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November 2, 2001

Joe Torre


Q. Obviously, a case to be made that you all have some momentum after these three games in New York, but what does that do for you when you see Randy Johnson on the mound tomorrow night?

JOE TORRE: Well, there's no question he's full of momentum himself. The next day's starting pitcher usually dictates, and I'm confident that Andy will go out there and do what he can to match him. That's what it's all about. We have not obviously knocked the -- any pitcher out with our bats, and we just have been very fortunate with the way we won the last couple of games, but we -- thanks to our relief pitching and, of course, our starting pitching and a timely hit here and there and the home runs, which, again, we don't rely on home runs, but we've come up with a couple of big ones.

Q. Are games like the last week that we've seen, is that the reason baseball still thrives as a sport? Is that one of the reasons for all of it's problems it is still --

JOE TORRE: Yeah, I think this is real baseball. I think sometimes smaller ballparks, the fact that people think that what puts people in the stands is the 10-11 and the 12-9 games and all that stuff. I still think this is the real baseball game, the dramatic one play that may turn a game, as opposed to, you know, that getting lost in a slugfest. To me, what we've done in the last five games has been very dramatic. Of course, I have never been involved or even witnessed anything that's happened in the last couple of days, where we've come out on top. But this is baseball to me. I think it's all full of strategy. You know, where you guys can decide or question or whatever, I think it makes more sense to have that happen, than, you know, who is going to outscore the other guy.

Q. A lot of times during the season when you talk about upcoming games, you say you did all of the matchups but in the end you sort of have to play to your strengths. Looking back at last weekend and then decide to go put Martinez in tomorrow, is that a little of the factor, just playing to your strength rather than looking at the matchups?

JOE TORRE: Well, you know, the problem with going into the first couple of games of a series, you have four, five, six days to think that you are getting smart. You know, I did this back in '96, too. I played Darryl Strawberry because he had some numbers against Burkett and that didn't pan out too well, either. If you remember, Tino is probably the last one I decided not to play in that game. The reluctance I had was the fact that, you know, he led our club in RBIs and it's tough to have somebody sitting on the bench that's been that productive. Sure, right-handers are intimidating against left-handers, but if he makes a mistake I would probably rather have Tino there than anybody else. If the pitcher threw the ball where he wanted to throw it all the time nobody would ever get a hit. So we base successes on mistakes and being able to take advantage of them. Yeah, Tino is back in there, and I didn't hesitate, and I said to him during the workout at home, "You're playing the next time" and he says, "Good," and we'll see what happens.

Q. What about the rest of the lineup; what will you do with Knoblauch or Justice?

JOE TORRE: Well, I won't play -- I reserve the right to change my mind. But I won't be playing any other left-handers beside Pettitte against Randy, and Knoblauch will probably be back in left field.

Q. You guys in the first two games, you did not look particularly sharp; how different is it the second time coming back to the ballpark?

JOE TORRE: Randy Johnson is going to keep it from being comfortable; it's a bad word. Hopefully, the confidence we've gotten out of these last three games will help us. We certainly got man-handled the last time we were here and a big part of it was we didn't pitch as well as they did. Andy did, but then the three-run homer by Matty ended that. But we need to pitch. We need to match them. Again, we cannot expect to out there and score bunches of runs because we have not done it, and even though I'm confident that potentially there's two games left; that we are going to hit sooner or later. It has to be sooner. But again, you can't bank on that. Again it's up to our pitchers. Like Mike did yesterday, he gave up, made two mistakes and they were both home runs, but we were able to get back into it. And the pitching out of the bullpen is what did it for us. So we need to match up. And as far as being more comfortable, no, but I think we are more confident.

Q. We talk about starting pitching all of the time and we have addressed Johnson and Schilling and Clemens and Pettitte, but what is it like having a weapon like Rivera who could pitch far more often than those guys?

JOE TORRE: Well, he's certainly -- I think makes everybody else in the bullpen better. They know that they have a little piece of the action and their job is to get to him. I think it makes their job a little -- I don't want to say easier, but a little more specific on, say, getting one hitter out or getting through one inning because they know that Mo, especially post-season play, can pitch a piece of two innings. We stretched him out more than we wanted to, but again, you are under the gun the last couple of days, especially the two innings yesterday. We were only planning on bringing him in for one but he got through the first inning with a very low pitch count so I said he was fine for the second inning and luckily the kid at second base made a play. Otherwise, we would have come up empty. But he certainly gives us the confidence to know that if we have a one-run lead in the last couple of innings that we are confident that we can hold it.

