Oct. 1 Brad Ausmus pregame interview

An interview with BRAD AUSMUS

THE MODERATOR: We are going to start with Brad Ausmus.

Q. Hi, Brad. To pick up where we left off yesterday, is there anything new at this point either on Rajai or can you tell us anything about the lineup?

BRAD AUSMUS: Rajai came in today, felt much better, but we gotta get past that point of him making some baseball moves in terms of running, exploding out of the box and taking swings, which he hasn't done yet. So we don't really have any finality on Rajai or the roster.

Q. Starting lineup?

BRAD AUSMUS: Not yet, no.

Q. To follow up on that, is there any clarity on how many pitchers you might carry, how many relievers in the backup or is that depending ‑‑

BRAD AUSMUS: We've narrowed it down for sure, but at this point, I'm not ready to say exactly the number of pitchers we're going to have.

Q. Brad, with the guys you're going to be able to throw out there in this series and knowing that they score about 47, 48% of their runs on home runs, how does that change the way you approach it? Does it change it?

BRAD AUSMUS: I think the approach is still the same. Your pitchers try to attack the hitters' weakness and they try to pitch to their strength. And when those two match up, it works well for pitchers.

But in terms of an overall approach to a series, you never want to go into a series or game giving up home runs, and you don't go into a series thinking you're going to hit home runs. You want to stop them from getting hits, never mind going over the wall. So despite the ton of home runs they've hit, it doesn't change the approach.

Q. If we see Rajai on the roster when its released tomorrow morning, does that mean you feel that in tomorrow night's game, he can play his game of stolen bases? Or does that mean you hope by some point in this series he will be well enough to play his game?

BRAD AUSMUS: Quite frankly, it could be either. Again, I don't know what Rajai's status is going to be. I will have a better idea when the workout is finished, but I may not know until tomorrow morning.

Q. You last played the Orioles back in May and in a baseball season, that can be almost like a lifetime. What have you noted about what has changed about them and is there anything that you draw from those earlier games given that a lot has changed since?

BRAD AUSMUS: I think our players certainly can go back in the memory bank and remember when they faced certain pitchers or how the games went.

When we came into Baltimore, we were hot, and after we left Baltimore, really, Baltimore was hot pretty much the rest of the way. So Buck and his staff and his team obviously have done an excellent job. They've the second best record in the American League and I think they're probably a lot more of a confident team than they were when we last saw them.

Q. Brad, when you did last see the Orioles, Hunter was the closer there. They have Britton, they added Andrew Miller since you've last seen them. What's your thought about their bullpen?

BRAD AUSMUS: I think Britton has established himself since we last saw Baltimore as one of the better closers in the game. He's been outstanding. They acquired Andrew Miller, who obviously had a track record coming in. It's a different in the sense that you have two left‑handers in the back of the bullpen. You don't see that very often. And now you've got a closer who can pitch in the 6th or 7th inning and. That's not a bad position to be in if you're the Orioles. So they've done a good job and that's part of the reason they've been so successful.

Q. As a manager, Brad, putting together this Rubik's cube that you have to do in the back end of a bullpen in a game, how have you been able to balance your need for wanting to get Joakim Soria and Anibal Sanchez some work, the fact that you want to utilize them as resources, but also blending that with the fact that your starters have been going deep into games and you've defined Joba and Nathan as your 8th and 9th inning options? How have you worked that out in your mind?

BRAD AUSMUS: I think you go in understanding that the backbone of this team has been the starting pitching. Coming into the season that was probably our biggest strength prior to acquiring David Price, and I think it still continues to be our biggest strength.

Joba has done a nice job in the 8th inning. Joe had a better second half. And you're right about both those pitchers because you want to get them in. I wish I could have gotten Sanchee one more inning going into the last weekend, but David Price pitched so well the final day, there was no need to go to him.

That being said, Sanchee will obviously be available and I'm still fully confident in him pitching in "high stress" situations. This is a guy who has excellent stuff. He's battle‑tested and I don't think he will have a problem coming out of the bullpen, so I don't anticipate a problem.

But you're accurate in the sense of getting him in there ‑‑ wish I could have done it more, but we were coming down to the wire where we needed to win every game and we had to make moves based on that.

Q. Your first year managing in this, you have players who are tested in the playoffs and game 5 wins at this ALDS three straight years. How does that help now?

BRAD AUSMUS: Well, for guys who have been through it before, I think the experience is an enormous help. You understand that the distractions are greater, that the spotlight is brighter and hotter, but ultimately when you step in between the lines, the game is the same.

