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October 6, 2004

Joe Torre


Q. Game 3 starter?

JOE TORRE: Kevin Brown.

Q. A couple of times in the past few years, you've mentioned that you wish your team was a little more versatile offensively and maybe not quite as dependent on the home run, and I'm just wondering if you feel that's an issue at all now, and if so, is there any consideration to using Lofton?

JOE TORRE: I don't think we are. I don't think yesterday was evidence of that. I mean, we got two men on base several times. I think that's evidence enough that we work to get on base. You know, when making contact with the double plays, that's probably just the opposite of trying to hit home runs, because normally a strikeout or pop-up comes with that. The approach was fine yesterday, it just didn't work out well. As far as the Kenny Lofton thing, it's just a call. Certainly if I had Kenny in the lineup, you know, I mean that would have been a call. It's just you have to make a decision, and the fact that I wanted Ruben instead of Kenny, it's a flip. I can't say anything negative about Kenny because he's not playing. I think Ruben is having some good at-bats now, he's a switch-hitter, and I just feel comfortable playing him. As I say, and I talked to Kenny about this today, because he was, I think, a little surprised that he wasn't playing. I just told him, hopefully it's going to be a long post-season and just be ready to play. But it's just a decision on how I feel, as opposed to what you didn't do.

Q. Generally you like the team to be a little more versatile, though?

JOE TORRE: Yeah, I like a little versatility, right. Again Kenny brings a dimension of a base stealer. He would be hitting ninth in our lineup the way we are structured right now. As I say, it's just a choice. But you're right, I do like versatility, I do like the ability to be able to move runners, and stuff like that. You know, we did it yesterday but obviously we had a strikeout and a throw-out. I don't feel right now that we're having at-bats that show me that we're trying to hit home runs.

Q. Kevin Brown is your Game 3 starter but can you talk about Game 4 and El Duque Hernandez and the rest of the situation?

JOE TORRE: I have not gotten the information. Duque threw in the bullpen today which to me was good news. We just came off the field at 5:30 so I really -- other than checking with Mel on the way out, that he had told Brownie that he was starting on Friday, I didn't go into any other details. So I don't have any other information on Duque right now. I'll have some later on for you. Game 4, we'll wait and see.

Q. You've been through so many post-seasons, I'm sure one loss doesn't feel like the end of the world to you but given you are down 1-0 and best-of-five and knowing you'll see Santana in Game 4, does it fee like you've been backed a little bit into a corner or not?

JOE TORRE: You know I don't think that does us any good, to try to make this game more important because we lost yesterday. If we had won yesterday, this game would be just as important even though maybe you had a little longer leash. To me, momentum switches very quickly. It's up to us to win a ballgame to turn it to our side. And again, even though I've been through this for nine years, if you remember, we lost the first two games against Atlanta. Maybe it was just giddiness of being in the World Series for the first time but I was fairly calm at that time. And that was my first time through this thing. So, you know, you realize when you play this game that one game can turn the tide. You try not to go into, say, this particular game with yesterday in mind putting extra pressure on yourself. There's enough pressure connected with playing this game without trying to make up for something.

Q. Can you just tell us your thinking, why Kevin Brown for Game 3?

JOE TORRE: Well, Mel and I, it took us a while. We finally decided this afternoon, we really liked what we saw Saturday. Mel saw it firsthand and I watched it on TV. But the fact that Kevin did not try to manufacture, he did not try to overthrow and probably better than the result that particular day where he threw 70-plus pitches, the fact that he felt good on Sunday, Monday, yesterday. I think that was good. You know, he's been dealing with a lot of things, aside from the breaking his hand, the fact that he's on and off with back problems and whatever. But knock on wood, from that game to right now, physically he feels good. And just the experience factor I think was a big part.

Q. How far do you think he can go?

JOE TORRE: Well, what did he pitch, five innings the other day, 70-something pitches. I'm sure he's capable of throwing 100 pitches. We didn't do that the other day only because there was no reason to do it.

Q. You've talked in the past about five-game series and the risks of playing five-game series. What role does luck play in a five-game series, good or bad depending on whether you're the better team or the worse team, at least on paper?

