“Guys had great at-bats. Really pleased with where our offense is.” — Shildt

NLDS:

CARDINALS 7, BRAVES 6

October 3, 2019

Mike Shildt

Atlanta, Georgia – postgame 1

THE MODERATOR: Questions for Mike Shildt?

Q. How important was the come back in the eighth to set up what happened in the ninth?
MIKE SHILDT: That was clearly huge. Good at-bats throughout. But to be able to get the tie and set us up obviously for the ninth as well, but can’t win it unless you tie it.

Q. Marcell Ozuna, what did you see in his approach in the big at-bat tonight? You keep him in the clean-up spot all season, and there he was tonight.
MIKE SHILDT: I loved our at-bats. Sometimes the at-bat that you see leads up to the bats previously. I loved our at-bats all night. And I love Marcell’s at-bats. Just calm, letting the game come to him.

You can tell he didn’t get a pitch he liked first pitch, chased on the breaking ball, and then you could see him kind of reset, not try to do too much, just put a swing on it. And he got awarded with a nice double down the line with two runs — big swing, good at-bat, great approach.

Q. Can you sense a difference in the vibe or the atmosphere after Goldschmidt’s home run? And how much of a spark was that for you guys, do you think?
MIKE SHILDT: You’re down 3-1. Their guys are getting some outs, we’re still taking some good at-bats, just nothing to show for it. And then Goldy gets into one and you know you’re a swing away.

Definitely got some life back to us, but I don’t want to minimize that we didn’t have life before that. But when you get down 3-1, next thing you know, boom, 3-2, and here we go. Big swing.

Q. In the eighth, you had a chance to walk Swanson to force Melancon out of the game. What were your thoughts?
MIKE SHILDT: I like the bat with Swanson. We’re going to be careful with him. Carlos had his command of his slider and his fastball at that point.

So had some thought process behind it. I’d rather not share too much of it. But numbers were pretty good individually on Swanson and we went from there.

Q. Building on that a little, how do you assess Carlos’ night as a whole? Obviously the ninth was a little different than the eighth for him.
MIKE SHILDT: Listen, that’s a big out on want Swanson. You got the go-ahead run at second base. He comes in and makes tough pitches to Swanson. That’s a big job he did right there.

Goes back out, honestly the only issue I had in the whole inning was the walk to Hamilton. You got a lead regardless of size and you go out and get the lead-off guy on. And he gave up a few homers.

But good news about Carlos and Yadi was right there with him, he wasn’t going to back down, made quality pitches got great stuff and made a lot of really good pitches.

Q. If you look at this game and you see big hits, big extra base hits from Carpenter, Goldschmidt and Ozuna. Is this the kind of game that if I told you in March was going to happen in October, is that about right?
MIKE SHILDT: You could have told me that this afternoon. You could have told me that at any point with this group. Carp, great at-bat, really pro at-bat. Ready to go. Locked in. Goldy, big at-bat. Of course we talked about the Ozuna bat.

Another guy that took a couple of big at-bats was Dexter, took some really good at-bats, great base running going first to third. That was big, help set that inning up. Eddie’s hit was big, but Bader manufactured a run, bunt him over, steal third, Dex, two strikes, gets him in. And then got us going a little bit in the ninth as well. Good at-bats throughout but not surprising.

Q. What I meant is you guys, we talked the last couple days defense and pitching, defense and pitching, but every once in a while the bats can get going?
MIKE SHILDT: Let’s don’t kid ourselves, we want to score. We want some good at-bats. We can hang our hat on that and keep us in games, but we don’t feel obligated to being two dimensional.

We can do the all four quadrants — base running, we can definitely hit, swinging bats and guys had great at-bats. Really pleased with where our offense is.

Q. At this point, would you first discuss the unusual, rather bizarre play where they got two runs on the ground ball? And then also talk about Mikolas’ game?
MIKE SHILDT: First, it was unique play. To say I loved the play, I didn’t love the result. But I loved the play. What I mean by that, Eddie got a really tough in-between hop. And, look, you can try to catch it. You try to catch that ball, it might end up in left field. He just did what he could to smother it. So, he showed some toughness; that’s a tough play. And he showed toughness to make it.

Then it kicks away. Pauly is on point, goes over. And at that point he’s trying to make a play. And I love the fact our guys are going to be aggressive and look to make plays. And he tried to make a play. Kolten tries to make a pick. Just kicked away, allowed another run to score.

