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October 18, 2003

Joe Torre


THE MODERATOR: First question for Joe Torre, please.

Q. The Marlins have a line-up stacked with right-handed hitters that are much, much better front to back against lefties. How concerned are you, four of your first six games are going to have to be started by lefties?

JOE TORRE: I thought Boomer pitched well tonight. The thing I think that hurt tonight was the leadoff walk, that one inning, scored two runs. I thought he pitched well. We don't concern ourselves with that. We're very confident with our starters. Lefty, righty, we don't try to stay away with someone because a club is stacked with right-handers. We feel pretty good about our guys.

Q. Are you concerned about Soriano's approaching at-bats right now? If you are, when you were with Jason seeming to have some problems, you dropped him in the order. Are you thinking about that?

JOE TORRE: Not right now. Obviously, I'll think about it overnight. He's been so important for us in the three years he's been here that, you know, I'm reluctant to even think that way. Again, I'm not saying that we wouldn't make changes, but I haven't really given it any thought because we just came from the dugout after the game. So, as I say, I'm reluctant to do it only because of how good he's been and how he goes from hot to cold very quickly.

Q. His at-bats?

JOE TORRE: Well... He just -- he's struggling right now. No other way to put it. He's had some long at-bats, which normally benefits a hitter. Like the last time up, where he had a lot of pitches to look at. But he may be pressing a little bit. He tries not to show it but, again, he's human and he's come up in some situations where he certainly has had experience.

Q. Did you think that Boone should have cut that ball off?

JOE TORRE: You know, I couldn't tell. We tell our infielders in situations when you have 50,000 people in the stands, that you pretty much can't rely on hearing somebody say, "Cut it off," or, "Relay." You have to use your own judgment. I didn't ask him. I didn't see a replay. I really didn't know.

Q. Did somebody say something to him?

JOE TORRE: I don't know. I didn't ask. Wasn't gonna do me any good to ask anyway. He knows how to play third base. I couldn't tell from where I was sitting.

Q. Follow-up on that, Joe, the throw to first instead of to home by Boone...

JOE TORRE: Well, that's just the same answer I just gave. When you have a guy like Juan Pierre rounding first base, they only have the next base in mind. That's the way they won so many games. So, early in the game, you basically want to stay away from a big inning. That's what Booney was thinking when he cut it off. Again, I didn't ask him. But watching him play third base and knowing he knows how to play third base, that's the reason he threw to first because he was just assuming he was gonna take a big turn.

Q. Could you tell or did you think that he might have had a play at the plate?

JOE TORRE: I couldn't tell. I couldn't tell. Again, I didn't ask because, you know, it wouldn't have changed anything. If it's a young player who doesn't know any better, yeah, you talk to him. But Booney's played, and I'm very comfortable with the way he plays third.

Q. Three of the first four innings you had a runner on second, nobody out, and only one run to show for it. Are you concerned your offense may be coming a little too reliant on the home run and struggling with the ability to manufacture runs?

JOE TORRE: No, I don't think so. We never really think home runs. We've hit a lot of home runs, but we don't think that way. Instead of placing blame, I like to give credit, even though I'd rather give credit to our guys. They certainly have to credit Penny. He, at times, looked like he didn't have real good command. At other times, like when Jason was hitting with first and second, he made a good pitch on him. Bernie looked like he was may be fooled on the ball, he hit a popup first and third and one out. But, no, we grind it. I mean, we just come out of a series where we knew little things were very important. That certainly is not going to change.

Q. Do you think it's easier maybe for this team to bounce back quickly tomorrow because you've lost Game 1 at home in both first two series?

JOE TORRE: It's not something we planned (laughter). I mean, it's nice that we've had this track record in these last two series, but we had so many opportunities tonight, it was certainly frustrating. But, again, since we've done it the last couple of times, it keeps us from getting to the point of, "We got to, we got to, we got to." We feel we played well other than not being able to produce runs when we had them in scoring position.

Q. Talk about Juan Pierre. He had the -- scored the first run, drove in two runs. Even on the play involving Aaron Boone, his speed factors in.

JOE TORRE: No question. No question. I mean, that's -- if it's Conine and, again, he'll get mad at me for saying this, if it's Conine that gets that base hit, you take a chance of maybe letting it get through if you think it's gonna be close. But when you have one of the speed guys, you certainly don't want a merry-go-round going around and stay away from a big inning, especially early in the game. But, yeah, speed definitely makes a difference when you're playing defense because it keeps you on your toes, basically. Juan Pierre, we saw a little bit of him last year in Colorado. But certainly watched him and got a better look when we watched these -- the previous two playoffs. He certainly makes them move. We didn't do well. I mean, he got on base four times. That's not the way we can expect to win and try to keep their offense down. We certainly have to do a better job.

Q. Will you talk about the Johnson pickoff, if you felt that took some momentum away from you guys.

JOE TORRE: Well, it certainly wasn't good. First and third, I don't think Nick had a big lead. When he turned, he slipped and there he was. Pudge, we know about Pudge. He's not like he's from the other league. I mean, we've seen him so many years with Texas. We know what he does. Nick, as I say, I don't think he had a big lead but when he did turn, he just didn't get a -- didn't move back toward third and he came up short. Yeah, that took momentum away from us, no question. I mean, those things shouldn't happen. They played a better game than we did.

Q. Fifth inning, you played the infield in because of the squeeze bunt?

JOE TORRE: No, fifth inning we played the infield in because of Pierre. You saw the way he played before with nobody on. He hits a normal ground ball, and, you know, you have to scuffle to get him. Defense, certainly -- I mean, speed certainly changes your defense. It makes a difference. We knew it going in. Again, we got a firsthand look at it tonight. Let's not forget Dontrelle Willis in this whole thing because he did a hell of a job coming out of the bullpen. Urbina wiggled off the hook there at the end and made the pitches when he had to.

End of FastScripts...

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