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October 18, 2004

Joe Torre


Q. What is Mariano's availability for today and is there any explanation as to why one team might have a little bit more success against him as the Red Sox have had or do you think maybe he's just slowing down after all these years? (Laughter.)

JOE TORRE: I'll take the slowing-down version, anyway. Well, the Red Sox are very good. First things first. I think the thing that was the undoing of Mariano even when he blew a safe in New York against the Red Sox was he walked the first hitter, and that's what happened last night in the ninth and enabled them to do some things. But his availability, you know, my guess is that we have him for an inning, maybe an inning and a piece today. Was there something else that I missed.

Q. No.


Q. I realize that Wilson has not played in a long time but any chance or thought to using him against Pedro given his record against him?

JOE TORRE: There's been a lot of talk and a lot of thought and every time we face him I get the same question, which is fine. But at this juncture, you know, with the people we've been playing every day, I think it would be unfair to him to ask him, here, come in there and carry us or help us or whatever. So, you know, we'll stay with the same cast. I mean, I haven't made a lineup only because our bus, I think it's just about getting here so I want to make sure everybody's fine.

Q. Whether it's Santana and Pedro in this round or other years it's been other pitchers, Mussina always seems to be the other ace, is that a fair characterization first of all, and how does he handle being the guy in the background?

JOE TORRE: It's interesting, maybe it was with Baltimore, he was always the one they counted on and he was always the one you talked about when you played that particular game. But every time we play somebody now and it's Pedro or it's Santana, he's sort of the guy that pitched against that guy. He doesn't get the top billing, which is fine. I mean, I'm sure he doesn't mind that. He's really come up big for us. He's pitched important games. Obviously when he came out of the bullpen in Game 7 last year, I think it certainly did a lot in even helping him, if he needed any help, in realizing he had another dimension to what he can do, and especially in that kind of pressure situation. But he's very focused. He's pitched some great games for us and games that we've needed to win.

Q. Any concern about your bullpen being fatigued in tonight's game?

JOE TORRE: I think you can ask Terry the same question. (Laughing) That's one of those things. In this post-season, you go on fumes. My feeling was, once we got rained out that that was going to be the real bone of contention was the bullpen, not who is going to start. Because the days off in the post-season are important because of the fact that, you know, every day you go to the same people. But now with no days off, you're asking people to do something based on how important the game is.

Q. A simple question, how important is winning to George, and how does he convey that to you?

JOE TORRE: Well, we know it's important to him. But, you know, to me, I mean, that's the byproduct of everything else that goes into playing the game. You know, being ready to play, playing hard, being able to respond under pressure, all of those things work in your favor but it doesn't necessarily mean you're going to win. I mean, there's so much more to winning than winning itself. And that's why there are a lot of games that I don't want to say I accept loss, but I understand that, you know, the other team came out on top because, you know I'm sitting in the dugout and I know these guys left their hearts and souls out there and you can't ask for more than that just because the bottom line isn't what you want it to be.

Q. Can you describe your difference in your outlook about this game, with Pedro, the reality of who and what he is today and your history, as opposed to facing the Martinez of '99 who struck out 17 in Yankee Stadium?

JOE TORRE: I remember that. Thank you for bringing that up. I tell you, the Pedro we faced first time around in this series was pretty damned good. John Olerud hit a two-run home run; otherwise, Pedro pretty much was a victim of what we were a victim of last night. We walked some people and he walked a couple of guys in the first inning and we wound up with a run. I thought he was that same guy in Game 2. But again, you really can't get caught up in it, because if you do, you know, you're going to wind up being behind the 8-ball. You have to just think about what you need to do against certain pitchers and when the pitcher is Pedro, you certainly need to think small. You can't think in terms of you're going to wear his ace out and do this, that and the other thing, because that's not going to happen. I'm not going to say every once in awhile you're not going to get to him and get some hits and score some runs, but you can't think in terms like that because he doesn't give you much. So you have to take what he gives you, and, you know, make him work hard to get you out, basically. That's really our plan and has been our plan against not only Pedro but other pitchers who are special.

Q. With what Roberts was able to do to score that run last night, just curious if you had thought about using Lofton in those later innings as a pinch runner, if you did or why you didn't, and who is your DH tonight?

JOE TORRE: We don't know yet. I haven't made the lineup out yet. When you think about changing, we were one man short on the bench as it was because Olerud was not available for us. The only time I sat there and I told our local writers was that last inning with Posada is on second base and I'm saying, you know, thinking, a base hit and he's not going to be able to score and I'm going to be kicking myself in the rear end. But again, do I want to lose him if that's not the case. So it was a tough decision. I decide not to. It wasn't an issue. But as far as putting Kenny in there, I don't know who I would pinch run. I've got three outfielders, Sheffield, Bernie and Matsui, who I would not pinch-run for. And once you put Kenny in a game like that, you sort of want to save him to where you can maybe leave him in the game in case something happens. I think if we used a pinch-runner for what Roberts did, it would be Bubba Crosby.

Q. You've talked about Matsui's professionalism, how much does his demeanor and/or approach has helped his transition into American baseball and in general, and your team in particular, and do you think he's become a case study in how to conduct yourself as a new high-profile Yankee?

JOE TORRE: I don't think there's any question. He's used to all of the attention that he gets still on a daily basis here by the Japanese media. I'll be leaving the ballpark and there he is holding a press conference with a group of 20, 30 people, and he seems to be the same guy every day. So he's conditioned, evidently. But beyond that, he's far more than the celebrity in our clubhouse, he's the guy who is in the foxhole, he is the guy that everybody looks to. He's the guy that everybody trusts. He's not going to say he's not going to make a mistake or strike out with the bases loaded, but he certainly is cool under pressure and he's really gotten a lot of respect from everybody around him.

Q. Is there any change in John Olerud's status, and also -- what does Tony Clark bring to the table as a fill-in or replacement?

JOE TORRE: Well, Tony was our regular until Olerud became a member of our ballclub and Tony did a very good job. Tony is a class act. We love having him. We signed Tony in the off-season and signed Travis Lee right behind him and then decided because of how important Tony Clark was to us that we took three first basemen with us. They say, he's a great backup player, he's done a great job for us as a player when he's had to play. Again, he's maybe not as good of a hitter as John but he really studies it, works hard and does all of those things. John Olerud's condition is better. We were not sure yesterday. He was on crutches yesterday. They thought maybe there was a possibility it was something more than just a bruise, and they said if it doesn't get better we may have to do more testing. But the fact that he's walking around today, not a player yet, but that's good news, is that he's walking around.

Q. You've got a mix of guys in your clubhouse, some have won it all and some haven't. On a day-to-day basis in this kind of year, do you see them approaching this in any way differently, this kind of pressure?

JOE TORRE: Well, the guy who has never won it all is Alex and Alex has really been standing tall. It took him a little time to get used to being here and being surrounded with other guys like Jeter and Sheffield and Matsui and Posada and Bernie Williams who have been here, but he has really been big, been huge for us. He almost had the game-winning hit; Cabrera made a great play on him, whatever inning it was, one of the extra innings. But Alex, you know, I think everybody looks at him to see how he is going to respond, and I think he's answered a lot of questions.

End of FastScripts...

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