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October 27, 2001

Joe Torre


Q. Have you decided whether Velarde will start tomorrow and if so what is your thought process?

JOE TORRE: I guess the answer is no I haven't decided, and no, there's no thought process. It's probably going to be first base. Again, Tino has been a regular player for us, not that O'Neill and Justice haven't been, but Tino has probably played more against left-handers than either one of those two guys. I'm just waiting until after the game to really make it final. I'll let Tino know before he goes home but that would be the likely spot.

Q. Could you talk about your decision to add Choate to the roster?

JOE TORRE: We just felt that we needed another left-hander out of the bullpen. Hitchcock does not really count because he would be our long guy, he would be a situation guy. Randy Choate has been throwing the ball real well, and there may be a situation before the eighth inning to do something against left-handers. The toughest thing was making a decision on not taking Mark Wohlers. He's a guy I would go to war with. I felt because of his -- you know, we have not used him a great deal and it really I think affected his command because of the inconsistency of his command, and as I say, the reason being he has not worked a whole lot so we just made that decision.

Q. How close did you come to possibly also adding Nick Johnson in the lineup?

JOE TORRE: That was another thing and I spent yesterday talking to all of the people involved in all of the people possibly being added to or taken off the roster and in this case Johnson was a consideration, again gives us balance from both sides and I looked at it and realized today we are going to have one left-handed hitter on the bench with O'Neill and tomorrow the possibility with having three left-handers on the bench. So it's basically the three middle games at home that there would be the possibility of one left-hander to come off the bench, and we just decided to stay with Sojo and the experience.

Q. With all of the experience Pettitte has in the World Series, do you think that's an advantage over Randy Johnson?

JOE TORRE: Randy is such an intimidating pitcher. Randy and Curt have had great years. It's still baseball. I would like to believe that if there is a spot where we struggle or something happens that our experience will help us through that. As far as having an advantage over Randy Johnson at home, that's pretty tough to say that we would, even though that Andy Pettitte has pitched huge games for us on the road, I feel very good about Andy going against Randy, as I do with Mussina tonight. But again, these two guys have been -- I guess I don't want to say the only reason, but the main reason that this ballclub has scared a lot of people.

Q. Do you get an uneasy feeling managing in a ballpark you've never managed in before?

JOE TORRE: No, not an uneasy feeling. I think it's just you need to be -- pay attention because of the rules, the National League rules. But I don't think the ballpark itself is going to make me uneasy. Just the fact that, you know, the American League is not as complicated, where you change a pitcher, you change a pitcher you don't have to really look at the inning or where he's hitting in the lineup, but certainly tonight you'll think in terms of double switching or if it's too early to double switch, how you're going to get out of the inning, so a lot of things you have to be on your toes for.

Q. How much did Mark Wohlers ALCS appearance factor into your decision and how is leaving a guy off the World Series roster more difficult than spring training cuts?

JOE TORRE: It certainly it tougher because this is what everybody strives for, the World Series. As far as the ALCS, I don't know. The fact that he has not pitched a lot, I think, was more instrumental in my making the decision because in order to be effective, for any pitcher, you have to pitch regularly and especially someone who is used to pitching every day or just about every day as a closer or set-up man. But we have not used him that way because we've used other people. So I think the fact that he has not really been able to refine what he does, and through no fault of his own. We just had a short meeting with him, Mel and I both, and we had a tough decision because we know what a tough competitor he is, we know he has the experience and we know we trust him a great deal. We just really felt that he was not at the top of his game at this point in time. But it is tough, because you strive for this and everybody wants to be available for a World Series because this is where you want to be.

Q. Having said that, those tough decisions, how much of this is still sheer fun for you?

JOE TORRE: Oh, most of it is sheer fun. I mean, this -- you know, when you get through the Division Series, the Championship Series, realizing that there's so much going on because you want to get to the World Series and if you allow yourself to look ahead saying, oh, we only have to win two more games and we get to the World Series, you get very nervous about it. But getting to the World Series, I mean, these are the two left standing. This is the one you enjoy. The other ones are very satisfying when they are over with, but I don't think you can enjoy them as much as you can enjoy the World Series, because these are supposedly the two best teams, the two teams, that played, I guess the best at the right time and we are fighting for a world championship and we've experienced it and we know how good that feels.

Q. Given that Mussina has won playoff games for you in two different ways by dominating Oakland and then fighting his struggles in Seattle, what does that show about his nerve and fortitude?

JOE TORRE: It tells me a lot. When we did make the deal when we signed him, we sort of felt we were getting this type of pitcher. There were other games during the course of the year when he had to face Pedro and he matched up with him real well and won that ballgame. But no bigger game has he ever won than Game 3 against Oakland. We are not here unless he pitches that game. We gave him absolutely no room to breathe, one run. Seven wonderful innings and, of course, Jeter made the great play on Giambi at the plate. Mussina knows what his job is. Again, if he is not at the top of his game, he has enough in the tank and enough in his head to understand how he has to approach it.

Q. Andy did not seem all that thrilled to be the only left-handed hitter in your lineup tomorrow. Do you know any left-handed hitter who would be thrilled tomorrow?

JOE TORRE: No. There is no left-hander, I think, that goes to sleep with a smile on his face knowing he's going to face Randy Johnson. I mean, you just watch John Kruk and Walker and all those people. He's intimidating. It seems like he steps on your foot every time he let's the ball go. But don't think the other pitchers did not let him know about it. He was talking about working on his bunting against Randy Johnson. I mean, how vulnerable do you feel at that point in time. (Smiles).

Q. From what you observed from a distance as a broadcaster, what did Mattingly do right against Johnson?

JOE TORRE: I think like any good pitcher, as a hitter, you go up with a plan. You try to stay away from how intimidating someone is and you make up your mind that you are going to look for a ball in a certain area and if that ball gets in that zone. And a lot of good hitters can't tell you if they hit a fastball or a breaking ball because they are locked in on a certain zone and know where you are going to try to hit somebody, and that's probably why. Mattingly was more of the inside out hitter even though he could turn and hit home runs. He stayed in the right zone sometime. Once you convince your rear end that the rest of you should stay in the batter's box, I think you've got it licked at that point in time.

End of FastScripts....

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