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October 14, 2003

Joe Torre


Q. Derek Lowe's whole package, size, the nature of the delivery, equipment, does he remind you of anybody you have faced or observed in 40 years of baseball?

JOE TORRE: Oh, God, back to my hitting days, those nasty sinker guys. No, I can't say that he does. I mean, you know, somebody his size that was on a 15-inch mound would be a lot taller than he is now, for sure. There was some intimidating sinker-ball pitchers that came out of the bullpen like a Frank Lindsay years ago. He used to throw what they call the dry spitter. That ball would just die down. Just watching Derek, he's done it a couple of different ways. I was impressed with him as a closer with the stuff that he brought into the game. He has gotten, you know, a little more as a starter because you need different equipment as a starter. He's played with the baseball a little bit, and I'm very impressed with what he's done, the breaking ball and then that comebacker that he throws with the left hand.

Q. Last night there were a lot of questions about Alfonso's running and the relay throw, he has been struggling somewhat with the bat; do you concern yourself with a young guy who may be facing his first real post-season questions, how he'll respond?

JOE TORRE: I do. Even if he wasn't inexperienced, I think any player that there are questions about, you know, I talk to and we've talked just to make sure that he's going to go out there and not be -- I don't want to say intimidated but be affected by all the questions and stuff. This kid is a special kid. Someone with his limited experience, to have all of the accomplishments that he has had over the last couple of years -- actually the last three years, I think we tend to forget how little experience he has. He continues to learn. I know there was a question here about tagging up. I didn't know he should have tagged up. I was hoping knowing that John doesn't have a strong arm, test them, but when I saw the throw he made, I second-guessed myself about thinking he should throw to begin with. As far as the baserunning -- you're talking about the first inning?

Q. I meant the tag-up, the relay.

JOE TORRE: The first inning, it was a tough read for him on Jeter's ball. That ball stayed in the air a long time. Someone asked about the double-play, I watched last night, it was the first look I had, he got rid of it and didn't throw it as hard as he could throw it, but you have a choice. Either you get a little something on it which takes you a little longer to get rid of or you get rid of it and it doesn't have as much on it. It was a tough double-play. Jeter made a hell of a play and when the ball was first hit, seeing the spin on the ball, the in-side-out swing that Varitek had, I didn't think we had a prayer for a double play and Jeter managed to make the throw and then it was bang, bang at first base. This kid, no question, in New York, playing for the Yankees, sometimes he's had some things that have gone wrong, but when you look at the whole package, he's pretty special. But, yes, I do keep track and keep talking just to make sure that he doesn't get back on his heels at all.

Q. Did you speak to him this morning or last night?

JOE TORRE: Both. Any time that I think something has happened that he needs a little support I'll do that, or a little comment that may help him do something better the next time and that wasn't the case last night it. There was more support last night.

Q. I'm sure some of it was frustration with Mike after the game last night but he made a couple of remarks along the lines if I can only control from 60 feet, six inches that's my responsibility. Other guys have to attend to the other stuff. Is that something you would rather not hear a guy say after a tough loss like that?

JOE TORRE: Well, you know, I've managed a long time, and one thing I've learned over the years, is not necessarily to react to what somebody may say but maybe what made them say it. And knowing how a pitcher gets keyed up for his start and knowing how limited they are as far as what they control, it's frustrating. It's frustrating. You know, when you get someone after a very tough loss, I don't think anybody was in a great mood last night. I know I wasn't. But Mike is a very honest person. He's going to tell you about his frustrations. He's going to come out and maybe not necessarily sound right sometimes. Mike Mussina is as much a team man as anybody is on our ballclub. I'm sure what he said last night was a lot of frustration coming out like everybody else felt.

Q. Wells has not pitched in more than a week; what sort of signs will you be looking for early in the game that maybe he is not reacting well to the long layoff and will you have a quicker hook than you might otherwise?

JOE TORRE: Well, I only have a quick hook if I don't like what I see. But he threw about a dozen pitches yesterday and he's been throwing. He has gone a week or so without starting, and usually the signs with Boomer, is being able to get the ball down when he wants to. In other words, when he throws his breaking ball, if he tends not to overthrow it. Sometimes when he overthrows it, it stays up like most pitchers. Last night I was watching Mussina. I was very comfortable watching him. And then the game a year ago against Anaheim, I wasn't comfortable watching him. It's just something when you see him every five days or so, you sort of have a feel. I think a lot of it would be the ability to get the ball down when he needs to.

