“He’s about as unique a story as you’re going to find, and in a way, probably that whole story and everything that goes along with it is probably what’s made him who he is and what’s allowed him to take this journey and find his way to the big leagues. He’s been great. It’s been fun to watch him.” -Rocco Baldelli on Twins’ Game 2 starter Randy Dobnak.

AL DIVISION SERIES: TWINS VS YANKEES

October 5, 2019

Rocco Baldelli

New York, New York – pregame 2

Q. Rocco, do you have a firm plan on when Berrios will pitch next, or is it contingent on what happens the next couple of games?
ROCCO BALDELLI: We don’t. No firm plan right now. We’ll play today, play today out, and treat it kind of one day at a time after that and then kind of probably plan for a few different scenarios, but definitely nothing yet.

Q. Rocco, with your starter today, Randy, he’s had an interesting last week to ten days since he started last. So what’s been his routine? How is he staying sharp for what is going to be the biggest start of his life?
ROCCO BALDELLI: So Randy doesn’t complicate things. He’ll talk about everything that he’s going to do before today’s game, which is probably just sit around and do very little and treat it as a regular outing. We wouldn’t want him to change a thing. This is — there’s a lot going on here. We’ve got the playoff game. We have media sessions. We have all kinds of stuff. This is a guy that he shuts all that stuff out really well, and he’s going to probably do nothing different from any other outing that he’s ever had.

He’s treated his starts even earlier this year almost in a funny fashion. He just walks out there kind of later than anybody else and throws a few pitches and gets loose pretty quick and takes the mound, and he’s thrown the ball very, very well. He’s about as unique a story as you’re going to find, and in a way, probably that whole story and everything that goes along with it is probably what’s made him who he is and what’s allowed him to take this journey and find his way to the big leagues. He’s been great. It’s been fun to watch him.

Q. Rocco, when you’re facing a team that you know is going to likely go to its bullpen relatively early and match up aggressively, does that affect the way you construct your lineup, or are you just still — I mean, I know you have a bench, too, but are you still just basically making a lineup regarding the starting pitcher?
ROCCO BALDELLI: One strength I think that we have is that we are able to put a pretty balanced lineup out there. It’s something that we’ve gone with for most of the year. You do get to go away from that a little bit in September if you want because you have so many different options to turn to over the course of a game, but in a scenario where you’re in this type of situation, I think it’s helpful. It allows us, especially with our switch hitters, to balance things out. You don’t get into many runs where you end up with several left-handed, right-handed hitters back to back.

So this is the way we’ve operated all year. It’s worked very well for us. I think it’s forced pitchers to change their approach and what they’re trying to do on a batter to batter basis, and I think it’s something we’re going to continue to roll with.

Q. Rocco, after playing all but just a handful of games in left field this year, you have Eddie in right field for this series. What were the factors that went into that decision, and would you expect that to be the case at Target Field, as well?
ROCCO BALDELLI: It may change. We bounced Eddie back and forth a reasonable amount. Eddie is also — he also has some history going back, playing some right field earlier in his career. I believe he also did in the WBC. He’s very comfortable playing anywhere. He’s been very open about being willing to play pretty much anywhere on the field. Also, Cave, Marwin, these are guys that are very comfortable. I like having these guys as interchangeable pieces that are able to do some different things.

I think Rosy’s arm plays well, too, in right field, but Marwin has a great — I mean, Marwin can throw really as well, too. There probably wasn’t one reason for it. There probably wasn’t even two. Just factoring in the big picture and all of these smaller factors, we decided to go with him in right. It definitely does not come down to one or two things.

Q. Rocco, did you have to check with Arraez this morning to make sure his ankle was okay before putting him in the lineup, or were you pretty comfortable after last night’s game that he’d be good to go today?
ROCCO BALDELLI: We always check with our guys, especially the guys that are coming off something, but we were pretty confident with the way he came out of the game that he was fine. It’s easy to talk — he’s coming off this injury, and the ball certainly found him many times yesterday. He was involved in a lot of different plays. I thought he actually ran well. You can certainly see in a very minor way that it’s certainly not as a point where he’s at an absolute 100 percent. He could go out there, and you’re not going to see any sign of it, but I think he’s fully capable of playing.

He actually ran, speed-wise, well. I think I saw Doe’s tweet — do it, Doe. Was it you? I thought it was you — sitting at home last night that he actually ran down the line pretty well, verified it. He came back pretty good. But, he was fine. The plays in the field. Those are plays that I think he makes tonight, he probably makes 95 percent of the time. We probably should have turned the double play anyway regardless.

And I think he had good at-bats. That’s also something he’s done from beginning to end, and we would anticipate to see that from him again. He looks fine swinging the bat.

Q. Rocco, you mentioned Randy’s story. When did that first hit your radar? What do you remember hearing first about him?
ROCCO BALDELLI: We’ll get — periodically, through the year, you start hearing about guys in the system, guys that are throwing the ball well. Dob’s name started to come up. You know, sinker, slider, real sinker, real slider, commands it well, competes well over the course of an outing, and that’s really where it was for a little while.