Q. You've had a great six-year run here, great times. I don't know where this team would rate, if it would be among the best, but it just seems all you have done in this post-season, it seems like there's a mystical force -- do you see that pulling your direction?

JOE TORRE: I have a sister who's a nun. I don't think it's fair to the other teams that she's out there praying for us. It seems that way. It seems that way. I'm not getting away from it. There's no one person that's that smart that every single thing that happens seems to work, no. You know, the first game we were sitting here and someone asked me about all of the people I walked intentionally and the next guy got a base hit; so I guess you forget some of that stuff. But you don't make all of the right decisions. But we have had a lot of experience in close games and I think experience really helps in post-season play, when you tie a game. Although, I've got to be honest with you, last night I thought Mike Morgan sort of stopped the momentum from totally being on our side the way he pitched and sort of slowed us down at that point. Because when you score the two like we did emotionally in the ninth, you know, you want to hurry up and do something right now, while they are down and we are up. But Mike Morgan stopped that. So last night was, you know, was an incredible win for us, considering that you had to wait a few innings after that and we were still able to put something together. But it does seem like it's magic. I don't give you any other reason other than good relief pitching and a base hit here or there, because we have certainly not wasted any base hits.

Q. I want you to go back to '97 when Rivera got cut by Cleveland and the second part of that is Kim is going through what he is going through. Did you know that Rivera was going to bounce back?

JOE TORRE: Well, there's no question you need support. I go back to Eckersley throwing the home run pitch to Kirk Gibson. You saw the way he bounced back. I think Kim will bounce back. You're not a closer without good reason and you have to be tough to come in there and get the last three outs. Rivera had a very tough time in '97 because that was the first year he was our closer and it took him a little time to get himself in a position to know how to do it. And when he gave up that home run to Sandy Alomar, I think it was ball one, ball two, and then he was going to throw a strike, boom. And he learned from that. Did we know he was going to bounce back? We felt he was tough because he had it in '96, he had a good run being the setup man for Wetteland, but we certainly -- Mel Stottlemyre and myself certainly talked to him on the tarmac that night when we went back home and made it a point to talk to him in the spring several times. But I think, well, maybe what's happened the last couple of days, people realize that players are not mechanical; they are humans, and we have to address that. But I think being a closer on a club that gets to the World Series, you know, this young man will be back.

Q. Even during the regular season, you guys have a large traveling party with all of your help staff. How did that compare to your playing days and even earlier managing days, the strength coaches those people?

JOE TORRE: The ones that Zimmer giggles at, you mean?

Q. And how much that factors into your day-to-day performance?

JOE TORRE: I think it's so much different. Years ago, you'd see guys squeezing rubber balls or do this with the dumbbell and if somebody came to spring training and they worked out all winter they could not swing the bat anymore. That's because he's lifting weights. I think we've come a long way with nutrition and weight fitness, because now flexibility is a big part of it and players rely on it. They work out all winter. Years ago, it was fun to come spring training, and the way they knew you were getting in shape is they run you until you start throwing up, you see, but now players stay in shape all winter because of their dedication to conditioning. Clemens would not be pitching at his age right now without what he's doing off the baseball field.

Q. At the start of the post-season you had said that you didn't think Soriano was the kind of player who would be overly affected by post-season atmosphere, but could you have ever imagined that he could do what he's done so far, the plays and big hits he's gotten?

JOE TORRE: No, I never thought he would be put in a position to be counted on as much as he has. Even right to that play last night, when Reggie hit that ball last night, I said, "Oh, God and" and he comes out of nowhere and makes the catch. He's got great hands and great reactions. He still does some things that shake you back to reality that he's a kid trying to play a position he had not played, really, before this year. But as far as bouncing back, being able to understand an at-bat, the base hit to right field last night knowing with a man at second base that he's not trying to hit an extra-base hit, these things, nobody has taught him. He's learned this on his own and he's really way ahead of his time, as far as his age. As I mentioned Jeter a lot, I think he certainly reminds me in his approach the same way Jeter approached the game the first couple of years I was here.

End of FastScripts....

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