October 24, 2019
Washington, D.C. – Workout Day
Q. Jeff was just in here for 20 minutes, and obviously you guys are in the middle of the World Series, we asked you about this a couple of days ago, what impact has everything going on had on your team that’s trying to win games in the World Series, impact on you and just everything surrounding what’s going on?
AJ HINCH: Yeah, I appreciate the question. I think a lot — people have spoken on this. I’ve spoken on this, I addressed it right away. Jeff just spoke.
I don’t know the answer. I think anything that I say, I don’t want it to be construed as taking away what the Nats have done – they’ve outplayed us, that’s the bottom line in this.
We’re very sensitive as a club to everything that’s gone on. But I would like — we’ve got our hands full getting to Game 3 and getting a win in this series and getting at least two out of the next three in order for us to get this series back to Houston. So I don’t think we’ll know until we get well into the offseason and kind of process all this.
But I continue to be disappointed and just sorry that it happened.
Q. On another topic, how are you weighing Alvarez in the outfield, home plate versus the outfield?
AJ HINCH: Yeah, that’s always hard. And I remember getting this question in the middle of the season when Yordan came up and we went to a couple of National League ballparks, I played him in left field. And there was always this question about, Hey, if you’re in the World Series you’re going to need him in the outfield. I’m like, Hey, just give me that problem, and now I have that problem. Be careful what you wish for, but it’s a good problem to have.
I do like the at-bats he’s had specifically in the last game or two. The balance of where to play defense, where to keep your weapons on the bench, playing a National League game where you anticipate a few pinch-hits, having some resources on the bench in order for a big at-bat. I put Tucker in that at-bat yesterday with first and second with Strasburg at the end of his outing.
I’m weighing all of that. This is a really big left field, and I’m taking into consideration that. So we’ve talked about it a little bit. I can probably talk myself in and out of every scenario.
I don’t think we play all three games here without him seeing the outfield. I’m not sure that will be tomorrow. Right now I’m kind of leaning against it. But I’ll make that decision when I have to.
Q. How tough is it to take his bat out of the lineup given how well he’s been hitting in the series?
AJ HINCH: Look, I think it’s always important to balance that. It’s important as it can be unless we don’t make a play in the outfield and I’ve got two guys out of position and we give up runs that way.
Again, those are the nature of tough issues or tough problems. While I think we need as much offense as we can get, certainly with runners in scoring position. I think it also is smart when you’re facing a team like the Nats that put the ball in play, that challenge you with an up-tempo, fast style of play, there’s the other side of the ball, as well.
So I’m valuing how much defense — if I’ve got to play three to six innings of defense in order to get those two at-bats that you’re referring or do I wait for the big at-bat and have him pinch-hit. That’s the nature of managing, I’ll have to make that decision.
Q. Whether it’s base running or hitting with runners in scoring position, what are the areas that you think you guys just absolutely need to do better here in Washington?
AJ HINCH: I’m not sure I would drag base running into it. I think we’ve made a couple of aggressive mistakes, but not necessarily see that as a problem.
And I think winning the at-bats when the game can turn is critical. They’ve done a good job of making contact. They’ve done a good job of finding holes. I think we’ve put up some competitive at-bats in those situations, but not always coming through with the big base hit.
What to do more or what to change. We’re competing. We’re trying to win the at-bat. And I remember early in the series when Michael Brantley smokes a ball down the left field line and he makes a running catch, that’s not bad hitting, that’s not necessarily even plus defense, that’s just baseball.
It’s hard unless you go through every single scenario where you feel like you have to maximize your opportunities. I just think we’ve got to be better across the board in putting more pressure on them and maybe separating ourselves a little bit and having them feel what it’s like to have a big inning put up against them.
Q. Correa said last night there was a players-only meeting. What do you think the benefit could be of that in the aftermath?
AJ HINCH: I think the players-only component of that is a touch aggressive. I think they were just players talking in a group. I asked the guys about it, because I heard about it. Guys trying to pick each other up. I think guys are trying to fight for the season. It’s a seven-game series, four you have to win. They’ve won two and a lot of questions are coming our way as if — yes, it’s an uphill battle, but it’s not impossible. Not when you have the best record in baseball over the course of 162 games.
I assume that was a little bit more of what it was. In talking to a couple of the guys I would temper a little bit of the players-only dramatic meeting that everybody loves to ask about whenever we lose a couple of games. I think it was the players picking up players.
Q. Do you think there’s an element of shock with the group, 100-plus wins and getting to the World Series, lose both at home, giving up 12 the other night?
AJ HINCH: I don’t think shock because we respect the Nats and what they bring. And we faced Scherzer and Strasburg. We battled them pretty tough. We had about a hit or two away from the things you guys have to talk about, and ask about, and write about, being completely different.
So I think we’re still optimistic. We understand that we missed a couple of opportunities to win at home, certainly with our big boys pitching.
But to be around our club is to know that our club has a lot of confidence and we have a lot of resilience. A week ago we lost Game 1 to the Yankees and they were going to sweep us. We have to bounce back in this ballpark similar to how we did at Yankee Stadium, and put pressure back on the Nats to have to try to close it out.