But I had no issue with that play, Geo did a nice job coming back in that count, getting that swing.

And just in between on Eddie, kicked off; Pauly tried to make a play; Kolten tried to make a play and didn’t get it done, but I love the mindset.

Q. Mikolas?
MIKE SHILDT: Mikolas I thought was really good, got better as the game went. Little trouble early on, getting into his rhythm, getting his pitches to go work with them a little bit, but I love the fact that he just kept looking to get better as the game went.

I loved the fact that when he got in the situations, he was able to bear down and make pitches. And then he got through five; and, listen, he could have gone back out, but we really like the matchup with Webb obviously coming in with the lefties. Miles had had a fair amount of stress during the course of the five. And I felt like it was an appropriate move. I thought Miles was really, really good. I don’t want him to get lost in this game because he kept it right there for five.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

“We still came back, had the tying run at the plate when the game ended after getting down really good.” — Snitker

NL DIVISION SERIES: CARDINALS 7, BRAVES 6

October 3, 2019

Brian Snitker

Atlanta, Georgia – postgame 1

Q. Just how much did Martin’s injury change the course of action in the game and what you had set up?
BRIAN SNITKER: A lot. We had the whole thing set up right where we wanted it. It’s exactly what we were working towards throughout the whole game was to get us to those two guys. And that was a big blow.

Q. You kind of saw the best and the worst of Ronald Acu�a tonight. Obviously he had a great day at the plate. He made a play or two in the outfield. And we also saw the other side of it. Could you maybe take us through a couple of things he did tonight, first of all, in the first inning was he stealing on his own?
BRIAN SNITKER: Yeah, he had a green light. And he picked a breaking ball. And he picked it and threw him out. But he was on his own.

Q. In the fifth or sixth inning we have the long ball that was a single. What was your thought on that?
BRIAN SNITKER: That he should have been on second. And we’re kind of shorthanded to do anything about it right there. You hate to see that happen.

Q. Did you talk to him again?
BRIAN SNITKER: I haven’t had a chance to talk to anybody yet.

Q. You mentioned setting it up for Martin. Was there any thought of bringing Fried out another inning based on the work he had done or did you —
BRIAN SNITKER: No, it was kind of where — the game was right where we wanted it right there. I mean it was into the heat of the — the meat of the right-handed lineup. Actually if Fried would have got to Goldschmidt I would have brought Martin in on Goldschmidt then.

It actually lined up just like I wanted it to. It’s just a shame that he got hurt.

Q. The Braves have always come from behind most of the year and they’ve done it again tonight. Did that surprise you at all?
BRIAN SNITKER: No, I mean that’s kind of how these guys are. I wish we got started a little earlier in the evening, honestly. But it’s good. We still came back, had the tying run at the plate when the game ended after getting down really good.

It was just a situation where you talk about how the ball bounces, and there were some balls just inside the line over the course of the game. And that’s the way it goes.

Q. Did you think that the Cardinals might walk Swanson to force you to pinch-hit for Melancon?
BRIAN SNITKER: I thought that might have been possible. I like Dansby up there in those situations. He’s gotten a lot of big hits in those situations. But I thought maybe that could have been.

It’s kind of like — I was prepared for it if they would have.

Q. A lot of people might focus on the two rallies in the eighth and ninth, but how much did Goldschmidt’s home run change the complexion of the game for you, do you think?
BRIAN SNITKER: Anytime you can cut the lead to one, I think that’s huge. That’s a big at-bat right there. When Martin went down, I just hoped that maybe Luke could get us through three outs and get the ball to Melancon.

And the guy is so dangerous. You’re always aware where he’s at in the lineup, and it’s big. Anytime you get something like that to get you a run closer that’s huge in a game like that.

Q. How big or how short is Mark’s leash in the ninth?
BRIAN SNITKER: Melancon? No, you know what, again he was victimized by some balls that were just hit just right. His leash is pretty good right there. Kind of where we’re at in our bullpen and how it’s been set up. He’s been our guy in the ninth inning, and it’s those guys at this time of year are probably going to have a little longer leash than normal.

