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October 3, 2003

Joe Torre


Q. Any update on Derek's shoulder?

JOE TORRE: Derek is fine. I went to the trainer's room. Gene Monahan gave the thumb's up and Derek seems pretty good. Whoever asked me after the game, I had no knowledge of this, that he had this collision at first base. I know I was watching ESPN and they had him hurting his shoulder diving for the ball but it was when he had the collision at first base that he felt something. But he's fine.

Q. Obviously you have comfort all the time with Rivera, from April to September, but is there something when the game means so much where that is even more elevated for you, the confidence level late in the game that you know where you're going to go and what his history is?

JOE TORRE: You're right, because when you start the game, at home you have a little more latitude. Last night Mel and I were talking and we just felt that Andy had had enough. And even if we had not scored, I would have brought Mo in in the eighth inning in a tie game which is unusual, you can do it at home; not on the road. You can be certain when the game sets into the middle innings, the sixth inning. I think that's when your game plan is to get to Rivera and hope for the best.

Q. (Inaudible)?

JOE TORRE: And right now, knock wood, he's been feeling good. The ball seems to be coming out of his hand very easily, and you're right, he's my guy. He's my guy and he's had the experience which makes everything that much better. And last night I thought he had great stuff.

Q. Are you as dazzled as we are that Roger is still as good as he is pitching in his 40s?

JOE TORRE: I know, certainly going into this year, everybody was talking about his 300th victory and when that was going to come. But you sense after you've known him for a couple of years that that was not going to be enough for him. I just basically wanted to get that 300th victory out of the way just so he could concentrate on baseball, and to end the season winning, what, 17 ballgames, is incredible. And the fact that he will walk away from this -- and I have a sense that he will. Not that he doesn't want to play any more, but there's not a day that goes by that he doesn't tell a story about one of his boys, and I just believe that that's where he wants to be. He's not going to be inactive. He's certainly going to be active. He is a remarkable human being and I really feel fortunate to have managed him. I hated him when he pitched against me, but he's certainly -- there's a lot of little boy in him that really, I think, helps everybody around him. Everybody who feels a little tired or a little old can look at Roger Clemens and see how enthusiastic he is.

Q. Do you have any changes in the lineup as far as tomorrow?

JOE TORRE: You know, I don't know. I don't think so but I'm not going to give my guys a lineup until tomorrow. We're just here for exercise today, to be indoors, a little different. Hopefully the batting practice today will eliminate what happens every time you go indoors; it's different, different seeing the ball. We'll get the outfielders some work and namely the batting practice, you hope that the second day is better than the first day as far as picking up the spin and stuff. I don't know what I'm going to do in the lineup. I really don't see a lot of change.

Q. What did you hate about Roger when you faced him?

JOE TORRE: He used to beat you all the time. The fact that he was an intimidator -- identical. You could put him on a par, both he and Bob Gibson. I faced Bob Gibson, I caught Bob Gibson in the 1965 All-Star game and he didn't talk to me. Now Roger doesn't go quite that over the top, but I hated Gibson, just the fact that he didn't know exactly in the batter's box what you were facing because you didn't know him. On the other side of the coin, I remember Pete Rose, very affable, always around talking, but he would always find his way to talk to opposing pitchers or guys in the batting cage, just wanted to feel comfortable with them so when he got in the batter's box he had an idea of their personality. Roger reminded me of Gibby in that regard where you don't know quite enough about him to feel comfortable as a hitter. You always defend your players and when he threw the ball inside, as Gibby did quite often, you're very protective of your guys, and for that reason you didn't like him. Plus the fact that when you tried to find matchups and everybody had double-digit strikeouts against him. So it was no fun managing against him.

Q. For Matsui and Boone, do you have a comment on their approach to the game?

JOE TORRE: Yeah, Matsui, he's getting the feel. I sense that he was probably a little anxious the first game, like we all were. I think everybody was probably overpumped. Yesterday I felt a little bit better. Of course as the game went on and it was 1-1 you sensed a little more urgency involved. But, you know, he didn't swing the bat like he did toward the end of the year, but I think a lot of that was just the adjustment period and hopefully that improves tomorrow. I trust him again. He knows what he's doing and it's just something he deals with and finds a way to get through it. Hopefully he'll be hot for us tomorrow.

Q. Does the noise that you're probably going to have here tomorrow and the Astroturf and the light, is there anything that you need to tell your players and what do you think they are going to do to compensate for the noise?

JOE TORRE: I think the only thing we have to do, it's baseball and just make sure that we have to rely on our own instincts as players. You're not going to get a lot of help on, I've got it and you take it and that stuff because it's very noisy. It's noisy outdoors, like last night at the stadium, cutoff situations, we are going to have to just remind the cutoff men that they are going to have to make their own minds up, keep an eye on the runner while they are getting in position. As far as the noise, it's something that you have to deal with. I don't think there's anything that I can tell them that they don't already know; that it's going to be noisy. But for sure, we need to deal with that and play a good brand of baseball and hopefully Roger will help us do that. But I haven't mentioned it to them first hand, but you watch it on TV and you hear all of the stories from all of the teams that have played here, it's pretty special when it comes to the support they get from their people and there's no place for the noise to go but to bounce on the turf and go back up to the ceiling and all that stuff. It's going to be exciting. But I don't think there's anything that I can do to prepare them for it other than anything -- they know everything they need to know. Just the questions that have been asked by you guys already.

Q. (Inaudible)?

JOE TORRE: No. It may have in conversation with maybe some of the management people, but never -- it was never just the main subject.

Q. What problems does the fast turf and the strange kind of roof present for your fielders?

JOE TORRE: Any time that you play indoors, the first one is the Astrodome to me, it's depth perception. When the ball goes up, and this is a light roof, the ball goes up a little bit different than outdoors. You have to just make sure you don't take your eye off it because finding it again could be a problem. As far as the turf, it's a different game. It's a lot faster game. We haven't played that many games on turf. Obviously we'd rather play on grass. It's a different defensive game as far as how you play people. Gaps are pretty much -- you want to try to bunt your people through and keep the triple out of the game because the ball gets through very quickly. As I say we are not as comfortable on it as we are on grass. We've played here and we've done well.

Q. Among the great pitchers that you've known and been around over the years, how did they handle walking away from the mound, and is Roger's decision and his handling of that unique compared to say, a Gibson or a Spahn or people like that?

JOE TORRE: Spahny didn't walk away. Spahny didn't win his first game until he was like 25 years old and won like 23 games when he was like 41 years old. But Roger, still being a power pitcher, he sort of reminds you -- I don't know who he reminds you of. These guys walked away for a reason. Gibson's knees were killing him. Koufax, his elbow was killing him. When you walk away on your terms with your last season being 17, having 17 wins, Koufax, he won 20-something games and he left. So I guess that you can liken it to that. But the record that he had, to me, Roger is so different than you thought he was. It seemed like he was so into himself when you watched across the field, and then when he came over to our ballclub, tried to be what he thought we needed for him to be, and that was part of this team, until we reminded him that, you know, pitchers have to be a little selfish because on their day, it's them; it's all about them. But in between that time, he's very unselfish and shares with a lot of the young kids. We're going to miss him. There's no question we're going to miss him. Is there a chance he'll change his mind? I guess there is, but I don't think that's going to happen. I think that's why he's enjoying it so much now. He's getting -- just every single minute and every day, he just seems to really treasure the time and seems to be more relaxed and having more fun than I think he's having.

Q. Having spent so much of the year trying to get the right mix to get from the starters to Mariano, how do you feel about that mix of guys that you have now?

JOE TORRE: From about three months ago, three and a half months ago, our bullpen, we weren't sure what it was all about. Losing Karsay in spring training was obviously a blow to us, and then trying to fix that was a problem to get comfortable with. Right now I think our depth in the bullpen, especially if you include Contreras, I think we have balance in both he and Nellie from the right side and White and Heredia on the right side and you also have the add Hammond and Weaver; Weaver will give us the long man. I'm very confident. Again, when you get into a situation like we had last night, even though I'm confident in those guys, Mo is where you want to be. Every chance I get, that's where I'm going to go without hopefully draining him. But since he had not pitched since Sunday and we needed that game badly last night, that was our plan. But I'm a lot more comfortable in our bullpen now than I was a few months ago, there's no question.

End of FastScripts...

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