JOE TORRE: Well, you don't necessarily, during 162 games, usually the better teams win. But short series, luck plays a significant role. You know, you're sending your best pitcher out there and he may not have his day. Doesn't mean he's not the best pitcher. But it's just that you have to be fortunate to have everything break right for you. So you understand that going in, and that's what makes it more tedious probably. You know even a seven-game series is tedious but five games you really don't have a lot of room for error and that's why really you can't concern yourself with what-ifs, because these next games come up on you quickly.

Q. Is there a situation where you would use Mussina in Game 4?

JOE TORRE: I don't think so. He had a good pitch count last night but with Vasquez available to us, and again as I said, I'll find out about Duque, I don't think Moose would be -- not wouldn't be available, because he's volunteered several times for situations during the course of the year, but I don't see that happening. Not saying it won't happen but I don't see it happening.

Q. How much thought did you give to Vasquez for Game 3?

JOE TORRE: Well, it was Brownie and Vasquez who we were thinking about. I think it was probably just the post-season experience over Javier for Game 3. And you know, I've always found that Game 3 was a significant decision to make, and we've taken a lot of time considering who our Game 3 starters have been over the last nine years, and just a couple to name off the top of my head was Cone in Game 3 of the World Series in '96, and then Moose in Game 3 in Oakland, I think it was 2001. We just feel that 3, whether you are up two, down two or even, is a significant game, and we just wanted to go with more experience.

Q. Any reason that you can see why your record is so much better in the divisional series when you lose the opener, as opposed to winning it?

JOE TORRE: Believe me, it's not something you want to plan. But it's an interesting question that I wish I had an answer for because you know it would be a lot less stressful if you didn't do it that way because it becomes, all of a sudden, a three-out-of-four series for you. I think good teams have a habit of putting bad things away quickly. I think that's important, especially when you play a short series, not to -- even if you made an error or you struck out a bunch of times and you really had an ugly game, to dismiss it and just go on, because you can't do anything about it. I think that's probably why, you know, veteran clubs are able to do that a little easier than maybe younger clubs.

Q. What did you think you were getting from Vasquez when you acquired him in the winter, and why do you think some of the reasons are why he has not quite been the pitcher you were expecting?

JOE TORRE: Well, you know, I didn't know a whole lot about Javier when we got him. But from day one when I met him, you looked in his eye and he looked you back in the eye. We scheduled for Opening Day at Yankee Stadium, which that's a pretty big task, and he took it and I think he pitched eight innings for us, seven innings for us, whatever, and pitched very well without a problem. He's going to be a No. 1 guy down the road here. It's just that I think this year, and just trying to guess why he has been inconsistent, his stuff is dynamite. He's got a big heart. He's not afraid of the field. It's just that I think sometimes, when he missed Kevin Brown for so long and Moose for so long that he maybe tried to be too much. I think that probably is what caused his inconsistency. I'm not concerned about the home runs or the number of home runs he's given up. There have been a lot of great pitchers over the years who have given up a good number of home runs, so that has not been a concern. I think he's maybe tried to be a little bit more than he should be. Because ability-wise, everything, his makeup, have been great. I know Mel and I feel the same way about him.

Q. If Duque is healthy, if he's ready to go, is he your first choice for Game 4?

JOE TORRE: I don't know. Again, you saw Game 1 of the Toronto series on Friday, and you know he just threw a handful of fastballs; he just wasn't comfortable. I'm anxious to go in and there and talk to Mel just to see what the bullpen was about. I watched from behind the batting cage and he threw for a while. So that's a good sign. But we'll see. We'll see. I mean, certainly we carried 11 pitchers for the reason, for the express reason of giving him an opportunity to get it back and being able to help us. You know, I'm sure he's going to be a consideration if the reports are good.

Q. How long did it take for maybe the frustration of what happened with Kevin and his hand to go away for the team?

JOE TORRE: Well, I think we were all angry for a short period of time. Kevin talked to the club a few days later. Again, they dismiss it. Just like you dismiss a loss yesterday, you just dismiss it. I know everybody listens a lot to what Gary Sheffield said, and they were teammates in Miami when they won the World Series in '97, and you could not have anybody talking in more glowing terms than Gary did about Brownie as far as competitiveness and that's probably part of the reason why he did what he did. Not that we condone it, you get angry over it, but you move on. It didn't take any time. These guys, with as many changes and as many things that happen in this clubhouse, to this ballclub over the years, you're sort of used to things happening and knowing what to do when they do happen. It's just you deal with it and then as I say, you just move on.

End of FastScripts...

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