Q. How do you personally handle nights like this, albeit the postseason being different, but you’ve been doing this long enough; it’s there; it slips away and you almost get it back?
BRIAN SNITKER: You have to put it behind you. Tomorrow’s a new day. We’re going to come out, do everything we can to win tomorrow. I know it’s the postseason, but again it’s baseball. We’ve been through this a lot. We’ve lost a lot of tough games, came back and rallied and had good runs and we’ll have to do the same tomorrow.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

“I feel like in the second half, I started to get my feet under me and kind of get a good mental process going into games, and started to feel a lot more comfortable here.” –James Paxton

AL DIVISION SERIES: TWINS VS YANKEES

October 3, 2019

James Paxton

New York, New York – Workout Day

Q. James, what does it mean to you that they’re giving you the ball in Game 1 of the ALDS?
JAMES PAXTON: I’m excited. It’s going to be awesome. I’m really honored to get this opportunity to pitch Game 1. It’s going to be great.

Q. This is going to be your first playoff experience. Who are you going to talk to? What are you going to draw on to kind of get ready for that?
JAMES PAXTON: Luckily, a lot of players have had experience in the postseason. I’ve been talking to teammates and asking them what it’s like, what it’s like to pitch in the postseason. I’ve been watching the past two Wild Card games. I’m going to watch the games tonight just to watch what happens and kind of feel that emotion and try and learn something from those games.

Q. James, you were in a team that notoriously didn’t make the playoffs for a very long time. We know that Felix spent 14 seasons there without ever pitching in the playoffs. You have a singular perspective about what it’s like, this opportunity? What does this really mean to you in terms of spending your entire career with another team who never did that?
JAMES PAXTON: Yeah, I feel very fortunate to be here. This is a team that commits itself to winning and making it to the postseason every year. That’s a dream for all baseball players when we’re young, is to pitch in the postseason, pitch in the World Series. That’s what we’re all dreaming of. To get the opportunity and the chance to go out there and do this, I feel pretty lucky.

Q. James, first of all, how’s the glute?
JAMES PAXTON: It’s good. It will be a nonissue.

Q. Secondly, you talked about watching these games this week. Have you watched much postseason action in the past?
JAMES PAXTON: At times. I haven’t watched it as closely just because, when you’re out of it, you don’t really feel like watching more baseball. You’ve watched 162. It’s kind of like, all right, move on a little bit. Plus, it hurts a little bit to watch the teams play that are there.

But going into it, these past two games, I’ve just kind of watched how the starting pitchers have handled the games and just the crazy things that can happen in postseason games. That first Wild Card game, the Nationals were down the whole time and then had a chance to come back and win the game.

Last night, Charlie Morton, watching him, he didn’t have his best location, he was kind of scuffling early, but he battled and stayed with it and got the job done. You can learn things from stuff like that.

Q. James, it seemed like, when you first came over here, it was a little bit of an adjustment process earlier in the season, like it would be for any new player coming over. How long did it take for you to actually consider this as home for you, Yankee Stadium, and pitching in the Bronx, until you felt comfortable and felt you could be the pitcher you knew you could be?
JAMES PAXTON: The first half of the season was tough, just kind of navigating myself and pitching here. It is different. It’s not easy, and it took some work. I feel like in the second half, I started to get my feet under me and kind of get a good mental process going into games, and started to feel a lot more comfortable here.

Q. Did it become a strength for you pitching in this building, with the crowds they get every night and that sort of thing?
JAMES PAXTON: I don’t really think about that much, but I definitely do feel comfortable pitching in Yankee Stadium.

Q. We know starting pitchers are such creatures of habit. When did Aaron Boone let you know you’d be getting the Game 1 start, and what’s your routine been like as you’re preparing for tomorrow’s start?
JAMES PAXTON: He told me yesterday, got the official word, but I’ve been kind of preparing — like, he told all of us to prepare like it could be us that first game. So I threw my bullpen on Tuesday like I normally would for a Friday start. I’ve been doing all my routine, getting ready like it’s Friday. So getting that word, stayed in my routine, and I’m ready to go.

Q. James, for a good portion of the season, the first inning seemed to give you some troubles. What have you been able to do to kind of correct that, and what will you be focusing on tomorrow with the different atmosphere?
JAMES PAXTON: Yeah, I threw a few more pitches in the bullpen second half of the season there. I forget exactly when I started doing that, but I just threw an extra 10, 12 pitches, had our bullpen catcher, Rad, stand up there and act as a hitter so I could kind of get the first few hitters out of the way in the bullpen just so to try and sharpen myself up, and that seemed to help a little bit. And also trying to be really aggressive from pitch one.

