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October 4, 2003

Joe Torre


Q. When you see Roger pitch again like he did today does it make you wonder, why would a guy that good retire?

JOE TORRE: Yeah, but it's not about being able to pitch. He won his 300th, he certainly wants to be home with his boys, and the fact that it's his choice, he can walk away. I understand why he's retiring because, you know. Basically the family means a great deal to him. But he gave us some kind of courageous outing, started out today -- he went too many three-ball counts but he caught up pitch-count wise and he did a great job.

Q. Mo threw just seven pitches in the ninth inning; would you go with him tomorrow for two innings?

JOE TORRE: I hope we have a choice. I can't tell you that now, but he came in, threw a lot of strikes. We'll see. I didn't want to go with him to two innings today, but again, I ran out of courage.

Q. You talked a little before the game about Roger's presence on the mound; is he a calmer pitcher out there than he was two or three years ago?

JOE TORRE: I think -- you know, to me he seems more calm this year, and maybe it's the fact that he knows he's not going to do this anymore, and he just seems to -- doesn't have the edge he's had. When I say an edge, he just seems to be more relaxed. But he's able to focus, he's been such a good guy, I know for Andy Pettitte, and I think they have taught each other a lot of things. Andy was so good, being in New York, I think Andy, it probably helped him in that regard, but the way he -- when everything is surrounding him about today's game, how he was able to just stay locked in, is incredible to me. I marvel at it, and it will be something that I'll -- it will be fun to remember that.

Q. Is this really kind of like the old Yankees now, all of a sudden, as far as the way you guys are going about your business, mainly with pitching?

JOE TORRE: I hope so. The pitching, I had a sense going into this series, that our starters were pitching better going into the post-season than we were last year. We made better pitches, we've had opportunities to score earned runs. We don't live there; we just do the best we can, whether it's a one-run lead or a two-run lead like it was today. But the defense is important. Bernie makes that error in centerfield and I can't say enough about young Juan Rivera being right there because that could have been an inside-the-park home run. Just little things like that have meant so much. And yeah, a couple of years ago, we did a lot of little things to keep our pitching as our strength, but you need to play defense in order for that to happen.

Q. In the first inning, Lohse threw a lot of high fastballs by a couple shirts, the same that Matsui hit out; was there some talk between the innings about that pitch?

JOE TORRE: No question. You throw 94, 95, you throw it up in the zone, it's pretty tough to catch up with. I think we were a little pumped up early in the game. To me, sure, we talk about it, make him get the ball down where you can handle it a little better, but in Matsui's case, he didn't understand me when I said that anyway. But to me, Matsui, I think when you watch him day-in and day-out like we have this year, you understand that he's watching himself and he really doesn't require anybody to remind him about something. He certainly was looking for something up, the way he got above -- for a left-hand hitter, that's not easy to get above a fastball; that's a ball. It was huge for us to get that two-run homer there. To me, he's such a student of the game, and when you watch every aspect of the game and how he plays it, it makes me relaxed not having to say a lot of things to him.

Q. The way your starters are pitching this year, does it make that last year an aberration in your mind?

JOE TORRE: Well, again, George, you've been around us and you realize how much we rely on our pitching. A couple of years ago when we were looking to sign a free agent, there were a lot of them out there, offensive players, and Mussina. Mike Mussina was very important for us because I think you have a chance to be more consistent when you really lock-in pitching-wise. Yes, last year was 100 years ago, when you see how -- I know I'm a lot more comfortable watching our pitchers pitch this year than I was last year. And it's all about command. I just didn't think going in that we had as good a command. We had a lead in every game last year and it didn't do us any good because we couldn't shut the deal.

Q. A lot of playoff opponents have seen the kind of performance that Mariano has delivered the last two games but it's the first time for the Twins to see him in the post season; what message has he delivered in the last two outings, as you guys go to the eighth inning with a lead?

JOE TORRE: To me he's like a regular player. He's your No. 4 hitter, he's your lead-off hitter, he's all of those things wrapped into one. And when Mariano comes into the game our hope is that whoever the opponent is, that they realize they have a lot of work ahead of them because he's cool. He knows what his job is, he's had a lot of experience doing it and whether it's one run or two runs like it was today, his ball explodes. Again, I don't know what I'm going to do tomorrow, because two days, two innings with no off-day is different than two innings with an off-day, but again we'll see. He did throw very few pitches today. Yes, I think Mo is like a regular player. He's an everyday player for us, especially in post-season.

Q. We've seen a lot of great athletes in different sports retire with vastly diminished skills; how important do you think it is to Roger that he's going out at the highest level?

JOE TORRE: I felt that in the spring that when Roger, in all of the talk in spring training was about his 300th victory and we certainly wanted to help him accomplish that early on just so that he could really concentrate on what he wanted to concentrate on. He has a lot of pride. He has a lot of pride. I know the 300th game put a lot of pressure on him because he had to put the plane in the air all of the times to run his family and friends all over the place. But to me, I think once the 300th game was accomplished, it sort of relaxed him because I sensed that, "now, let's try to win this thing." It's remarkable, it really is. For a guy his age to still be a power pitcher, and to have the command that he had today, after the first couple of innings, as I said, he got behind in some counts, but again he didn't let it get away from him. He made some pitches when he had to, he picked up for Bernie making the error, he picked up for our leaving men on base. It was just such a great lesson for the young pitchers to watch him.

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