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October 30, 2022

Dusty Baker

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Citizens Bank Park

Houston Astros

Workout Day Press Conference

Q. I wondered if you could just talk about the value of having Lance back for this postseason or for the World Series after you didn't have him for last year's series.

DUSTY BAKER: Yeah, I mean that was big. Lance would have probably been our ace last year going into the playoffs and World Series. So that was a very devastating day, a down day when he came in and said, Hey, man, I think something's wrong and I don't think I can pitch.

We still had good pitching, but Lance has been our big-game guy. So I'm just glad to have him back and have him for this series.

Q. I know a lot of your guys really love the city and love Houston. But I was wondering, it seems like he just loves Houston more than maybe anyone. Have you seen him, have you heard him talk about how much he loves the city or have you heard anything like that?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, he's been pretty fortunate where in his baseball life he grew up here. I mean, a lot of the guys grew up here in Houston in their baseball life. You got Altuve and you got a few other guys. But most, a lot of guys have come from other places and fallen in love with Houston.

That was similar to me when I was a rookie in Atlanta. When you come in and out and that. But, you know, he's been fortunate enough to stay with his original team and see the city grow. Gone through the ups and downs and losses and to the mountain top with the organization and the team, said hello and goodbye to a number of former and present teammates. So, yeah, this is home.

Q. What have you seen in the year and a half you've had with Rafael Montero? I know he wasn't healthy for all of last year, but how have you seen him grow into a guy that you trust implicitly at the back end of that bullpen?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, I liked him when he was a closer in Texas early in his career. He had dynamite stuff. And then I liked him in Seattle.

But when we got him, I wasn't sure if he was going to be able to pitch this year or not, because at the end of last year it appeared that we were leaning towards maybe even surgery. But he guaranteed us that he was ready at that time. We didn't want to take a chance. And then he went home and worked this winter.

So he's been, early in the year, this guy was who we were leaning on a lot. I think he had like 17 holds or something before that Chicago series. 10 or 11 saves. He had almost as many saves as Pressly did at one time.

So, yeah, he throws strikes. He's still learning. He added a couple other pitches. So very calm in his demeanor. You can't tell. He never gets shaken. But we still have to protect him and guard him and keep him strong and healthy.

Q. What makes Lance special when he's on?

DUSTY BAKER: I don't know. Probably just his competitiveness and the movement on his ball. I remember in Atlanta, McCann was in there. He came down to the hotel to see Lance and some of the other guys, Pressly, and some of the guys that he had played with here, JV. And McCann was talking about the first time that he had faced Lance from the other side and how much movement he had on his ball and life, and just different things. So that really impressed me. I think he said he hit a home run off of him later, but he didn't know how he did it.

Lance is, I mean, this guy is a competitor. He's confident. He's a great guy to have on the team.

Q. Could you go into your thought process on McCullers over Javier for Game 3? What led you to that?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, it wasn't just me. I'm just the one that talks about it. I mean, why not McCullers? I mean, he has, I mean, who has more experience on this team than him and JV?

So going into that -- this is a very big game. I figure he can keep the ball in the ballpark pretty good with his sinker and his slider. He holds runners on pretty good. Which they generally try to run a lot.

Plus I think he deserved it. I mean, if anything, I was wrestling between him pitching number 2 and number 3, and not 3 and 4.

But I thought that we would go right, left, right, and then their platoon guys can't play two days in a row, which wouldn't make 'em, which might affect their sharpness. It might not, but I just try to play as much of the odds as I can.

Q. What have you seen from Syndergaard this season and what are the challenges he presents to your team?

DUSTY BAKER: Well, we haven't seen him since he was with the Angels. So that's a long time ago. The challenges are that it seems like he's gotten his command together. You know, he has a very good slider, changeup. He's pitching more now than he was before when he was just a power pitcher when he was with the Mets, when he was like overpowering people. I'm sure it's still in there somewhere, but now he's more of a complete pitcher than he was before.

Q. Will Javier start Game 4?

DUSTY BAKER: Probably.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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