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October 5, 2003

Joe Torre


JEFF IDELSON: Questions for Joe Torre, please.

Q. What do you think Juan Rivera has given you so far? Why did you decide to forsake the (platoon?) in rightfield?

JOE TORRE: I think Juan overall, you know, he's been a regular player, even though it's been at the AAA level. He did play for us last year in the post-season, and I think our defense is better with him in the outfield. And yesterday, I know we all teach it when we go over our drills in spring training about each outfielder backing each other up. He did a great job when that ball got by Bernie. He was sitting right there. Even though that's where he's supposed to be, to be able to get there that quickly, just hold it to two bases, because that could have been a very important inning for Minnesota.

Q. It's less than 24 hours later, but would there be any reluctance to go to Rivera for two innings if you had to?

JOE TORRE: He only threw 19 pitches yesterday. Yesterday I even wrestled with it at that point in time. I felt Roger was done after seven. It got to a point where you look at their batting order, top of the order's coming up in the eighth inning. The fact that we had the day off probably made that decision a little easier than it would be for today. I think I'd have to see the game. I think physically he'd be fine, I really do. Again, right now, as they go on the field, you know, he and Mel are talking about that. So that's where I get my information. But I certainly don't want to. Again, whatever the game dictates is probably what we're going to do.

Q. You're busy with your own series, but have had you some time to watch some of the other finishes in the other series?

JOE TORRE: Wild. Wild. I guess I watched the Giant game yesterday, the end of that ballgame, which was right after the end of our game. Then I watched the Braves. I didn't see the Red Sox game. I went out to dinner last night. I probably missed the most interesting one of all, trying to follow it on just clips, you know, really took it out of context for me. But they've been exciting. I guess we've had the boring series where we've had, you know, pitching, defense and all that stuff. But I think the people are getting their money's worth, that's for sure.

Q. What do you see at the plate now with Bernie? Why do you think he's kind of swinging a little better than he was towards the end there?

JOE TORRE: I don't know. I've been here eight years and I'm not sure, you know, what gets Bernie going. But he's been emotional this whole week, just wanting the competition. You know, I think a big part of that is Bernie isn't as an instinctive player as a lot of other players. What he does in preparation for games, you know, he prepares himself, sometimes maybe over-preparation where he's doing things by the number. Right now it seems like he's just letting his ability really dictate how he plays, which is something we always encourage him to do. But he's so organized in that regard that you don't want to mess around with something that's been pretty successful for him. But, yeah, right now, you know, his hands are quick; he looks like there's a lot of life in his bat. A lot of it depends on his shoulders. He works on those shoulders from early last year when he went on the disabled list in '02. Every single day he's in that trainer's room doing exercises to keep the shoulders strong. This injury goes way, way back. You know, of course, day to day, sometimes the shoulders feel better than they do other days, too.

Q. If you guys win today, are you looking forward to giving the guys a day off on Monday?

JOE TORRE: I would love to have a day off tomorrow, no question. Our series, if we win this, would start on Wednesday. No, these guys are working hard, they're working hard. Again, when you play post-season games, I mean, you know, physically, yeah, you get up, but the mental stuff is really probably why you need a day off more than anything else.

Q. When you manage a game like today, do you have to sort of color your decisions by the fact you have a Game 5 cushion at home if you need it or do you, in effect, manage going for the throat, so to speak?

JOE TORRE: Well, that's a good question. You try to win this game, try to win this game. Keep in mind that, you know, if it was the other way around, you know, knowing that unless you won this game you would have no tomorrow, so you would not hesitate to do anything. I'm talking about, you know, Rivera in a situation that really you can't say, "I'll save him for this situation because it's not a lead yet." You may do something on the road that you would do only at home if you were down. I think the fact we do have a 2-1 lead, and I hate to even think that because I don't want you to think that we don't feel we need to win, but we certainly also don't need to hurt ourselves either, you know, physically take people out of play for us.

End of FastScripts...

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