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October 3, 2002

Joe Torre


THE MODERATOR: Questions for Joe, please.

Q. Last night was the first postseason game ever at Yankee Stadium where the Yankees have the lead after seven innings and don't win the game. Can you put that into perspective?

JOE TORRE: Yeah, I was wondering why I had such a bad feeling when I left the dugout. Normally, when we get that lead late in the game, it's a pretty good sign and I'll take my chances. This Angel club, the one thing, and I know what the predictions have been, you know, how good we are and their inexperience and all that stuff, but they certainly don't play that way. We didn't expect them to. We knew, going in, just from the games that we played and watched them play on TV, there's no quit in this ballclub and they continue to fight. It showed up last night again.

Q. Can you update the conditions of Rondell and Spencer? Do you expect either of them to play in the field this series?

JOE TORRE: No, not Rondell. Spencer is a possibility. Rondell, he's going to hit a little bit today. It's optional, by the way, out there. Nobody's required to hit. It's just we're here for you people today. But as far as Spencer, I think he's a player, but it's going to probably be Rivera again.

Q. (Inaudible)?

JOE TORRE: I say yes. My only problem with that, especially with Rondell down now, if you do decide to start him and he gets a little heavy in the seventh inning, then you're sort of up against -- I'd rather probably go a different direction and have Spence come in and finish up, because I'm really not sure, because he hasn't played in so long and the fact that he is coming back from a re-injury, I'm not sure, you know, how long that could go.

Q. Can you just update us on Alfonso? How was the flight for him after 97 miles an hour in the back?

JOE TORRE: He's sore. He'll play. It's the left side, which is probably, you know, easier than it would have been on the throwing side. He's a tough kid. Jeter and him are pretty much the same way when it comes to injuries. They'll say, "What are you talking about?" But he's been getting treatment, got ice. And I think he'll take batting practice today, I'm not sure.

Q. Last year, Mussina threw a gem in Game 3 of the ALDS. What do you expect from him tomorrow? How important is it just to get a big-time performance from one of your starters?

JOE TORRE: We obviously have pitched better, as starters. We expect to pitch better. But Moose and I go back. I only need one game to know his capabilities in an important game. Last year, as you mentioned, the third game against Oakland out there, after losing two at home, he gave us -- we didn't give him a whole lot of room to breathe. We only scored one run, I think it was Jorge's home run. Again, he's been for the most part, over his last half-dozen starts, I think he's been very, very good. We certainly need a starter to get us late into the game and we have the ability to score runs. We just need somebody to shut the other team down.

Q. I know that all opponents are the same in the postseason. You have some history with this Anaheim franchise. You know a little bit about it. Can you talk about what it's been through, the frustrations of never being to the World Series and how that affects fans around here?

JOE TORRE: When I came over here in '85, Gene Autry really gave me my opportunity. Dick Enberg said there was a TV job available, Gene Autry gave the okay to hire me back in '85, do 40 games locally at KTLA. It was a great experience for me. They upped it to 90 games, start doing cable. Got to know The Cowboy and a lot of people around here and really became close with them. It wasn't too bad to do, spending two weeks in Palm Springs in the spring, that was pretty good. I'd only do about two or three games and get to spend two weeks there. That spoils you a little bit. I felt so badly in '86, I think we all did, not only for Gene Autry but for Gene Mauch, who has gone through a long career. I don't think there's any manager who ever knew any more baseball than Gene Mauch does - still. I was in Chicago at the time of that Game 5 loss, and I just felt very badly for The Cowboy and for Gene Mauch. I could still see it now, Reggie standing next to Mauch in the dugout, waiting for the last out to be recorded. It wasn't to be. I'm happy for Jackie Autry, because she's still, even though maybe not officially connected the way she was, she still has close ties here. The people are nice. Rick Smith still here, Tim Mead, I'm still close with them, Ned Bergert. It's a good group. I really respect what Mike Scioscia has done here and Bill Stoneman.

Q. With Ortiz on the mound tomorrow, he's given up the most homers in the majors this year, how might that play into your team's favor?

JOE TORRE: Well, sure, he has given up home runs, he makes mistakes and you have a chance to hit balls out of the park and we've done it probably as well as anybody. I don't want to have our club have the mentality of going out there thinking we're going to think, "Home run." To me, most of the home runs come by mistake. In other words, you swing, hit the ball hard and it goes out of the ballpark. I still want to take that approach. Hopefully, he makes enough mistakes where we could benefit. But it's going to come down to pitching. I think that's been the case even though the scores have been 8-5 and 8-6, they've been very closely contested games. It's just a matter of which pitcher, and as it turns out, which pitcher coming out of the bullpen is going to do the job best. So far we're tied 1-1.

Q. What do you see in him?

JOE TORRE: He's an energetic young man. He comes at you, leaves nothing in the bag, so to speak. He's very aggressive. It comes down to location. I mean, the stuff is there. I could say the same thing for Pettitte and Roger. They had good stuff. Just they couldn't locate it properly. I know the Angels have really benefitted from that.

