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October 7, 2005

Joe Torre


Q. Other than what he gives you on defense, does Tino's post-season experience factor heavily in putting him in the lineup at this time of year?

JOE TORRE: You know when you're between two guys, like with Ruben and Tino, and Tino gives you that extra dimension of defense, and that's really as simple as I can make it. But, yeah, of course, it's post-season experience, and that's one of the reasons we got him here was because of the fact that he's done this here before and that was really the main stuff.

Q. If you have a rain delay during a game, what is your ground rule about putting a pitcher back in, how much time has to pass?

JOE TORRE: I think a lot of it is at what point during the game because the first couple of innings, it's no big deal. It's sort of like you have an extra inning added to it. We had one of those I think in Baltimore where we didn't really start the game, had him all warmed up and never started the game. It was Randy, in fact, that day, too. If you get into that third, fourth, fifth inning, then I think the length of the delay would have something to do with what decision you make. Of course, a lot of it has to do at that point when you make a decision like that is how hard has he had to work the first three or four innings, so I remember we had a rain delay, I think it was in the sixth inning in Texas, I think it was in '98, and we came out and decided on a relief pitcher in the sixth inning. You know, that third, fourth, fifth inning, I think that's the decision-making time.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about Shawn Chacón, you've stated before that you really didn't know much about him when he came here. Is it safe to say he's exceeded even your own expectations?

JOE TORRE: Yeah, he seems as calm as Wang appears to be. He has come on board here, which isn't easy to do, especially during the season, a lot of times you'd like spring training to be part of the adjustment period. But when you make a deal during the season like we did, that's not possible. And he had some success early. He just seems to keep it together, keep his focus, seems to be enjoying himself. He's having a ball, he really is. You know, this, again, is a new venture for him, but unlike us in the past, we've had that with a few guys. You have Cano at second and you have Wang and now Shawn will be pitching tomorrow.

Q. What's the difference in your mind in how to handle games in the post-season, is it a time for small ball or is it business as usual?

JOE TORRE: Again, I think that you have to go according to the personnel that you have. But again, I think the post-season is a time to think small, yes. I think that you have to think in terms of, let's get a run home. And we did that the other night. When you saw Sheffield hitting with second and third and he gets a count against him the way he did, he just knew that putting the ball in play was the priority here. And he hit a little tapper to third base, it didn't seem like much but he got the run across. That's what you have to think in terms of, as opposed to saying, if I get this pitch, I can hit the ball out of the ballpark. For certain, when you are facing the cream of the crop, which is what you get in post-season, you're not going to be able to take as many liberties. So you really have to think small and hope something big develops, so that's your mindset going in that you have to really think about fundamentals and be able to think one run at a time.

Q. How difficult or was it tempting to put Posada back in the lineup, and can you talk about what Flaherty contributes to the team?

JOE TORRE: You know, it's interesting, Flash never even caught Randy in the spring, the whole spring. We were toying with it the last week of spring training, maybe we should send Flash over to catch in the Minor Leagues with him but we just didn't do it. Then, you know, Randy had some inconsistency early and we decided Joe Girardi, who sits next to me, we just decided to do it. And we talked and we explained to everybody along the way, even Posada. But no, I can't do that, not at this point. That's like asking Terry to put in Varitek to catch Wakefield. It's still a pitcher/catcher situation and they seem to be very comfortable. I know we're all geared to think about offense and we really are thinking -- geared to think about offense. But, you know, the pitching is such a big part of what we do and it's the only way you can really control a game and I never even gave it a second thought, not even close. Again, playing in this league, you have the ability to make him a DH if you want to do that with Jorge, but we just decided to go and do what we always do. If we need help later, then we make the switch and hopefully that won't be the case.

Q. If you get rained out tonight, is there any temptation to skip Chacón and come back with Johnson and Mussina?

JOE TORRE: We'd have to bring Mussina back; he's in California. (Laughter.) No, no. To me if we're rained out two days in a row, I think we have to think about it. Of course, you listen to the weather forecast all day and yesterday and that seemed like a possibility. Now, we keep our fingers crossed and we hope we can play tonight. But I don't think I'd mess with anything unless we were rained out twice.

Q. Following up on your statement about thinking small, are you in a sense being forced in that direction because it appeared that the last game they were pitching around A-Rod, taking one of your weapons away, do you think that way?

JOE TORRE: A-Rod, he thinks small too, but he has big numbers, and you've watched us all year. You see some of the things he's managed to do for us besides hitting home runs. He's had some bloopers to the right and he's hit some balls on the grounds over there. He's stolen some bases and got thrown out the other day. That's the mental part of it game is the approach that we're taking. No, I think we need to do that, and we know, what's more important in post-season is not how far you can hit it, but how often you can hit it. I think the experience in that area has helped me sort of come to that realization that you get the best against you and you certainly are not going to have many games, and I'm not saying there won't be any, but there won't be many games where you're just going to say, here, hit it, and get a game over with.

Q. I guess I'm asking, do you feel they are pitching around A-Rod?

JOE TORRE: It's tough to pitch around A-Rod to get to Giambi. That's why we tried to stack those guys I guess towards the last month of the season or whatever it was. We just want to stack him so they don't have temptation to pitch around somebody. If they want to do that, that's fine. We feel we're balanced enough to be able to handle whatever they do. Normally Alex will take the walk. I know he has struck out a lot, but taking the walk is something he's done, also. But I don't necessarily they are pitching around him. I think they are pitching him tough and if they walk him, they walk him, same as we do with Vlad. You either get him out or you make sure he has to earn what he gets. You don't say, I'm getting behind here, I'm going to throw a ball down the middle, because you know what these guys can do to you.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about Cano moving up to the sixth spot in the lineup and your thoughts on that, especially he had a strong September, and the second part of that would be, are there any concerns with Bernie and Posada moving back?

JOE TORRE: Ego-wise? No. I think we've gotten over that early. I sat in spring training, it was funny because we were talking about Tony Womack when he was starting and at the time I was thinking of about it. I remember polling all of my coaches, I said if Womack leads off, who bats ninth? And you're dealing with the Tino's or Bernie, and at that time I said, you know, I'd really have trouble doing that. That was one of the reasons we had Jeter leading off from the get-go. But no, these guys have been great. I think the fact that I've been with them for so long that they sort of trust me in that regard, and I certainly don't do it to embarrass anybody. I just do it to maybe put a lineup together on a regular basis, and they recognize what Robby Cano has done. They recognize how important he has been for us. When he swings the bat the way he's swinging it now, and I knock wood, he's not an easy out. So the guys have never -- especially the guys who have been here this long with me, they have never questioned or appeared like they were ruffled by it.

Q. How much of his performance factored into your moving him up?

JOE TORRE: Oh, yeah, I think it was the way he ended the season. He did some good things down the stretch. We had him up there a couple of times; we had him batting second and we had him batting ninth. Similar a lot to Jeter, except that Jeter spent that first year around the nine-hole more so than anywhere else. But this kid is showing a little more power than Jeter did at that time. It's based basically on what Robby has done and how comfortable we are watching him take his at-bats.

Q. If Randy cannot warm up --

JOE TORRE: Don't tell me that.

Q. I'm sorry. Would Aaron Small --

JOE TORRE: What do you mean if he can't warm up?

Q. If there's numerous rain delays.

JOE TORRE: Well, I think we have a choice, either Aaron Small or Leiter. I think we can go either way for a long man. Those would be the two guys that we'd use.

End of FastScripts...

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