Q. James, the Twins obviously have a lot of power in their lineup, over 300 home runs. What’s the biggest challenge of facing a lineup that has that much power up and down, and specifically those guys in the middle with Kepler and Cruz?
JAMES PAXTON: Executing pitches. That’s what it’s all about. It’s staying out of the middle of the plate. If you make a mistake with a team like that, with 300 plus home runs, as you said, that just says they don’t miss them. They don’t make mistakes. They do hit good pitches here and there. There’s nothing I can do about that. I just need to limit the mistakes to try and limit the damage.

Q. Considering it’s the playoffs and considering the bullpen you guys have, do you expect to work with a shorter leash, and does that factor into how you pitch, how you start a game?
JAMES PAXTON: No. I’m going to do what I do. I’m going to go as hard as I can for as long as I can, and when they take the ball away, they take the ball away. I’ve watched postseason games before, and it does seem like the leash is shorter, especially with the bullpen that we have, but I’m not going to concern myself with that. That’s the manager’s job, pitching coach’s job. I’m going to go out there and try do my job.

Q. How much of a turning point was your start in late July against the Red Sox? You’ve talked about how they sat fastball, adjusted to cutter, didn’t really look for the curveball. They end up with four homers in that game. You really incorporated the curveball after that. How much was that a turning point, and why did that work so well?
JAMES PAXTON: Yeah, I think that incorporating the curveball is really important because it’s just a change of speeds. When I throw the fastball at, say, 94 to 96, and then I throw the cutter at 88 to 91, they can kind of stay looking hard and just pull the cutter and run into it almost by accident sometimes. Whereas, if I throw the curveball at 80, 83, something like that, it will get them out front, and they won’t be able to cover two pitches with the same swing.

Q. Going with that, your confidence in your curveball seemed to grow in the second half. Was that the turning point, or is there something that let you buy in to having a better mix of pitches in the second half for you?
JAMES PAXTON: Yeah, I think that after seeing how the cutter was getting hit, we decided to mix in the curveball more, and as I threw the curveball more, I got more and more confident with that pitch, and the usage kind of went up from there.

Q. James, obviously, the weather changing might have an impact on the game. Do you prepare differently when you’re out there? Does the cold impact you when you’re pitching out there with a difference of 40 degrees from one day to the next here?
JAMES PAXTON: No, I won’t be concerned about the weather. I’ll be ready no matter what. I love pitching in any kind of weather.

Q. James, you were talking about how you waited for this moment, right? Like, this is the dream. Who did you call first? Who did you share that moment of you will be the Game 1 starter for the New York Yankees?
JAMES PAXTON: I’m trying to think of who I called first. My wife was right up there. She was one of the first. My parents and my brother and my two best friends, I called them.

Q. What did they say?
JAMES PAXTON: They were just really excited for me, super proud, super happy, and fired up to watch me pitch that Game 1. I think they’ve all been watching me for a long time, had my back, and just really proud of the hard work that I put in to get here. I feel very blessed to be where I am.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

“… you can look back on even the last eight, 10 years of postseason, there’s been a lot of young players that have come up and performed really well.” — Dave Roberts

NL DIVISION SERIES: NATIONALS VS DODGERS

October 3, 2019

Dave Roberts

Los Angeles, California – pregame 1

THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.

Q. How did you come about the 25 men that you chose for that roster, particularly May over Gonsolin and leaving Ferguson off as well.
DAVE ROBERTS: Those are tougher decisions. I think with Ferguson having Rich available starting Game 4, having two other left-handers was kind of the driving force behind that one. Gone is a Lynn, again, he’s a guy that gets lefties and righties out. He’s been built up for a couple, two, three innings. But to have May, who has really been lights out throwing the baseball, really dominant. And I think that just the stuff against certain hitters in their lineup, I think match up better. And with Ross Stripling being on the roster, to have Tony is a little bit redundant.

