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October 9, 2003

Joe Torre


Q. Are you surprised that Nelson has not quite gotten on track yet in the post-season, and would you consider using Contreras in the seventh or eighth in that role?

JOE TORRE: There's no question I would consider using Contreras. I think I would consider using either one of them. I probably would rather stay with Nellie exclusively with right-handers if I had a choice. Last night he pitched to a left-hander so it's not cut in stone. But Contreras, I certainly would use him in the same situation. I think when it presents itself, we'll know which one we're going to go to. Yeah, Nellie has been a little in and out. He struck out Nomar last night, but he's been inconsistent, but his stuff is still quality.

Q. With the match-up problems that your lefties might cause with Boston, do you give any thought to tinkering with your rotation, maybe starting Pettitte in one and Wells in three?

JOE TORRE: Again, as far as I'm concerned, I like the way we pitched through the last round. And 1 to 4, you can line them up any which way you want. We just decided to stay with it that way. Plus the fact that if Moose pitched tonight that, would have been one more day of rest he really didn't need to have.

Q. You've talked in the past about having to watch Roger's getting a little too worked up before a big game, is that something that you have to pay special attention to on Saturday with everything else and adding on to that it's going to be his last game forever at Fenway?

JOE TORRE: I gave up trying to do that anymore. I thought his last regular season day at Fenway was very memorable, the way the fans responded to him walking off the field. I thought it was great. But it will be a different type of crowd, I think on Saturday, for sure. Roger for some reason the last handful of starts, maybe more than that, he's been a lot better as far as emotionally. He's been ready to pitch. He seems very comfortable with himself. I haven't got a reason for it other than the fact that probably the finish line is down here and he's just drinking it all in. Saturday at Fenway, Championship Series, I'm not going to tell him it's not a big deal because it certainly is.

Q. You've been through every kind of permutation of a post-season series, ahead, behind, but what is the feeling of having the potential to go down two at home?

JOE TORRE: You don't like it. For sure you don't like it as I've told people in the past, it's a must-game tonight but if we lose I'll find a reason why it wasn't a must-game. You play one game a night. I know that's old stuff, but you certainly, if you start looking ahead and worrying about it, all of a sudden you're getting out of yourself and we need to concentrate on what we need to do today. Hopefully we can score some runs and take the pressure off our starting pitcher. For the most part in the last series and this one we haven't been able to take the pressure off our starters because we have not been able to put a lot of numbers on the board. If we are down two games going into Saturday with Pedro we certainly don't like it, but again we are going to show up and work hard and hopefully have a good result.

Q. For the fan, can you just talk about Pedro and Clemens, in Fenway, ALCS?

JOE TORRE: Yeah, it's happened before. I remember in '99, when it was staged as a tale of the tape, the two heavyweights, and I suspect that it will be the same type of preparation. It's not much better than that. These two guys, Roger has been the best through most of his career, and Pedro is the best. I know he didn't win as many games as other pitchers, but he certainly is as consistent as any pitcher that you'd watched in recent years.

Q. Following up on your other point about the offense and not being able to put pressure on the pitcher did you give any consideration to changing your lineup?

JOE TORRE: No, I didn't. Yesterday, I can't count yesterday, and the game before yesterday, we scored a bunch of runs. So I can't overreact to Tim Wakefield, and that's no slam at him. He knows what I mean, because he's a knuckleball pitcher and I hate to overreact to not being able to hit a knuckleball. I don't care which way you line them up. So we'll see what happens tonight. If I think I want to change it, we'll do that for Saturday.

Q. With Giambi, people have talked about him hurting. In your judgment how much has it affected him and when would it get to a point where you think it would be damaging to -- affecting him greatly, I should say?

JOE TORRE: Damaging, I don't think physically he can hurt himself. It's a knee thing that he's had to deal with long before he came to us. But he's going to play every game. I don't know if I can say anything more clearer than that. You know, hopefully he catches on fire for us. He's certainly capable and we always expect it of him every time he gets in the batter's box. We know he has struggled over the last month or so, but it doesn't keep me from expecting big things, and I have every confidence that we are going to get it.

Q. Obviously Boston has a dangerous offense. Can you just look ahead one more time; are they even more difficult to pitch against with all of those lefties going the opposite way in Fenway Park against the wall?

JOE TORRE: Everywhere. They are very tough because again, they don't strike out. They grind out the at-bats. We saw this the first time we played them and they certainly have not let up. If anything, they have gone beyond that, especially Ortiz who is really giving us fits this year. They are very difficult to pitch to because they have no soft spot. You don't give your pitcher any time off when he goes through that lineup. You know, it's something, that we can beat them, we have beat them, and the way we do that, the way we've had the most success at doing that, is being able to control the game and the only way we can do that is with our pitcher, our starting pitcher.

Q. Can you just go through -- is it lowball/lowball match-up?

JOE TORRE: I wish I could give you a slam dunk on that. I don't think Juan has had an at-bat against Derek and Karim is 1-for-5 this year with a home run. Derek has maybe given up some more home runs to left-handers than he has to right-handers. Right now it's splitting hairs. There is not a whole lot of difference. There is just getting him a game and seeing if we can catch lightning at the bottom.

Q. You've faced Wakefield four times this year in the regular season, three of the games following, the Yankees scored three runs or less.

JOE TORRE: Why did you tell me that? I didn't know that. (Laughter.)

Q. Is it a problem facing a pitcher after a knuckleball pitcher; does it throw your timing off or anything?

JOE TORRE: It depends on how good the pitcher is the next day. I don't think the knuckleball had anything to do with that. You welcome -- like last night when Tim got out of the game, of course he walked two guys and then we hit some balls hard and that was the first time we had done that. Jorge did that and Nick the centerfielder. I don't think there's anything that a knuckleball does to you or a knuckleballer does to you that keeps you from hitting the next day. If we don't hit today, it's more Lowe's fault than yesterday.

Q. With tomorrow's off-day, would you use Rivera for a few innings tonight and does that bother you having to use him for two innings?

JOE TORRE: You don't like it but I certainly wouldn't hesitate to do it, especially with the off-day. And even if there was no off-day, tomorrow, needing to win this game in our mind, if we got in that position, where the eighth inning came and we had a narrow lead, I wouldn't hesitate to do that.

Q. Is there a level of tension on the Yankee manager now that has not been around for the last couple of years? It just seems that you're darker than you've been.

JOE TORRE: I don't know. I don't feel it. Yesterday I did. I waited three days for this game and I was jumpy yesterday. But today, I feel very relaxed. You know, the manager, he does what he thinks he has to do, and then you leave it to the players and you trust the players. You don't have to throw every pitch for them or take every swing with them. I don't feel any added tension other than the competition. From anywhere else, I certainly don't feel any more pressure than I have in the past.

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