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October 20, 2004

Joe Torre


Q. What's John Olerud's status tonight.

JOE TORRE: Hey, pretty good. I was talking to the media before, and he was just getting marginally better every day and I went out on the field and he's taking ground balls and hitting and doing all of those things. So I think he's a player tonight; available. Better than a player. We're still discussing it, but he got much better overnight.

Q. I was just wondering if you had any further thoughts on the A-Rod play only because some of the Red Sox were critical, using words like "classless" and thought he was deliberately trying to do something; wondering what you thought about that?

JOE TORRE: Well, you know, we're a little reluctant to throw phrases around. We'll deal with what we have to deal with. I did not see the play to be perfectly honest with you. In fact, when it took place, everybody jumped up and I saw the ball squirt away and that's the only thing I saw. Then when I went out there to argue, the only objection I had was Randy Marsh was close to the play and then he had somebody not overrule him but help him and then he said he was blocked out. That was the end of my conversation. Then when I had mentioned after the game about the obstruction, it's just what I was told by -- I'm not sure if it was either a player or a coach, about all of the people that were in line. And I have not seen the play. So that's why I mention that, the possible obstruction, more so than what I saw firsthand. But I didn't see it, and obviously, you know, he didn't do the right thing as far as the way he did it from what I'm told. And I have no problem with the decision. I think the umpires worked hard in getting it right and that's all you can ask for.

Q. I know it comes with the territory of managing in New York, but considering the success of the last few years, are you surprised with the second-guessing in the last three days?

JOE TORRE: I don't know what they are but I'm not surprised by anything. There's so much to talk about it, let's admit it; that's what baseball is all about. I try to stay away from -- other than the questions you ask me here, unless there's somebody talking behind my back, I don't know. I understand it more so than, you know, concern myself with it.

Q. Could you talk about the decision to start Lofton and if he is the kind of guy that gives you a spark?

JOE TORRE: That's part of it. Kenny gives you a little more versatility as far as speed and contact. Another, you know, advantage, I mean you'd like to have Ruben in the lineup every day and you'd like to have him on the bench when you need somebody in the eighth or ninth inning. We just chose to have Ruben available as a pinch-hitter and then use Kenny and hopefully try to force some things to happen.

Q. Before Game 7, we take the temperatures of the teams. Terry was asked about his club. How do you feel about your club and their attitude, at least leading up to the game?

JOE TORRE: Well, we know what we have to do. You know, for me to say that everybody is blase about it and not, you know, have some anxiety, I'd be like, I think that's part of it. I think that the secret in dealing with this is just to have that anxiety or tension or whatever it is work for you. I think a lot of it is going to play in the first three or four innings of the game and I think Kevin Brown will be very important for us if he is able to go out there and throw strikes and take control, and hopefully we can start swinging the bats a little bit. But, you know, this is Game 7. It's over today, whichever way it goes, and we certainly are due to win a ballgame and start swinging the bats a little bit better. You know, these games have been exciting, there's no question. If I'm a fan, I really enjoy the hell out of them but it's not a lot of fun from where I sit.

Q. This is the second year in a row you're approaching a team like this. What goes through your mind all day, other than obviously wanting to win; do you reflect on how do you get here, how to get to this point?

JOE TORRE: No, I try not to think about it until I get here. It's tough not to. You wake up in the middle of the night and you know what's at hand. But there's really not a whole lot to do. Things sort of fall into place for you. The Kenny Lofton thing I thought about this morning and when I got here and talked it over with my coaches I think more than one of them were having the same idea. So we talk, usually, if there's a decision to be made about one guy playing as opposed to another. But I think when you get up in the morning and have yourself some breakfast or lunch, whatever, that's usually lunch, the way we've been playing these games; that you're anxious to get out here. You're anxious to get through all of this and start playing the game, because that's when you feel you know more about what you're doing.

Q. Can you just explain the thought process behind how you arrived at Kevin Brown, and also, where you might go beyond Brown?

JOE TORRE: I think Vazquez would probably be the first guy like he was last week, or the other day out of the bullpen to follow Kevin. Kevin, basically once I felt comfortable with the fact that he was okay physically. And we talked last night after I was in here about having him pitch today. To be honest with you, it depends on how he feels because we don't want anybody that's going to go out there and try to be a hero if they are not capable of doing something. Kevin, I'm comfortable with the fact that he says he's fine to pitch, and now we'll, you know, hopefully see a lot of strikes early because I think that will be a big key for him.

Q. Does experience have anything to do with it as well?

JOE TORRE: Yes, experience is very high on my priority list when it comes to especially a game like this.

