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October 19, 2001

Joe Torre


Q. From the time your team was down 0-2 to the A's to where they are today, up 2-0, have you seen any noticeable change in demeanor or personality?

JOE TORRE: Well, I think you acquire that confidence. It was a week ago today, we were down 0-2 and walking around the streets of San Francisco. We had had a meeting the day before, and really, talked in terms of winning one game. Just to sort of get the good feeling back. Oh, definitely, right now, there's a lot more animation, taking nothing for granted. Just very confident, and that's what winning streaks do for people. But last week, you know, we were down, but I just noticed that there was -- there was still a feeling that we still had some work to do. Nobody was thinking about what they were going to do this week. They still had planned on being pushed out of this thing and they were not going to let it happen without a fight.

Q. Do you think what you guys did against Oakland, coming back from 0-2 helps guard against overconfidence?

JOE TORRE: No question. I think just over the past five years, whatever it is that we've been in this position before, and we have been able to take the same mentality out there, I think that's the most important thing. It doesn't guarantee you're going to win. I've said that one hundred times. The only thing you don't want to do is assume you're going to win because you have a lead. The recent history, we were down two games in a five-game series, and all of a sudden here we are. So there are a lot of reminders, and plus, the history of what we've done to get to four World Series, there's just something about when you're on a streak, let's milk it for all we can get. Hopefully, again, it's going to be -- the tone is going to be set by the pitching, and hopefully we can do that again tomorrow.

Q. You've been back and forth across the country a few times. How is the team holding up and how does that affect you as a manager, does that affect the moves you might make?

JOE TORRE: Not really. You just assume that everybody is tired. The only reason we know that we're going west to east is because we don't get meal money. (Laughter.) When we see our traveling secretary come around, we know it's meal money and we know we're going west. But, no, it doesn't affect anything I do. Because tired or not tired, hurt or not hurt, everybody has their hands raised right now and is going to play. You know, it was an easy call, for Lou, too, not to have any workout day because this is tough going back and forth across the country. We are tired, but I'm sure we are not as tired as we would be if we were down in the series.

Q. As a fellow manager who has been in the situation that the Mariners are now in, what sense of appreciation do you have for what Lou said after the game last night?

JOE TORRE: No question. He's trying to rally his troops and they are a very good team. To me, and I told Lou this before Game 1, I said, "You didn't have to prove yourself to anybody after how you played Game 4 against Colon." I mean, that was huge for them to win in Cleveland Game 4, especially after getting wiped out in Game 3. So there's a lot of baseball left here. They are a very good team. They won 116 games; that was no fluke. They have a tough team. That kid pitched a hell of a game last night, Garcia he got a pitch inside to Brosius. He was able to turn on it, and he had not had a hit and all of a sudden we have two runs across the plate. So very small things turn games, and they are not about to go away. They have too much to prove and too many positive things to go on. But I understand where Lou is coming from. He made that statement because that's the way he's rallied his troops before and that's his job, basically.

Q. Looking back at your experience three years ago, when you win 114, 116, is it more of a plus because of the confidence you gain or more of a burden because of the expectations it creates?

JOE TORRE: Well, it's a double-edged sword, there's no question. When we won 114 games, all of a sudden you go into the post-season and you realize everybody is 0-0. You have confidence from all of the games you won, but still, there are a lot of people expecting -- and yourself, included, expecting big things. So, yeah, it puts extra pressure on you. But to come into the post-season and try to pretend there's no pressure, that's nonsense. It's something that you have to deal with. They have not played badly. We have just been -- we have had extraordinary pitching the first two games. So it's not like we are, you know, man-handling anybody. But there is a lot of pressure. It was on us in '98, anyway. In fact, I had a meeting in the Division Series. We are up two games to none and in the middle of that series in Texas, I called four or five of my players down behind the dugout and said, "Guys, we are up 2-0." Not down 2-0 because I felt so much tension in that dugout, but I think I lot of it was we felt that we had to win.

Q. Can you imagine that that's what they are thinking; that unless they get to the World Series that it means nothing and there is that pressure of thinking that way?

JOE TORRE: We felt the same way, that not too many people would pay attention to our record unless we went to the World Series. They -- when you start in spring training and you win the division and you get through the first series, I mean, the World Series is where you want to get to. I'm not sure they would be any more determined if they barely got to the post-season. You know, getting to this round, getting to the World Series, that's what it's all about. But for sure, they have won so often this year that they expect to win when they go on the field. And there is sort of a -- there's a lot of self-motivation going on there.

Q. How do you assess El Duque's pitching since he came back from surgery?

JOE TORRE: El Duque, for me, when we were on the bubble with him on Sunday in Tampa and he pitched four very effective innings, I liked the way he did it. I know, again, people have some question, about, it was Tampa but that has nothing to do with it. We were concerned about his physical well being at that time and he was challenging people, being able to get in on the hands of hitters. I was pleased. Again, when we went to Oakland and he pitched in Game 4, he pitched very well there. There was an inning where he -- again, I don't want to say reminded me of when he was tentative when we took him out of the game. No, it was nothing like that. What it was was he was trying to be careful with everybody. I thought he had real good command. And he didn't want to come out of that game. He had thrown 110 or 111 pitches and that was enough since I had a bullpen to go to. If I did not have a rested bullpen at that point in time I probably would have left him in the game. I feel pretty good about him. He's been a good post-season guy for us, and he seems to be physically in good shape right now.

Q. How do you assess his behavior? He seems to be a different kind of person, sometimes a little strange at times, the way he acts; even you seem befuddled by his behavior?

JOE TORRE: I don't understand the behavior thing. Are you talking about when he came out of the game?