Q. Your hitters have been struggling a little bit lately. How much of a concern is it for you and how much does their struggles have something to do with Wakefield?

JOE TORRE: There's no question, Tim Wakefield is a different sort when you come to try and analyze your hitters. You have to discount anything that happens against a knuckleball pitcher. But all year long, we've had our struggles on and off. We're certainly capable of scoring runs. We rely more on games like yesterday than we do on winning 10-9 or 9-8. Not that we are not capable of scoring those runs but we basically like to control the game and win low-scoring games. We certainly have put a lot of pressure on our pitchers by not being able to score. Yeah, it's a concern because it's a short series, and it's not easy to say, well, wow, we'll take this guy out or put this guy in and automatically think something magical is going to happen. These are the guys you came to the dance with and these are the guys that you're going to rely on. When I write the names in or I see somebody come up to hit, I know what they are capable of and I expect good things, and sometimes the opposing pitcher doesn't cooperate.

Q. Because the results of today pushes you either to, within one of clinching or the brink of elimination, do you sense --

JOE TORRE: No. One of clinching or two of clinching. (Laughter.)

Q. If you win today --

JOE TORRE: Right. It's one of clinching and if we lose today, we've come within two of clinching. (Laughter.)

Q. My point is, do you sense the guys are jacked up a little bit more because the stakes are high?

JOE TORRE: We've been good. Emotionally we've been very good. We have a meeting every day, and it's just more or less to, you know, we've got a game to win or stuff. There's no strategy. We've played these guys so often now that there's not a whole lot we can tell them that they don't already know. I think our -- I think our level is good. Last night, I thought it was a good game on both sides. I think both clubs made plays in the field that were terrific. Yeah, we made an error but it was one of those, either you scoop it or you don't scoop it. But the double-plays that we made and stuff, I think we are playing well considering the pressure that's concerned, and I mean that's involved, and the Red Sox also. I think it's a hell of a spectator series. It plays havoc with my stomach, but I think overall, we are evenly matched. I don't know what the result is going to be. I know we are confident we can beat them. They are confident they can beat us. We've got to see who is going to get the breaks here.

Q. Do you think with the Red Sox checking Nelson last night, is that in response to you guys looking at Timlin's hat?

JOE TORRE: I guess. And maybe.

Q. Do you expect it to continue?

JOE TORRE: And maybe the fact that I've had more experience managing, it only took one umpire for me to check somebody. Grady had to get three to say, is it all right to check him? Yeah, let's all check him. Yeah, it's a response. I certainly didn't know what the hell was going on at first. I didn't know what the question was that Grady had, but he's certainly within his rights to do that. If I see something that I think is unusual or suspicious, I'm going to do it. I'm not going to try to do it just for the sake of doing. I do it with a reason and I'm sure Grady did it with a reason last night, too.

Q. It was asked about Andy, pitchers hitting, cutting down on the beanballs and getting rid of the DH, but the important people that change the rulings, are they talking about it, actually changing it in baseball?

JOE TORRE: If I'm not mistaken when they put the DH in the American League, the American League made a little shot. The National League, during the years I played, we had our share of beanballs and battles. We didn't have the DH. But for certain, you know, would it be a way that they would try to curtail; is that what you're saying.

Q. I'm really asking whether anybody who can actually change it is talking about it. Media, fans talk about it, but the Commissioner, the Players Association, people you deal with; are they talking about it?

JOE TORRE: I'm sure it's been brought up. The Players Association I'm sure has another axe to grind too because there are players within baseball that are strictly DHs, and you're talking about ballclubs paying a lot of money to DHs that would turn them into pinch-hitters. So I'm sure there's a lot more involved than saying, let's just do away with it. I'm sure there's conversation. Again, I'm not sure -- I'm sure it would deter some of the headhunting, but as I say, I played during the '60s and '70s, and in the National League we didn't have the DH and it didn't keep us from retaliating or whatever we normally did, which at that time, teams sort of took care of getting even.

Q. Would you feel more comfortable with Andy back in New York or would you rather have him here tonight?

JOE TORRE: Well, Andy likes to be with the ballclub. There's a chance we'll send him back before we leave later. But he likes to be with the team. I have a struggle sending guys unless we are going coast to coast. Not that I have trouble sending them but most of them just want to stay with the ballclub, so he'll probably go back earlier than us.

End of FastScripts...

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