Q. Last time Greinke pitched he was hit with both trash talking and trash throwing over his social anxiety. Are you concerned that will resurrect itself tomorrow?
AJ HINCH: I hope not. There’s no place for that. We’ve talked this week about there’s no place for a lot of things in our game, and that’s certainly another thing that we could be better as a whole and an industry to avoid piling on anyone’s issues.
And Zack is terrific at handling it. He compartmentalizes all that. It was unfortunate that he’s faced that before. But I have no fear or concern, like you asked, that the environment here, while it will be pro Nationals and very enthusiastic toward rooting against us, that’s not a problem. But I would like everybody to keep it clean, sure.
Q. You talked about aggressiveness, because you’ve won so many games playing loose, free, and aggressive. Any indication of pressing at all from your guys?
AJ HINCH: Dramatic pause. Zero. (Laughter.)
Q. What type of feel did you get around your guys getting on the plane, getting here, just kind of getting that read?
AJ HINCH: We’re ready to play. This is a group of guys that have won a lot of games. And I understand that everybody wants the pressure put on us. That’s great. We’ve responded great to pressure. I understand they have a 2-0 lead. Their view of the finish line is a little closer than ours.
But I wonder what everybody will feel like if we can win Game 3? And all of a sudden it flips a little bit. And all of a sudden we put up a few runs. And all of a sudden you can write that we’re back in it.
I sense our players will be ready to play. It won’t be easy. An�bal S�nchez is throwing the ball well. This lineup has found a way to catch momentum and be really tough at putting them away.
So it’s the World Series. It’s two of the best teams in the League competing to try to get to four wins. I understand that. But there’s no gloom and doom with us. We’ve got to try to do better. We’ve got an opportunity to do it in Game 3 and absolutely flip any sort of perceived momentum in our direction.
Q. Is there any level of concern with Ryan Pressly? Do you think his struggles are related to the knee at all?
AJ HINCH: You know what, no concern because I trust him and I believe in him. Execution’s always key. I actually thought he made better pitches the other night than he did even prior to that in the postseason.
So I’m not sure which one of you put out there, but I got to read — all those hits were pretty low contact, low velocity. And so I don’t think — he wasn’t beat around the ballpark. They found some holes. They put up good at-bats. They made contact. And they put up a couple of runs.
This is not a time to hang your head. This is not a time to abandon your players or have fear or concern. I’m going to try to put him in a better position to be successful. But we’re going to need him to pitch well for us to win four games.
Q. When you guys were playing the Yankees, I noticed that there was more pressure, more of that sense of pressure on the Yankees’ side than on the Astros’ side even in that first game. What is it about this team that helps them to stay in that calm mentality and just enjoy the game?
AJ HINCH: Well, we’ve been there. I think I get asked a lot about experience. We’ve got a lot of guys that have been there. We’ve got great leadership in the clubhouse. We’ve got some experiences to draw from whether we’ve been questioned or whether we’ve been beat.
It’s even funny, go back into this season, we won our franchise record number of games, but we still had a number about of losing streaks where I would sit in a chair similar to this and ask what’s wrong with this team. That’s just the way it is. So I think our guys are used to having questions like that with anything that’s gone wrong at all.
You win the World Series, the next time you lose a game you get asked, is everything okay? And the more experience you get with that the more you feel comfortable in your own skin. I think our players believe in themselves. I think they believe in the teammate next to them. We have a good process in place to game plan against the Nats. Now we have two games to learn from where they’ve played pretty well. And our guys believe we’re going to win the World Series.
Q. What are the different ways different guys go about alleviating the pressure at times like this?
AJ HINCH: That’s assuming we have pressure. I didn’t even admit that we have pressure.
Q. It’s mostly self pressure.
AJ HINCH: You telling me I’ve got pressure. I don’t feel that guys have to alleviate anything. If anything I’ve got to figure out a way to get these guys to 8:00 Eastern tomorrow night without bouncing off the walls in the hotel room ready to play. These guys are real guys in there.
Funny, last time I was here I was managing the All-Star Game. And then I look in our room and I look around and a lot of those guys were here. I’ve got a room full of All-Stars. And All-Stars that have played well in times of winning and times of losing. I don’t think there’s a lot of pressure for us to alleviate. I think we have to win Game 3.
Q. I know you’d rather have the DH. Does Zack’s ability to swing the bat a little bit, does that change the way you might manage a situation?
AJ HINCH: I’m glad that Zack’s here. We put him in Game 3 mostly because he’s behind JV and Gerrit. But it does help that Game 3 here is in the National League city and he’s familiar with the bat and he can move things around.
That dilemma — it’s a little different in the playoffs. In a regular season game you would say, Hey, that helps me in that 5th and 6th inning decision when a guy can handle the bat, maybe squeeze a couple innings out of him.
I’ll have to determine whether that’s worth it at the point — at that juncture of the game given that it’s a World Series game. I can move guys a little bit. We can hit and run. He can bunt. He’s a very, very smart baseball player.
So I guess we’ll see if it changes how I manage his at-bats and where we are when he gets up to bat. That fifth-, sixth-inning, seventh-inning dilemma when the pitcher’s spot comes up, it’s still the same dilemma whether Zack can hit or if I have a guy up there, to remain nameless, who can’t hit.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports