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October 17, 2003

Joe Torre

David Wells


THE MODERATOR: David Wells and Joe Torre are both here. Questions for either.

Q. Joe, I assume Wells is either your Game 1 starter or your translator. Can you tell us about that decision?

JOE TORRE: That's pretty cute. He's a little of each. He is my Game 1 starter. That wasn't easy to come up with since everybody has pitched in the last couple hours. But, you know, we'll make that decision. Really, that's the only one I'm giving you right now. We're putting the rest of it together on, you know, how people feel coming in tomorrow. We're not trying to hide anything. We're just gonna go with David. Tomorrow you'll get the rest of them.

THE MODERATOR: Having said that, can we take questions for David first so he can get out of here.


Q. David, I know this is not your regular rest. Do you think it's going to affect you, not being on regular rest? Also, how honored are you to be a starter?

DAVID WELLS: I think it's a great honor. When you get a situation like this (fix question) you got to be ready for the challenge at any given time. Yesterday, it would have been like a side day anyway, so a day off, then normally I'd pitch. But four days, that's plenty of time for me. I've been blessed with a rubber arm. Just hope that everything else falls in and I'm out there ready to go.

Q. Even though you didn't face a whole lot of guys last night, does being in a game situation at all take much out of you?

DAVID WELLS: No. I've been around long enough to know if I was -- if I wasn't able to, I'd tell Joe that, you know, my armm's sore, something like that. But, no, I just -- you get fired up for these type of things. You just want to go out there and, you know, just answer the call and be ready to pitch at any given time.

Q. David, can you sort of sum up your thoughts on facing the Marlins? Obviously, on paper, the Yankees are big favorites. You've been in the series so many times. For the most part, they have not. Can you talk about how you stack up with the Marlins, the matchup?

DAVID WELLS: Maybe a couple guys in the line-up, I faced in my career. But based on our scouting report, go right down the hitters. We got a pretty good scouting company in this Yankee organization. These guys, you know, they give us pretty much right-on stats on these guys. So as long as we could follow that, you know, like the few guys that I do know, you know, I know how to pitch them accordingly. I'm just ready for that.

Q. Are you surprised you're big favorites?

DAVID WELLS: No, that's for you guys to decide and the people who put it on paper. But they got there for a reason. That's something that when you get in playoffs, in World Series, anything can happen. But I like our team. We scratched and clawed. We got through probably one of the best series I've ever seen and played in. I just hope that we can carry that over.

Q. David, how long can a team carry on emotion?

DAVID WELLS: We'll find out. We carried it over from the last part of the season, in Minnesota. The Boston series, and now this, now the World Series. So, so far it's been pretty good. It's great because, you know, we don't have to rely on just one guy. Everybody's been stepping up. Yesterday, when I believe Mike came in for his first relief appearance of his career, it was unbelievable. Joe said he was the unsung hero. You get guys like that, that step up, it makes it easier for Joe.

Q. You were one of the biggest believers in the "Curse of the Bambino". What about the legend of the Yankees, how you guys just continually come up with these October performances?

DAVID WELLS: Great things happen in a great place. I think that we've got a lot of history here. It happens that all the good things happen here. I think that we believe, and that's all that matters. As long as we believe in ourselves, and know what we're capable of doing, it really doesn't matter what's in front of us as long as we go out and play our game and try to -- because, you know, we match up, I think we match up pretty good against these guys. The only difference is their pitchers hit, and we don't. It's gonna come down to who can hit for us, as pitchers.

Q. Could you tell us a little bit about the foray at Monument Park last night, what went on, who went with you?

DAVID WELLS: Roger, Mel and I went out there, decided to have a touch with The Babe. Roger said, "Hey, we got one more thing to do. I got to go grab Mel." We went out there, and we did it. He's shining on us, he's looking down. Why not give him a toast, man. He's the one that got us here. From 1918 till now, it's -- the curse lives.

Q. Is there going to be a different feeling going out there to start the series?

DAVID WELLS: I just got to concentrate on throwing strikes and trying to put zeros up on the board. I've done this a long time, and, you know, it's nothing different. As long as I go out there and pitch my game, I feel fine about that because I've got a lot of confidence in myself, my ability to go out there and pitch. The guys are behind me, have been making great plays. Days that I don't have my best stuff, these guys have picked me up. I'm only as good as they let me be. So far, they've made me look pretty good. I rely on them as much as I do, Jorge when he's back there, concentrating on his glove.

THE MODERATOR: Thanks, David. A few questions for Joe.

Q. Joe, do you know what you'll have in terms of Rivera's availability for tomorrow? You're shaking your head already. The second part was did his performance last night enhance an already lofty postseason status that we all have for him?

JOE TORRE: Yeah, the performance last night was far beyond anything we ever thought we'd need. Knowing the tie game, we were going to try to keep him out there as long as we could. He was as courageous as I've ever seen him. You could see the emotion. I missed it until I saw the replay after the game. You couldn't drag him off the mound. I don't know what his availability is for tomorrow. He'll come out, play catch in the outfield, let Mel know. We're certainly not going to put pressure on him to be available tomorrow. Hopefully, a closer is necessary tomorrow night. If that's the case, we'll have to do it by committee and deal with that. But, again, if he says he's okay, we'll believe him.

Q. Have you had a chance to talk to Don Zimmer about what seemed like was an emotional moment for him last night? He seemed very upset?

JOE TORRE: Yeah, we've chatted. Again, Don Zimmer is always going to tell you how his feelings are going. It's been a tough year for everybody as far as up and down, all through the year. So much pressure when you're managing here, coaching here, playing here. You really don't have time to breathe and catch your breath, to be honest with you. Last night, I guess someone had asked him some questions and he had a couple of responses. He's not gonna go side-step anybody. That someone decided to write it in the newspaper. That's the unfortunate part, as opposed to understanding Don Zimmer and just letting a remark just fall by the way side. But he's fine. I mean, he's here. He'll be sitting next to me tomorrow night.

Q. There was obviously a lot of national buzz of Cubs-Red Sox. Now you're at this matchup. There's such disparity in terms of payroll, national championships. How do you view the matchup?

JOE TORRE: The only thing I can tell you, I think I watched, like all you guys watched, that Jack McKeon ballclub down there. I tell you, they certainly earned being in the World Series. These guys don't have any idea, you know, what the difference is. I mean, they're player to player; how much money an owner spends at this point in time is out the window. They got through the tough part of this thing. The World Series is supposed to be fun because it's so grueling getting to it. They beat two dynamite teams to get to the World Series, and especially the Cubs. Even though they had a better record than the Cubs, to come back from a 3-1 deficit and beat their two best guys on their home turf the last two games, I mean, their confidence is sky high. I think they're in it to have a lot of fun. If they're in it as the underdog, that probably makes it that much better, but being the favorite, we certainly don't feel that we can assume we have that edge and it means anything to them. If we felt they were intimidated, sure, I love the edge. But I don't think that's gonna happen.

Q. Got a line-up?

JOE TORRE: No, I don't. If we had ended this thing Wednesday, I would have had a line-up. Today, we spent so much time about the pitching, Mel and I. The reason I put coming in here off for an hour because we hadn't decided. So the line-up will come tomorrow. I don't know what it's gonna be.

Q. Jeter will be in it?

JOE TORRE: Jeter may play, yeah (smiling).

Q. Aaron Boone says now you have a wakeup service.

JOE TORRE: (Smiling).

Q. Do you remember what he said to you when he first woke up? Is one of the reasons you chose to invite him this morning is give him more taste of what the whole Yankee experience is all about?

JOE TORRE: Initially, last night, when Brian Cashman informed me there was going to be a pep rally, I certainly wanted to just say, "I'll go and leave the players sleep." Last night, after he left, I started thinking about it, talking it over with my wife, that, you know, this is gonna be something I think he'd love and be exposed to that whole thing at City Hall and it would be something special. So I got his number this morning, called him, did give him a wakeup call. I said, "I know you're tired, but so am I. Get up, put on a pair of jeans and come on down." He did. He was terrific. The great reception for him. You know, he's had a tough year in his mind. I mean, he's helped us win a lot of ball games even though he hasn't hit as much as he'd like to. But last night was pretty special, and my thoughts went right to his mom and dad watching from California because I know his dad lives and dies with everything he does.

Q. I don't know if you set your rotation beyond today, if you announced it yet?

JOE TORRE: I haven't. The only reason, we're still waiting, you know, on how guys feel tomorrow. That's -- then tomorrow you'll get it all.

Q. That said, is this as beat-up or tired or out of order as you've had a rotation for the playoffs before?

JOE TORRE: Yeah. You know what's interesting, I go back to '96 where we waited eight days or something to play the first game. This is much better. It's less pressure. You just played your tails off to get here, and whatever line-up you have to put out there, whatever pitcher is gonna go on the mound, I mean, they're coming off a real, huge high. I don't expect a letdown, but they -- certainly looking to the World Series as we've climbed this mountain, now we're up here, let's enjoy it a little bit. We know what we have to deal with. We just had scouting reports. There weren't too many negatives on this club that we're playing tomorrow night. But, yeah, we're a little beat up, tired. But being tired after what we've accomplished is all right. I don't think it's really gonna affect anything.

Q. Two questions. First one, just a follow-up about Zimmer. Is what he said, the fact that he says he's not coming back next year, do you take that to be true? And number two is about Giambi, whether you think he's gonna use last night to take it easier at the plate and not try as hard?

JOE TORRE: I think last night, the second question first, I think Jason, I mean, that was huge. I mean, the first two runs we scored were Jason Giambi home runs. Against Pedro, any time you can break through initially, I think that's what sort of opens the door. He was responsible. Number one, offensively, for us to get us that feeling that, "We can do this." I would like to believe that it was a lot of responsibility and pressure, because all the times he didn't get hits with men in scoring position, it doesn't count because we won. So I don't think there will be any baggage that he'll have to carry. Don Zimmer, as I said earlier, and we all know him, you've been around him for five minutes, you know what kind of person he is. He's very emotional. He's gonna tell you how he feels. I know he loves being here. I know he's loved the last eight years that our coaching staff, most of our coaching staff has been together. He loves the players. I think last night was emotional. I didn't talk to him about it. I mean, I talked to him about what was said last night, but I did not ask him if he's sure he doesn't want to come back next year. I think we'll wait till later on when things calm down and hopefully, as I say, it was an emotional thing and that was the extent of it. I don't know that answer yet, but I don't plan to ask until later on.

Q. Regardless of when he pitches next, how pleased are you for Roger that last night wasn't his last outing?

JOE TORRE: Yeah, I was happy for him and us that last night wasn't his last outing. But, again, I saw him today, "How you doing?" He said, "Fine. I was ready after 10 pitches yesterday." I remember Mel telling me when he came in he had good stuff. I had to stop him from throwing. He was sky high. Unfortunately, we expected that. We expected the emotions were gonna run really high. I'm certainly happy he's gonna have a shot here to go for his 20th win. That would be a hell of a way to go out for him and certainly would be helping us.

Q. One clarification. Were you guys aware of this painting at Fenway Park yesterday, the World Series logo on the field before last night's game?

JOE TORRE: I was aware of it yesterday -- I'm not sure. I think I heard something about it before the game. I don't know if the players knew anything about it.

Q. The question I wanted to ask, though, dealing with the hunger of this team, you've been here so many times before. Haven't won the last couple years, but you've been here.

JOE TORRE: Like how you said we "haven't won the last couple years." We went to the ninth inning a couple years ago. That's what Yankee fans feel, I understand that.

Q. Are you guys as hungry as the other team might be, a team that hasn't been here before, for the most part?

JOE TORRE: Well, everybody, I guess, the romantic matchup was gonna be the Red Sox and Cubs to see which one was gonna get over the biggest -- the jinx, or whatever. Meanwhile, this ballclub was just here a few years ago, the Marlins. They won the World Series in between the two years that we did. So I don't think there's any doubt, when you look at our ballclub, the way we played this last series, if it wasn't important for us, it would have been certainly a lot tougher to even think of coming through a series against the Red Sox, which, to me, I mean, I said it all year long, they're the best Red Sox team that I remember in the eight years that I've been here. Yeah, I think the hunger is here. Once you do it, I know my wife asked me after the first year we won the World Series in '96, "All right, now you won the World Series. Why don't you quit? It's the best way to go out." It feels so good, you don't want to quit. You see if you can do it again. To be a part of it never gets old because it's always different. It's always great for a different reason. It's been special, and to be back this year, after, you know, beating the Red Sox the way we did was -- I don't think that anything could have been better for us.

Q. Talking to some of the Marlins players, particularly Pierre, their type of play, the aggressiveness, stolen bases, is a lot different than what most teams are. Can that be a problem for you guys? Do you have to adjust to it?

JOE TORRE: No question. You want to keep those guys off the base pads. You go back, I see Rick Hummel over here, you think of the Cardinal teams with the McGees, all those guys at the top of the order disrupting Vince Coleman. That certainly causes a problem for defense, for pitching, distraction. That type of club will cause a problem for every team. So we really rely on our pitching to try and control the game. They're not easy to control because I watched them handle some pretty good pitchers and not really ever lose the confidence that they can get the job done. But, yeah, it's a whole different set of circumstances. We played the Angels last year. They were very aggressive. They had some -- they had a little speed, but they were more aggressive than fast. These guys have both. I mean, they're playing as well as they've played, I have to assume, as many games as they've won recently. They don't know any fear. So, yeah, it's a different set of circumstances. That's why we spend a long time with the scouts, where we didn't need that much against the Red Sox because we've played them so often. It's a little bit different.

Q. When you have somebody who's extremely loyal to you, how awkward is that, it puts you in a tough situation with Don's comments, having to deal with the boss?

JOE TORRE: Again, knowing him, you really don't hang on every line. I deal with players the same way. I don't necessarily listen to every single word. I just -- or really react to every word, I just want to know what caused them to say it. I think in Zim's case, the emotion last night, he was almost crying like all of us were after the game. He's sitting there on the bench, all of a sudden the game's over. It's just so shocking. But I -- it's easy to talk to him. It wasn't easy to talk to him the first year or two because I didn't know him a great deal. But, yeah, we've spent a lot of time together. I called him this morning about a different reason. I told him our meetings were two o'clock, not one o'clock. He discussed what went on last night. I didn't say "why" or this or that. I just know him. It's easy just to understand that, you know, he's a passionate guy in that regard. We'll see what happens. As I say, when things calm down a little bit, I think that's the time we'll talk about what's gonna happen after this.

Q. Even though you don't have a line-up, is it your hunch Giambi will move back up?

JOE TORRE: You know, I have no clue. I really do not know. I mean, I have not given it one ounce of thought at this point. I think the fact that the players don't hang on it is because we just played this morning. So just played a few hours ago, that if it was something they'd been waiting for for a few days, looking forward to the first game of the World Series, which we are, but we're still in that play mode. It's still like the regular season where they're coming to the ballpark tomorrow. We'll have a line-up posted tomorrow.

Q. Are you confident his leg will allow him to play?

JOE TORRE: Yeah, for sure we're gonna give it a hell of a shot. He's gonna be the first baseman. Whatever we save as a DH when we play at our place, then hopefully it will carry him those other games.

Q. A lot of us have been talking since last night about Grady leaving Pedro in. How hard was it for you to walk out there and get Roger, knowing maybe it was the last time?

JOE TORRE: I didn't get caught up in it. We're all on the same page last night. We were all trying to win a game. When I took Roger out, it was no shock to him. He knew, obviously, that he wasn't as good as he normally is or wanted to be. Even when he's at the top of his game, I mean, remember, I took him out of that game in Chicago. I mean, that was a lot tougher to take than the one yesterday. But when you get in a Game 7 situation, we all know what's at stake and we all know that it's no time for sentiment at that point in time. I really did not think of it. The only thing that did strike me was when I walked to the mound to take him out, the fans, all of a sudden you get -- you understand that they're thinking that this may be the last time they see him. I thought that was, you know, that was... Considering, the Yankee fans are pretty tough. But even though we're losing 4-0, they certainly took the time to appreciate what Roger is.

Q. Joe, two-part question. Do you think you'll see a different Aaron Boone as time goes on? Along those lines, do you think last night may have been a breakthrough in that regard?

JOE TORRE: I certainly hope so. There was a pocket of games that we had, oh, maybe six weeks ago, that Aaron looked like he was the guy that I watched play on TV or maybe watched in spring training. All the other games, it was just this young player who was excited about playing baseball. Last night, I mean, that's validation last night. It's something they can never take away from him, something that will be remembered. I mean, especially when you're dealing with a rivalry like ours and the Red Sox. He'll never go away. I think emotionally, that could calm him down somewhat. I look for him to have a big series because he's certainly capable. He's certainly capable. All he has to do is stay within himself. As I say, it's not that he's nervous, except that he gets excited. I always judge -- you know, there's a difference in being nervous and being excited. When you're nervous, you can't do your job. When you're excited, you still are able to do it. You watch him play defense during these times of struggle and he makes some big plays on defense for us, that's how you know that he's got a huge heart there.

Q. Mike Lowell broke into the majors under you. I was just wondering your impressions of him, his progress, he's been through some of the same things you have. Has he become the player you thought he would then?

JOE TORRE: Yeah, we knew he was special. He came at a time when Scott Brosius was here and we won and all of a sudden we had to make a decision and we signed Scotty to a couple-year contract. You know, basically did Lowell a favor, you know, by sending him somewhere where he could play. Yeah, it doesn't surprise us. It didn't surprise any of us that knew him and watched him in spring training. I mean, he reminded me, when he was in spring training, of Kenny Boyer, just not a whole lot of fanfare. All he did was go out there and play all the time, play hard. I'm happy for him. You're right, there are some things that we both experienced and we've talked about, I'm very happy for him because he's a leader over there and he doesn't have to say a whole lot to do that.

Q. Based on what you know of them as individuals and pitchers, who recovers on short rest easier with Pettitte, Mussina, Clemens, who's more a creature of routine? Second one, can you rank last night with the other great games you've managed here, the two against Arizona, the Leyritz game in Atlanta?

JOE TORRE: Well, those two against Arizona was sort of an out-of-body experience. It was back-to-back crazy games. But Game 7 against the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium, my brother standing in the back of the room -- last time there was a Game 7 at Yankee Stadium, he was playing for the Braves against the Yankees in 1957. The enormity of that game last night, knowing that the winner goes to the World Series, has to rank No. 1. I don't think anybody -- and, again, taking nothing away from the players that have played for me over the last eight years, that was, you know, that was big theater last night. It's something that I went into the coaches' room today, I said, "Are we playing Game 7 tonight or was that last night" because it was such an emotional thing, I think it had us all shaking our heads. And the pitcher question, Wells, again, you heard him talk about his arm. He can get up Christmas morning and probably throw the ball 89, 90. Andy recovers pretty well. Moose proved last night he can come back out of the bullpen. He doesn't like the fact that we know that. But he's probably one of the guys that we try to keep on his day, like when we skipped Moose, I mean we skipped Boomer so he could pitch on his fifth day up there the other day. We like to keep him on the five days. Roger, well, Roger's 41. Any time we can give him an extra blow, we'll do that. So that's what we look. We don't want Roger repeating; we just want him pitching, you know, with enough rest as opposed to trying to cram too much into him.

Q. Both Boone and Matsui said that last night they felt like they became part of some sort of a bigger thing that is Yankees. You've had lots of guys like that. How do you feel when players of yours become a part of this long-running thing?

JOE TORRE: I know exactly what they're talking about. My first year in '96, I had old-timer's games, the Yankees are the only ones that have them anymore. I saw all the great Yankees that are still with us. At that time, DiMaggio was one of them. I felt sort of out of place, because I hadn't done anything yet. I was in the middle of managing my first year here. Then we win the World Series and, you know, slowly -- even at that point, I still felt a little out of place because I hadn't played for the Yankees. Then when we had success since then, I feel more a part of the Yankee tradition now. But there is that line that you go over that when you hear about the Yankees, you can include yourself in the history. That's pretty special, because there's no team in sports, in sport, that has the tradition the Yankees have had. You don't have to know what baseball is all about to know who the Yankees are.

Q. When you and Mel contemplated your Game 1 starter, was Wells' durability the No. 1 factor? If not, what was it? To what degree did you consider Contreras or Jeff Weaver?

JOE TORRE: We considered a lot of people and talked about a lot of people. Not sure about Mariano's availability tomorrow. If we start Contreras, it takes him out of the loop for, obviously, tomorrow, the next day, maybe the third day. And I think he's gonna be very important for us in the bullpen. Weaver, yeah, we talked about Weave. Sure, we trust him. But it's not fair to him, I think, after he's been idle for so long, to all of a sudden heap all that on his shoulders right now. And Boomer, again, he threw just a handful of pitches last night, I guess. He's been one that has been able to recover. Other things have caused him problems, stiffness and soreness maybe, a back, a time or two. But usually the arm responds pretty well. Obviously, before we made that decision to start him, Mel sat with him for a while to talk to him about it.

Q. How much are you thinking about their team's speed?

JOE TORRE: Well, that's a concern. No question. When we have these meetings, our scouts have been watching them for a long, long time. And, again, with the way the games were spaced out, you had a chance to watch them on television. They are, again, they don't intimidate you maybe with power, but speed, to me -- I always remember clubs like the Cardinals, I keep going back to the Cardinal winning teams, the Pirates, when they used to run, I guess, back in the '60s. It's just distracting. Speed can be very distracting. Again, pitching is one of our strengths, but when you have teams that have speed, for some reason, when the ball is hit, there's always somebody out of position. That's a concern; there's no question about it. So it puts a little extra pressure on our pitchers to try to get them out so they're not on the bases. It makes it easier to pitch to the rest of the guys when you're not having to look over your shoulder at the guy leading off first or second.

Q. Considering how you did have to drain your bullpen the last couple days, are you considering any roster moves?

JOE TORRE: We are looking at that very seriously, yeah. We have to have it in by 10 o'clock in the morning. Brian and I, Mel, Zim, we've been discussing, you know, maybe dropping a player and adding Hammond. We're probably 70, 80 percent sure we're gonna do that. We'll probably make that decision tonight.

Q. Almonte?

JOE TORRE: Either that or Dellucci, depending on what we feel we need more of, the pinch runner or the extra infielder.

End of FastScripts...

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