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October 19, 2003

Joe Torre


THE MODERATOR: Joe Torre will start by giving his line-up.

JOE TORRE: She always tells me what to do.

THE MODERATOR: And he always does it!

JOE TORRE: Soriano, Jeter, Giambi, Bernie Williams, Matsui, Posada, Boone, Johnson, Juan Rivera.

Q. Johnson, Boone or Boone, Johnson?

JOE TORRE: I think it's... You know, as I say, I played with a lot of them, but I'm pretty sure it's Boone, Johnson. We'll see when they get up. We'll see which way they do it. For sure, I'll check my line-up against the one that's gonna work. I'm pretty sure Johnson's hitting eighth. We'll make sure we don't screw this up again. I did it earlier this year (smiling).

Q. Beyond the 1 for 12 runners in scoring position last night, do you think that being sporadic is a function of your pitching or hitting and do you think it extended past the regular season?

JOE TORRE: I think if you watched that regular season, we felt we were certainly capable of being a little more efficient. But we went through this during the season. Again, we did it at times in the postseason, which makes it more dramatic. Last night, I had such a comfortable feel watching that we had these opportunities, that we were gonna do it. But you tip your hat to Urbina and Dontrelle Willis, and you have to say it was their efficiency and we weren't able to do it. We've been this way all year. We've been pretty sporadic with men in scoring position. It's not something that we like to have, but it's something we work at. And maybe the fact that we've been a little erratic doing that has maybe put extra pressure on the individuals.

Q. Every World Series has its own feel to it, texture. Some, it gets started a little later. Some are over before they get started. What's your feel about this one? Is there a different motivating factor every time you go in, or does one feed upon the other, especially when you have a core group?

JOE TORRE: I think they're all different. I think they all take on a life of their own. I mean, the postseason in both leagues have been so riveting that the World Series all of a sudden came upon us - both clubs. They had to go to a tough Game 7; we did, too. We were ready to play. I can't say we were flat, not ready to play and use that as an excuse. We have to give them credit for beating us. But if it goes seven games, it's seven separate seasons. You can't carry over 1-for-this, or 0-for-that, because each game lives on its own merit. As long as we have that approach and we talk about it every single day, just to relieve some of the pressures from the guys who maybe feel that they let everybody down the day before, to let the guys who maybe come off the bench and know what we're capable of doing, what we need to be thinking about. We need to do little things. I know we can hit home runs, but we certainly need to do little things that will help us win and take pressure off our pitchers. That's the problem we had early on here in the postseason; we hadn't scored a lot of runs. That puts extra pressure on the pitchers.

Q. Never gets old?

JOE TORRE: Never gets old. It can't. It's always different. My wife asked, "Let's walk away after '96, you got the World Series ring and all that." But once you do it, you get the taste of it, you never take it for granted. It's always different. The more you do it, obviously, the more satisfying and the better you feel about yourself, that you're able to do it because it's not easy to do.

Q. Being the team with the big-money players, the star players, do the individuals, you think, take the field with that pressure or are they able to go out there and sort of shut those expectations and just play?

JOE TORRE: Well, I mean, that's a good question. They're all individuals. Some of them -- first, the fact that you play for the Yankees, I don't care who we play, okay, we're playing the Marlins and supposedly a lot of money against very little money and whatever. But it wouldn't matter who we played, our expectations to live up to ourselves is enormous. It's unbelievable. We know that going in. As far as the individual players, we try to have as much fun as possible among ourselves to say, "Yeah, this is expected of us, but understand that you can only do what you can do." Don't try to get outside yourself and make it crazy and try to do more than you're capable. We still have to keep it simplistic. So we try to do it among ourselves to, yeah, we're expected to win, but let's challenge ourselves more so than live up to what everybody else thinks of us.

Q. Can you talk about Pettitte and what he's meant to the team in the postseason, and also the foursome that came up together in '95, '96, Pettitte, Posada, Rivera and Jeter and how unusual it is to have four guys in terms of talent?

JOE TORRE: Posada wasn't there in '96. He came up a little bit. But Bernie Williams. Yeah, this core of players, and they play very significant roles because they have key positions, I think it's important when guys come on board. And when you've won, people come to the Yankees saying, "What do you want us to do?" As opposed to taking a high-profile player and they're gonna come in here and all of a sudden everything is gonna be around them. That hasn't happened here and I'm happy about that. Because we have one concept. They won before I got here. This is a carry-over for them. Paul O'Neill, this is the back bone of this ballclub. The Jeters. I think Posada, this year, has taken on more responsibility. Bernie Williams, I tell him he's a leader, it surprises him because all he does is play hard all the time. Of course Mariano and Andy. Andy, he's had a roller coaster ride here in the eight years I've been here, but he certainly has been able to stand tall in games that we've counted on him to be that way, especially since he's never the one everybody talks about. He's -- we've always had someone else here that was probably more of a marquee player than he is. But it's a nice feeling to come into this clubhouse, and I don't care how much money that our boss spends, to know that they understand that that has absolutely nothing to do with winning. It's still the effort that you have to put forth and how important it has to be to you.

Q. You said you tried a ton of different line-ups?

JOE TORRE: I was thinking about it. I didn't, you know...

Q. In the tinkering, in the thinking in your head, what goes into judging those different line-ups in your head? Does it affect the players at all mentally, where you put them, specifically Jason Giambi?

