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October 10, 2003

Joe Torre


Q. I know the score primarily dictated letting Contreras pitching the eighth last night, but he did so well; does that tempt you to say, here is a guy whose role I can expand as we go along here?

JOE TORRE: Well, we felt that going in, that because we had a little taste of him out of the bullpen earlier in the year, even before he was throwing the ball like he is now, that, you know, he was going to be like we used Mendoza when he was with us. If we have a game that was close and for some reason our starter has to come out, whether he got injured or something, we would use him in that way, or like we did last night. I think that the game situation will dictate pretty much what we do. We certainly are not hesitant about putting him in a tough situation. I think when you are facing Nomar as the tying run, that's one tough situation to get into. Again, with the off-day today, Mo was going to pitch, Rivera was going to pitch the eighth and ninth, but again, once we got the extra two runs it wasn't necessary to do that. Next three days, we don't have off-days so we certainly have to manage it a little differently. And if Mo does pitch the eighth, it would be a situation that we felt emotionally, we would need for that to happen. But I certainly do trust him pitching the eighth inning. I don't know if that answers your question, but it's a tough thing to be black and white about.

Q. On the same subject, one of the weaknesses of this team throughout the year was the bridge to Mariano. If now Contreras is going to be that guy and can continue to succeed, how much more effective does that make your bullpen and your team in general?

JOE TORRE: I think we are well balanced out of the bullpen. Early on, we were trying to figure out how we were going to get to Mariano and we changed it quite a bit. Then the last couple of deals we made, I think solidified with Nelson coming over. He gives us a little better player that we need on the right side. And White, who we have had a lot of interest in for a long time, and also Felix Heredia, we claimed him off waivers and wound up with him. He's certainly made an impression on us. I like our balance. I think we can go back and forth a couple of different times like we did in Game 1. We have lefty/righty and then back to the right side or even leave the left hander in because I think both Gabe and Felix can get right-handers out also. I feel a lot better about our bullpen but again, when you bypass those people, if you're going to go right to Rivera, I don't think that should embarrass anybody.

Q. With all of the great pitchers that you've been around, are you as excited as the rest of us to watch these two guys pitch in this game tomorrow?

JOE TORRE: Yeah. I remember back in '99, the back page of or maybe the front page of the papers here, they were billing it as a heavyweight battle and I can see no difference in the appeal of this game. It's something that, you know, I hope that Roger doesn't get so high in the clouds that he tries to overthrow the ball. And Pedro, I'm sure is going to be pumped for it. Well, he always gets pumped, to pitch against anybody, but especially our ballclub. I'm looking forward to it, no question. I'm certainly glad that we were able to win last night so, it sort of evens the playing field a little bit.

Q. Do you have a lineup yet for Game 3 and is Jeter affected at all by his thumb?

JOE TORRE: Jeter, when he went to dive the other day rolled over his hand and the thumb got caught. So it's sore but he played last night. I watched him in batting practice and he seemed to be perfectly fine. And as far as the lineup, I haven't put the lineup together, but I will tell you that Enrique Wilson, surprise, surprise, is playing. And he will play third base and Aaron is not going to start tomorrow.

Q. What can you offer as an explanation for Wilson's success against Pedro and are you just glad that he is?

JOE TORRE: Yeah, you don't ask questions like that. Because normally, I remember when Roger Clemens was on the other team and we used to -- I don't really -- I look at matchups, but I usually have an idea of who I'm going to play on a day-to-day basis. When you looked at Roger's matchups with people, it was always ugly. You found any straw to grasp at that point in time. Pedro is the same thing. You look up there, the only double-digit numbers, at-bats and strikeouts usually. But when you look at Enrique, he's hitting .500 and 7-for-8 or some ridiculous number. The last outing was comical. Everything Pedro threw up there, it got to the point where Pedro was smiling and tipped his hat. I don't have a reason for it. My past experience as a player, there are just certain pitchers that you don't have to necessarily throw what they throw but for some reason when it comes out of your hand, you can read it. And I'm certainly happy that we have Enrique and he seems to enjoy playing against him.

Q. Being a former catcher, you are very appreciative of their skills. Can you talk about the contributions Posada and Varitek have made on the field and in the leadership area?

JOE TORRE: I think especially Varitek, he does a great job in leading his pitching staff. They trust him a great deal. And offensively, there are a lot of matching numbers with both he and Jorge. nd Jorge I think has grown into a leader on this ballclub. He started playing behind Girardi and he wasn't very patient doing that, but I think he picked up a lot. And over the years, it's gotten better and better. I sensed towards the end of last year it was getting better but this year I sense that he's taken it upon himself to talk to the Mike Mussinas and the Pettittes and Wells and Clemenses, those guys, where he may have been hesitant before. These guys are established and have had success everywhere they have been -- and he has only been here. I know I started my career as a catcher catching Spahn and those guys; I couldn't go out and tell those guys anything. But he has certainly gained the respect of our starters. Yeah, I think I'm a little prejudiced in this regard, but I think catchers are taken for granted quite often, but they really go a long way to sort of helping stay within themselves as pitchers and reminding them of certain things, because pitchers, like last night, Andy got so far out of himself that we were very fortunate to escape those first couple of innings.

