home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


October 20, 2003

Joe Torre



Q. Mike was a little frustrated over his first two starts, but how far do you think that three-inning relief stint went in Game 7 to really kind of spark his confidence and get him going for the series?

JOE TORRE: It's interesting. When you get to postseason, we've talked about it so often, that it's not really individual achievement; it's what you've done to help. I think Mike really wasn't concerned about the lack of wins, just the fact in the games that he pitches, we didn't win. I think that game the other day certainly - I don't care how long you been pitching, I don't care how much money you make - when you contribute like he did the other day, we would not be down here right now unless it was for him. He did this back -- when we go back to losing the first two games against Oakland a couple years ago. He pitched that 1-0 gem in Oakland, same type of thing. I think that certainly has to help his personality and his confidence. He was forcing it a little bit.

Q. When you guys made the decision to get rid of Mondesi, there was some question about what were you gonna do in rightfield? Can you talk about what you think you've gotten so far from Rivera and Garcia, to some degree, Dellucci? Can you compare and contrast them?

JOE TORRE: When Monde left here, we certainly lost a great defensive play and the ability to hit the ball out of the ballpark. He just wasn't happy, I guess, with the way things were going. I mean, that's probably the best way to say it. When we made the deal, we got Dellucci, and we knew at that point in time that we were gonna have to mix and match in rightfield and try to figure out which way we want to do this. Actually, Rivera was not in the mix at that time because he was still at Columbus. We tried platooning and then Dellucci played. Then, of course, Dellucci got hurt. Juan Rivera came and we started platooning a little bit. The one thing about it, the manager's job is to get a feel for it. We certainly seem to have enough information to do certain things with them. I think we know what they're capable of. I'll give you an example. In Minnesota, we played Rivera even though it was right-hand pitchers. We just felt comfortable with him against certain pitchers. It's worked out. The best part about it is everybody involved in that rightfield situation has pretty much bought into it. I think that's a big part of it. Because if you're fighting in your mind about, "I should be playing more than the other guy," then, all of a sudden, when it does come time for you to play, you're putting so much pressure on yourself, it's not gonna work. There's a little different -- the one good thing about it, the three guys now -- of course Ruben Sierra is in that mix. But he's so good for me coming off the bench, being a switch-hitter, that really helps me offset any change coming out of the bullpen. But the fact that Garcia, one thing since he's been here, I didn't realize he was such a good defensive player as he is, has played for us. Dellucci has played well defensively. We knew Rivera was. We're really still not as good defensively as if Mondesi was out there, but I think we're much better than average.

Q. What did the home run do for Soriano last night? Then I see you're passing out Soriano 30/30 shirts in the clubhouse.

JOE TORRE: I don't know where they came from. We got them last year, too (smiling). Hopefully, it did a lot for him. Again, if you look at him and you meet him on the street or you see him in the clubhouse, he always has a smile on his face. It's never really a hint of how much he's probably fighting himself. As I mentioned, we had a conversation before the game yesterday, it's really tough to drag it out of him. Everything's okay, it's okay, it's okay. But you just watch by the way he's having his at-bats that he was forcing it a little bit. But, hopefully, the home run, again, like Mussina, will make him feel that he's contributing and he'll let the game come to him a little bit.

Q. When you guys traded Mike Lowell, apparently you were still pretty high on him at the time. Was he a tough guy to part with?

JOE TORRE: He was. Understanding we had just won and we had Brosius who was a part of it and we had to make a decision at that time and knowing what Brosius had done for us, and also knowing that Mike Lowell was gonna be a player. I know I mentioned it early on in this series, that he reminded me a great deal, just his demeanor and the way he plays the game, and that sort of loping fashion like Kenny Boyer. Has the power, plays well defensively, steady player, good type of leader influence. We knew he was gonna be a big player. It was just one of those things, in New York you really don't have a lot of patience for, "I'm not sure if this guy needs another year," when you have somebody who's already done it for you in Brosius. It was a good decision I think for both parties. Brosius did well for us, the remaining time he was there. Mike had an opportunity to play every day.

Q. Last night, you mentioned how Andy, when he made his first World Series start, that he kind of tried to elevate his game back in '96. Have you sensed that out of Mike? He's done so many things?

JOE TORRE: No, I don't think so. I think Mike is pretty much a victim of not scoring any runs for him. He, again, he's so good with what he does, because he's not a one-pitch pitcher, even a two- or three-pitch pitcher for that matter. He's got a lot of ammunition. He tries and has enough confidence in his ability that he could thread a needle. Sometimes, he gets a little frustrated that he's not able to do all those things. So I think if there's any pressure, I don't think it's the fact that it's postseason. I think it's just more the fact that it's Mike Mussina and the way he goes about things. But I think a big part of trying to be too perfect, for him, is knowing until we score runs, not trying to give anything away.

Q. If I could jump ahead a day to Roger's start on Wednesday. His last couple starts, it was a possibility it would be his last one. Now you know and he knows that it is definitely the last one. Has that hit home to him and the team?

JOE TORRE: Roger has handled it really well. The last one was tough for him to keep his feet on the ground. It was tough to be a normal start when you're facing Pedro in Game 7 of the Championship Series. The game before that, he came up huge for us against Pedro. But I have felt very comfortable with him starting right after his 300th victory. It just seemed to be a gradual comfort for him. A lot of times he'll go out there and try to throw the ball through a wall and muscle a lot of stuff, which he did in Game 7. But I think Roger, he's very much aware of what goes on around him. He's very much aware this may be the last time I'm getting this baseball. It certainly -- I couldn't be more proud to be his manager, and I know he's had a good time. It's probably the best time he's had since he's been with us, knowing, I think, that the end is here and he's sort of drinking it all in as opposed to continuing that grind that tortures himself. I'm sure he's very aware that when he gets that ball and goes out to that bullpen on Wednesday, it's gonna be for the last time as a starter. You never know what's gonna happen in a seven-game series; you may see him peeking over the fence in Game 7, if there is a Game 7.

Q. With the success that you've had, the sixth World Series in eight years, you alluded to this the other day a bit, are you as an organization held to a higher standard? You mentioned after 2001 there not being a sense of accomplishment, almost disappointed. Is it a higher standard?

JOE TORRE: Yes. I think what's happened before us, you talk about the Babe Ruths and DiMaggios, Yogi Berras, Reggie, all those players, Whitey Ford, I mean, we had the most championships of any professional team. When you work for George Steinbrenner, there's no room for second place. If Game 7, a one-run lead in the ninth inning doesn't hold up, it's a failure. So we know that in spring training. We know that getting to the World Series is what we need to do to have the season be a success. Losing is still -- it takes some of the shine off that getting to the World Series. We know that, though. The one thing we continue to tell players about, the new ones that come on board, is that we get excited about winning certain stages. But it's really not validated until we win everything.

Q. Is it more pressure this year because of everything that's gone on?

JOE TORRE: I don't know if there's more pressure because I don't know what "more pressure" is. There's always a great deal of pressure. That Boston series was more pressure than I've ever had to deal with. It had nothing to do with our owner, it had everything to do with who we were playing. The Boston Red Sox have been our rivals for long before I got here. All of a sudden, it's a 25th anniversary of Bucky Dent's home run. I'm sure the Yankees had been happy. My bench coach was sitting in the other dugout at the time that that happened. All of a sudden, Aaron Boone hits a home run. It's crazy. It's really absolutely nuts. But that seven-game series against the Red Sox was the toughest of any series, that goes back to the Mets. Because the Mets series in 2000, we only played five games. But when you get the seven games of deciding whether you're gonna get into the World Series or not, I think that's probably more pressure than you can get anywhere else.

Q. Two questions. Have your players had any experience at this stadium, per se? Have any of them played here before? Also, because there are so many former New Yorkers who live down in Florida, will that help your team a little bit because they have a long rooting interest with the Yankees?

JOE TORRE: We go to Fenway and we have some fans, believe it or not (smiling). Yes, we have played here a couple years ago. We had the interleague stuff. And we know everywhere we go, we have our share of fans. We certainly know that there are a lot of transplanted New Yorkers in South Florida. There's no question. But we've always been a pretty good road club. I think the main reason is that our pitching has always been pretty good. You have a guy like Mariano Rivera who can shut the deal, you're not afraid of playing on the road. This is different. We come in here, see the palm trees. Normally, this time of year, you're somewhere else. It's weird. It really is weird. But everybody, as I say, after we finished that series against Boston, it's great being in the World Series and it's great playing this ballclub. Jack McKeon, to me, is the best story of the postseason. For a guy -- I thought I waited a long time to get to postseason. I chatted with him this morning. I went over to work out. He was the only one here at the ballpark. The only reason I knew he was here at the ballpark, I could smell him (laughter).

Q. Given all the things that have happened this year and you add that to the usual pressure you mentioned earlier, did this season demand more from your skills as a manager maybe than any other season you've ever had?

JOE TORRE: You know, I don't know. I hate to think that because I hate to think I've been saving something all these years. I mean, you do what you have to do on a daily basis. I mean, I have to wait -- other people have told me that, Don Zimmer has told me that. I don't know it because I'm inside it. Every game, you do certain things that you don't pay attention to because it's just something you think needs to be done at the time, whether it's talking to Booney the other night or talking to Soriano yesterday. It's taken a lot more time this year. As far as the pressure on a day-to-day basis, yeah, I guess it's been more pressurized basically because any criticism that's been levied against me or our team or our staff hasn't always been as public as it has been this year. So when it's public, all of a sudden it gets into the clubhouse and the players, you certainly don't want them to be distracted. It's tough enough playing in New York. Tough enough playing Big League baseball anyway. But in New York, where there can be so many distractions, the one thing I try to do as a manager is to make sure that my team only thinks about playing baseball and not to worry about things they have no control over. So it's been tougher in that regard because it's been more public, and we've pretty much had to address more stuff during the year.

Q. Fell short the last two years of the Yankee goal. You're where you want to be this year right now. Would you say Matsui has been kind of a missing piece?

JOE TORRE: He certainly has added a great deal to us. I mean, in my eight years here, the seven previous years, leftfield -- we were doing in leftfield what we're doing in rightfield this year. We never had a leftfielder that you put out there, stayed out there. When I think back over -- especially World Series games. People have finished the games in leftfield. I remember Tim Raines catching a ball, falling down in Game 4, I guess it was, of the World Series in '96, and Strawberry diving for a ball in left center in another World Series game. Matsui, I guess the one thing that he really showed us from day one was how well he plays defensively in the outfield. The question was he hadn't played a lot of leftfield, can he do this? And he has been such a steady influence and leader. Because a lot of the young kids come up, they can learn a lot from him. He knows how to play. He knows how to run the bases. Not to say he doesn't make mistakes, but it's not a mistake of not thinking. It's the one thing I noticed, I went over to Japan, I guess it was in '74 with the Mets. You saw how disciplined the Japanese players were. I really appreciate, and I know the rest of the players really appreciate what he's brought to the table, and the offensive part of it. I turned him loose the other day 3-0, yesterday, only because I -- he can identify a strike. A lot of guys, you turn them loose 3-0, they're gonna look for a fastball. If it's over their head, they'll swing or try to hit it nine miles. He's a very professional hitter. I guess I trust him about as much as I trust anybody.

Q. It's been a while since Giambi has played three games in a row at first base. How do you think he'll be affected physically, both on the field and, more importantly, at bat?

JOE TORRE: It may help him. When he's DHing, he's played first base most of his career. In between innings, the toughest thing for him to do is figure out what they'll do and where to go. He'll go in, watch his at-bats, he'll swing, he'll do certain things. He's been taking his ground balls at first base. I think you get to this time of the season, you're certainly in as good a shape as you need to be. But, again, he's dealt with some knee problems. We know that. But we'll play it a game at a time. I really don't anticipate he's gonna have any physical problems playing first base.

Q. I realize you've seen very little of Miguel Cabrera. But what you have seen and what your reports tell you, how good a young hitter is that guy?

JOE TORRE: I said to Zimmer yesterday, I said, "Here's a young man that won't be carrying a lunch bucket for a very long time." He says, "Yeah, you're right." You could see him. He's raw right now. But he has got a look about him and a smoothness about him, getting to the ball with the bat, that is pretty special. You look and you see he's 20 years old. We watched it on TV. Where he was and how important the game was didn't seem to ruffle his feathers at all. Watching him dive in Wrigley Field for a ball, I didn't even know he was in rightfield. I turned the game on. All of a sudden, there's a ball hit to rightfield, Cabrera is diving for the ball in rightfield. That's pretty impressive for someone 20 years old. But he's gonna be special if he stays healthy.

Q. Certainly, you're immersed with your situation here. Are you taken aback at all to hear that Grady Little, his job might be in jeopardy because of one decision in one game in a Game 7?