JOE TORRE: Well, again, players know I do this. I mean, the one guy I had to talk to this spring because, evidently, it had to be a big to-do was Matsui, moving him around in the line-up. I told him in spring training that I do this a lot and don't take it as I'm moving you from fifth to seventh today because I didn't like what I saw yesterday. It's just matchup. I'm not sure this is a matchup situation, I'm just trying to put them in a line-up that hopefully will work. The biggest decision I had to make with this line-up, first of all, I wanted to move Giambi up. That was the first thing that came to my mind. I had to make up my mind about Soriano, moving him down. It was either first or the bottom of the line-up for him. We chatted. I just wanted to make sure that he, in spite of struggling, still has that aggressiveness that we need, that confidence that he needs, even though it gets tested all the time in this game. And my feeling was to offer him the most support I can offer him, is to lead him off. I mean, that's where he's been for three years. His numbers are pretty darn good. I think we sometimes tend to forget that it's only three years because he's done so much. I think the expectations may be higher than they should be. Once I decided to move Giambi and leave Soriano, then it's gonna affect Nick Johnson. Then we moved him down to eighth. Then I just basically maybe just split up the guys, the switch-hitters and the lefties.

Q. What affect did it have on Giambi?

JOE TORRE: I don't know. I didn't talk to him about it. Moving down has, I think the conversation is more necessary than moving up.

Q. Some teams have come to disdain bunting, sacrificing and stealing. The Marlins won last night's game that way. How do you feel about that?

JOE TORRE: Everybody says the manager has a certain style. I think the manager's style depends on his ability, the team's ability. Certainly, they play a great deal of little ball, but not to get lost in there, they hit some home runs on occasion, too. We always preach, "Think about the little things, all the time." I didn't sense we were looking at a home run last night. We certainly, against Boston, winning those low-scoring games, are aware of how important one run is. So even though we may not bunt, doesn't mean we're still not trying to put, say, a runner in motion and putting the ball in play and things like that. I certainly need, as a manager, to have my players think small. But, again, with Jack's line-up and the kind of mayhem they can cause, I understand that they bunt for base hits. They have more speed than we do. It's easier to say, "Let's do it this way." We need to do a better job at the top of the line-up. We can't let Pierre get on base four times. That causes disruption; your defense takes a hit in that situation.

Q. Your pitching has been fabulous all through the postseason. I'm just wondering, you probably had a chance then to take a look at what they did last night. What kind of adjustments do you think you'll be making in the way you approach their batters?

JOE TORRE: Their batters?

Q. Yes.

JOE TORRE: We rely on our scouting reports. We played Boston, we played them 19 times coming in. We knew pretty much everything we needed to know about them. But we certainly have paid attention to what we were told by our scouts. Our scouts are very thorough. They've done a good job. Again, we played well enough and pitched well enough -- let's put it this way: We pitched well enough to win last night, giving up three runs. The one run we'd like to have back would be the leadoff walk. That's a no-no. To me, there's always a danger, when you're dealing with hitters' weaknesses, that you certainly don't want to get away from the pitcher's strength just to go to the hitter's weakness. I'd rather go strength against strength. That, to me, is very important. I know Mel has made that very clear to our guys.

Q. Could you talk about Jeter and how his value extends far beyond the numbers he puts up, his intangibles?

JOE TORRE: It really is. You look up there, he has 52 RBIs for the season. Numbers don't even come close to telling you what this kid is all about. In fact, Don Mattingly was standing behind the cage with me this evening. He just looked, he says, "This kid's something special." He just -- there are things that he does that, again, you can't get a grip on it other than watching him and knowing that you trust him. I think that's probably the highest compliment you can pay a Derek Jeter, is that you trust him to be able to keep his head, at all times. Not always succeed, but never gets to the point of being tentative to hit in a key situation or play in a key situation. He's the kind of player that says, "Hit me the ball if it's the last out of the game." As I say, he may make an error or whatever, but it's not for the lack of wanting to be in the spotlight. And not to get attention, just to make an impact on the game.

Q. You've won the World Series losing the first two games at home before.

JOE TORRE: Don't let me think about that. I don't want to do that.

Q. I'm sorry. How important is it not to fall into that hole again?

JOE TORRE: No question. This kind of short series, I know the five-game series is probably more of a hardship, but you never want someone to get a head of steam. We lost the last two Game 1s in the previous, like the Division Series, Championship Series, and we had not lost two games in a row after losing Game 1. I think it's very important for us to win today. If we don't win today, it doesn't concern us going on the road because we've been a very good road team, but it certainly makes our job tougher. So, yeah, you never want to fall behind two games, but it's not for the reason that people may think, that we're away from home. Because we go anywhere and we're very confident we can win and we're certainly capable of winning three or four games in a row. Good teams are always capable of doing that. But, yeah, we don't want to fall behind two games to none. No question. It helps their confidence and it makes us have to climb a higher mountain.

Q. While it may not have any kind of an impact on a prolific base stealer like Soriano, does the pickoff play last night where Rodriguez gets Johnson at third base, is there a concern that that will be in the minds of the other guys who get on base for your team? And is it something you need to address?

JOE TORRE: We've addressed it but you have to remember, that's not the first time we've seen Pudge Rodriguez. We've played against him for seven years over there against Texas. We certainly know what he's capable of doing. Nick, I never want to see that happen. Jeter got picked off in '96 and he didn't like that. I didn't like it. But we get over it. I never want to take away the aggressiveness of our club. It started, our part of the first inning yesterday was Soriano, the infield hit and stole second. We know what Pudge is capable of doing. He certainly probably could be the best all-around catcher that's maybe ever played the game. We're not gonna take away from what we need to do. Again, it doesn't mean that you may take as many liberties as you would with other catchers, but certainly don't want to get yourself on your heels where you're gonna want to keep from playing the game.

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