Q. Roger was a little bit reflective when he was up there, what do you think his legacy is?

JOE TORRE: You really can't appreciate Roger, other than the robotic way he did things for so many years until you get to know him, get to manage him. I'm sure the players feel the same way playing alongside of him and playing behind him. Roger Clemens, the ability and the pitcher is one thing, but when you realize how much more he adds on the bench, in the clubhouse to the young players, not only pitchers, but young players, and how he handles failure, I think is very admirable. Because he never makes an excuse, he's always beating himself up in a way he could have been better. I think his legacy, and I overheard what he said, he hit it right on. I think if I was asked the same question, it's how your teammates feel about you. When you don't have a hesitancy in saying that, that means you're pretty secure in your own skin. I just feel that the lucky players that had a chance to play with Roger are going to grade him very high just for things other than the obvious.

Q. You mentioned that you hope Roger doesn't get too overpumped. Do you think he does a better job avoiding that pitching here now than say in '99, just after he left here?

JOE TORRE: Well, '99, he wasn't -- it wasn't a good match-up. He got beat up early. The last outing here where he won his 100th game in this ballpark, which I didn't realize that was happening at the time. I think the question that was going around that weekend was how do you think you'll be received. And at the time, I said, "I'm not sure how the Red Sox fans will receive him," but I think privately they are going to be proud he was wearing a Red Sox uniform and they are going to still feel that he belonged to them. Then when he walked off the field that day, it was a lot of goosebumps out on the mound when the fans just stood and gave him that standing ovation but again, Roger is all full of emotion. To play at age 41 years old and still be a power pitcher like he is, a big part of it is, you know, emotional and psychological. Again, I don't know if Roger agrees with me, I see a different pitcher. I see someone who maybe understands that this is the last time he's going to be doing all of these things because he is going to walk away, as far as I know and he's enjoying it. He just seems just a little more under control. Again, it's not going to give us a free ticket to think that tomorrow isn't going to be something other than that, but I just like what I've seen the last half a dozen starts.

Q. Because of what happened in the first round here with Tim Hudson and a couple of the A's players, they had a problem with a fan, I guess, in a bar here, do you say something to your players or does anybody in the organization say anything about be careful for anything like that?

JOE TORRE: Well, you guys are aware of it. I think everybody is aware of it. The only thing we have preached year-in, year-out is that there are a lot of people out there -- and it doesn't have to happen in Boston; it can happen anywhere, especially as high-profile as the Yankees are. Just about everywhere we go, as the Red Sox are, that people are going to look for their 15 minutes of fame or whatever it is, and just to understand, that being right doesn't mean you're doing the right thing if you react or respond to it. Look what happened a couple of years ago what happened with Boomer in New York. That was right in your hometown and all of a sudden things got a little messy. So you certainly have to be on your guard all the time. But no, we haven't had a meet to go talk about that. I trust that the players will be able to handle it. I hope I'm right.

Q. Could you talk about the performance of Matsui throughout the playoffs so far?

JOE TORRE: Matsui just overall has been a terrific player. He knocked in a big run, did a great job baserunning yesterday by having the ball cut off in case Bernie was going to be close at the plate. He knows how to play the game. It doesn't surprise me. I was in Japan a number of years ago with the Mets and I saw how disciplined those players are over there. I never realized the ability this guy had, until you start watching him in spring training and realizing that even though he was a power hitter in Japan, how much of a better hitter he is than just that. And then defensively, I think he surprised everybody but how well he has played left field. That play he made on Ortiz last night was not easy, especially on the corner where it starts coming in, and he went out to the wall and sort of across the wall and caught the ball in front of him. He doesn't panic. He may make mistakes, but he does not panic, and that's very reassuring for me and the people playing alongside of him. I think he's handling his first post-season at the Major League level very good.

Q. How would you compare Roger and Pedro in terms of what they are like -- and also, you always say the best way to beat Pedro is pitch well against his team --

JOE TORRE: You don't want to beat Pedro. You want to beat the Red Sox. Not that you don't want to beat him but you don't go out there with that in mind. I remember years ago, digressing for a second, when Bob Gibson pitched against Tom Seaver -- and Seaver was younger than Gibson, and early on Gibson had success against Seaver. What I saw at that time was Seaver was pitching against Gibson; and Gibson was pitching against the Mets, and that's how you have to approach it. You have to pitch against the team and not the pitcher because you are not going to be asked to get the pitcher out. That's the perspective you have to have. I know both pitchers tomorrow are going to understand that. I think Roger is certainly not going to be concerned about who is pitching on the other side, other than knowing that he's going to have to pitch a good game. We were very lucky the last time we were here, Pedro had a four-run lead and we were able to get back into it and win the game but we can't expect that. The way you have to beat the Red Sox when Pedro is pitching is try to match him, and then hopefully do something toward the game that will go your way.

Q. You said the '99 game was not a good match for Roger, what do you remember about that day?

JOE TORRE: Well, that he left too early for me. I remember having to go out to the mound, and feeling bad, because again, Roger was new to us. That was his first year with us and I wasn't as comfortable talking to him as I am now. But he handled it, you know, with a lot of class. He left and he understood that it wasn't a good day for him. I know in his mind, as I did get to know him, he felt he let everybody down. That's the only thing I knew. He just didn't look like himself right from the get-go. It looked like he was all over the place, as far as his control and command, and that's not a good sign, especially when you're pitching against a Pedro who doesn't really give you a whole lot.

End of FastScripts...

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