Q. As you go into postseason play what is your biggest concern about your team right now? Because you had things wrapped up for awhile.
DAVE ROBERTS: I really don’t — obviously you don’t know until you play the games how you’re going to play. I think all you can kind of manage is the preparation, the mindset, which we’re in a good place on both fronts. You just got to go out there and play. So I’m not worried about the pitching, the at-bats that we’re going to take, the quality. I know we’re prepared. Those guys are still going to try to get outs and get hits off our guys. As far as catching the baseball I think we have done that well after a little slump in the middle of the season. So I think that we’re in a good spot in health. JT, I’m assured that he’s in a good place. Richie is going to throw bullpen here, so we’re good there. So I think that on the health side, so we’re pretty excited.

Q. When did you or I guess when did you come to the decision to start Clayton in Game 2 and Ryu Game 3?
DAVE ROBERTS: It was a few days ago and it was more under the, just appreciating what Clayton has done out of the pen, and you’re talking about Game 5. And so, where you could potentially put all three of those guys in the hat and roll out your 1, 2 and 3 starters. But now when you dig a little bit deeper and understanding that Clayton has done it, he’s done well, you’ve got to prepare for a Game 5 if it does happen, so what best prepares you for that? And that’s Clayton pitching Game 2 and walker having the opportunity to pitch twice in this series. We just felt very good in that sense.

Q. You guys obviously have a couple very young players on your roster, 22, 23. Why do you think there’s such a willingness to trust such young guys around baseball in those spots and how does that compare maybe to when you were playing, how managers viewed 21, 22-year-old players.
DAVE ROBERTS: When I was playing there weren’t too many of those. I think that nowadays — and I think that you can look back on even the last eight, ten years of postseason, there’s been a lot of young players that have come up and performed really well. You look back at our three years, Seager was one of those young players, Bellinger was one of those young place, Urias, one of those young players. And now you’re kind of supplementing those guys with some other guys, some young, new faces in May and Smith and Gavin Lux. So I think that still the sum, the majority of the guys have a lots of experience, albeit some of these guys are still young. We just believe in those guys and I think that just the industry around baseball, you saw it last night, you get young guys coming out and making an impact and it just, you just know your players and you just believe in the talent, the stuff. And the guys that we have on our roster are very talented.

Q. If Rich is throwing a bullpen today do you still plan on having him available out of the bullpen today or tomorrow?
DAVE ROBERTS: Today, no. We’re going to get Rich in there and we, there was talk JP, but obviously him throwing a bullpen today, won’t be available tonight. And it’s going to be a smaller session, so tomorrow possibly, but, yeah, tonight, no.

Q. What did those four rookies in particular do to prove that they were ready for this moment as far as Smith and Lux and Beatty and May?
DAVE ROBERTS: I think that starting with Beatty, I think that his ability, we started him, he’s got a lot of big hits for us coming off the bench. I think he’s taken a lot of good at-bats. His ability to conduct a quality at-bat when you’re talking about velocity, stuff in the postseason I think that that’s a good bet. As far as Gavin, didn’t know a whole lot about him. Obviously, he was our minor league Player of the Year, had a tremendous season, and for me just seeing the way he moves, he’s in tune in the box, defensively, he really can catch the baseball. So that’s something that really excited me, because you can trust the defense. He played a lot of short stop. But the way he can turn a double play and make plays, the ball goes in his glove. And then the at-bat quality. I think, yeah, the numbers might not be over the top, but I think that when you look at him in the batters box he does a good job at swinging at strikes and taking balls. So that’s something with Gavin. With Will, I just liked, I like the guy a lot. I like the head, I like the compete, the acumen, the baseball acumen. And he’s tough. I joke a lot, the baby face, don’t let that fool you because this guy is as tough as they come. He’s a college kid, he’s groomed, he’s intelligent. So I think that — so that’s an easy one. I think that him and Russell are going to be really, work really well together. And the pitchers are really understanding, trusting Will and so that’s been really good to see that growth. With Dustin it’s, I know that Boonie used the term savage, but he’s a savage, man. He’s 6’5″, 6’6″ and there’s elbows and it’s a big leg kick and it’s 97 coming at you downhill with a cutter in there and there’s a big head of hair that you’re kind of trying to find the release point, so I just like him and he’s very confident.

