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October 29, 2022

Dusty Baker

Houston, Texas, USA

Minute Maid Park

Houston Astros

Pregame 2 Press Conference

THE MODERATOR: We'll get started with questions for Dusty.

Q. When you put Álvarez in left field or DH, is offense ever a factor in that, or where he plays, that maybe if he's DHing that it will take his mind off his some of the other things in the field?

DUSTY BAKER: No, not really. It's just a matter of giving him a break defensively because we need him so much offensively. Also, it's a matter of getting Díaz in the game in left field tonight, and then if something happens later in the game or if I got to take him out for defense, I have some bodies that I can do it without really tearing up my lineup.

And if I have Álvarez in left field, and then you're tempted to take him out, not necessarily for defense, but possibly for more speed or something, and then you're always fearful that they tie up the game and then his spot comes up in the 15th inning or something, you know what I mean? So that's why I kind of alternate 'em.

Q. So going back to Verlander yesterday, how much of the respect that you have for him and a guy like him with his background, plus the fact that he was trying to go for his first World Series win, how much did that, was that an element to you leaving him in the game at all?

DUSTY BAKER: No, that wasn't an element. I didn't even know he didn't have it until my son told me when I got home yesterday, that he didn't have a World Series win. I thought he was lying. But my son, he knows all this stuff. No, that wasn't a factor.

The factor is they left their guy in there with 5-nothing before they got their five. And you don't want to go through your whole bullpen, plus this guy can pitch himself out of trouble better than anybody that I've ever been around. He hung a couple pitches. Usually -- and they were with two outs. You can't keep somebody loose all the time or else you'll tire out your whole bullpen.

And I do have respect for Justin Verlander and greatness.

Q. Just one follow-up here. So after no innings last year, Tommy John surgery, rehab, he's already up to about 190 innings. How much of his kind of struggles in the postseason can be attributed to that?

DUSTY BAKER: I don't know. Didn't he struggle in the postseason before he had Tommy John too? I mean, if you don't have a win in the off-season -- in the World Series, he didn't have Tommy John in those other ones. So it's just a matter of -- and my son, being a historian, he told me that there have been some other greats that have had struggles in the postseason, which I didn't know.

He told me Mark Leiter, Carl Erskine, Don Sutton, you know, he told me that he -- he named the top five guys that had the highest ERAs in the postseason, and there's some bad dudes in there. So I can't explain it.

Q. After Altuve hit that bloop in the 9th yesterday, he appeared frustrated just after making contact and kind of coming out of the box. Where do you think he is mentally right now?

DUSTY BAKER: It's hard to tell. I mean, he can't be happy, but he's happy that we're winning. He might be the strongest dude in this building mentally. He's probably had to be most of his life. So I just know that any minute now he's one hit away from a hot streak.

Q. I'm curious your view of the Díaz at-bat last night and the lean-in and maybe what it looked like in realtime to you and if you saw the video and if it changed how you viewed it.

DUSTY BAKER: No, I didn't watch the video. I got the video in my mind. It was just a matter of, you know, sometimes you want to be the hero. I mean, most of us have played hero in our lives since we were little kids, and this is what it kind of looked like to me. I mean, I was letting him hit 3-0. I let a lot of 'em hit 3-0. But you have to get a good pitch to hit 3-0.

Q. Did he look aggressive in that at-bat to you?

DUSTY BAKER: Oh, yeah.

Q. Did he look like he wanted to hit in that at-bat?

DUSTY BAKER: Yeah. (Laughing.) Didn't he look like he wanted to hit to you?

Q. It looked like he wanted to get hit.

DUSTY BAKER: Oh, yeah. Oh, you mean wanted to get hit or? No, no, he wanted to -- getting hit was better than ending the game. But the fact that he swung 3-0 and then he swung 3-1, so...

Q. If Álvarez is your DH, obviously offense isn't an issue. But outside of him it has been a problem for you guys with Díaz and Mancini specifically. How do you handle Mancini moving forward? He's obviously trying to get it going, he's talked about that, but he really has struggled for the last couple months.

DUSTY BAKER: Well, you just got to -- I mean, you talk to 'em, try to instill confidence in him as much as you can. I've tried to show as much confidence as I can, trying to match him up with the guys I thought that that was the best matchups. I just told him, I think you need to get more aggressive because you're taking some fastballs that are right there, possibly.

But like I've said in the past, I mean, you can talk to whoever you want to talk to, but when it's time to get in the box, they're in the box all by themselves.

Q. Framber said yesterday he feels now better equipped to handle mistakes or errors compared to this time last year. Why do you think that is? How has he mentally developed as a pitcher?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, I mean, he's a year older. You hope that you get better with age, even though he don't have much of it. And he has had more success. He's been through some situations where the guys -- he's saved us and we've been through some situations where the guys have saved him, you know, but that combination. And, you know, he's gotten, he doesn't get nearly as upset as he used to. You know, you get a wife and two or three kids, man, that will make you do a lot of stuff. That will make you grow up.

Q. You mentioned Darren earlier and just him telling you something about pitchers. What's it like having him around now? He's a pretty good pro ballplayer right now. How is it?

DUSTY BAKER: Yeah, it's pretty cool. He just came in a couple days ago. I mean, he's probably more frustrated -- I mean, he's the voice of reason to me. He says, Dad, you guys won seven in a row. He says, You're bound to lose one. If you thought that you were going to win 11 in a row, which I was hoping. He says, Hey, you just -- I don't know. You know, I hear myself, and my wife accuses him of sounding like me, which is probably driving her crazy (smiling.)

So it's pretty cool, really, to have a young man that's -- you know, because who motivates the motivator? He's got a pretty good head on his shoulders as far as like not panicking. I really didn't want to hear it, but it was true.

Q. When you get into a situation like the 10th inning last night and it's that part of the order, does whoever matches up with Harper best, is that kind of the direction that you're going to go in?

DUSTY BAKER: (Laughing.) Probably. But, you know, who matches up good with him, I mean real good with him? Some are better than others. But not only who matches up with Harper, but who matches up with Realmuto and who matches up with whoever is hitting after Harper, which is why you stack your lineup the way they do.

If they get in with this three-batter minimum rule now, that make it's tough. And if you're bringing in a guy with two outs and if you walk Harper or don't get Harper, now you're in harm's way with whoever is hitting behind him, especially if they're better against lefties than they are righties.

Q. You guys will have the next three games in Philadelphia. You played there in the postseason for the Dodgers and you managed there in the postseason. How would you describe that environment for a visiting team?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, I haven't seen it in a while. We had some success there when I was with the Dodgers in the postseason. I think they beat us like 11 out of 12 one year, and then we beat them in the postseason a couple times.

And then the last time I was there we were facing Doc Halladay, rest his soul, and -- who is the other lefty they have? Cliff Lee. That's some bad boys rights there.

Q. I don't know if you have the perspective yet because you're in the moment, but last night's game was so great at so many moments, what was the most memorable postseason game you can recall that you played in, just for all the twists and turns?

DUSTY BAKER: Probably when we played the entire game in Philly in the rain. I think that might have been '77 or '78, one of the two.

Q. '77.

DUSTY BAKER: Yeah. Tommy John, I think, was facing Steve Carlton. And I remember Hank Aaron had told me earlier in my career, Don't be in there playing cards because you can always turn it off, but you can't turn it on, and pretend in your mind that you're going to have to play and go out and sit in the elements so that you get used to it. And I think I hit a homer off of Carlton and we beat 'em 2-1.

Q. Is David Hensley ever an option to DH for you at this point?

DUSTY BAKER: You just have to wait.


FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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