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October 8, 2004

Joe Torre


Q. Joe, a couple weeks ago, talking with Sheffield about the MVP, and he said what about Matsui and the other night everybody foresees Derek Jeter, but it's Matsui who hits the ball. Can you talk about how he continues to be in the game?

JOE TORRE: He's such a true professional. We had so many questions from the Japanese press on where in the batting order he's going to hit. This started a year ago in the spring, and I realized this is going to be a potential problem unless we discussed it. We discussed it that spring and just talked about what I like to do, and where you hit the batting order doesn't mean if I move you from fourth to fifth, that you're not doing your job. He has been probably the easiest guy I ever had from Day One to manage, because he seems to know what to do. He's the consummate professional, running the bases in the outfield. If he makes a mistake, he feels guilty about it. He feels like it's his fault and will sort of apologize if he does something that's, you know, in his mind, not the right play or something, but he's great. You do take him for granted. You write his name in the lineup and he knows what to do. I trust him a great deal because I don't think I have had anybody hit 3 and 0 more than he has. He has been -- this last year he got a great deal more attention. This year with Sheffield and Kevin Brown and A-Rod, he's not in the spotlight like he was, but he's really the guy that everybody in that clubhouse admires.

Q. Your Game 4 starter is?

JOE TORRE: Javier Vasquez.

Q. Talk a little bit about him.

JOE TORRE: Well, actually, early on we tried to go back and forth, have him pitch Game 3 and Brown pitch Game 4. In the past I've always made Game 3 an important game, a pivotal game, up 2, down 2, even, something we spent a lot of time figuring out. Once we found out it was okay, that's basically why we held off on Game 4. If for some reason Brownie came up and physically had a problem, Javy would be in Game 3. So, he knew at the time that we told Brownie that he was pitching Game 3, he was pitching 4. They both warmed up the same day, which was Wednesday. Hopefully, you know, we'll get him through three and four innings, He will be comfortable. I think the only problem he has, sometimes he gets frustrated and a little overanxious. Anything else is not a concern to me.

Q. Is there something you point to?

JOE TORRE: The only thing I can point to, we watched the pitching opening day in New York at Yankee Stadium, that was a pretty good test right out of the box. He gets some problems mechanically. When he starts drifting, starts jumping at the hitter, he has to try to catch up, and when he does that, everything is elevated. If he stays back and allows his arm to come through, it seems pretty simplistic. The only problem is when you're out there with 50,000 fans out there, you have a tendency to try too hard. If he has had a problem physically, other than conjunctivitis, we don't know about that. He's kept it a pretty good secret. The reason I don't think there's anything wrong is because his warm-up sessions have been very normal. He gets in the game and tries to turn up the heat a little bit and has a tendency to try to overdo things.

Q. You said on a number of occasions that Javy has great stuff that's never been a problem, do you feel he still has great stuff going into tomorrow?

JOE TORRE: Again, yeah, the -- it's a lot easier to hit or pitch if you have that thing and let it go, and let it come out of your hand and explode, but if you are doing this and trying to help it, all of a sudden that fast ball is going to lose a couple miles an hour and not hit your spots. As far as the ability to control a game, yeah, I'm very confident he has that ability. As I say, I think it's a few innings that he settles in. From the bullpen to the mound when he gets to start the game, if he can just get through those few innings early, I'll feel good about it. I talked to our local press earlier, I'm not concerned about his post-season, you know, lack of experience, because he's never been afraid of the competition. The only thing that's ever been a problem for him is when he thinks he should be doing a better job and just overdoes it, and I don't think who he's pitching against matters in that regard.

Q. Joe, when was Duque officially ruled out?

JOE TORRE: We never even considered him. He was in the mix, feels good. We wanted him to watch. That's a possibility. I talked to him today and told him we would like to have him once he gives us the okay to pitch out of the bullpen. He said, "When?" I said, "You tell us." I said, just to caution you -- he wants to pitch because these games are very important. The only thing I cautioned him about is the game is not more important than his future. If he's pitching when he's not feeling well, we don't want that to happen. He's going to throw today and we'll get a feel for how that will be. If we're fortunate to go on, obviously he's back in the mix as a starter in the future series, but right now, you know, he's going to help us once he gives us the green light.

Q. Joe, can you talk about playing in a controlled environment. Does it change your approach at all?

JOE TORRE: It always seems like a faster game when you play on the turf. We're not as comfortable on the turf because we're used to playing on the grass. We've played okay on turf. The turf is a little different this year. It's similar to the Tampa surface, but, you know, the one thing you have to make sure you keep in mind, as a defensive player, is to keep your eye on the ball, because that's the one thing, when you're playing indoors, if you lose sight of the ball, you'll have trouble because your depth perception is going to be a problem if you don't stay with the ball. Anything more than that, it seems like a faster game, it seems like a game like you want to run and put the ball in play, and that certainly is more conducive for the ways the Twins play. We try not to do anything different. We try to stay aggressive but in a controlled type of way. As far as our game thinking any differently, I don't think so. The own thing, defensively you've got to be a little more on your toes.

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