Q. When you asked him what's wrong --

JOE TORRE: You know, I'm not sure he knew what was wrong. The only thing he knew; it wasn't right. He could not pinpoint a spot. He could not point to a place where it hurt. It was just that he -- it didn't feel good. It didn't feel good. It didn't feel right. It didn't feel strong. And he gets frustrated by it. It's not that he, you know, doesn't have that ability to go through something like that. I know he does, because once the MRI showed that you can't be injured -- now, there's a difference in pitching if something hurts and you know that you can't do injury to yourself. Then it's okay. But there's a question, especially with someone who has never had any problems physically, and then all of the sudden, something crops up, then you are worried about your career coming to an end. Pettitte, that year he had in '96 had the problem with the elbow and I talked to Bob Gibson and I said where did he have it; right here? Yeah, he's going to have that for a long time, but Andy did not know that at the time because he had never experienced anything like that. And Andy, you can see what kind of a pitcher he is, but he had some hesitancy to him because he was afraid for his career. El Duque, it's not the easiest thing in the world to try to communicate totally with someone through an interpreter, that's for sure. But I'm very comfortable with what he has given us. Again, I don't try to have everybody conform to what everybody thinks they want people to be like. I think you have to allow individuals to be who they are and at times, we've had trouble communicating, but for the most part when I've given him the ball, we've had a good result as far as his effort.

Q. Going back to what you said about Lou, you can understand what he's trying to do, rally his troops -- will that have an effect on you?

JOE TORRE: I don't think so. Like I said about Lou's team being self-motivated, I think we are too. We try not to allow outside forces to interfere with what we need to do. I know there was talk last year when Eric Chavez said something before Game 5. A lot of the guys looked up and just sort of giggled and again, didn't want us to win any more but just understood that the kid was saying something because he was excited and not trying to motivate us or diss us in any way. I think everybody knows Lou. Lou has been around a long time. He's a very animated individual. He's got a lot of passion. And he, you know, he believes in his team. He believes in his team. I'm sure -- like I was not dumbfounded that's a little strong, but they were down 2-0 against Oakland, I'm sure that he's surprised that he's down 2-0 to us because of his team and what they have done all year and what they are still capable of doing.

Q. Have you given any more thoughts about whether you will play O'Neill and Justice tomorrow?

JOE TORRE: I've given it a lot of thought and I'm still going to think about it. I may have an idea in my mind but I can't tell you, only because the players don't know. But I don't think, and I have said this before, I don't think it's just a strict platoon like we had against the Oakland staff because I think Moyer is a little bit different pitcher than a Zito and a Mulder. Moyer is a finesse guy. They are more in the power line type. I'm still working on that. I'm still thinking about it. But it's not a -- like it was against Oakland where the right-hander is going to play and the left-hander is going to play.

Q. Could you contrast the mentality of a team that is trying to accomplish something for the first time versus a team that's doing it for the second or third or fourth time?

JOE TORRE: Well, we've done it before. I think experience. I think a lot of experience. But Seattle has been there before, under Lou. They have been in the post-season many times. Except for a play here or a play there, they have represented themselves very well. You know, I guess if you look at a club like Houston who has come to the post-season and really has trouble getting on track, I mean that's a different story. Maybe the post-season does have a mental influence on that or psychological influence, I should say. But the games that Lou has managed for Seattle, even though they have not been to the World Series, and, sure, that puts a little extra pressure, but, of course, it gives you a little extra motivation, too. And they have a lot of veterans over there; it's not like they have kids. But the one thing about our team that I think helps us is the fact that we have been there, and we -- you know we sort of know what it's like. We know what it's like. Does that give us an advantage? I hope so. I hope so. But again, we weren't too confident a club, even though we knew we were better than them, we were down 0-2 in the first round, going out there, but I think the experience helped us to say, "Well, maybe next year, we'll be better."

Q. Can you speak just a little bit about Mariano, what it's like having a weapon like that in your bullpen, and the way that he does it seemingly so effortless, emotionless, his job?

JOE TORRE: There's emotion, trust me. People look at me, "Oh, you're so calm." They should be inside my stomach; that doesn't work. But Mariano, he's grown. When we first met each other, all of a sudden, he became our setup man for the seventh and eighth innings before Wetteland in '96. Then in '97, he had trouble adjusting to the closer role early on. There was a lot of hesitation on his part. He wasn't the pitcher he is now, for sure, he grew. When he gave up that home run to Alomar in '97, you have a choice of going one way or the other; you can have that haunt you for the rest of your career, or you grow from it. He certainly has grown from that, and it is reassuring, for us, and that's the most important thing. Having been on the other side of this, maybe not in the World Series, but during the season against a Bruce Sutter, you know how intimidating it is to beat a club by a certain inning. So he's rock solid for us, and we trust him. I think that's the highest compliment I could pay him.

Q. A lot of really good pitchers, like Randy Johnson comes to mind, have trouble in the post-season but El Duque is 9-1, what gives him so much success?

JOE TORRE: I think it's confidence. They are all good pitchers. Johnson, if I am not mistaken -- when Tom Seaver, doesn't win the big game because he lost the World Series game or whatever it was, it's ludicrous. It's like saying John Elway could not win a Super Bowl. But it's just one of those things. I mean, Randy Johnson has pitched well but one thing about El Duque, I mean, he's a good pitcher, and no question that when you don't have that monkey on your back, like Johnson has that huge gorilla off his back, because you have to keep answering the question, that's the toughest part. Sometimes we get caught up sometimes in stats, and it's just that the things you have to deal with. But, for sure, the memory of how he did in post-season play, if there is any hesitation on El Duque's part, he always has that reservoir to go to, and I think that's important.

End of FastScripts....

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