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October 5, 2005

Joe Torre


Q. Talk about tonight's lineup and whether it was tailored to Wang's strengths, and where do you see Bernie defensively compared to early in the year?

JOE TORRE: Bernie Williams is fine defensively. We just feel Bubba is a little bit better. It's not like Bernie is a liability out there. Bubba, with his younger legs, I think covers more ground. And yes, you know, we did put Tino at first, because if Wang is on his game, he's going to get some ground balls. We figured if that's going to be the case, we wanted to try to tighten up as best we can.

Q. How key was it last night to get to the Angels starting pitcher last night, how key was that?

JOE TORRE: Well, I think any time when you're on the road, or any time in the post-season you can get the jump and get a lead, especially against a pitcher like Colón who has been so dominant all year; and to have it happen after he gets the first two guys out and then to string together four straight hits, that was huge for us, it really was. It was so important, and then to tack on another one in the second inning. You give a veteran like Mike Mussina some runs, he knows what to do with them.

Q. Cano is obviously fulfilling the offensive predictions you made for him early, are you concerned about the appearance of non-chalance or maybe forgetfulness on defense. Referring to the double-play grounder in particular at the end of the game, he appeared to stop. He didn't really say that when he was in the interview room, but it looked like he stopped until Jeter reminded him to throw to first.

JOE TORRE: You know, I think a lot of it, there's a certain style that players play with, and he certainly is reminded when he is non-chalant or maybe a style that doesn't fit what we're doing. But I think a lot of it, too, also comes from the lack of knowledge or remembering who is running. Normally when that ball was hit by Bengie -- that's the one you're talking about, right? And Jeter had to go so far to his right and throw it to him, you would assume; again, he shouldn't be assuming, I'm not defending that. But I think a lot of it is, I don't know if it's as much nonchalance as maybe, you know, not paying as much attention as he should.

Q. What do you think about John Lackey as a starter?

JOE TORRE: John Lackey he has progressed. You remember him on the mound when they won the World Series; he works at it. He works at it. He changes speed. He's a competitor; you can see the emotion he pitches with. We're going to have to be patient because he does change speeds a great deal, and we have to hopefully make him work hard, because that's -- we'd like to think that's the name of our game, even though we can put big numbers on the board, I think that comes from making sure you get quality at bats. Lackey, with the experience in the post-season and the success he's had, we feel we've got a lot of work on our hands.

Q. Could you talk about your relationship with Reggie (Jackson) and what he brings to the team being around the clubhouse at this time of year?

JOE TORRE: Well, Reggie at this time of year, this is his month. And Reggie is there for guys to sort of pick his brain a little bit, because the big part about playing this time of year, especially the guys who haven't played very much in October, and I was one of them, is to get a feeling of the game. You know, for the great ones like Reggie, the game sort of slows down a little bit. When you're not as experienced, everything seems to go a bit faster. So I think any time you can have people around, and my coaching staff, I know when I first came here in '96, every single one of my coaches had been in a World Series, which I pointed out in spring training; that these are people you really want to go to in situations and times when you feel like you're sort of losing control of this thing. But Reggie, his expertise -- unfortunately everybody doesn't have the ability Reggie had. So when Reggie starts talking in terms of hit this one this far or that far, not a lot of people can relate to that. I don't care if you're veteran status or just a rookie. But Reggie is fun to have around because of his enthusiasm still for the game.

Q. What do you think it means to Giambi to be able to be a part of the playoffs this year after he had to miss of the postseason last year?

JOE TORRE: Yeah, I think the last couple of years have been tough for Jason. He had some injury problems during the 2003 World Series with us, and last year was a nightmare for him, and all winter, basically. So I think right now, he's really enjoying himself. He's probably enjoying himself more than anybody else if you go back more than 12 months and see where he was over last year or so. And he's worked hard. It's not something that just happened to drop on his doorstep. It's something he's been working for and trying to work through, both emotionally and physically. You know, somebody was asking me about my lineup downstairs when I started batting A-Rod second. I said that was necessitated by the fact that you wanted to move Giambi out of the six spot and put him somewhere where you felt more comfortable. That to me was probably the biggest impact in my mind that he's made on this club is the necessity to move him up in the batting order.

Q. Could you assess the season that Randy Johnson has had, and maybe in particular how he's pitched recently?

JOE TORRE: Randy has pitched very well. You know, first off, he's the only starter on our rotation I think that didn't go on the disabled list. So he was around to take the criticism or whatever that other guys weren't around. And I thought the first part of his year, you know, he won Opening Day against the Red Sox, pitched well. And, you know, when you're Randy Johnson and you've already set the bar where you've set it, it's really tough to live up to yourself. Then you come to New York where every little detail is paid attention to, and I think it was distracting for him for a while. You know, I'm not sure he'll admit to it, but I think he had a lot more to deal with than maybe he thought he would when he came here. Over the last, what, ten starts maybe, or maybe more than that, he has really gotten his focus and probably on the mound now where he is, he doesn't know what city he's in because he's right where he needs to be as far as his pitching ability. But he's been dominant. He's become, whether it be with his slider or his fastball, his presence now is the way we looked at him from across the field.

Q. A play like the Cano hit over Anderson's head, if that play occurs, if it occurred the same way, say, July 24, is it scrutinized as much out of that context, or is it because it's going to be scrutinized because of where we are? Does that make such a big deal in your head that he didn't catch that ball?

JOE TORRE: When the ball was hit, I didn't think he was going to catch it to be honest with you. You know, he's got sneaky power. I said that in spring training about Robby. He has sneaky power. He'll hit a ball in batting practice and you say, all right, it's a flyball to center; it never comes down. He's got great carry on his ball. So when he hit that ball, that's a natural place for him to hit the ball. And that's where he has some similarities with Reggie, but he doesn't hit the ball as far as Reggie did. But it's a natural spot for him with his particular stroke to hit the ball and drive the ball to left centerfield, because as I say, his hands are so quick and they are strong. When that ball was hit, I didn't think Garrett was going to catch the ball, and I know there's been some question whether he got a bad jump or whatever it was. But you know, if he would have caught it, it would have been a fantastic catch. And of course, I've seen him make fantastic plays against us.

Q. How strange will it be for you to have somebody besides Posada catching a playoff game for you on Friday and how likely is he to DH that game?

JOE TORRE: You know, I don't know. We haven't thought about it yet as far as Jorge DH'ing. We're so used to Flaherty and Randy hooking up together and being pretty comfortable with each other, that the only one that comes to mind for me is Maddux, because he always had somebody different catching him when we played the Braves. And I don't know, Jorge may DH, I don't know, but we have a lot of choices at DH. So it's probably doubtful that he will, because it sort of ties your hands a little bit with only two catchers in the event you're behind in a ballgame and you have to pinch-hit for Flaherty, and now you lose your DH and things like that. But if we felt Jorge was the best option, we'd do it and bite the bullet and take our chances.

Q. And he's been a mainstay for you?

JOE TORRE: He's been a mainstay, there's no question. Every single playoff game, once he started, once he took over for Joe Girardi. But this is something that I know he has no resentment toward because he understands what's been working. Really, it's no blow to his ego.

End of FastScripts...

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