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October 11, 2001

Joe Torre


Q. Jason Giambi was in here talking about how much he enjoyed playing here and the respect he has for the fans here, can you tell us what your relationship with him has been like and your impressions of him?

JOE TORRE: Well, I've had him on a couple of All-Star Teams, and a couple of years ago, I could not get him a right-hander to hit against. He kept having to hit against left-handers. I mean, he's a player. He's an honest guy. He gives you an honest day's work. He reminds me a great deal of (Jim) Thome, with Cleveland. They are both big, strong guys; it doesn't matter what ballpark you are playing in. The thing you like about him is he's a throwback to the old days, when you go back to the ballpark and you come home dirty. He's one of those guys.

Q. Can you talk about having a lead versus coming from behind?

JOE TORRE: Well, we'd like to get a lead. A lead you approach a little bit differently and I would rather be in a position to protect the lead rather than always work from behind. Again, we fell behind by four runs last night and we were able to cut it in half, and that just meant we were just a little bit too far behind. So the reason I say we have to match them inning by inning is because we need to keep the games close, and I think it puts us at an advantage because we are used to playing close games -- not to say that Oakland doesn't win close games, but for us to I think sort of play our game, it basically has to be one of those one-run games either way. Of course, if you get a lead late in the game, I'm very comfortable with the people we can bring out of the bullpen.

Q. Could you give us an update on Clemens and would you have him for Game 5?

JOE TORRE: Well, Clemens will pitch Game 5. If we have a Game 5, he will pitch Game 5. It's just a matter of how good he's going to be. He's obviously not going to be 100%, but sometimes 80% of Roger Clemens is better than 100% of somebody else sometimes. This is his responsibility and he knows that. We talked earlier today. He didn't feel wonderful yesterday and then he tweaked that thing when he went to get Damon's ball. It's just one of those things. Roger, I mean, he's pitched for so long and he probably knows his body better than other people know their bodies, I know that. When he explains it to you, you sort of walk out of the room because he just goes over your head with it. I know he mentioned something about Tampa -- we didn't know anything about Tampa when he thought he did something. Basically, because he didn't think it was any big deal and the only reason he even brought it up was the fact that this thing happened last night and he was trying to retrace it because he never got any unusual treatment because of what happened there. He'll probably throw on Saturday. If he can't throw on the mound, he'll play catch, and then even if the game -- the game is scheduled for Monday, then he'll even throw off the mound for a short workout on Sunday if need be.

Q. In Game 1 and Game 2 you've decided to go with your veteran players that have done it for you in the past, are you concerned about anything you saw from them and are you still committed to the lefties for Game 3?

JOE TORRE: I think I'm going to wait until tonight to see what the quality is of at-bats. To me, lefty/righty, sure, it seems like it may be more of a problem for a lefty who is not swinging the bat really well to hit a lefty. But if we see quality at-bats tonight from David (Justice) and Paul O'Neill, I think I'd be comfortable enough to play them against the left-handers.

Q. The lateness of the games, does it disappoint you that there are a generation of kids that have missed what the Yankees have done?

JOE TORRE: No question. Tonight, you can understand why tonight's game is starting later than it was normally scheduled. I think everybody is interested, and if they are not, they should be, in what the President has to say. I think they are scheduling games so late -- because you're right, we had a chance. It was all-day baseball; it can't all be day baseball anymore because it takes a lot of money to make this game work; and the nighttime, probably the price goes up. I can understand it, but 8:30 is a tough starting time when you consider the time between innings, and you look up there, and, you know, last night, I really never looked up at the clock until it was like a quarter to 12:00 and you realize, wow, how late it gets to be because the pace of the game is slow because of the time. Yeah, I think that's a problem. Because the kids of the future, the future fans and the future players, you certainly want them to enjoy the best part of baseball, and that's post-season play.

Q. Have you gotten to know Mike Mussina personally during this year, and if so, how would you compare his on-the-mound personality with his off-the-field personality?

JOE TORRE: He's pretty much to himself, although he's not tough to talk to. He has a good sense of humor. We got this right in spring training: I think he's not necessarily going to be one that's going to come to volunteer to you, but, if you go over to him, he's not going to back off or shut you out in any way. I'm comfortable with him and I think Mike is comfortable with this ballclub and this clubhouse right through spring training. He may not be comfortable with a lot of the attention, the media. He is basically, I think, a shy guy and keeps to himself. But his demeanor on the mound is that of a bulldog when you look at the numbers that he put up this year. I think that he likes it that way. He doesn't mind Roger Clemens getting all of the attention, to be perfectly honest with you. That's my feeling. He knows the respect we give him and we try to take as good of care of him as we can personally, and I've been with him when we were courting him, trying to sign him, and I found him to be a very nice guy and I'm very comfortable with him.

