World Series Media Day: Hinch interview

Q. What has it been like? I mean, it took seven games to get through the ALCS, you get on the plane, come here, it was kind of a whirlwind? What’s it been like for you?

A.J. HINCH: It is. The schedule is pretty crazy, just because of the emotions. I don’t think any of us allowed ourselves to pack until we knew we needed to pack. Just the superstitious side of all of us. But it was a whirlwind, obviously the celebration after Game 7, just the emotion that goes into it. And obviously we left the next day. Got here last night. And then you’re trying to hurry and prep for a team that you rarely see. We’ll take it. The fatigue or the uncertainty of the game plans and stuff like that, we’ll spend for the next 24 hours. But what a range of emotions and just pure joy and appreciation for being here and kind of general excitement. Your body feels pretty good right now, even though we know what time of the year it is.

Q. How would you describe what Jose Altuve means to this ballclub?

A.J. HINCH: Well, I don’t know any more ways to describe Jose other than he’s as close to perfect as you can imagine as a manager. He does everything right. And I’ve used this before, but he’s every bit what’s right about our team and our organization and represents so much of what we do. His consistency is second to none in the Big Leagues. It’s why I believe he’s the MVP of the League. From April to May through June, July, August into September and now we’re seeing October, I don’t know anybody that’s been able to maintain their performance and improve their performance over time than him. So we’re hard to beat when he’s right, and he’s right a lot of days. The hits are real. The defense is real. The presence that he’s starting to grow into as a leader, albeit a quiet one is felt by all of us, whether it’s players, coaches, organization and the whole City of Houston.

Q. I wanted to ask you, I know you respect the other team. Can you talk about what it’s like to have your team go up against Clayton Kershaw?

A.J. HINCH: Look, at this time of year you’re not going to face too many guys that aren’t pretty good, and it’s hard to argue that you’re going to face anybody better than Kershaw. He’s got every weapon that you would fear. He’s got that competitiveness that every ace has. He’s got some hardware on his shelf at home. And he’s pitching in front of his home crowd. There’s a lot of things tilted in his favor. But we’re not going to back down. We’re not afraid of him. We’re not going to concede anything because we’ve got a pretty good team on our own side. A lot of respect for Dave and Doc and the guys that are across the way, Clayton Kershaw, all the way through their entire roster. They didn’t sneak up on anybody this year. There was some crazy performances out of them, but we’ll compete with them. We’ll do our best.

Q. Could I also ask you, I was down in Houston when all the flooding happened and talked to you at that point. This team, I know you’re playing for yourself, but is there part of you that’s playing for the people who are the victims, the survivors, and just the whole City of Houston in the sense that they have gone through so much?

A.J. HINCH: Well, I think anytime you’re on the national stage you play for your city. I think that goes across the board. I think when something like the hurricane happens, there’s an even greater responsibility to represent your city and bring awareness to the things that are needed to rebuild our great city. On top of that we have a lot of players that were affected by a couple of hurricanes after that, in Puerto Rico, the Dominican, Venezuela, just the international component of our team. We played with a heavy heart for a long time because of what’s happened to a lot of our families. When we got back from Hurricane Harvey from being relocated, that sense of urgency came from wanting to do so something special for our city. Obviously we had some additions during that time – Justin Verlander came, Cam Maybin came, Correa got healthy. There was a lot of positive momentum back towards our team. But we could feel how important the Astros became to the City of Houston and the residents. And we have great respect for what’s going on there. And it’s not done yet. The rebuild is not over. The time has passed but the recovery is going to take a lot longer. What does the World Series do to that city? Obviously it gives home hope. It gives appreciation. It gives a smile or two for people going through some hard times. And for that we’re happy to be a part of it.

Q. How did you and Dave Roberts become friends? And what were the ties that bound you, the mutual interests, and what’s it like now?

A.J. HINCH: Well, we’re not friends this week (laughter). We’re mortal enemies. But Dave Roberts and I have known each long a long time, dating back to college. We both were in the Pac. He was at UCLA; I was at Stanford. We played in the same era, albeit in different leagues. I did not steal a base in any sort of important game, so he’s got that on me. But then we really became close friends in San Diego, when we worked together while he was a coach on the field, I was an assistant GM and sort of a liaison for the coaching staff. I traveled with them and became a little bit more bonded with them. Over the years I’ve gotten to know him a lot better, our families are friends. We shared a breakfast in July that — where we both, we kind of rooted each other on that we would meet each other in October and fight out for the World Series. Now we’ve got to be careful what we wish for; we have to go up against each other’s teams. I love the man. He’s an excellent example of what leadership should be about. I have a lot of respect for how he connects well with players and how he’s leading his team. And I’m really happy and proud that we’re in this together.