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October 13, 2001

Joe Torre


Q. Joe, is keeping O'Neill and Justice out of the line-up today, is that probably one of the toughest things you've ever done since you've been managing?

JOE TORRE: Well, it's always tough. I wouldn't say the toughest. I don't think you can compare one to the other. It's obviously something I didn't want to do. If I felt I wanted to do this, I would have done it in Game 1. But I think we needed a change for the sake of change, and hopefully it works for us.

Q. This is a follow-up. What were their reactions?

JOE TORRE: I think they understood. Again, both of them want to play, I understand that. And I never want a player to be pleased about sitting on the bench. And these two guys have been such a big part of it. I know especially O'Neill has been here longer than I have, and he's been such a main man for me since I've been here. And David Justice, his postseason record speaks for itself. It's something that I felt I wanted to do changewise, and I've always said to my players, I said, I don't necessarily ask you to agree with me, just understand that I have to make certain decisions, and just respect that fact. And they've all been able to do that.

Q. Joe, you guys haven't had a lead yet in the series. Will you manage in a way early in the game to try to get a run, maybe lift some of that burden?

JOE TORRE: Yes. And again, I don't know how that is going to come out. I'm not sure if I'm going to sacrifice and give up an out to do that. But we certainly are thinking in terms of getting a lead, and I guess the situation will dictate what we'll try to do.

Q. Is that part about Soriano batting second?

JOE TORRE: He gives the speed. The first three guys in the line-up, and of course Bernie, actually the first four guys in the line-up give us the ability to go from first to third, maybe steal a base, and get something going. Yeah, that was my thinking.

Q. Over the years you've talked before big games about the faith you've had in Pettitte and Cone and El Duque, given this is the first round with Mussina, is he a bit of an unknown?

JOE TORRE: I do feel the same way. I think he's pitched enough big games for us and for himself. The one in Boston he pitched for us and for himself, that almost perfect game. He pitched against Pedro a couple of times. He's been able to respond the way we figured he would. When we signed him we knew he was a big game guy. He's been a leader of that Baltimore staff for a number of years. But, yes, I have a great deal of faith in Moose.

Q. This could potentially be Paul O'Neill's final game. Could you talk about what he's meant for you on the field and off the field?

JOE TORRE: He is sort of the glue for this club. I know we all giggle at times when he throws a bat or kicks something, but it's always aimed at himself. But you look to him and he's the one that -- because you know you're not going to get anything flowered from him. He's going to shoot from the gut, and that's what he's all about. He's been such a stabilizing influence on our team. I trust him a great deal. Several pitchers on other teams have made mention over the years he's probably the toughest out they've ever had to get. I remember Hershiser saying that when he was in Cleveland, because he works every at bat. I would really like all managers to have someone who works the game nine innings like he does.

Q. Joe, in the past any time you've had a chance to close out a team, you've done it almost immediately. Is there anything that you took from those games that you can apply today?

JOE TORRE: Well, there's no question, we have always been taken for granted when we've had a 2-0 lead, 2-1 lead, if you don't do it today, you'll do it tomorrow. I always felt it was necessary to do it today, because momentum switches very quickly in a short series, and a 4 out of 7 is a short series, too. And what I take out of it is now we're on the other side of that thing, and realizing that we have to throw this monkey wrench in there somewhere to try to disrupt this machine that's taken care of us the first two games. It's so important for me to stress to the players, not looking at the fact that you have to win three games, but one game could really turn a situation dramatically. And I know we're still down 2-1, still have to come back here tomorrow, but being on the other side of it, I probably was more nervous trying to shut somebody out or close somebody out than I am at this point in time.

Q. Joe, you haven't been in this situation much obviously, not since being down 2-0 in '96 to the Braves, and that was a longer series. Having not been in this situation, trying to get off the mat, how hard is the team to do it, when they haven't been asked much to do it before, does pride kick in here a little bit?

JOE TORRE: Pride, I think, there's no question. But we have to look into similar situations. It may not be in postseason, but there may be a time during the season that you've had to put up or shut up, and this is one of those times. I'm not saying we're going to win today. But the one thing I want to go out there and not be afraid of making a mistake, not being tentative. I'd rather have my guys thrown out at third base than diving back into second. I just need for our ballclub to go out and play their game. And if it's not good enough, you can look yourself in the mirror and go on home, and say this team was better than you this week or this day. But for certain -- the only way this series is over is if it's a 2 out of 3. It's a 3 out of 5, and they haven't won 3 games yet, and that's the way we have to look at it.

Q. Joe, I'm sure you've talked about this a little bit, but can you talk about what the last month has been like, going through what you guys have been through as a team and also just with all the things that have been happening around New York?

JOE TORRE: Well, everybody, I think all of us throughout the country have been going through this roller coaster ride. To me it was like a four-wall handball game. Your emotions bounce all over the place. And being from New York, when we go to different places they ask us what is it like being there. It's a terrible, terrible thing, there's no question. And there is a lot of emotion in what we do on a day-to-day basis, especially during this time of year. At times you put things in perspective that we're only playing a game. That doesn't mean when the game starts that you think about the tragedy that went on, and all of a sudden this doesn't become important. No, it's important what we do. It's something you have to deal with. It's very tough, something we've never dealt with before. And it's very, very difficult. If you allow yourself -- and you allow yourself every day, when you hear the National Anthem or God bless America, and the waving of the flags, it gets to you. But again, I don't think that it has hurt us or affected us to the point of not being able to do our job or concentrate on our job.

Q. Joe, Velarde has had three good offensive years in the American League, how do you see his --?

JOE TORRE: Randy Velarde, when we traded for him, I thought it was a good fit for us, because we didn't know what Scott Brosius' situation was. He's done well on teams I've managed. We sort of passed in the night when I came here, he went to Anaheim and played as a regular. He's a pro, and he's experienced, and I like him because, again, he's going to go out there and do his job. He's not going to try to go out there and really not know what he's supposed to do. And I think that's what we need today, to fill in for the experienced guys that we sat down. It was an easy call for me to DH him, even though he hasn't hit a great deal since he's been over there.

Q. Is there a reason why he hasn't hit that well?

JOE TORRE: No, I can't give you one. He's played a good number of games. He just seemed to struggle a little bit. He's hit a couple of balls hard, but not as much as I know he's capable. And hopefully I'd like to see him get off on a little bit of a run today.

End of FastScripts....

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