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October 13, 2003

Joe Torre


Q. The way Contreras and Rivera have been pitching and especially the way you are using them now, do you get the feeling that you had when you had Rivera and Wetteland in that same combination in '96?

JOE TORRE: Sort of. I really look at Jose more like I did with Mendoza, where Mendoza would come in, pitch to a righty or a lefty, hit a ground ball. I think Jose has a better chance of striking people out. But that's very close. Of course the way we have been using them, it's been like 1 and 2 instead of 2 and 1.

Q. After they called the game last night, Pettitte threw in the bullpen. Are you considering using him tomorrow instead of Wells?

JOE TORRE: No. The reason he didn't throw until late was in the event we needed to get out of an inning last night, we were going to hold off on throwing him until later in the game. But once the game was called he had to get his throwing in.

Q. Still definitely Boomer?


Q. Some of the Red Sox had expressed regret that Saturday sent a bad message to kids who were watching; do you have any similar concerns, or is it just an unfortunate part of the game?

JOE TORRE: Well, it is. I know there are athletes, not only in baseball, but other athletes that don't feel we should be role models; that more parents should be role models. And whichever way it is, we do have youngsters looking at us, and I think it is a responsibility. And yeah, it did send a bad message, because we were supposed to be grown-ups and being responsible and all of that stuff. I know there's a lot of emotion that goes on and sometimes that gets the best of you, but I think we have to keep that in mind.

Q. Karim Garcia, do you expect to have him back in this series, and your thoughts on using Dellucci tonight?

JOE TORRE: I'm not sure I would have started Karim, anyway, tonight. I think he's 0-for-10 against Timmy. Tonight I'll watch Karim in batting practice. If he can swing the bat he's playable. But he's better than yesterday and I think he could be available for us tonight. As far as Dellucci, he has not had any at-bats against Wakefield unless it was spring training or something like that. He may be a little more of a controlled swinger than Juan Rivera, and he's a good defender, so we just thought we would try something, new inside information we have. We'll find that out during that game.

Q. Jeff Nelson and Karim Garcia were contacted by local authorities today or can you tell us anything about that? Are they close to going to court in?

JOE TORRE: I don't think they were because I think I would have had knowledge of that. I think probably maybe the holiday had something to do with that, too; that if they are going to hear something, it may be later in the week. As far as I know, they haven't.

Q. You moved Mussina ahead of Wells because of the rest thing; is this also a reflection on Boomer, that he can take an extra day; you're not worried about him, the same way you are worried about Mike?

JOE TORRE: Boomer has pitched -- he's had a week between starts before. Since he started throwing in the bullpen, I think his stuff has been more consistent. The fact that he got so close to game time last night and almost started, his preparation was part of it. The biggest reason, initially I said we were going to stay the same way and have Boomer pitch today. But looking at it after the game with Mel, we decided to stay with Mussina on his normal day because he's more of a control guy and we'll just try to get him into the routine that he's more comfortable with. And you're right, it doesn't matter to Boomer.

Q. Can you talk about Derek Lowe and the problems he presents to the team?

JOE TORRE: Well, he's a great pitcher. You try to lift him, you're doing him a favor because he's a sinkerball guy. You have to be -- again, with all pitchers that try to make you swing at balls, as opposed to strikes, you have to really exercise a lot of patience, and he has that fastball that certainly looks like a strike when it starts. And then it just darts out of the strike zone. So we certainly have to understand against any pitcher that we go up against, what your parameters are, and to make not necessarily Derek work hard because he can probably go out there and throw 200 pitches and still give you quality stuff. But we have to certainly give ourselves a chance by getting a pitch that we can do something with, but he definitely has so much movement -- to me, movement is so much more important than velocity. When you see a pitch and you go to swing at it -- you don't have to swing and miss, it's just off the fat of the bat. Warren Spahn taught me a long time ago, he said hitting is timing and a pitcher's job is to upset timing, and a guy like Derek can do that.

Q. When you had Wells the first time, leading up to that point, he may have had a reputation as a guy that did not handle adversity too well. But at somewhere in that time, was it a guy like Cone that really taught him to battle?

JOE TORRE: I think David Cone really helped Boomer a lot. They lockered next to each other. They hung out a lot. I never checked their rooms curfew-wise because I don't stay up that -- no, I'm just kidding. (Laughter.). No, I think David gave him a lot, a lot of professional advice on, again, handling negative stuff and handling your emotions. Because Coney was so good. He was this frail looking guy, but he had a big bulldog heart in there. I certainly believe Coney made a big impression.

Q. Speaking of movement on the ball, is there any way for your hitters to get ready for a Wakefield; can you prepare for a knuckleball? Did you yourself have a plan against knuckleballers?

JOE TORRE: My plan was, you know, if you put it in like you're in a fight, a boxing match, you don't want to try to apply a knockout punch. I like to think in terms of jab, jab, jab. You want to have a short, line-drive-type stroke, as opposed to a long swing, because again, when you have movement, especially with a knuckleball, at least sliders you know if they start here, they will go here or curveballs here to here, but with knuckleballs, you don't know where they go. They are not going to stay on the same plane very long; so the shorter, quicker stroke, you'll probably have a better shot. Again, if his ball is moving a lot, whether he throws it up or down, it's going to be tough. But the thing you look for in a knuckleball pitcher is to look for a tumbler and hopefully it doesn't have the movement it had in Game 1.

Q. Can you talk about the mix of young and old on your team, the Jeters and the Bernie Williams but you've obviously had in this case Johnson and Matsui; how are they adjusting to the post-season?

JOE TORRE: Johnson, he's a terrific kid. We tease him a lot because he doesn't say a whole lot. But he certainly has played well under pressure. Jeter has been a great role model for all the young kids because he's still a young kid himself and starting at 20 years old, starting in post-season; he's loved the challenge. Matsui, I think he was a little jumpy the first game of the Minnesota series, and again, I think maybe the first game in this series. But he's a true professional. And you think back on playing so many important games, even though it was in Japan, I think it helped him a great deal. We've had a good mix over the years with O'Neill, one of the older guys, and of course, Bernie, one of the older guys, even though he still has the body of a 25-year-old, that have really embraced each other and it's really made my job a lot easier.

Q. Would eliminating the DH be a deterrent to having less beanball debate, and do you have any other suggestions that would alleviate that?

JOE TORRE: I think if the pitcher was coming up to hit, there would be a lot less of that going on.

Q. Would you please talk about the level to where Rivera is pitching now and the difference between now and when he struggled a bit in August?

JOE TORRE: I think, again, this is just watching him on a regular basis. I think back in August, it looked like to me, he was -- I don't want to say more deliberate. It looked like he was trying to make good pitches instead of just trusting his stuff. I don't care how good you are, when you go through a little bit of a slump, you tend to start thinking about mechanics and when you start thinking about mechanics, you really lose your focus on what you need to do. But once he started letting the ball go and trusting it was going to go near the spot he was throwing at, then his ballgame was that much more live. And again, I've said to all my pitchers over the years, that I'd much rather you miss the spot with good stuff than hit your spot with just ordinary stuff. I think the difference, he seems to be a little more confident right now and the fact that he's in a pretty good groove helps because he doesn't have to really think about a lot of things mechanically.

Q. There was a report this morning that David may have injured his groin coming out of the dugout the other day; is that accurate and if so how much of a concern is that for you?

JOE TORRE: He felt something jumping out of the dugout the other night. I don't know what it was, cramp or whatever, but he came to the ballpark yesterday and it was gone. Again, he was going to start last night.

Q. Have the last few days given your team any more resolve; are they any more determined do you think?

JOE TORRE: They have been determined. We started out in the Minnesota series, losing that first game. It was an ugly game. They got back on track and played well. We know every time that we play the Boston Red Sox, whether it's here or at the stadium, it's loaded with a lot of tension and a lot of pressure. You know, I don't want to say we are used to it, but we certainly have done this enough times this year. We've played each other 22 times. I know this is post-season. It means more now. But when you play for the Yankees, you realize how important it is to beat the Red Sox and vice versa. So it's something that I guess we are conditioned for. But as far as determination, we were ready to play last night check and check and hopefully the day off did not take anything away.

Q. Your team is no stranger to distractions but the reports that two of your guys might face criminal charges, are you concerned about the two individuals being distracted or the team being distracted?

JOE TORRE: Not at all. It's something that they are still going to be here for us, whatever happens. I guess you deal with things as it comes along. But I don't sense that there's any concern -- not that there isn't concern, but that it's concern enough to keep you from taking care of the things at hand.

Q. The good news with the rainout is that you got the rest for Rivera and Contreras, but you have a day game tomorrow, how are you going to balance their availability tonight, knowing that you may need them tomorrow in a day game?

JOE TORRE: Well, I like the question, because when you talk about their availability tonight that, means that we are in a position to win a ballgame. We'll deal with it one game at a time. Any chance we get to win a ballgame, we're going to seize that opportunity and hopefully we can, like the other night, we had a one-run lead and we were able to hold onto it and it was a big win. If we get in the same situation, we'll do whatever we can, because you never know if the next day you'll have the opportunity to use a closer one way or the other, whether you are getting beat up or beating somebody up. We'll take it a game at a time, and again, if it gets down to that point where we play beyond tomorrow, then again, this is post-season. This is where you really don't concern -- not that you don't concern yourself, but you certainly find the energy somewhere.

End of FastScripts...

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