When you've gone through it, I think you become more adept at slowing the game down, not swing at the white of the ball as soon as it leaves the pitchers's hands, but getting a good pitch to hit. You don't let the adrenaline take over. You learn to control the adrenaline and use it to your advantage.

The big plus about those players in the clubhouse, is the young players that haven't been through it, can watch them, see how they go about their business or ask them. I do firmly believe the experience in the postseason helps you with more postseason play.

Q. Follow‑up on Anibal Sanchez. When you say you would be comfortable bringing him in in a high‑level situation, what about the idea of bringing him in with runners on base? Is that something you would be comfortable with?

BRAD AUSMUS: If I felt like he was our best opportunity to get out of that inning, yes.

Q. With Price set to go in Game 3 on Sunday, what's your philosophy in pitching short rests out of the bullpen for a do‑or‑die hypothetical Game 5?

BRAD AUSMUS: If he had to pitch out of the bullpen and we were in game 5, it's all hands on deck.

Q. Kind of expanding on that, can you talk about how you would ‑‑ how managing the pitching staff is different in a short series compared to a regular season?

BRAD AUSMUS: I don't know. You might have to ask me after the short series. But generally speaking, I think decisions come a little quicker. Like I mentioned, I still believe that the starting staff is the backbone of our team and certainly the backbone of our pitching staff. So I might give them a little more leeway than another manager might, but if the train seems to be coming off the track and a move has to be made, it might come earlier in a postseason short series than it would in a game in the middle of June.

Q. Being that you have a little time now between the end of the regular season and this game coming up tomorrow, how did things change for you as far as focusing in on one team where you're going series‑too‑series and now you have time?

BRAD AUSMUS: It does give you time if you have to go through the numbers, the reports, and you don't have that luxury when you play a team for three days and you turn around and play another team for three days without a break in between. But with this three‑day rest, it's given us plenty of time to get our ducks in a row.

Q. I was just talking to J.D. and Nick about the young guys, the new guys, and they were saying how the veterans, not only do they lead the way with their experience and confidence, but it's also keeping them light and keeping them loose and not wearing the weight of any expectations on their shoulders. Can you talk about how that veteran core and their levity makes this team better and how you think it's made you guys better this season?

BRAD AUSMUS: We've had that all season with this group including the coaching staff. I think if you keep that even keel and you kind of have that clubhouse banter going back and forth, it releases some of the tension. And baseball, like anything, is tough to play when there is tension. The more relaxed and comfortable you are, the easier it is to let the game come on you. And I think guys like Miggy, Victor, Kinsler, they bring that levity to the clubhouse, because they've experienced it.

Q. With Max Scherzer going tomorrow, can you speak to the season he had and you're trusting him to set the tone for the staff this series?

BRAD AUSMUS: He's had another excellent season. I remember him saying at Spring Training, I don't know if I read it or heard him say it, to expect him to have a season this year like he did last year just wasn't going to happen. Well he came pretty darn close.

The one thing he has, I've said it all year long, he has a fastball that can be a swing‑and‑miss fastball, and you don't see many swing‑and‑miss fastballs at the Major League level. It's nice to have that to lean on, especially when you get behind in the count. He's improved his breaking stuff. His curve ball is a lot better this year, he's always had the slider, the change‑up is good. He is a four‑pitch pitcher. He can get out of first‑and‑third positions by getting a strikeout and he's a number‑one‑type pitcher. We certainly feel comfortable sending him to the mound.

Q. Brad, since your introductory press conference, you have stressed the importance of speed. Would you like to comment on the Kansas City come‑back and what it showed about baseball?

BRAD AUSMUS: It was a great time, I was trying to get a good night's sleep and I ended up staying up late. Even their medium speed guys can steal bases. But when you put a guy like Gore or Dyson on the bases, it can change a game, especially in a close game or tie game late. That's their weapon and I think they did a nice job of using it and they showed that last night.

Q. Brad, you were able to use Joakim Soria in different situations down the stretch in 7th inning and also bringing him in with runners on base. As you go into this series, do you see a bunch of potential situations or potential roles where you could have him fill gaps?

BRAD AUSMUS: I'll say this: I would feel comfortable putting Joakim Soria into any situation. Again, the game will dictate sometimes what that situation is, but I would feel comfortable in just about ‑‑ other than starting the game, I would feel comfortable with just about any situation with Joakim.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Brad.