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October 28, 2022

Dusty Baker

Houston, Texas, USA

Minute Maid Park

Houston Astros

Pregame 1 Press Conference

THE MODERATOR: We'll take questions for Dusty Baker.

Q. So you look at it now, I think we tallied up that things come around and go around and a third of the managers in Major League Baseball now are over 60. What do you think has happened in the transition over the, obviously you're part of it. What do you think is going on in baseball right now when it comes to that?

DUSTY BAKER: I don't know, maybe people realize that it takes years to hone your craft, and also the need to intertwine modern baseball and older baseball, and the fact that these guys are human, and they're human beings, and they're not just numbers.

I'm glad that I've had some relative success. I'm glad that Bucky and Snitker and these guys have had relative success where you're more trusted at this point in our lives.

Q. How much are you allowed to use the human element in what you do to make decisions?

DUSTY BAKER: I don't know if allowed is the right word. I just do it. But I use numbers. I've always used numbers. That's what people don't understand. I've used numbers since the day that I started. I'm not just some dude that was just out there just pulling some stuff out of the sky, you know? I'm a calculated-type person. I'm a gemini, but I'm also, on the other hand, sometimes it's about feelings, you know? That's hard to explain, man, you know what I mean? It's hard to explain me because I've been told that I was weird and stuff most of my life, so it's like I've just accepted it.

Q. I'm sure you've heard from a ton of people in this week. Would you be able to share any of your top messages or interesting, I don't know, interactions you've had from people like wishing you good luck or something?

DUSTY BAKER: Yeah, just my homeboys, some homegirls. Let me see, Snoop Dogg, you know, a couple of rappers, local dudes, coaches I had, Bill Cosby, just different people that I've known in my life.

Q. Would you tell us the other two rappers?

DUSTY BAKER: Now you're putting pressure on me. They were local.

Q. How is Gary Pettis doing?

DUSTY BAKER: He's doing good. He's doing real good. He's been cleared by the doctor, so he'll be back at third tonight. I didn't think he was going to be, but he wants to be here. He did everything that was needed to clear the protocols of health, and so he's doing great.

Q. Is this the most talented team you've ever managed, and if not, where does it rank?

DUSTY BAKER: It's one of 'em. I can't say the most because good teams that you have are different. They have different strengths and different weaknesses. This is probably the team that expects to win more than any other team that I've had, because they were expected to win when I got here, because they expect to win, and they're used to winning.

I've had some good teams, but this team, they really don't like losing, period, and that can take you a long ways.

Q. Justin Verlander has said in the past that he wants to pitch until he's 45. Given what you saw from him this year, coming back from the surgery at 39, what do you think of another half decade-plus of Justin Verlander as a major league pitcher?

DUSTY BAKER: I don't see why not. I mean, his arm's -- everybody keeps talking about 39. But you look at Jim Kaat, Tommy John. Tommy had a new arm. Jim Kaat. There's a lot of guys that pitched -- Warren Spahn. Satchel Paige was 60-something when I played with him in Atlanta. So a lot of it depends on your body type, it depends on your desire to win, and if you made enough money, and some guys say, that's enough, or whatever it is.

But also your tolerance of pain that I've learned over the course of years when you get tired of pain, and now that he has another arm, I wouldn't put anything past Verlander.

Q. What do you remember from Bregman with his wrist injury last year at this time in the World Series and how different he looks a year later?

DUSTY BAKER: What's that now?

Q. What do you remember last year from Bregman with his wrist injury in the World Series, he had surgery soon after, and what you're seeing from him now, the version of him entering this series?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, this is the real Bregman, and there's even some more better Bregman in there. From a guy that had four wrist operations, I know -- or hand operations, I know how important your hands are. We take our hands for granted. Brushing your teeth, combing your hair, eating, bathing, I mean, there's a lot of stuff that you take for granted, and when it's in your hands and you're a hitter, that stops and starts the bat. I felt badly for him because I know what he was going through.

Q. About a year ago you mentioned you still had unfinished business. You almost vowed that you guys would be back after how it ended last year. What's it mean for you personally with this club to be back here on this stage to be able to potentially finish this the right way?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, I mean, you're always, in life, I'm a goal-oriented person and it means that we met one goal and got another goal to go. How many times do you set goals -- well, we set goals every New Year's resolution and by April we forget what we were going to do.

So this is a New Year's resolution that now it's not New Years, but it's a year removed.

Q. In terms of makeup or stuff, what's the biggest difference you've seen in Framber heading into this World Series compared to last year?

DUSTY BAKER: He's about the same, but he's more mature. You're wasting your time if you don't try to get better in this game, especially as a young player. It seems as if we all want finished products before they're even finished. It takes time. It takes time. It takes trial and error. It takes successes and it takes some failures to get to this point. The more success that you have then the more confidence that you have.

Right now Framber's at a very high level of confidence. I also think that having JV around, somebody to keep up with or to compare to, you know, has always helped.

Q. José enters tonight after a pair of difficult series. Is there anything encouraging you saw either at the end of ALCS or just speaking with him in recent days?

DUSTY BAKER: He got a couple hits. You know, that always helps. The thing about José, you would not know that he didn't get, that he wasn't hitting. That's a sign of a real pro, where you don't walk around -- I mean, you watch a basketball game or a football game you can sort of tell who is ahead when you walk in late in the game. I mean, it's written all over everybody's face.

But José, he's been a bigger man than me because, you know, than most of us. I mean, this guy, he's the first one out there. He's being the same guy. He's very consistent in his personality. We can all take a tip from José on how to handle adversity.

Q. Was there any one moment this year with Peña where you looked at him and you said, this kid's got it, he's going to be okay, or was it a gradual thing?

DUSTY BAKER: It wasn't really gradual. He started off pretty good. Then he went backwards. Then he picked it back up. The key is, when you start going bad, not to spiral and stay bad. Especially when you're a young player that you're still trying to find your way and nobody knows what to expect from you.

And then I moved him to 7th, to move Yuli behind, no, in front of Álvarez, to get him going. And then when I moved him back to 2nd -- and I asked him in spring training, Now where do you like to hit? I ask 'em all that. And he told me 2nd. And I told him, Well, that's the most intelligent spot in the lineup, really, the most unselfish. And I said, You know, that entails a lot of work. And he's done it.

So nobody knew what he was going to do. I don't even think he knew what he was going to do. I mean you can ask him and he's going to say, Yeah, I'd have been good. Yeah, but you don't know until you are good. And right now he's good.

Q. Framber had said that he thought looking back last year he got too emotional and too amped up in the World Series. How, for players coming into it for the first time, is there any way to tamp against that?

DUSTY BAKER: Hypnotize 'em, I guess. I'm serious. I mean, how do you don't get amped up? What, something that you've been watching and aspiring to get to since you were a kid, you know? Like Hank Aaron told me, It's okay to be nervous, just don't be scared.

And he certainly wasn't scared. He might have been nervous or amped up. I mean, these guys came through, all of 'em, Framber, Javier, Garcia, I mean these guys were kids out of Double-A and Triple-A a couple years ago. And they were in the big leagues and in the playoffs their first year. So the more you go, the more accustomed to being there.

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