Q. Two questions, how much of a comfort zone is there knowing that you have Mussina and Wells as your next two starters? Also, how much can you draw off of last year's situation where you were down 2-0, went on the road and proved that you could get it back to the stadium?

JOE TORRE: I think it helps the guys who are here during that. We have several -- number of players who weren't with us last year. But we have played well on the road this year. I think that helps the fact that, you know, sure, we don't have the fans in New York which we feel are definitely a benefit. But going on the road, we play well. And, again, I think the reason you play well on the road is you pitch well out of the bullpen because you have to defend the lead when you get it late. But we need for our starting pitcher to take charge again. I mean, not that the last two guys weren't trying to take charge, just didn't happen. So we need Mike to get us four, five innings upfront where we can try to establish what we do offensively.

Q. Not having Rivera for the eighth inning, has that changed your approach at all, the way you're going into these things?

JOE TORRE: Be honest with you, all but really Game 7 last year -- yeah, Game 7 of the World Series last year, we never really plan on Mo in the eighth inning, it's when panic sets in, that's what happens, you say, "Get him up." He feels he can still pitch in the eighth inning. I don't want to do that because of the couple of stints on the disabled list involving his shoulder this year. But it changes a little bit, but at least we have the people that make it easier to change. We have Karsay, who is a big addition for us, we've had Mendoza, we have Stanton. We also have Weaver, who's done a real good job out of the pen for us, Duque last night, he probably won't be available tomorrow, Weaver will be. I think we have a lot of ways to go to lead Mo to the ninth. Hopefully, we're in a situation to use Mo in the ninth tomorrow.

Q. Just a little follow-up, does it change your approach about maybe trying to squeeze more out of starters?

JOE TORRE: We don't normally need to squeeze it out of the starters, if it's there, we'll get it. Normally, we'll cut them short more so than they, you know, say, "I've had enough." We keep a real close eye on pitch count and really the way the game's been going. I mean, Andy pitched three innings last night, probably was like pitching seven because he had to work so hard in every single inning. So we expect seven innings out of our starters, and that's, you know, hopefully what we'll look forward to tomorrow.

Q. As many times as Derek has come through in situations very similar to last night, was it almost stunning when Percival strikes him out, knowing what you know about Derek? Is it going to remain with him?

JOE TORRE: Well, Derek, of all the people I've been around, Derek is as good as anybody putting it away. He wasn't happy with the strike three call, but he had two strikes to do something with and he didn't do it. But he can throw that away real quick. That's very unusual. He was that way when he was a young kid, in '96 for me. He made an error in Game 1 of the Division Series, and then on his way out the doors, tells me, "It's the most important game of my life tomorrow, to get my rest." He has a great presence about him, a great deal of confidence in himself. He loves the competition. But he does turn the page very quickly. He doesn't live off the last at-bat.

Q. Going back to last night, did you feel like when you got to the eighth inning that you had a decision to make or that El Duque was pitching so well you didn't consider it?

JOE TORRE: I guess I could have made a decision. As you know, we got people up with him when he started, but I was very comfortable with him. I mean, the fact that you don't think lefty, righty with Duque anyway because he's a starter and how he had changed speeds, his command looked good. In fact, you were thinking in terms that if we have a three-run lead, will I leave him in to pitch the ninth? You know, to start the ninth. I mean, that's how comfortable I was with him at that point.

Q. He was that good? He was just top of his game?

JOE TORRE: I felt very comfortable with him, yeah.

Q. You ended the regular season with three and a half weeks against teams with some of the worst records in baseball. Do you think this week could have been any sort of readjustment, playing a team of this caliber?

JOE TORRE: I hope not. All along that time, during that time, I mean, when we were playing the team with less than .500 records, I had several meetings talking about the fact that, you know, you don't want all of a sudden to be slapped with a wet towel when you start the postseason and the cream of the crop is going to come at you. I thought we played very well at the end. I mean, the quality of our game. You really can't concern yourself with who you're playing because you have to do the things you need to do right. I thought we played cleanly. I mean, judging from the first two games, you know, we certainly didn't take anything for granted and we certainly haven't been stunned by the fact that they've taken the lead. So the fact that we continue to fight, I think, is evidence that, you know, what they're doing is surprising us.

Q. Knowing the emphasis you put on pitching, have the scores of these first two games made you uncomfortable at all?

JOE TORRE: Well, sure. I mean, low-scoring game, I like to believe we have an advantage because we can pitch real well, but we haven't. But you know what's interesting? Even though the scores were 8-5, 8-6, to me, I think it was -- there's still, you know, inning games. There haven't been any real big outbursts. We scored four runs in the one inning, they scored three. I think it's been -- there have been very tough at-bats. The Angels have been terrific in working our pitchers, even though our pitchers at times have gotten ahead and couldn't put people away. I think it's been playing like a low-scoring game even though the scores have been low.

Q. When George raises the payroll and brings in the kind of guys --?

JOE TORRE: George who?