Q. Following up on those questions about the young guys, how much has the clubhouse environment helped and the fact that you’ve got veterans that basically embrace these guys and there isn’t any having to earn your way and all that. They have embraced them right away.
DAVE ROBERTS: It’s a credit to the coaches and the players. I guess it’s the whole mindset, if you can’t beat them, join them. That’s where David Freese and Clayton and Kenley and JT, because there’s so many young players around, so you got to kind of conform, and you got to understand the way they think and what makes them tick and that is for me as well. So the young players aren’t going away. They’re very talented, in my opinion, more talent than we have ever seen in baseball. And so now the question is is how do you get the most out of these players on your particular ball club. And our guys have done a great job of that.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

“… I see the ball rolling in right field, and then I started screaming run, run, run.” — Dave Martinez

NL DIVISION SERIES: NATIONALS VS DODGERS

October 3, 2019

Dave Martinez

Los Angeles, California – pregame 1

Q. The game against the Brewers, 8th inning, have you ever seen an inning crazier than that?
DAVE MARTINEZ: Yeah, I’ve seen some pretty crazy ones, but that, hey, I like the way it ended up, that’s for sure. But, man, you know what, to play a game like that and play it at home and just watch the fans go crazy, it was almost — so there was two loud noises. There was the base hit from Soto, and I thought, yeah, you know, we’re going to get two run, and we’ll tie the game. And then I heard another roar, because I was looking down on my card because I was trying to figure out the bullpen, and when I look up and I’m going what’s going on, I see the ball rolling in right field, and then I started screaming run, run, run. And then we score the go ahead run and the fans just went — you guys saw all the pictures — but the fans, it was amazing, it was loud, it was electric, so proud of the boys. But it’s a testament to what they had done all year. They never feel like they’re out of any game. They play hard for 27 outs.

Q. Who is your Game 2 starter?
DAVE MARTINEZ: I was going to, I knew that you were going to ask me that question first, and I will tell you now, it’s Stephen Strasburg.

Q. How did you come to that decision?
DAVE MARTINEZ: I talked to him today, this morning, and he said he felt great and he wanted to pitch, so he’s ready to go. I wanted to make sure that he was good to go today. For me it’s like he threw a side of 34 pitches with intensity. That’s the way I looked at it the other day. So he says he feels really good, so he’s ready to go.

Q. So with that in mind does that mean that Anibal Sanchez is available in relief?
DAVE MARTINEZ: No, he’ll be, he’ll be in the bullpen.

Q. Would Stephen, I know you call it just like a heavy bullpen that he did the other day, but would he be limited in any way tomorrow night or it would be just like any other start?
DAVE MARTINEZ: There’s no limitations. He’s going to go out there and pitch and hopefully he gives us seven, eight strong innings.

Q. Was anything you needed to see in the last 24 hours to know?
DAVE MARTINEZ: I just wanted him to go through his routine yesterday and see how he comes out of it today. I spoke to him earlier today and he said he felt great.

Q. Does that mean have you Max lined up for Game 3 after that?
DAVE MARTINEZ: He he’s going to go through his daily routine and we’ll make that announcement here in the next day or so.

Q. It’s 10-year anniversary of Stephen being hailed as the greatest draft prospect ever. He’s had a really strong year, obviously a great outing in the wildcard game. How have you seen him grow and develop and flourish, if you will?
DAVE MARTINEZ: I’ve seen him, hey, this year Stephen, for me, even though he’s had unbelievable years, he’s come into his own, not just as a player but as an individual, as a teammate, he’s all in. I’ve seen a change in him. I’ll just tell you this, we celebrate, we do a lot of dancing, and I would never thought in my mind I would ever see Stephen Strasburg dance. He’s been dancing and his dancing is getting a lot better. And he kind of leads the whole dance party now so it’s kind of fun. But he’s been great. I think that I always mention this because last year he came back off of injury and his VELO wasn’t as good as it used to be and it bothered him a little bit. And we talked a lot about just learning how to pitch. Now you got to learn how to pitch. You’re stuff is so good, you just got to pitch. I think that helped him. September last year it helped him become what he’s doing right now. His routine, I say this all the time about his routine, his routine is unbelievable. I mean he works diligently. Everybody sees him the fifth day, but every day before his start, he works like a madman to get himself ready.