JOE TORRE: Well, when you get to the Yankees and Red Sox, it becomes very passionate. But Bob Gibson was visiting me the other day. I said, "What chances you think Red Shane needs to have taken the ball out of your hand in that game?" He says, "None." To have a manager be questioned about -- you know, it's your job to question. But to have a manager be questioned about leaving the best pitcher in baseball in a ball game when he's thrown 115, 120 pitches, when probably caping it with fumes and everything, to throw 130 or 40, it's tough. It's tough. But, again, that's what our game is all about. Our game is about winning. A lot of people don't necessarily care what the reasons are, it's just the bottom line that makes things happen like that. But, yeah, it's unfortunate. Grady did a great job with that ballclub. You talk to every player and they'll tell you. He dealt with some discipline problems during the season and handled them, I thought, very well. Of course, not being on the inside, just from the outside, he kept a steady boat over there as far as I was concerned. But it's a shame, leaving Pedro Martinez in the game, if that's a wrong decision, then that's a tough way to go.

Q. How much tougher is the three rounds of playoffs than the two rounds were? How much does that drain the players? If you had your preference, would you go back to the other way? Do you feel badly for 100-win teams to get knocked out early?

JOE TORRE: It's tough to play three-out-of-five after winning 100 games. It's very difficult. I don't know how the heck you do it. You end up going into the middle of November some time. I was just looking at your media guide last night on the plane, going back. It was fun just looking back at the World Series and some of the comments underneath like the one World Series where Babe Ruth was thrown out trying to steal for the last out in Game 7, stuff like that I found very interesting. But it is tough. I mean, two rounds of playoffs then getting to the World Series. The only plus there is you get a chance to enjoy this, the World Series, more than you probably did when you went right to the World Series from winning your league. Because getting here is so tough. You have to be lucky. Give you an example, '96, we lost the first game to Texas at home. Losing the second game to Texas at home. Three-out-of-five. We lucked out. They made an error. We won Game 2, Game 3, Game 4. All of a sudden, we win and go on to win the World Series. Last year, against Anaheim, we win Game 1. We're six outs away from winning Game 2. All of a sudden, they win the World Series. It's very, very fragile. The fact that you go through two rounds of playoffs certainly allows you to enjoy. Not that you don't try to win this, but getting here is so tough that you understand that you can only control so much. I think you understand if somebody else gets a break in a game or something more so than you would before you get here.

Q. Based on the limited amount of video you've seen in the scouting reports, what are your impressions of Josh Beckett? Is there a pitcher that he reminds you of?

JOE TORRE: He's an old-schooler for me. When you say, "Give me the ball," and he had just pitched a couple days ago, that was big time when he picked -- he took the ball in that last game against the Cubs. It was just -- he just looked like he'd been out there for 10 years. Very impressed. He looks like he has electric stuff. Our reports tell us that. I mean, when they talk about the starting pitchers, they talk about a lot of good arms here. But he has really caught everybody's attention with the way -- not only his stuff, but what he does with it. To me, it's a matter of the experience he has gotten in the postseason so far has really matured him in a hurry. I met him yesterday, saw him again this morning - or this afternoon. He feels he belongs here. There's no better compliment I can give him than to say that about him.

Q. How much do you think Mussina's relief work in Game 7 of the ALCS was overlooked? What did that do for his confidence?

JOE TORRE: Hopefully, it did a great deal for Moose' confidence, that Game 7. Mel told him, because the day before, and we hate to think about those things, but Mel came up to me before Game 6. When you have a 3-2 lead and you go into Game 6, you don't want to go to sleep again; you want to win right now. So Mel came into my office. He says, "Moose is gonna throw a little bit today so in case there's a Game 7, he'll be available." I said, "Okay." We knew he was available from the get-go. Mel also told him that we weren't gonna bring him in with men on base (laughter). He reminded us of that afterwards. I said, "What do you want? We lied to you. What can I tell you?" I think that three-inning stint, especially the first inning, did a whirl for his confidence. Hopefully it helps us tomorrow. The other part of that question was...?

Q. Was it overlooked?

JOE TORRE: Was it overlooked? Not by us. Everybody wants to pay attention to Aaron Boone and Posada knocking in the two runs and Pedro coming out of the game. So there was a lot more to talk about than that. We certainly know the game wouldn't have stayed close if it wasn't for him.

End of FastScripts...

About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297