Q. Can you talk about moving O'Neill to the third spot and what went into your decision?

JOE TORRE: The right-handed pitching. I wanted to spread the left-handers out and I had a choice of Justice or O'Neill in the third hole. I decided to do it with Paulie. I think he has more of a consistent at-bat going for him right now than David does.

Q. Roger didn't look like himself right from the beginning of the game. Have you thought at all about whether he could have told you something more heading into the game a few days more; is there a possibility that he had held out on you, and did you have any second thoughts that Mussina could have started the first game instead of Roger?

JOE TORRE: Well, as I say, Roger, when I talked to him, I think he threw Monday -- I know he threw Monday and Tuesday -- he did throw Monday. I was in here and we had meetings and he was perfect. Perfect. I asked him how he felt. He said the first couple starts he was sluggish. The leg never came into play. It was always, "My arm feels good." And Roger's pretty good at feeling you. That's why I sensed that this thing that happened really didn't seem to affect him at all. You're right. Roger from the start looked a little more deliberate than he normally does, and we came to find out later that he felt something when he was warming up and he was wearing a wrap there, which, again he does that under normal circumstances anyway. He either has a sleeve or a wrap of some kind. But, you know, I don't think Roger felt that this thing was any big deal because he would have mentioned it to us knowing that we had not set our roster before Wednesday morning, and he just -- again, I talked to him earlier today and he didn't think there was any problem with his going out there and taking the ball. As far as Mussina the first game, you really have to work into that. You make your decision back here and you pitch them accordingly and workout accordingly, and we wanted Mike to pitch the third game. He's pitched well in Oakland, and because of the kind of year he's had, I feel that's an important start. Whatever the result of tonight's game is, we're going to need that game very badly on Saturday.

Q. You guys only have three players on your active roster who have never been in the post-season before. Do you think having 22 guys who have been here before helps when you lose Game 1 at home keep the calm of the clubhouse?

JOE TORRE: I think that part of it helps, sure. The fact that you don't make it bigger than it is. Let's admit it, all you people are here, you're asking questions, you're watching it on television and you are reading newspapers. You tend to make things more magnified than they are -- you don't, but I'm just saying getting all this information and you tend to get all wrapped up in it. I mean, I watch a game on television, I get more tense than when I'm sitting in the dugout, to be perfectly honest, because that's the job. It's exciting and I understand that. The fact that you've been here before and you still realize it is still a baseball game and you still have to do the same things, and the fact that you lose one game, you can't let it get you down because, you know, psychology is very important in this game.

Q. How different is the best-of-five series from a best-of-seven? Is it more difficult?

JOE TORRE: I certainly think so. I think you're under the gun. It's very tough. You'd like to have it four-out-of-seven the first series, but which one do you make three-out-of-five? I mean, I don't know. I've never been fond of these things, but you understand that they are very tough. I mean, you can't think beyond today at all in a best-of-five series. You need to win every day and you're never comfortable. I don't care if you're up 2-0. Because one game in a short series really changes the momentum, and then if you lose that second game, you realize that, you know, you're at a disadvantage. So in spite of winning two in a row and that other team comes back and ties you, to me, you're an underdog at that point in time. I just think it's more immediate.

Q. Along those lines, if they were to shorten the season to 154 games, go four-out-of-seven, four-out-of-seven, or even five-out-of-nine --

JOE TORRE: Let's keep it to four-out-of-seven. (Laughs.)

Q. But it would give the better team the chance to assert itself. How do you feel about that idea?

JOE TORRE: I think ideally it would because of the fact that you play -- well, 154 games. Usually the best teams get to post-season and it's a shame that it's Russian Roulette sort of at that point, three-out-of-five. But we all play by the same rules and the bad break can maybe get the best team during the year out of there.

Q. You would not want five-out-of-nine?

JOE TORRE: No, four-out-of-seven is fine. I don't think my heart can take five-out-of-nine.

Q. Any butterflies for Soriano and Witasick last night?

JOE TORRE: I can't talk for Witasick, he was just in there for a small bite. But Soriano, I didn't notice any difference, even no hesitancy trying to steal third base, which I thought was a good gamble for him with one out and I had no problem with him trying to do that. I was very impressed with the way he played. It was just like mid-season somewhere.

Q. Where do you guys plan to watch the President's speech tonight?

JOE TORRE: I would say we'll be in the clubhouse, and I'm sure they are going to have it up on the screen, which the fans need to have happen. But I know one thing, we'll be watching.

Q. George seemed somewhat agitated by some of the umpire's calls yesterday.

JOE TORRE: He has a right. (Laughter.)

Q. Has the owner of the Yankees expressed his agitation of the umpires to you?

JOE TORRE: I have not talked to George since last night, since the game. But, I mean, that's nothing new, right? That's nothing new. I mean, he's a fan and he's an owner, and, you know, he wants his opinion heard. I can understand that. But no, no, I haven't heard anything about it.

End of FastScripts....

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