Q. Thinking back a little bit to 2017 when you saw him from the other side and he had those two pretty nasty starts against the Cubs, do you, what do you remember from him that year in that series against you guys?
DAVE MARTINEZ: Yeah, just an unbelievable, fierce competitor. I can remember that one game in Chicago, one of our players came back after he struck out, and he said, this is going to be a long day. I thought, oh, boy, that’s not good. Sure enough, it was. He gave up one run. So but that’s the kind of, I mean that’s the kind of stuff Stephen has. He wants the ball. The big thing now is he wants the ball. I talked to him yesterday when we got in, asked him how he felt. He goes, and I said, well, I would love for you to go Game 2, but if you think you need your five days, I get it, I understand. We can push it back. Today he came in, without hesitation he says, I want the ball. I’m ready to pitch. I feel great.

Q. Did he seek you out for that?
DAVE MARTINEZ: Yeah. He came to Paul. He came to me and said, hey, I’m ready. So he’s got the ball.

Q. Besides just his talent, what about Juan Soto did you see that sort of told you he was ready for the pressure of this moment in the playoffs at such a young age?
DAVE MARTINEZ: I saw him a couple years ago in spring training. We brought him up to play in a couple games as just a backup outfielder. He went and got some at-bats. One particular day we were playing Detroit in spring training, a tough left-handed pitcher. He comes up there, swings at a pitch, looks horrible, and shakes his head, steps out of the batters box, gets back in there. Next pitch was probably the same pitch, and he just stood there and looked at it and didn’t even budge. Shook his head. I thought, oh, you know, next pitch, guy throws a fastball up out over the plate, hits a double off the left center field wall. Then I realized, I said, man, like, I thought Juan Soto, but I said who is this kid right here? I said this kid’s all right. Next time he comes back up, kind of similar, swings at a first pitch breaking ball, steps back, shakes his head. Next pitch, hits a base hit to right field. Got him up for a third at-bat. He breaks a good at-bat, works a walk. And I realized I said this kid’s 19? Like, come on now. But then we get, then with all the injuries we had last year, Riz comes to my office and says, we’re bringing up Soto. And I looked at him and I go, what? He goes, we’re bringing up Soto. He’s going to have to learn how to play sooner or later.

(Laughter.)

He said don’t worry about his outfield, just, I said he’ll be all right. I said all right, well, we’ll teach him. Comes into my office and says, hey, look this is what, you got to learn how to play the game, every day you’re going to work. And didn’t play the first game. Next day we started him, played against a lefty first at-bat, goes deep the other way left center field, and I thought, okay, you know, this, we’ll just teach him. Honestly, by watching him he taught me a lot about what kind of person he is, how competitive he is. Now he’s grown into that guy where he is a guy for us. He likes the big moments. The 50,000 fans, the big lights, doesn’t bother him a bit. He just loves to play the game. He steps in the batters box, as you all know, we call it the Soto shuffle. But that’s no intention to show anybody up, it’s him getting ready for the next pitch. That’s just who he is. He’s a very intense kid, he loves to hit, he loves to play the game. Besides his hitting, he’s gotten so much better in the outfield, it’s unbelievable. Liked, I looked at his numbers at the end of the year, and he’s probably one of the best left fielders for sure in the National League, based on numbers, based on what I’ve seen. So he’s gotten a lot better.

Q. Could you give us a little bit of a detailed breakdown on Strasburg’s dancing? What you thought was weak earlier in the year and how he’s improved?
DAVE MARTINEZ: I won’t do that now. Maybe later on I’ll do it.

Q. Can you show us?
DAVE MARTINEZ: Hey, you just imagine. But I’m proud of him. I really am. Like I said, he’s become one of those quiet leaders in our clubhouse and he’s just done a tremendous job for us all year.

Q. In the back of your mind with him starting Game 2, having him available for Game 5 on regular rest, is that part of this decision at all or just kind of an added bonus?
DAVE MARTINEZ: No, in my mind I like the way that sets up, yeah. It had a lot to do with it. The biggest thing was I wanted him to come to me and I wanted him to own it. I wasn’t going to pressure him into doing anything because he’s done a lot for us already. We wouldn’t be here right now. He was a big reason why we are here. He came in and gave us three innings, unbelievable innings. So I wanted it to be his idea.

Q. We all saw what Alex Cora did last year with the Red Sox. You, being a manager now in the playoffs of Puerto Rican descent, can you tell us what that means to you to kind of carry that torch?
DAVE MARTINEZ: For me it’s, I’m proud to be of Spanish decent, and I’m proud of the people of Puerto Rico, but also proud and I represent all Latin Americans.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports