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October 25, 2003

Joe Torre


Q. First, from what you have seen in the postseason with Mussina, what is your confidence level if you go to a Game 7 with him? Also you have had to make a lot of decisions in this series with Soriano and Giambi and Weaver, do you regret any or second-guess yourself on any or do you mind outside second guessing?

JOE TORRE: No, I don't mind outside second guessing. When you make decisions, you hope they work out. See, there's a difference in being the wrong decision or the decisions that you want to make that don't work out. You could put Babe Ruth up as pinch hitter with the bases loaded, one out, he gets into a double play. I mean, it's the right decision, it just didn't work out. But, no, I put a lot of thought into what I do. I have people around me like Don Zimmer and Mel Stottlemyre who I get a lot of input from, but you know, at the time you make the decisions, you don't have access, obviously, to the result. If you did, it would make it a lot easier in this game. I don't second guess -- I mean, in the past, I have second-guessed myself a lot of things, but nothing that's happened in this postseason that I have done, I feel like I should have done something else. Last game he pitched was dynamite. He has been that way all year for us. He's probably been our most consistent pitcher for the full season. I know Andy after a certain period of time became that way. Yeah, I am very confident, especially coming off the last game that he pitched.

Q. Can you just give your feelings before this Game 6 coming up, thoughts right now, confident team, how do you maintain a certain degree of non-nervousness when it's an elimination game?

JOE TORRE: Oh, you are nervous. This is what pressure is all about. It's dealing with it and how best you deal with it. It's interesting, we came here for Game 6 against the Red Sox and I don't -- I probably feel a little less stressful than I did that day. When you come for a game 6 and you are leading 3 games to 2, you don't want to go home again, you don't want to come back again because you don't want to think about that. Right now, we obviously want to go home and come back again tomorrow. The only thing you can do. I feel good about the two pitchers we have going the next two days. And our signature for most of the time that I have been here in the eight years has been our starting pitching. You know, who better to try to stop the bleeding here over these last two games than Andy. This series has been very unique. Five games have been played and each game, both teams had a chance to win. And I think that's a credit to both our clubs. We bite and scratch and fight, but, yeah, you are nervous. I think there's more nerves going on now than when the game starts. When the game starts, then you get in there and, for me, you become a spectator for the first three, four, five innings. Then you see if there's anything that you need, to want to try.

Q. Yesterday, you were very noncommittal about starting Soriano today. Anything you saw from him last night or today? What was that process?

JOE TORRE: Basically, I wasn't going to think about it yesterday. That was it. I just wanted to give my mind a day off and just not even think about it because if you start thinking about it yesterday, between then and now, there's too many things you have to think about. I have seen him enough over the last three years to, you know, to say to myself, "Did I have to change myself 100 times?" I just waited 'til today getting up on my way to the ballpark. When I got here, I talked to him today with Rick Down. My feeling was that we won 101 games this year and just about all of them were won with him in the lineup. I think he has the right to be on the field.

Q. Is it hard not to let the thought creep into your head that this weekend might be the last time you are in a dugout with a guy like Mel or Zim, coaches that have been with you for a long time?

JOE TORRE: We think that every year after the season is over, but no, what is going on, just like I was asked about Roger Clemens, you get caught up in the sentiment of the last time he's going to start or you are going to take him out of a game, you really don't. I really have not thought about that. After everything is over, then I think we can reflect and look back and see what it's going to look like next year and if they are going to come back. But now that you asked me the question, I certainly have felt very secure with them for eight years and I certainly hope that we can continue to do it.

Q. About Matsui in the clean-up spot, main reason is because Giambi and Soriano. Statistically, he was 0 for 5 in Game 5 and 1 for 17 in the regular season in the clean-up spot?

JOE TORRE: Don't tell me that. I wish you didn't mention that to me (Laughter.) The only thing I go on now is really the way -- I have the people up the top of the batting order the last couple of days that -- other than Wilson, who he was sort of a substitute. But they been swinging the bats fine for me. Matsui, I mean, the last out that they recorded in Game 5, he hit a bullet to the first basemen and Derrek made a helluva play on him. He has been swinging it real well. He has gotten some big hits for us. I don't know statistically. I just know from at-bats that he's done a good job for us. And Bernie and Jeter, and Jorge hopefully will get it going. Looked like he had some signs of hitting the ball on the button the last time. That's basically why I did it. Moved everybody up. Soriano out of the top spot and Giambi I decided to move down, so that's the reason I did it.

Q. In the past, from your years here, have the off seasons when you have lost in the dealings with George been noticeably more difficult and unpleasant in years you didn't win?

JOE TORRE: You know, it's -- they are different. You know, if you win, it's a matter of we can't let down. There's always that pressure and it's, again, it's nothing you don't expect or don't understand why it happens. Last year, he wasn't very happy. I don't think that was any secret. None of us were. The year before, I mean, what are you going to say? We go to the ninth inning with a one-run lead, you have the best pitcher and best reliever in baseball out there. It's just one of those things. Last year was difficult because we got knocked out unexpectedly by a very good team, and you want to know why. He wants to know why. So you do the best job you can explaining to him. But that's part of the job. And again, what goes on here is, you know, there's so much up-side that you really don't even think about that.

