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October 21, 2003

Joe Torre



JOE TORRE: Soriano, Jeter, Giambi, Bernie Williams, Matsui, Posada, Garcia, Boone, Mussina. Only nine this time.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you. Questions?

Q. Joe, you've been through so many of these big, short-game series. Could you tell us the importance of this particular one, a Game 3, series tied, down here?

JOE TORRE: Back to '96, I had David Cone pitch Game 3 in Atlanta because he was probably the only one that was used to pitching in a National League ballpark. I explained to him, up two, down two, even, Game 3 is hugely important. I was in my office talking with our local media, and asked about Roger tomorrow. Again, I don't think there's a game that's unimportant in this postseason. I mean, I'm not trying to make it simple, but tomorrow is the same situation. You're down 2-1, up 2-1, all of a sudden that game becomes huge. But Game 3, to me, is, at this point, you're running out of games. After Game 3, now you have four games left possibly. So you can get an advantage, especially on the road for us; if we can win a Game 3, it puts us -- you're never comfortable, but it puts us in a good position.

Q. In Game 1, the Marlins were able to flash a lot of their speed. In Game 2, because of the early lead and probably Pettitte's pickoff move, they weren't able to do that. Mussina is a guy who's slow to the plate. Is there any extra concern that may be an advantage for them in the running department?

JOE TORRE: Only if they get on base. That's what we did in Game 2 better than we did in Game 1. We were able to keep Pierre off the base. Game 1, he was on, I think, four times. It's really tough. It's not only tough to pitch, but it's tough to pay attention. I think it's still gonna be very important for Mike to deal with the top of the order, then he'd be able to concentrate a little bit better on the hitter as opposed to trying to change-up his windup where he doesn't get predictable.

Q. You guys are used to dealing with distractions and winning and doing your business on the field regardless. But with these recent turn of events here, do you expect any problems with your team or any distractions as far as what's been going on here in the papers the last few days?

JOE TORRE: I don't expect it, but I certainly will make sure that the players understand that the stuff, whether they let it distract them or don't, is not gonna go away right now. So just dealing with it. Maybe we're sort of conditioned because of everything that goes on in New York that there are things that teams have to deal with, our team has to deal with, probably more often than other teams. Again, I won't take it for granted that's the case. I will talk with them. I did in Boston when it initially happened.

Q. You said on several occasions that you never know when Bernie is gonna go off; it just happens. When he is hitting well, though, is there something you see in him you don't see when he's not going well?

JOE TORRE: Yeah, probably long at-bats. He gets a good focus, and, again, not that he doesn't pay attention, but he seems to pick the ball up out of the pitcher's hand. And I can usually see that. Yeah, I can't tell you what I see. When you see somebody every day, you could see a certain comfort. When he extends his at-bats, I'm pretty confident that he'll hit the ball hard somewhere. And, again, doesn't mean he's not gonna get a base hit in the first pitch. But he's had some terrific at-bats for us so far in the postseason. He's gotten some huge hits for us. He's important. He's done this for so long, in all eight years I've been here, he's hit right there in the middle of the line-up and has really been big in key situations.

Q. What's Clemens' legacy with your club gonna be?

JOE TORRE: Well, he's more than a Hall of Fame pitcher. I think his unselfishness with the young players, even with other veterans that we didn't know anything about when he was with another ballclub. When you get a chance to know the human being, aside from the intimidating pitcher that we thought he was only that, you really appreciate what Roy Campanella said years ago; you have to have a lot of little boy in you to play this game. He still is a little boy in a lot of ways. That's the only way he can keep that enthusiasm, like he's kept it right here till the end. I think he's gonna miss the camaraderie that's gone on more so than the getting ready every five days to pitch, when he walks away from this. But I think they're gonna like the fact that Roger has been a lot of fun to be around.

Q. Having been away on a consistent basis of managing games with a DH, is there a lot of adjustment? Does the interleague help at all?

JOE TORRE: Somewhat. You do a little bit in spring training, but you're really not concerned in spring training because you'll pinch hit anyway. You have 60 guys, you don't worry about it. But, yeah, it certainly keeps you from going to sleep. You need to pay attention. You need to know where the pitcher is hitting this particular inning. Do you want to extend your starter just to get him through this inning so you can pinch hit for him next inning? There are a lot more decisions to make in National League games, and the interleague play, yeah, it helps you a little bit. But I think the fact that I managed three National League clubs to start with has been more of a help for me than anything else. But still, you certainly have to be aware and on your toes all the time in making decisions.

Q. In light of Roger going tomorrow, do you think that pitching inside has become kind of a lost art in the majors? Has it changed at all during your time as a manager from when you were back as a player?