Q. Can you just talk about the added dimension that A-Rod has given you this year and has he exceeded your expectations?

JOE TORRE: It's tough, I think that's what makes it A-Rod. I don't think he exceeds anybody's expectations because we expect so much from him. He's really set the bar very high for himself. You know, he had trouble getting through the first few months. You know, right now I'd say over the last two months, he's probably been the player that we all know he is. He's been responding to post-season very well. He's gotten some huge hits for us. He's played well defensively. He's very important for us. But I thought, you know, with all of the attention he gets and everything, he seems to be for everybody, media included, that I thought he's handled it very well.

Q. How often if at all have you talked with Mariano about the family situation since he's returned; is it still affecting him?

JOE TORRE: Mariano has been pretty good and we've had, I'm not saying it's good or bad, but we have had a lot of players on this ballclub over the years that have had to deal with one thing or another, plus things that nobody knows about that you may be having some problems at home that you want to keep to yourself. But I have not talked other than asking if everybody is okay, other than that. And as I say, he's been able -- I don't think it's affecting anything you see on the field, I really don't because, you know, he seems to be so good at being able to separate.

Q. Did you give any consideration at all last night to pinch-hitting for Tony Clark?

JOE TORRE: Well, it would have been Kenny Lofton. Probably if it was second and third I may have thought about it. I mean, I did think about it. But I felt that Foulke makes a mistake, and, you know, we can win a ballgame. He's a threat. Obviously he's a threat. He ran the count to 3-2. So you're going to be a little bit more careful with a Tony Clark. You still have to make a pitch on Tony Clark. And that's the reason I left Tony Clark up to hit.

Q. Since Pedro left and about midway through Game 4 your offense hit a bit of a lull; is that kind of the nature of your boom-or-bust lineup or do you think your team was trying too hard to end it or maybe a little uptight last couple of days?

JOE TORRE: No question. I think everybody is trying to do the job themselves. I think you get away from the way you've been a little successful. You get a little anxious. Plus, let's not downplay that the Red Sox have done a good job pitching-wise. Because somebody doesn't hit doesn't mean necessarily because he's not a hitter. It's just the fact that somebody makes it tough for him to hit and that's usually the pitcher. Schilling was like that last night. Got a little life in us after he left, but I think we're trying a little bit too hard.

Q. Olerud was taking grounders and a little BP and leading to speculation that he might be able to play tonight, what his status?

JOE TORRE: He's available. Now it's a determination of how much of him is available, as far as both sides of the ball, pinch-hitting, part-time play. His problem obviously is running, but that's not his strong suit anyway. (Laughter.) He took ground balls, and again this happened overnight that he got this much better. Surprised me today, too, because when I talked earlier with the media, which really is before the players show up, that he really wasn't in my thoughts. But when I found out he was out there and I watched him take ground balls and hit, he certainly is a pinch-hitter at worst for us.

Q. Did you guys talk at all about bunting on Schilling, and was it just a question of individual choice that the players did not do it to test him?

JOE TORRE: It's individual choice. And we are not necessarily of a mind to believe that there's a lot wrong with him in that regard. It's not that we're saying that he wasn't telling the truth, but we have to deal with him, the pitcher we know, instead of seeing that there's something drastically wrong with him physically to want to do that. We don't want to take away from ourselves. I hate to think, A-Rod, here, drop one down so you don't hit one out of the ballpark. I'd rather take my chances at have him swinging the bat.

Q. You may have been asked this already, but the context of this game, after all of the games that the team has played for you since you've got here, can you step back and see why people are calling it as big of a game as these two teams could ever possibly be involved in?

JOE TORRE: I guess after last year, yeah. (Laughter.) No, any time you have a Game 7, but you know it's interesting, every series we've played with these guys since I've all of a sudden got hooked into this rivalry, has been pretty riveting. But when you get into post-season. It's like playing the Mets in 2000, the World Series. I mean, it was tough enough playing during the season when the games counted or it was tough enough playing in spring training when they didn't count. But to get to the World Series in 2000 and realize how much that meant to win that... The same thing as here. This rivalry, and of course that whole thing goes on about having these modern-day players concern themselves about 1918. We have to make sure that we don't get caught up in a lot of stuff that is our purpose in Game 7 -- is our purpose to keep the Red Sox from getting to the World Series or trying to get to the World Series ourselves. So we have to make sure that we are on the positive side, we are trying to win that game to get to the World Series. But there's no question, these games are incredible. If you do step back and you see every single game, you can't match the one before, and we keep seeming to do that.

End of FastScripts...

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