Q. What is the availability tonight of Clemens, Contreras and potentially even Wells?

JOE TORRE: Wells is out. He's really still suffering today. Sometimes this thing let's him go a little bit, but today he was -- there was as much tightness today than he had the other day. Contreras, I am sure is available, again, I don't know for how much. I know Clemens would be available, that's Roger Clemens. And everybody else except Mussina would be my inclination for tonight. I was asked several times earlier today about Rivera and how much . I don't know how much, but obviously, there's not a whole lot to wait for. So we're going to do whatever we can to win this ballgame and you know, if we have a game tomorrow, we will do the same thing.

Q. The Marlins really haven't shown a dominant No. 1 starter in this series, a dominant closer. A lot of things that championship teams sometimes throw out at you. Are they somehow an easy team to maybe underestimate?

JOE TORRE: Well, not necessarily. I mean, if you see what they did coming in here, the reason they got here is because they do get things accomplished. It doesn't always have to be pretty. Doesn't always have to be statistically sound. But when you watch how well they performed on a day-to-day basis, and they don't give you anything, I think that's a big part of their success is they are so sound defensively. But we've done a pretty good job up until now of pitching to the middle of the lineup other than Conine, and Pierre had the good first game, but we have done a better job of defending him and actually Games 4 and 5, the eighth and ninth hitter got us. So they have been getting lot of contributions from everywhere through that lineup, and again, they don't go away. They are very confident team. They play together very well, and, of course, they have a manager that gives them a great deal of support and I think that's a great big part of it.

Q. Pavano always gets in trouble, thinks too much. Does Mussina have a similar problem?

JOE TORRE: I think any time you are out here trying to prepare to go to war, go to play a baseball game, whatever it is like to have a game plan. Andy Pettitte, when he was younger, had that. If it's a problem, I certainly rather have someone over prepared than under prepared. You just have to sort of control that a little bit. But again, I think once you get in the game, that stuff usually goes out the window and you let your, you know, your ability take over. Especially Pudge behind the plate helps a pitcher real well. I have had him in a couple of All-Star games and watched him work. I admire his work a great deal. I think the toughest part about playing postseason games is doing this, having to wait for the first pitch. That's where all the anxiety comes in.

Q. Andy pitched a magnificent game in Game 2, other good games when you were behind in the postseason. Games 6, he faultered a little when you were up. Do you think he's grown accustomed to this role and pitches better when you are behind?

JOE TORRE: I don't think he pitches better from behind. He pitches better when we are ahead too. Obviously, no matter how well he's pitched and how well-prepared he's mentally, you still have to be able to do what you want to do. And just because a pitcher doesn't pitch well doesn't mean that the pressure got to him or he wasn't able to do this or do that. It's just sometimes, you know, when you look to throw that curve ball or screw ball or splitter or whatever you throw, it's still has to be under control. But Andy, he knows how to get himself into that zone. Again, sometimes -- he's probably his own worst critic during the course of a game. He can pitch -- be pitching a shutout in 5 innings and be beating himself out on the way from the dugout to the clubhouse in between innings. That's what he's made of. He has been down this road before. And you know, he's certainly has held up very well and we have a great deal of confidence and I think he senses that.

Q. The one thing though as we go back beyond the changes, this off-season, regardless of what happens, this weekend there's going to be a lot of changes in the club. Don't you think you have got a new rotation next year; right field situation may be addressed, maybe not, you have things on your coaching staff. Is this going to be, I won't say tumultuous, but more of a year after transition, off-season of transition, than usual?

JOE TORRE: Well, if my coaching staff is involved, it probably will be. As far as players, every year we have made changes. We had the M.V.P. of the 1996 World Series wasn't our closer the following year, John Wetteland. Cone left, Key left. Leyritz has gone a couple different times. Joe Girardi. It's something that we have had to deal with on a regular basis so -- of course, then the big change when Tino left and O'Neill left and Brosius left all at one time. It's just part of playing with any team, but when a team is in postseason, it probably gets a lot more attention. So we'll see. We'll see what the postseason brings and change is a part of this game, I think.

Q. Last inning of Game 4 you got a walk-off homer that barely goes over the fence in the corner. First inning of next game, your pitcher has to leave the game. Two punches in the gut in a row. As a manager, do you have a meeting? Do you talk the fact that you have had two real wallops there?

JOE TORRE: Yeah, we are here the same reason the Marlins are here, for a reason that they are special players. That first inning when we knew that Wells wasn't going to be able to go out there, Mike Mussina who had just thrown his bullpen earlier in the day comes up to me he says, "You need for me to pitch" or "You want for me to pitch?" So the players know. You don't have to have a meeting to tell them we have to dig down. This is to get the World Series, especially the two series we went through before this, they know the drill and it's not anything that we have to really keep a watch on. I think everybody has the same desires.

End of FastScripts...

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