Q. Your boss. When he brings in the kind of guys he has in the last year, is his expectation on you and Brian, people here, the pressure to win, does that grow, too?

JOE TORRE: Well, it may. I don't know. To me, I don't think anybody can put more pressure on me than I put on myself anyway. I expect a great deal out of myself, whether I'm managing a team that spends 100-something million, or a team that spends 40 million. You still, as a manager, I think, have to work the same way. You just have to adjust your managing skills to your ability on the field. But I think, you know, as far as I'm concerned, George, sure, he's tough to work with because he wants to win. But if that's the nature of the toughness, that's fine with me.

Q. Joe, Derek always does play when he's on a mission, but I'm just wondering, the end of last season, the terrible loss in Game 7, how he was affected by that. What does that contribute to these playoffs, do you think?

JOE TORRE: Well, he is such -- I remember when I met Tiger Woods and I looked in his eye, I said, "There's Derek Jeter." You see that fire, "I know I'm good. I don't necessarily tell people I'm good, I just show people how good I am." That inner conceit, so to speak. Derek didn't want any part of my consoling last year after Game 7, I can tell you that. He was playing at probably about 60, 70 percent last year, just about all year, physically. But it's tough to say he's more determined, because he's such a consistent young man as far as going out there and leading the way for everybody. He was that way in his first year here, back in '96. He took on the same kind of responsibility that he has now except I think more people look to him now.

Q. Joe, I think you probably addressed this in different ways. The Angels' 29 hits, how do you measure whether that's Angel offense or Yankee pitching? Have you seen anything from the Angel offense you haven't expected?

JOE TORRE: Unfortunately, no. We expected every bit of what we've seen. We know that I think we've struck out 400 times more than they have. Even though they don't walk a lot, which means they're aggressive, and yet they don't swing and miss a lot. So I, you know, what's going on right now, I think they're playing the way they expect to play, the way Mike Scioscia expects them to play. You always look for something in getting scouting reports from -- about other teams, that maybe somebody won't be at the top of their game. But right now, somebody may have a bad at-bat, but they come back. I mean, look at Garret Anderson. You know, he had a couple of -- I don't want to say weak at-bats, but he had a couple of bad at-bats for him, then, bang, home run. They're all, I think, playing very well right now. Glaus is as hot as he can get. There are times you can strike him out, you know, two or three times. But right now he's playing with a lot of confidence and knows what his strike zone's all about. I mean, our pitching, I don't think has been God-awful bad, but we haven't been able to be able to put people away even though we've gotten ahead in the count. That's what we need to do. But that's really not all our fault. I think you have to give them a lot of credit for that, too.

Q. Do you have any particular memories of when you were broadcasting here about this team? Did you ever expect to be back here managing in the playoffs against this organization?

JOE TORRE: Well, you know, you always root for certain teams. This is a club I always rooted for, obviously not when I play them, because I have a connection here. I was here six years, enjoyed my time here. It was the best place for me to possibly be if it wasn't going to be on the field. As far as thinking this was going to happen, probably not this soon when you saw how good Oakland is, and the kind of year that Seattle had last year, I don't think anybody, in spite of improvement here, figured that these guys were going to be here this soon. And, again, not that they haven't done their job, but the other two clubs were so good.

Q. Bouncing off of the question earlier about Duque last night, was the plan to get him through the eighth and turn it over to Mo?

JOE TORRE: With a one-run lead, yeah. As I said, going into the eighth inning, I sat there with Mel Stottlemyre, we're sort of talking to the point of we're looking at their line-up. Again, this is with a one-run lead. We know that four guys down the road here, they've got Wooten hitting and it could be Fullmer. So, you know, we're sort of toying what we're going to do if that happens. But we, I mean, pitch-count-wise and everything, I was very comfortable letting him go. If we had scored a couple more runs, I'm sure a lot of consideration would have been given to him to even start the ninth inning. Not that that's what we would have done, but we certainly wouldn't have dismissed it with maybe a three-run lead.

Q. Joe, there seemed to be some expectations that when the Angels went to New York they'd be intimidated by Yankee Stadium, the atmosphere, the crowd, everything that goes into postseason play there. From all evidence, it didn't seem like they were. Are you surprised? Does it lead to any kind of recalculation that Yankee Stadium could be your weapon?

JOE TORRE: Yankee Stadium works as our extra player only if we play well. The Yankees can be -- the fans can be intimidating. However, they're intimidating, yet they appreciate good baseball. I think they appreciated what they saw from the Angels. They enjoyed those first two games. Just getting a feedback from certain people and the fact that I've been there for seven years now. But we, you know, as I say, I was asked that question in New York. I said, "Yeah, I hope so. I hope it's intimidating." I know that several players hadn't been to Yankee Stadium, especially in postseason. They look around and it's pretty awesome. But, you know, to me, it's just a matter of playing well. I credit Mike Scioscia, I know I've done this before, but his club, they know what they need to do and they have done their job knowing what was going to take place there. They certainly have performed admirably.

End of FastScripts�.

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