We’re playing throughout May — well, through the middle of the year, really. Then you look up, and he’s pitching himself into a place where you’re talking about him, and that’s — in and of itself, that’s an accomplishment. Then as the season continued to move on, we were talking about options initially for our bullpen, for who knows what. Spot starts, bullpen, but guys that can come in and help us. He put himself in a spot where he was going to be a big leaguer and we were going to use him.

We’ve used him in different ways since he’s shown up. Would we have expected, when he arrived, that he’d be pitching Game 2 at Yankee Stadium in the playoffs? I don’t know. If anyone was thinking that, I would love to meet that person and have a chat with him. He’s earned all of this. He’s throwing the ball exceptionally well. Every time we hand him the ball, he gives us a chance to get through that outing or gives us a chance to win if he’s starting.

I feel good about handing him the ball today. I’m excited to watch him go out there and do what he’s been doing. He’s been phenomenal.

Q. Rocco, how much has the grind, the workload of this managing job compared to what you thought going into it? And how much do you think it’s changed from when you were a rookie playing for Lou?
ROCCO BALDELLI: Wow, we could probably talk for a while about that. Those are — I like talking about the players and everything that they’re doing. I’ll try to keep it short, though.

The role is definitely different than anything I’ve ever experienced. The one really cool part about the role — not really part of your question, but I figured I’d add it in — is you get to watch other people succeed around you and reach their goals and do great things, and to be a part of it, as the manager of the team, is very, very fulfilling. It’s probably the best part of the job. And every day we get to see that.

And we’ve seen a lot of guys go out there — not just the players. I’m talking staff. I’m talking everybody that’s involved here. We have a wonderful group. We support each other very well. It’s something that I personally take pride in, the way that we conduct our business. But those are the moments for me. The wins and losses matter, and they’re great, and that’s what we’re here for. We want to win a World Series. On top of all of that, though, the important part is the people and creating that environment that allows people to succeed. Again, that’s what makes me feel good.

It’s probably different than 2003 and walking in and working with Lou, and I learned a lot from Lou. He was always very, very good to me and very supportive of me, and I thank him for that very much. I think the environment, the people, everything about what’s going on at the big league level is probably different than it was at that time. That’s probably for a different day and a different place to really talk about and get into.

Q. Rocco, the home runs have obviously been a big part of what you guys have done this year and part of the offense last night. Also, Polanco stole a base, which has been pretty uncommon for you guys, and it looked like C.J. was trying to execute a hit and run on the one where he kind of threw the bat out. I’m just curious with the way your lineup is constructed and sort of the game, the way that it’s played now. What does the calculus look like for those small ball kind of moves, especially this time of year?
ROCCO BALDELLI: I think it totally depends on your personnel, what they do, what they’re capable of, their skill set, and then how the particular game is playing out. There have been a few times this year where we’ve looked to move a runner or steal a base and things like that. For the most part, we will swing the bat, and we’re going to give our guys an opportunity to impact the ball. I think that gives us the best shot to win, looking at our players and what they can do.

But, again, a lot of these particular scenarios where you might end up playing some sort of small ball, they’re there, but I think they have to play out in a very particular — the game has to play out in a very particular way where we’ll see them with the guys that we have.

We have some pretty talented — you talk about Polanco, he can do a lot of different things. If you do need something late in the game, he can do pretty much anything. He’s capable. He’ll lay a bunt down for a hit. He’ll move a runner. He can steal a base. He can move, he can do some things. We can see it, but it’s going to have to be with a particular group of players in a certain spot in the game.

Q. Rocco, when you look at the bullpen last night, how concerning was it, and what is one — is it a matter of guys just got to throw more strikes? What do you take from last night?
ROCCO BALDELLI: Well, for one, we talked about this in here already, our bullpen’s been great. Our bullpen has carried us throughout this year. We’ve given our group small leads many times, and they’ve brought us to victory. We’re going to continue to rely on those guys. I’m not concerned with our group at all. It really just comes down to executing pitches. Again, when you throw the ball fine, when you throw the ball just okay, that’s probably not good enough against a good offense. You’re going to have to do a little bit better than that. But I have complete faith in all of our guys from the very top to the bottom of our bullpen that they can do that.

We won’t get into every single guy that we brought in. Every situation is different. Every guy we brought in responded a little bit differently. We’re going to go back to these same guys again and hopefully some of the other guys that actually didn’t get in the game last night.

Q. Rocco, why Dobnak in this game and not Jake? And how much was experience, especially with the importance now of this game in considering deciding not to go with the guy who has pitched in this stadium before?
ROCCO BALDELLI: We certainly discussed it a lot. I think this stadium is a pretty unique venue. We talk about the energy of being in a playoff atmosphere here, that’s one thing. It’s also a stadium where you probably want to keep the ball down as best you can. Dobnak hasn’t pitched in the big leagues for long, but he keeps the ball down and on the ground probably as well as almost any pitcher in the big leagues, I think. So that’s definitely a factor.

We’re going to have Jake coming back regardless at home. I think we were all very comfortable with that decision. I think the pitchers themselves were comfortable with it too. I feel good about throwing Dobnak out there. I don’t think of this game as any different than any game that we’ve played. I don’t think, even in the five-game series, that there’s any added emphasis on today’s game. Every game is important. It doesn’t change the importance based on what happened in the previous game until you’re down to the last game and both teams know that they have to win that game, it’s not going to change the way that we’re really going to operate with our personnel.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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