my guys that took care of me from the day that I started in pro ball.

Q. I'm sure you saw this or know about it, but with Michael Brantley being out with an injury this will be the first time since 1950 that there's no U.S.-born Black players in the World Series. We've talked a lot about diversity and issues like this before. I wondered if you could just tell me how your thoughts on that and what you feel about this.

DUSTY BAKER: Well, I don't think that that's something that baseball should really be proud of. It looks bad. It let's people know that it didn't take a year or even a decade to get to this point.

But there is help on the way. You can tell by the number of African American number one draft choices. The academies are producing players. So hopefully in the near future we won't have to talk about this any more or even be in this situation.

Q. Can you talk about what feels different about this team this year? I mean, I know we talked about talent top to bottom, but is there a different feeling as you guys approach this yet second World Series?

DUSTY BAKER: I don't know. This team is pretty calm and confident. It really helps to have Verlander pitching No. 1 and then Lance back. Because last year, I mean that really hurt us to lose Lance. That really like sank my heart when Lance wasn't able to go to the mound when he was hurt.

And it starts with pitching. To have Lance and Verlander. And to have the other young guys one year more mature and confident. That's a good feeling.

Q. You talk about the calmness and there is that with this team. Is that more a factor of just who they are individually or is there something that you guys do collectively to create that kind of environment?

DUSTY BAKER: I don't really know how to answer that really. I mean it's not something that you can just bottle and do by design. It has to evolve to that situation through trial and error and through failure and successes.

And just maturity as a person, maturity as a ball player and also maturity as a unit. So I wish I knew the exact answer, I would sell it to the world.

Q. Last year there was sort of a family connection to the World Series and the opponent, with Hank having passed and all of that with the Braves and all that. What's this series feel like now, after a whole series without your close family friend and your mentor not being able to be there to see it?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, I thought about it a lot, and last year was the death of Hank Aaron and also we were playing the Braves. So the way I look at it, much as I like Hank and as much as he loves me and each other, he was probably rooting for the Braves last year (smiling) and I figure now he's rooting for me.

Q. Do you ever wear your Dodgers World Series ring or any ring that you won at a manager?

DUSTY BAKER: Naw. No. Only ring I wear is my wedding ring. I got 'em in a safe deposit box. I got All Star rings. There's different rings. And I truly doubt if my World Series ring would fit, honestly.

So, no. I don't know if I'll wear this one either if we win it. So it's kind of, you're proud of it, but the more you wear it then the more you're noticed and people ask to see your ring or ask or even recognize you. Because when I get out of here, I'm not real big on being recognized. Because I've been recognized most of my life and sometimes you yearn for privacy. But you can't hide and you can't just stay in your house all the time either.

So that's one -- and as big as some of these are now, man, you can notice it from across the street.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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