Hendriks Not Willing to Change His Game Just to Suit Dodger Stadium

Oakland Athletics closer Liam Hendriks is a fly ball pitcher, and he says that's not going to change just because the ball tends to fly out of Dodger Stadium. He's willing to trust his pitches to get the job done, knowing that in the past when he's tried to change his game, it hasn't gone well.
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Liam Hendriks didn’t pitch in Game 1 of the American League Division Series Monday, but fully expects that six balls hit out of the park during Game 1 won’t be enough to get him to change his game any once he does get the call.

The A’s and the Astros each hit three Monday homers in Dodger Stadium, the host for this portion of the ALDS. Neither will the five, four and two homers hit in the three-game series the A’s played against the Dodgers here the final week of the regular season.

When it’s warm in Southern California – and it’s supposed to be 87 or 88 degrees at first pitch Tuesday at 1:35 p.m. – the ball flies out of Dodger Stadium.

As was the case Monday, some balls hit out were bombs. Other were routine fly balls that found themselves somehow wandering to the other side of walls.

Hendriks, the A’s closer, is a fly ball pitcher. He says he won’t be changing his ways, even so.

“I mean, it’s not ideal for me, since I’m kind of a fly ball pitcher, so that sucks,” Hendriks said in a Tuesday morning video conference call. “It’s something that you take into account, something where you try and keep the ball on the ground a little bit more and let the defense do its work.

“But I’m not gonna change the way I pitch based on the way the park plays. If I start changing the way I pitch, that’s when I get into trouble. That’s when I start changing everything and I just end up have the adverse effect where I’m not able to execute what I need to. So, I’m going to pitch the same way, no matter what.”

Perhaps there is an issue with the stadium itself. Both A's starter Chris Bassitt and reliever J.B. Wendelken told Hendriks after Monday's game they had trouble getting their pitches down consistently. 

"The last time I threw (in Dodger Stadium in September), I threw some slider that weren't exactly close," Hendriks said. "I think it's something that with a number of people saying we need to look at, whether it's the slope of the mound or whether it's the height of the mound or whether all of a sudden our landing foot may be getting a little further down the hill and so you're kind of leaning back.

"J.B. said the same thing, that he couldn't get it down. It's definitely something to consider when I get out there, hopefully today."

Not that he believes every pitcher who will throw in this series should follow his lead.

“There are certain guys that all of a sudden they can flip that switch and be a little bit more ground-ball heavy,” Hendriks said. “They can switch and they can throw a little bit more off speed and keep them off balance and not give up those kinds of fly balls.

“We always knew this part was going to play a little bit smaller than even the dimensions said. Because of the heat, because of the fact that it’s a day game, the ball tends to fly. But again, it applies to both teams. Both teams have gone through the exact same thing, and we need to do a better job than we did yesterday.”

Follow Athletics insider John Hickey on Twitter: @JHickey3

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