JOE TORRE: Yeah, it's changed a lot. There are a lot of times that inexperienced umpires can't tell the difference between pitching inside and throwing at somebody. That's really made me uneasy in a lot of games because unless you allow a pitcher to pitch inside, and I'm talking about inside, off the plate, it's really tough for a pitcher to be effective on a consistent basis. But it has changed. I mean, years ago, I could give you my example, when I came to the Big Leagues as a 20-year-old kid, each club would knock you down one time to see how you would react to it. That was part of what Major League Baseball was about at that time. Again, nobody wants to hit anybody in the head, and then that's never been an intent for the most part. But it has changed quite a bit, and you just hope, as I say, if there is a warning, that the next pitch that's inside, that the umpire can sort of have a feel for it.

Q. If the subpoena did anything, it brought the steroid issue back into the public eye. Is there need for more testing or is the issue overblown, in your opinion?

JOE TORRE: I really don't even want to comment on that. That's something that Major League Baseball and the Players Association has to deal with. For certain, I hate that it would ever become somebody hits a home run and you're gonna wonder why. That's unfortunate. But, again, that's something that I think everybody is more concerned with the health and welfare of players than anything beyond that. But as far as more testing, I really don't even want to comment on that because I think they have to figure it out amongst themselves.

Q. You have been through so many of these series. I wonder if you could share with us if there is a degree of reading that a manager goes through as to how difficult that particular series may be with their personnel?

JOE TORRE: Reading? Is that what you said?

Q. Yeah. You look at your staff, your personnel, you look at their personnel. Is there a degree of reading that you could say that this series is gonna be more difficult than the last one?

JOE TORRE: To me, it all comes down to pitching. For me, I learned from the late Rube Walker, he was my first pitching coach, and he taught me a long time ago how pitching can control the game. I didn't necessarily agree with him at first, but then when you couldn't get 27 outs, I had to agree with him. As far as teams that are tough, the Red Sox were tough for us because we didn't seem to match up well with them. We beat them most of the time, but not by a large margin. Anaheim, we were uncomfortable playing them last year. They were the same type of club that the Red Sox were, offensively. But we pitched against -- better against the Red Sox than we did against Anaheim last year. Pitching can solve a lot of problems. Speed is always something that concerns you, and that's where the Florida Marlins come in. They have speed that distracts. I saw Ozzie Smith the other day. I said, "These are the kind of clubs that Whitey Herzog had with you and Willie McGee and all those guys," the pitchers throw into the plate, one of his eyes is watching the runner on base. I think there's no question that's a concern. And the two games that we have played so far, one, we didn't do a good job in Game 1 of keeping the top guys off the base pads. And the other night, we were better and we had a better result. But, again, my feeling is I have to trust my pitchers, and scouting reports are so much more important for us in series like this. We have a good group of advanced people and people have been watching the Marlins along with all the other teams that were in the postseason. But we rely a great deal on them for this series, obviously more than we did with the Red Sox because we played them 19 times.

Q. Does the importance of the World Series lessen or erase the significance of what could be Clemens' last game, in your mind?

JOE TORRE: Yeah, I think the World Series takes precedent over that. I'd like to believe Game 7 of the Championship Series took precedent, but I couldn't go into that one. Roger pitching against Pedro, especially the emotional game they had in Game 3 before that. But I have a sense that Roger will have an easier time being able to do what he needs to do, whether he's successful or not, we'll wait and see. But I think there's so much emotion into that last start for him, that he really had trouble locking in. So I think the fact that he'll be ready to pitch and maybe not try to do too much is probably going to be easier for him to do that part of it than it was against the Red Sox.

Q. Have you given any thought as to whether you would start Roger in the seventh game, if one is necessary, especially since he'll be on four days' rest?

JOE TORRE: Roger in the seventh game, you said?

Q. Have you given any thought to that?

JOE TORRE: No, no. I mentioned that if there is a seventh game, I'm sure Roger will be out in the bullpen with everybody else. Everybody is available in Game 7 because there is, especially after the World Series Game 7, there's certainly nothing going on the next day or the next week.

Q. You've been through this a couple times with Roger now, possibly last games. Even though this is the World Series, do you get a moment to reflect tomorrow?

JOE TORRE: Every time I have written his name down and every time he has won, I've always given him the line-up card. I always take that time after the game to reflect. Taking him out of the game, I was asked the other night when I took him out of Game 7 against Boston, did I think of "This may be the last time." I'm gonna be honest with you, I didn't, because we had too much work to do. You don't allow yourself sentimentality. I'm guessing I'm not going to think a whole lot about it tomorrow because of the importance of the game.

Q. Does he get the line-up card tomorrow?

JOE TORRE: If he wants it, but it's an automatic if he wins. If he gets the line-up card, the way we been doing it, that means we have a good result.

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